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DoD Accepts Gender-Integration Recommendations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 17, 1998 – Defense Secretary William Cohen deferred a decision on gender integration at the lowest levels of basic training, but told the services to implement many other recommendations made by the Kassebaum Baker Gender Integration Panel.

Cohen, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon March 16, also told the services to establish incentives to attract the best trainers, to make basic training physically tougher and to ensure separate billeting -- if not separate buildings -- for male and female recruits.

The services agreed with many of the recommendations of the Kassebaum Baker Panel, named after its leader former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker. The services will adopt:

  • More female recruiters and trainers.
  • Better selection processes for trainers and more clarity in training authority.
  • Institute training to produce professional relationships between genders.
  • Place more emphasis on core military values.
  • Develop more consistent training standards between the genders.
  • Put more emphasis on patriotism and the challenge of the military in advertising.##

"I believe correcting these deficiencies is going to serve as a good start in the reform effort," Cohen said. He gave the services 30 days to report on how they intend to institute these changes.

Gender-integrated training will continue as is, until Cohen and other military leaders can assess what results these changes will bring. Cohen said the military will institute "about 95 percent" of the recommendations of the panel, and DoD will continue to assess the results.

"What we're saying is, if you make all these changes in the training ... [this] may be the best way to address the issue," Cohen said. "If that is insufficient, then we will look at having separate training for smaller units."

The three areas Cohen wants the services to pay additional attention to will affect service members soonest. He said the military must have "the best to train the best." The services will develop incentives to encourage the best NCOs in the services to volunteer for training duty.

"Now in some services, training duty is viewed as a career killer," said a senior defense official. "We need to look at improving promotions for those who serve as drill sergeants, naval recruit division commanders, drill instructors and military training instructors. There are other things the services can do to make being a trainer more attractive. They've got to do it."

Cohen wants basic training to be tougher. "We have to produce disciplined, motivated soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines," he said. "We must pay special attention to physical fitness, but this is only a first step. We need to provide realistic and challenging field exercises that are instructive and push individuals to achieve their maximum potential."

Cohen said if you demand more of recruits, they will give more. "I have been rather surprised to find that I, perhaps, can do more of the physical activity than some of the recruits -- even at my advanced age," he said. "I think that it does not bode well for those young people."

Finally, Cohen wants to ensure male and female recruits have privacy and they have after-hours supervision to provide an atmosphere free from distractions.

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