|SEPARATE BUT EQUAL?|
December 16, 1997
Following a string of scandals involving sexual misconduct by military personnel, Defense Secretary Cohen created a special panel to review mixed gender training. The panel's report - released Tuesday, December 16th - is discussed by its leader, former Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker, followed by a debate between two experts who disagree over the panel's findings.
KWAME HOLMAN: Three of the four military services train men and women together. Only the Marine Corps separates its recruits in basic training. Nearly 200,000 of the nation's 1.4 million soldiers are female, but integrating the sexes in military training has proven difficult and problematic.
GEN. DENNIS REIMER, Army Chief of Staff: (1996) All of us in the army are deeply troubled by the allegations of sexual misconduct and rape.
|The panel's findings.|
KWAME HOLMAN: Last year, several young female soldiers based at the army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland accused their drills sergeants and other trainers of sexual harassment and rape. Six servicemen were convicted, including Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for raping six female trainees. As the number of such scandals grew, Defense Sec. William Cohen named former Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker to head a special panel to review mixed sex training. Their report, released today, includes these unanimous recommendations: Separate barracks for male and female recruits; organize basic units, the platoon or its equivalent, by single gender; expand sexual harassment training to include positive instruction on how to work together; eliminate strict rules against contact between the sexes known as "no talk, no touch;" use more female trainers and recruiters; and toughen physical training for both women and men. At the Pentagon this afternoon Defense Secretary William Cohen accepted the panel's report but declined to endorse it.
WILLIAM COHEN, Secretary of Defense: It is a good report. It does reflect the hard work that these distinguished panel members have put into this process. It is part of a process; however, and now that I have the report, I will again submit to the services for their comment.
REPORTER: May I ask you what your initial reaction is to separating--
REPORTER: You're neutral, decidedly neutral.
WILLIAM COHEN: I am neutral and open, as I've indicated before, to all constructive recommendations.
KWAME HOLMAN: Even before the secretary spoke critics lambasted the report.
|Criticism of the panel's suggestions.|
DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, (D) District of Columbia: If the Secretary turns tail and runs back to the bad old days of sex-segregated training, there will be lots of American women, not to mention women members of Congress, running him down. I mean, this takes us back many steps. We're trying to get women moved closer and closer to combat. These people are trying to keep the sexes from being trained together.
KWAME HOLMAN: But today the commissioners were adamant that their recommendations were not a step backward.
DEVAL PATRICK, Committee on Gender-Integrated Training: We are talking about housing teenagers in separate dormitories for the first six to ten weeks of their military career, six to ten weeks. And the training that runs at the dormitory level--I'm using civilian terms, if you will--would continue to run at the dormitory level. 70 percent of the time the training, even from day one, is gender integrated, preparing, we think, recruits for a gender-integrated military experience going forward.
KWAME HOLMAN: The four branches of the military will review the panel's recommendations and report back to Secretary Cohen in the next three months.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Margaret Warner takes the story from there.
MARGARET WARNER: The advisory committee visited 17 military bases and interviewed more than 2,000 active duty military personnel in preparing its recommendations. Here with more now is the committee's chairman, Former U.S. Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker. Welcome, Senator.
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER, Committee on Gender-Integrated Training: Thank you, Margaret.
MARGARET WARNER: What was the overall problem you found in the area of the integrated--integration of women that led you to believe we need these changes?
|A discussion with Nancy Kassebaum Baker|
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: We felt not looking at a problem--we looked at both men and women in our basic training program and felt it could be improved. I would first like to just comment on the film clip we saw just to say--because I think many people commented on this report who haven't read it--that all the pictures we saw of the men and women training in the field will continue just that way. That's not changed. We strongly support gender-integrated training. We strongly support the opening of new areas in the services that women can serve and hope more will continue to open. But we felt that the overall basic training program needed to be strengthened; it could be improved; and that as--the way it was shaped today was not really providing the cohesion and unity and readiness that was necessary for a strong force.
MARGARET WARNER: But what is standing in the way of the cohesion and readiness?
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: Well, we believed it was the way the living quarters were arranged, and in order to try and get at more unity, we believed it was getting to greater confusion, and as a result of this, their policies like no talk, no touch, don't even look at male/female for longer than a bit of time--
MARGARET WARNER: Three minutes.
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: Well, whatever, you know. And sometimes that's enforced and vigorously enforced; sometimes it isn't. I mean, that's not law. That's just kind of grown up, and in many ways it's as if you're trying to deal with junior high school students. And I think it does a disservice to both the men and women not to be able to give them a little more structure, which, indeed, helps develop strong discipline and camaraderie and esprit de corps in a natural way.
