- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2000

The Army has ordered mandatory homosexual sensitivity training for all soldiers in the aftermath of the murder of a soldier at Fort Campbell, Ky.

The Pentagon is also issuing written surveys to military personnel on how their commands view homosexuals. The survey, for example, asks if service members have heard jokes or negative remarks about homosexuals.

The training order and written questionnaire are part of the military's drive to rid the ranks of anti-homosexual actions and statements. Pfc. Barry Winchell, the Fort Campbell soldier, was killed in July by a barracks mate who thought Pfc. Winchell was homosexual. Pvt. Calvin N. Glover was court-martialed for the killing and sentenced to life in prison.

The actions also come after first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Clinton criticized his own policy on homosexuals "don't ask, don't tell," which bars open homosexuality in the ranks.

The survey and training is not sitting well with some armed forces members, who complain the Pentagon is promoting the homosexual agenda.

In a message this month to commanders from headquarters at the Pentagon, the Army said it is also setting up a Web site explaining guidelines for the new training.

Army Secretary Louis Caldera and Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, have ordered Army Training and Doctrine Command to incorporate the new sensitivity training into "all stages of professional military training," the message said. It did not specify what subjects soldiers will be taught.

"In our Army we expect that all soldiers will be treated with dignity and respect at all times and will be afforded a safe and secure environment in which to live and work," said the message, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times. "Harassment of soldiers for any reason, to include perceived sexual orientation, will not be tolerated."

A colonel stationed at a U.S. Army base said the new class work just adds to time away from combat training.

"As you read the additional briefing requirements, again more and more time will be taken away from the real issues training for combat," said the officer, who asked not to be identified. "Commanders of all levels seem to be obsessed with pleasing the political masters to get ahead, like little schoolkids."

Another officer who has seen the Pentagon survey said, "I guess this would explain why the Navy can't give us a bigger pay raise because they are so busy spending our tax dollars on indoctrination and garbage like this."

The debate over homosexuals in the military was revived in December by Mrs. Clinton, then by the president.

"Don't ask, don't tell" began in 1994 and had received scant criticism from Republicans or Democrats until Mrs. Clinton spoke.

Mr. Clinton, who relied on contributions and support from homosexual groups in the 1992 and 1996 elections, then called his own policy "way out of whack."

Days later Defense Secretary William S. Cohen ordered the Pentagon inspector general's office to do a worldwide field survey to ensure the rule is being enforced fairly. A report is due March 13.

The Army IG is also doing a review. The Army's Jan. 17 message is the first concrete response to political criticism over the young soldier's beating death.

But the messages made clear the Army is not backing off enforcement of "don't ask, don't tell." The policy allows homosexuals to serve as long as they keep their sexual orientation private. An admission of homosexuality or engaging in homosexual conduct is grounds for discharge.

"We expect commanders at every level to take appropriate action to prevent harassment of or threats against any member of our army," the message said. "Once again, we are determined to continue to implement the [Department of Defense] homosexual conduct policy with fairness to all because that is the right thing to do for our soldiers."

A Navy spokesman said senior officials are due to meet soon to review enforcement of "don't ask, don't tell." He said there was no decision on anti-harassment training.

The homosexual rights movement, which wants the ban lifted, asserts "don't ask, don't tell" is a failure because more people are being discharged today than in 1994 when the policy took effect.

Proponents say the numbers went up because inductees are no longer asked if they are homosexual before joining the service a practice under the old, outright ban. They also say people are announcing they are homosexual to gain an honorable discharge.

The Pentagon IG is distributing the four-page, 33-question survey. It is divided into categories such as "Offensive Speech," "Harassment Based on Perceived Sexual Orientation," and "Policy and Training."

One question asks: "How often during the past 12 months have you witnessed or experienced event(s)/ behavior(s) involving military personnel, on or off duty, who harassed another military person(s) because of perceived homosexuality?"

The questionnaire states that the harassment can be a derogatory name, a hostile gesture, graffiti, denying career opportunities or unfair punishment.

Another question asks if the person has heard derogatory names or jokes about homosexuals.

Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and analyst at the Family Research Council, said the questions fit in with the homosexual agenda.

"The IG's survey is a slap in the face to local commanders," Col. Maginnis said. "It communicates that Clinton's Pentagon is more concerned about pushing gay rights than other more important personnel issues like stemming the loss of quality personnel."

"Every military survey has a message and this survey has a message. Not that we want to promote harassment, but this chills any criticisms of homosexuals. This communicates loudly that any criticism of homosexuals will be dealt with harshly."

In August, the Pentagon, after saying "don't ask, don't tell" was generally working as planned, ordered the services to develop anti-harassment training.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is a compromise worked out by Mr. Clinton, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Congress after lawmakers rejected the president's bid to allow open homosexuality in the military.

Since adoption, the Pentagon has fine-tuned enforcement with relatively minor rules changes, while certifying on at least three occasions that the regulation is executed fairly.

The two Democratic presidential candidates, Vice President Al Gore and Bill Bradley, both say that as president they would lift the ban. But such action would require congressional approval, since lawmakers made the exclusion federal law.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide