Report: Separate The Sexes In Military Training
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 16) -- A panel appointed by Defense Secretary William Cohen has called for separating men and women in basic training, as well as toughening standards, from recruiting to advanced training.
"The report recommends changes in the way we train our gender-integrated all-volunteer force," said Cohen at a ceremony this afternoon unveiling the recommendations. "I've now asked the military services and report back to be within 90 days with their assessments," he added. (256K wav sound)
The 11-member commission, chaired by former Kansas GOP Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, visited the major training facilities of all the branches of the armed services, interviewing more than 1,000 recruits, more than 500 instructors, more than 300 new members of the military, and more than 275 supervisors.
The current system "is not really enhancing" the process of gender integration of the armed services, said Kassebaum Baker.
"We adopt no-talk, no-touch polices and at the same time we say have everyone in the same barrack," she said. "It's far better to be more realistic about what would work most successfully."
With women living in separate barracks, the military could abolish the no-talk, no-touch policy, Kassebaum Baker said. Women would train together with men when training was at the higher, company-level stage. Classroom, field and technical training would be "integrated as they are today and will continue to be," she said.
In measured language, the report takes aim at, and recommends changes in, ways members of the armed forces are trained.
The panel's key findings:
In advanced training, the report also called for separate barracks for men and women.
Sexual Harassment Policies
Training and Recruiting
The panel's recommendations face hostility from those pushing for an expanded role for women in the armed services. In its report, the group underscored how important it considers the role of women, who "have been proudly and proficiently serving this nation for years."
"The committee believes that the increasing number of women in expanded roles is an important reason why the United States is able to maintain an effective and efficient volunteer military force," said the report.
Asked about the panel's recommendations this afternoon, President Bill Clinton praised the group as "eminent" while adding that he hadn't yet read its report. He said he was sensitive to the role of women in the military. "What I would be very reluctant to do is to embrace anything that denied women the opportunity to serve in positions in which they are qualified, and to progress up the ladder of promotion in the way that so many have worked so hard to permit them to do in the last few years," he continued.
"Now, within those parameters," Clinton said, "if there's something that they feel strongly ought to be done in the training regime, or in the housing regime, because of the problems that we have seen in the military in the last couple of years, I think we ought to entertain it. And I think that within those limits, that it ought to be largely a decision left to our military commanders, upon serious review of the report.
"But I doubt that the committee wants to do anything to deny women the opportunity to serve or to gain appropriate promotions," the president said. "So, I'm not accusing them of that, I'm just saying that would be my framework within which to evaluate this."
The panel's recommendations apply to all services, although the Marines already train men and women separately in basic training.
CNN's Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.
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Tuesday Dec. 16, 1997
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