The Air Force announced a new mixed gender training facility Saturday as a potential solution to recruitment challenges facing its special warfare branch and a means of creating a cohesive team for special warfare trainees.
The 76,000 square foot mixed-sex aquatic training center is slated for completion in 2023, according to the Air Force’s press release. The $66.6 million facility will feature co-ed restrooms, locker rooms, and showers. Men and women will bunk together in open bay dormitories and utilize individual shower rooms and restrooms within locker areas.
“We continuously struggle to recruit enough people who have the potential to meet our standards in Air Force Special Warfare,” Second Air Force commander Major General Michele Edmondson said. The Special Warfare Training Wing’s commander, Col. Nathan Colunga, also emphasized the importance of an “environment of inclusion” for program members. (RELATED: Biden Admin Super-Charged Military Recruitment Crisis With ‘Woke Policies,’ Expert Says)
Women were first incorporated into career fields within the Air Force’s special warfare program in 2015, the press release stated. ButAir Force leaders cited a lack of female restrooms and changing areas as a potential obstacle to program recruitment. Construction of the new facility is believed to represent a deliberate next step at gender integration for the program and a means to “negate unintentional barriers.”
The announcement comes amid a recruitment crisis across the armed forces, with the Air Force just barely meeting its 2022 goals, according to the Air Force Times. As of September 15, the active duty Air Force reached 97% of its recruitment goal of 26,151 new enlistees, the outlet reported.