Fort Benning Spent $35 Million To Accommodate Female Infantry Recruits

Jonah Bennett | Contributor

The Army spent $35 million renovating Fort Benning to accommodate a small number of female infantry recruits.

Since the Pentagon lifted the ban on women serving in combat, more than 80 women have gone through training at Fort Benning, Ga., but before that training could begin, the Army had to pay millions for female dorms, security cameras and other renovations, The Associated Press reports.

So far, 22 women have graduated, while 30 others were still undergoing infantry training as of October.

Eighteen of those women graduated in May as part of the first gender-integrated training cycle.

As part of the effort to integrate men and women in combat arms, Fort Benning has also had to develop new laundry policies. Before, laundry was open at any time of night. Now, it’s bracketed off at certain times for women.

Initially, Fort Benning officials wanted to place female living quarters on a separate floor, but the women didn’t care for that arrangement. Instead, the women are housed in one of four main sleeping bays.

Newly installed security cameras keep watch on the bay door and the stairs leading to the bay.

“There’s nothing they dislike more than to be separated,” Army Col. Kelly Kendrick, the brigade commander, told The Associated Press. For Kendrick, the women want to “fit in and do the same as everybody else.”

Female recruits have had a higher injury rate than their male counterparts. For example, in the last class, hip stress fractures were an issue for six out of seven females injured in Charlie Company.

Slightly more than 36 percent of women have left training, which is twice the male dropout rate.

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