- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

A Pentagon investigation of the U.S. Southern Command is centering on charges from one officer that the commanding general, who has been under consideration for a top position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tolerated anti-women attitudes.
The officer's unsubstantiated written complaint, a copy of which was made available to The Washington Times, contends that Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace "knows of the behavior and tolerates it."
Her charges are contained in an "open letter" and a hot-line complaint. They prompted an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general (IG) into the climate at the higher levels of Southern Command, a major war-fighting command that oversees U.S. military operations in Latin America.
Gen. Pace is one of a handful of four-star generals whom Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has suggested to the White House for either the post of chairman or vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to Pentagon officials.
The scenario for replacing the current chairman, Gen. Henry H. Shelton, who retires Sept. 30, is somewhat complicated. If Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, who heads the U.S. Space Command, is picked, then the sitting vice chairman, Gen. Richard B. Myers, would likely have to step down to avoid having two Air Force officers holding the top two posts. If Gen. Myers is selected as chairman, this would also open up the vice chairman's job.
Pentagon officials say Gen. Pace, and Navy Adm. Richard W. Mies, who just completed a tour as head of U.S. Strategic Command, are possibilities for the vice chairman's job. President Bush is expected to select a new chairman in time for the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold a confirmation hearing in September.
White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said in an interview yesterday that Mr. Bush has not yet received a final recommendation on the next chairman from Mr. Rumsfeld. She declined to say whether the president and his defense secretary have discussed names.
The Washington Times first disclosed the Pentagon investigation last month, saying the IG was looking at Southern Command's "command climate" and a mandatory weekly run that the accusing officer said subjected women to ridicule.
Disclosure of the officer's two written complaints add new details to the scope of the IG probe. The officer did not sign either document. But a source familiar with the investigation said the officer is a woman who was offended by the treatment women receive at command headquarters in Miami.
A significant part of the complaint deals with the weekly command run, in which military personnel were required to run for about 30 minutes in a park near the headquarters. Gen. Pace has terminated the run.
The officer complains of a "hostile atmosphere toward women" and says female officers were boycotting the run because of a deliberate attempt to discriminate against women.
"They have done so by creating a U.S. Southern Command running standard that targets women for failure," the officer charges. "They follow up this standard by intentionally leading command runs at a pace and a distance that exceeds their fictitious standard and the result is that nearly all the women fall out of the run. This discrimination does not satisfy their egos.
"They rub salt into the wound by ridiculing these officers and sailors in open command forums. Everyone in the command knows that they are focusing on the women in the command," the officer said.
The officer adds, "The perception in the command is that Gen. Pace knows of this behavior and condones it. He has been informed of this problem and has taken no steps to alleviate the discrimination."
The complaint charges that two generals on Gen. Pace's staff "terrorize the officers in the command and abuse their power on a daily basis."
The officer contends that one general made a racially offensive remark by saying the "right side won" in a Civil War battle in which the South emerged victorious.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said yesterday that the IG investigation has not yet been completed. "They are going as fast as they can," she said.
Southern Command's public affairs officer did not return calls yesterday seeking comment.
Spokesmen previously have defended the mandatory run, saying it built esprit de corps and that runners were put in groups depending on ability.
Gen. Pace, a Vietnam War combat veteran, did not participate in the run, the spokesmen said. The group activity run had been started by Gen. Pace's predecessor.
Some in the command have grumbled that the run's termination is the result of a "feminized military" where the warrior culture has been toned down.

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