WAR ON HARASSMENT
SEPTEMBER 11, 1997
Sexual harassment exists throughout the U.S. Army, crossing boundaries of gender, rank and race. That was the conclusion of two separate investigations. After a background report, Phil Ponce talks to officers on the Army's senior review panel about the "leadership failure" that has allowed the problems to continue.
PHIL PONCE: For more about the army's investigation we go to the top two officers on the senior review panel: Major General Richard Siegfried and Brigadier General Evelyn Foote. Both were called back to active duty from retirement to leave the investigation. General Siegfried, you were the chair of that panel. The army's had equal opportunity guidelines now for about 25 years and yet, according to the report, sexual harassment takes place, sex discrimination is going on. What went wrong?
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
September 11, 1997:
The Army's fight against sexual harassment in the military.
April 30, 1997:
A discussion of mixed-gender training in the military.
April 29, 1997:
Staff Sgt. Simpson is convicted of raping trainees while at the
Army's Arberdeen Proving Ground
March 6, 1997:
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) discusses the state of the military investigation into the sexual misconduct..
February 4, 1997:
Senators Chuck Robb (D-VA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) discuss whether the military is doing what it can to protect the women who protect our country.
April 4, 1996:
A NewsHour discussion of Women in the Military.
Browse the Online NewsHour's military coverage.
Neither the commitment nor the resources necessary to control the system.
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED, U.S. Army: You know, over a period of time we have gone through some substantive change in the United States Army. If you listen to the report today, the Secretary talked about 600,000 soldiers have gone out of the army in the last eight years. We've closed 700 bases. During that downsizing our infrastructure has been downsized. When we looked at the EO system, when we talk about the commitment to the system, there are a couple of ways you can do that. No. 1, you put resources towards it. And we found that we needed more resources at the departmental level to over-watch the system and make sure that it's working correctly, that we needed more resources where the soldiers were stationed because we found some units that did not have school trained equal opportunity advisers there to be proactive in making sure that the environment is correct.
PHIL PONCE: But aside from the shrinking resources that the military might be facing, was there also a lack of commitment on the part of people within the chain of command?
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: The lack of commitment was to put the resources against the mission and we just didn't pay enough attention to the human relations side of the army as it relates to the war fight to combat effectiveness. Let me give you an example. If the commanders don't show up at sexual harassment training, it sends the wrong message to our soldiers. If there's not much access by the equal opportunity advisers to a commander, it shows a lack of commitment. Okay. We've got some dedicated professionals that are out there in that system, working it hard. We didn't see it as a failure in those that are in the system right now. We saw it as a lack of commitment to really use the system. It's another problem we feel.
PHIL PONCE: So you're saying there really is sort of a lack of time because of lack of resources and not any kind of bad intent or anything like that?
An out-dated system?
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: There's another aspect of that. Okay. The soldiers view the system as a minority woman's program. When we first established it a couple of decades ago, maybe more than that, okay, it was very important that we establish with folks who are very sensitive to the issues of race relations and equal opportunity as they existed back then. Over time, we haven't changed that system. So now the soldiers look at it and say, okay, this is a minority women program, not for all soldiers. And they're the folks that were teaching the sexual harassment classes. So it became one of those equal opportunity issues, rather than directly related to the human relations environment.
PHIL PONCE: Gen. Foote, do you agree that it was sort of a lack of resources, or does it--one of the other things it seems to be saying is that there was sort of a lack of commitment to a program that was already there.
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE, U.S. Army: I think there are a combination of factors involved here, Phil. I think, first of all, we went from being well resourced in this arena to being minimally resourced because with the draw down, the training in doctrine command became a bill payer in some respects, so that we could put troops out in the field and on the front lines. Now, I think also a sense of complacency set in that the equal opportunity advisers were the ones who were going to be taking care of the human relations area and keeping the commander involved. But without the commander being personally involved, the program will never work.
PHIL PONCE: Is that what the report meant when it said that too often there were examples or cases of passive leadership?
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: Right. Because frequently at the meetings, when the equal opportunity sessions were being held with the soldiers, themselves, there's no leader presence. It's just the soldiers. You've got to have the leaders involved, and speaking from their heart and absolutely by their actions, their intent to ensure equal opportunity throughout the command.
Defining sexual harassment...
PHIL PONCE: Gen. Foote, what were the kinds of examples that women would give of the kind of sexual harassment that they were subjected to? What was the most common kind of thing?
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: Crude, offensive behaviors, sexist remarks, unwanted advances, things of this type. And only frequently though, when the behavior crossed over into the sexual assault or out and out rape did people begin to define that as sexual harassment. The women or the men, themselves, will also tell you that the other types of behavior are just part of the static and clutter of the workplace. We don't--
PHIL PONCE: What do you mean by other kind of behavior?
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: Well, the sexist remarks, the obscenities, the fact that maybe posters and girly books or sexually explicit books or literature were around units. This is something that was in the workplace that they didn't necessarily protest.
PHIL PONCE: General Siegfried, those kinds of things that she's talking about that happened in the workplace, I mean, is that the sort of thing that now commanders are going to be saying, okay, no more books, cut the remarks, that sort of thing?
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: There's a couple of points here, Phil. The biggest point is we don't have women in the United States Army who are cowering in fear of being sexually molested. Okay. What we're talking about is inappropriate remarks, inappropriate comments. We may--
PHIL PONCE: When we're talking about sexual harassment.
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: Harassment that we saw--
PHIL PONCE: As opposed to sexual abuse of the kind of thing that happened--
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: You bet.
PHIL PONCE: --at Aberdeen.
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: You bet.
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: Right.
PHIL PONCE: Making a distinction between the two.
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: You bet.
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: Absolutely.
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: So now we're talking about behavior, and we can mandate behavior as a condition of employment. Does that mean that I tell Phil, when you go home, you can't buy this? No, it doesn't mean that at all. But it means that you respect me as much as I respect you on the workplace, and that we don't tell offensive stories that are out of line, okay, unless that's a mutually agreeable thing. We haven't sat down in small groups and really discussed about the proper conduct, one professional to another, so that each of us knows and understands that we're being treated with the dignity and respect to which we're entitled.
"The greater problem is gender discrimination."
PHIL PONCE: Beyond the issue of sexual harassment, the report says that sexual discrimination is another issue altogether, and that is happening, even more so than sexual harassment.
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: I think in the minds of the women and frequently, frankly in the minds of many of the men too, the greater problem is gender discrimination.
PHIL PONCE: Which manifests itself how?
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: Which manifests itself by women who tell you that they feel that in their own workplace that their views and their performance is not equated as equal with that of the male soldier; that they as soldiers are marginalized strictly because of their gender; and that they are not looked at participants in national defense on the same level as the men are. They're not valued equally. So this is a real problem, and also the fact that many women who've been trained in very demanding military occupational specialties may be diverted into what is stereotypical woman's work, a receptionist, a typist, a secretary, instead of being permitted to do the critical job for which they were trained.
PHIL PONCE: Gen. Siegfried, will we--as a result of this--see women less constrained in terms of the kinds of career opportunities for them within the army?
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: It's not the career opportunities that we looked at, Phil. We looked at the army as it exists today. And we focused ourselves on the way soldiers treat each other, okay, regardless of what kind of job they've got, regardless of whether they wear a beret or a kegler helmet or jump out of airplanes, or work typewriters or pump gas. They're all very important, and they should be allowed to perform their mission as equal partners on the team.
PHIL PONCE: One of the things that a system is supposed to have is an avenue of complaining, and yet, the report says there is great fear among soldiers to raise a complaint.
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: There is. We found a very strong sense of fear of reporting because of a fear of reprisal, but I think we see this throughout society at large. In many corporations we hear tales of people who, though harassed, go to their superiors and only themselves suddenly become re-victimized because the finger is being pointed at them as being responsible for this type of behavior. We have the same thing in the army. Soldiers wanted to be accepted by their peers and they want to be team members. They don't want to do anything that is going to cost the career of an individual. If behavior is inappropriate, they simply want it to stop.
Fixing the situation.
PHIL PONCE: So how are you going to change that? How are you going to change the fear, or get rid of the fear?
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: Well, what we have to do is go back to the basics, look at how we are training our men and women together, look at what our systems are, and also make sure that they're aware of the fact that if for any reason they don't have trust in their chain of command, there are other avenues that they can go to, their equal opportunity advisers, the inspector generals, the chaplain, the judge advocate general, the provost marshal. There are other agencies on that installation that they can take their problem to. But what the women and what the men really want is a system, their own chain of command, responsive to their concerns and their problems who will find a solution to their problem.
PHIL PONCE: Gen. Siegfried, in the area of drill sergeants, what are drill sergeants going to be doing differently now that they weren't doing before?
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: First of all, it is important to understand that both our report and the inspector general's report, praised the drill sergeants. When you have got 2,000 drill sergeants producing some 80,000 soldiers a year, the vast majority of them are doing a splendid job. They're working miracles every day, okay? But we haven't been as good as we should have been at training them in the tactics, techniques, and procedures to deal with circumstances that may arise, very good at training them how to teach you how to salute, march, and run a rifle range, and those kinds of things. Not enough discussion about what do you do, Phil, if a trainee comes on to you; what do you do in this circumstance?
PHIL PONCE: If a trainee comes on to you in a romantic way, you mean?
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: You bet. You bet. So we're going to change some of the training that they're getting to better equip our drill sergeants to handle situations that will arise, and concentrate more on that kind of training.
Second thoughts on integrated training?
PHIL PONCE: Gen. Foote, is this--will this cause the army to have any second thoughts about integrated training? I mean, is it going to cause the army to reassess whether or not men and women should train together?
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: I hope it does not because I've commanded a gender-integrated battalion back in the 70's, and I found out that what the men and women wanted was leadership they could rely upon, that they wanted to know what were the standards that they were to meet; they wanted to know what actions would be taken if they stepped over the line in behavior; and they wanted to see leaders who would set the standard, enforce the standard, and they themselves, mirror the standard.
PHIL PONCE: Before we run out of time, the very last question I want to ask you, how much of this has to do with the fact that women are not fully integrated in combat, and because their role is perceived to be different, maybe their treatment is also different as a result?
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: You know, I really can't answer that question because we haven't even begun to explore the women in combat issue, or tested whether women could be in combat. When we talk about basic combat training, we've got to recognize that this is training of men and women together in a training environment and men and women who will work together as soon as they leave their training. Gender-integrated training is for those individuals who are going into the military occupational specialties that are already integrated, so why not start them from day one learning to work together, to live together, to solve problems together, and to be team members together.
PHIL PONCE: Gen. Foote, Gen. Siegfried, thank you very much.
BIG. GEN. EVELYN FOOTE: Thank you.
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SIEGFRIED: Thank you, Phil.