MARGARET WARNER: And just to explain right now in a platoon--say if they're in the same barracks--you'd have the men of this unit on one side and women on another, and they're not allowed to talk, is that right?
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: Right. Or they can't--they have been sometimes on the same floor--one side female/one side male. We're just saying put them all in the same barrack--females with males--in a separate barrack, and that just helps foster, I think, a camaraderie and esprit de corps that is useful, and then as platoons fall out, they would march together, but as they come together as a company--and there are four platoons in a company--you have integration. That's in your classroom teachings; it's in your field exercises, many times your technical training at the rifle range and so forth; so that doesn't change. As former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval Patrick pointed out, 70 percent of the army's training will be very--the same.
MARGARET WARNER: Give us an example of some kind of training that now is integrated that wouldn't be.
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: That now is integrated that would not be.
MARGARET WARNER: That would not be. Just barracks specific. What do they do in the barracks?
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: Let's say in the morning after reveille they get up and they march and they do some of their physical training exercises. This would be done by platoon, or division, or flight, as we talk about the Navy and the Air Force, rather than as they do now fall out and sort of march side by side. They would be marching separately, but we urge the toughening for physical standards and the same for men and women. We really heard this from the recruits; they expected tougher physical training, and that that would come.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me ask you one more thing about the women related. The Marines of course already do this, in fact, I think they keep them separate even farther up the chain.
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: They go much further up.
MARGARET WARNER: Did you find empirical evidence or from what recruits and trainers told you that suggested that men and women in the Marines are more satisfied with their system?
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: Well, yes, most of them said they were, but we must remember there are far fewer women in the Marines, and there are smaller numbers. The Marines do come together now in integrated-training for 17 days, in combat training between basic and advanced training. Our recommendations carry on into separate barracks for advanced training, which is Aberdeen. But, Margaret, let me just point out, this is a recommendation that includes a lot of things, that we think strengthens it for both men and women. And that's really what it's about. I believe, frankly, that women have been made a scapegoat for some of the things that have gone wrong and are being blamed for weakened physical training, being blamed for problems in the barracks. And that's just not the case.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, you did have a lot of recommendations over on the recruiting and training area.
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: Right. Starts with recruit--we really believe recruits would be responsible for seeing their recruit get through the process.
MARGARET WARNER: You mean--
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: The training process.
MARGARET WARNER: --who recruit them--the recruiters.
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: The men and women. And we urge more female recruiters, and this is an important component of the whole process and a stronger enhancement of the delayed entry program, so that the young men and women who are going in and signing up have a better understanding of the physical and mental discipline that's required. We give strong support to the training cadre. We need to be utilizing them and exercising more selectivity and skill and career enhancement for your drill sergeants. We've not done, I think, a very good job making sure that we're getting the best instructors in and giving them an incentive both financial and career enhancement that's important.
MARGARET WARNER: Did you--did you find out why it is that some of these young people in the service think that the standards are tough enough? I mean, what has happened? The idea that basic training isn't tough enough seems sort of a counter--
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: It does, and most of your officers would say that's what recruits say all the time. So I'm not sure, but I think that we just--we have tended to not believe we can ask for more. And I tend to think we can. I think we're seeing many young men and women come in that aren't physically as fit and we also stress nutrition and wellness programs. We stress value training, and let me say at the end of the day, Margaret, in many ways, it's leadership that counts. If you don't have strong leadership, that's willing to take positions, willing to accept responsibility, nothing will work. And we hope that we can begin to instill that even as recruits are coming through, so that they're going to be providing the leadership in the future.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think that these recommendations--if they were accepted--would prevent another Aberdeen?
|Preventing another Aberdeen?|
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: How can you say? I--you know, we see those--it's a very--and that's a case where I think we've not done enough monitoring through the system, but I don't think you can say that anywhere, in the work place or the army, but in the army, in the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, where you have authority and power and influence over those who don't have as much as you do, that's where you tend to get askew, and everybody has to be willing to accept some responsibilities in that process. We really believe this is as step forward, not a step backward. It really in many ways speaks to the importance of women's role in our armed services, and it's significant; it will continue to be significant. We feel we do a disservice--the committee did--to our young men and women by not giving them the very best.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, thank you, Senator Kassebaum.
NANCY KASSEBAUM BAKER: Thank you.