- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2000

Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy, the highest-ranking woman in the Army, likes to launch her stem-winders by stating, "This isn't your father's Army anymore." You can say that again. The aggressive effort to integrate women into the military is a revolutionary change, not just in the armed forces, but also in what it means to be a human being. The push to feminize the military, as Stephanie Gutmann, author of "The Kinder, Gentler Military," puts it, became "a kind of madness" in the 1990s as "the brass handed over their soldiers to social planners in love with an unworkable (and in many cases undesirable) vision of a politically correct utopia, one in which men and women toil side by side, equally good at the same tasks, interchangeable, and, of course, utterly undistracted by sexual interest."

Dream on. Of course, dreaming on is precisely what social planners do. One has to wonder, though, how a handful of utopians, with visions of political correction dancing in their heads, were empowered to transform the military and undermine a range of long-cultivated behaviors and loyalties without any kind of a national debate. It just sort of happened. Now and again, the country takes notice, clucking over the plight of young mothers' leaving their kiddies to answer a bizarre call of duty, "gender-normed" grenade throws and the like, rapacious drill sergeants who use girl recruits as sex slaves, and, not least, a military in shambles, seriously undermined by attrition and low morale. But nothing happens. After all, as Gen. Kennedy is wont to say, "This isn't your father's Army anymore."

Maybe one thing to make a 21st-century citizen pine for Dad's Army is the Alice-in-Wonderland spectacle of Gen. Kennedy, said to be Hillary Rodham Clinton's favorite general, filing a formal complaint of sexual harassment against Maj. Gen. Larry G. Smith, a combat veteran and career armor soldier. This, in fact, is one for the record books. Gen. Kennedy, already the Army's top intelligence officer and its first female three-star general, has become the very first general to file sexual harassment charges against a fellow general. As first reported by this newspaper's Rowan Scarborough, the 52-year-old general called late last year for an official investigation into an act of "inappropriate touching" said to have taken place in her Pentagon office in the fall of 1996. What reopened Gen. Kennedy's wounds or, rather, gave the old touches a twinge three years after the alleged fact? It seems that the inappropriate toucher received, or came in line to receive, a plum assignment, that's what.

There has been surprisingly little editorial comment on the case. Maybe that's because the known facts give off a strong whiff of a that'll-fix-him attitude that is regrettable in a feminist poster-girl. Of course, even if proves to be the case that vindictiveness is not behind the charge, Gen. Kennedy doesn't look much better. That is, if a woman who has ascended to the pinnacle-post of general general isn't up to rebuffing and laying to rest an act of "inappropriate touching" by one of her equals at the Pentagon, one has to question whether warfare even peacekeeping is the best use of her talents.

As Mr. Scarborough noted, Gen. Kennedy confounded a conference of sergeant majors last year by lecturing them, not on intelligence matters as expected, but on the service's Consideration of Others (COO) program. COO? According to Mr. Scarborough, "COO brings soldiers together to talk about personal and professional problems and their feelings." Gen. Kennedy chided the group, "giggling, much like a girl," according to one sergeant, for not "COO'ing." Could Gen. Smith, now being investigated on charges of "inappropriate touching," have been a clumsy, perhaps creepy, but nonetheless wishful COOer? Hard to say. Meanwhile, regardless of the case's outcome, Gen. Kennedy plans to retire this summer, proving, once again, that old soldiers never die. These days, they just file sexual harassment charges.


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