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Release No: 556-97
October 21, 1997


The Department of Defense made available today a recently-completed RAND Report: "New Oportunities for Military Women: Effects Upon Readiness, Cohesion and Morale." The RAND study fulfilled a direction to the Secretary of Defense in the House National Security Committee report on the Fiscal Year 1997 National Defense Authorization Act "to obtain an independent study by a Fully-Funded Research Development Center (FFRDC)" to assess the extent and effect of the integration of women into the military.

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen said: "I am pleased with the positive findings in the RAND study. Our success in opening 80 percent of military specialties to women in the services, including 99.4 percent in the Air Force and 91.2 percent in the Navy, shows we have made progress. The study's finding that leadership, training and mission determine how well units perform--not the presence or absence of women--is significant. However, more needs to be done to improve career opportunities for women in the military. We can and will do more. America's sons and daughters deserve no less."

The study concluded: "A major finding of this study is that gender integration is perceived to have a relatively small effect on readiness, cohesion, and morale in the units we visited. Further, "The majority of both men and women reported that sexual harassment does not occur in their units." However, the researchers noted: "We heard repeatedly how double standards undermine women's credibility and generate hostility." They recommended that "new policies should avoid establishing double standards for men and women in the same positions and, where possible, eliminate double standards that exist now."

The study also concluded: "Many of the men and women we talked to were concerned that the public spotlight on gender integration in the military was making the adjustment more difficult and diverting attention from the progress that had occurred."

The study found that a majority of both sexes favored the gender integration of basic training, although a substantial minority of both sexes preferred segregated basic training. One-half of the enlisted men and over 80 percent of the women surveyed favored a relaxation in the

ground combat exclusion policy. Those who supported a change in policy differed concerning whether women's service in ground combat positions should be voluntary or required. RAND concluded that the assignment of women leaders to newly-opened units prior to or in concert with the assignment of junior women was "desirable when it is feasible."

The study affirmed that "progress has occurred in all Services. Some of the changes were numerically small but significant. Women now fly combat aircraft and serve on combat ships. . . . However, limitations still exist, and some of them operate in complex ways. Certain units and skills are still closed to women; these are primarily those that engage in direct ground combat or collocate with units that do."

The two RAND researchers visited 14 Army, Navy and Marine Corps units in the continental United States with occupations recently opened to women, interviewed senior leaders, conducted focus group sessions with almost 500 individuals, and administered surveys completed by 934 individuals. For technical reasons, the researchers did not visit Air Force units. The researchers characterized their work as providing "important insights" and recommended further study of the issues.

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