DoD to Study Mixed-Gender Training, Conduct Policies
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 9, 1997 A panel will look into gender-integrated training and a DoD task force will look into DoD policies regarding adultery, fraternization and other privacy issues, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen announced June 7.
"The difficult jobs our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines perform require rigorous training and firm discipline," Cohen stated in a press release. "A key to military effectiveness is a disciplinary system that is fair, equitable and clear.
"Recent perceptions that our system is inconsistent damage the morale of our troops. The actions I am taking today will assure that our training remains superb and that our rules are well understood at all levels of command."
Cohen's panel announcements came after a rash of sexual misconduct cases drew public and congressional scrutiny.
Adultery and its effects on good order and discipline have been the issue in recent cases involving several military officers, including Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Army Maj. Gen. John E. Longhouser, commander and court martial convening authority at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; and Air Force 1st Lt. Kelly Flinn, the military's first female B-52 bomber pilot.
These cases followed on the heels of rape and other sexual misconduct convictions of drill instructors at Aberdeen, charges against the Army's most senior enlisted soldier and thousands of calls to military hotlines alleging sexual harassment.
"We must address these issues in a thorough, well-informed way that has credibility with the military, the Congress and the public," Cohen said.
The independent panel on mixed-gender training will study the services' training programs and policies, and examine related morale and discipline issues. Former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker will head the panel, which will report to Cohen in six months.
A DoD task force under the direction of the deputy defense secretary will review policies and practices essential to ensuring respect for the individual while maintaining good order and discipline, DoD officials said. It will analyze data from the last several years to review disciplinary patterns and will make initial recommendations in 90 days.
Cohen also instructed DoD's counsel general to review the clarity of existing guidance on adultery under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The goal is not to change the language of the code, officials said, but to examine instructions for implementing Article 134 as it pertains to adultery.
The general counsel will ask the Joint Service Committee on Military Justice to review instructions on adultery in the Manual for Courts-Martial and to propose clarifications, if necessary, DoD officials said. The review is scheduled for completion by Aug. 18.
"The Joint Chiefs of Staff fully support these initiatives," Cohen said. "They agree that we must do all we can to make sure that our rules are as clear and effective as possible. People in the military must have confidence that disciplinary practices are fair, and consistently applied."