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Release No: 287-98
June 08, 1998


Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen has approved the plans of the military Services to improve initial entry training programs and policies. Those plans detail how each Service has implemented or will be implementing changes in initial entry training recommended in December by the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training and Related Issues (also known as the Kassebaum Baker panel). On March 16, Secretary Cohen directed the Services to prepare the plans after he had reviewed Service assessments in which all of the Services agreed with virtually ninety-five percent of the Kassebaum Baker panel recommendations. At the same time, he directed additional action in three areas especially critical to basic training -- training leadership, training rigor, and recruit billeting.

After carefully reviewing the Service plans for implementing Kassebaum Baker panel recommendations and the additional action he directed, Secretary Cohen conveyed his assessment to the senior leadership of each Service: "Your actions and attention show the commitment required to ensure high quality, effective training for the men and women serving in our armed forces. This quality of training, particularly initial training, is critical to preserving good order and discipline in the armed forces and in providing for our nation's security."

In their plans, the Services identified measures, including a system of awards and incentives, to emphasize the value of assignment as a basic trainer and to counter any notion that a training assignment is detrimental to a military career. The Services have increased or will increase training rigor through toughened physical fitness standards and better physical conditioning and through more robust and challenging training exercises. Regarding housing of recruits during basic training, the Services satisfied a goal of the Kassebaum Baker panel and Secretary Cohen's intent with plans that, when fully implemented, provide for the safety, security, privacy and appropriate supervision of recruits in barracks. With the enhancements specified in their plans, the Navy and Air Force will continue to billet men and women recruits on separate floors of the same barracks. The Army, with a relatively modest funding outlay for construction, will provide totally separate and secure sleeping areas and latrines for men and women recruits but will not necessarily billet men and women on separate floors. The Marine Corps will continue to billet men and women recruits in separate barracks.

Secretary Cohen also approved Service plans for the continuation of gender integration in elemental training units (platoons, divisions, flights) as the optimum training format for the Army, Navy and Air Force. He approved as well continuation of the established Marine Corps policy for gender separate basic training with a gender-integrated follow on program.

In reaching his decisions, Secretary Cohen said: "With their different missions, traditions and conditions of service, some differences in the ways the Services conduct their basic training are appropriate and desireable. We can, however, continue to identify the right standards to ensure basic training properly prepares young men and women for the demanding requirements of service in the field and fleet and to ensure that basic training, while rigorous, is accomplished in a safe and secure environment. We can and must hold all accountable to uniform, rigorous standards while permitting each Service the flexibility required to meet the standards in the manner appropriate to their Service."

Finally, Secretary Cohen noted that the changes being made "are part of a continuing process, not a series of one-time remedial actions." He directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to establish a permanent mechanism to monitor how well the Services are meeting the new standards and practices for basic training.

An overview is appended of the Service plans specifying the measures each Service has taken or will take to implement changes recommended by the Kassebaum Baker panel and to accomplish the additional action directed in the areas of training leadership, training rigor, and recruit billeting. Also appended is an independent review by the Honorable Kim Wincup of the Service responses to both the Kassebaum Baker panel report and to the additional direction given by the Secretary of Defense on March 16. Wincup is a former Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs and a former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.

Report on the Responses of the Armed Services to the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training and Related Issues and Additional Direction by the Secretary of Defense. (05/01/1998)

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