- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2001

The Defense Department is investigating a mandatory training run at a major armed forces command after a female officer complained to Washington that the weekly jog was demeaning.
A spokesman for U.S. Southern Command, which oversees American military operations in Latin America, confirmed to The Washington Times that the run has been canceled.
"The Defense Department IG (inspector general) is addressing the command run and some other allegations," said Col. Ron Williams, the command's chief spokesman. "The IG is involved in the investigation, and I'm not sure where it's going to go."
Another spokesman confirmed that Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, who heads the U.S. Southern Command, terminated the Friday morning run. It involved uniform personnel running for about 30 minutes in a park near the command headquarters in Miami.
Military sources told The Times an officer wrote a letter of complaint to Congress and the Pentagon, and the case was referred to the office of the inspector general. Another source said part of the complaint is that the run subjected slow runners to ridicule from faster participants. The IG is also looking into the "command climate" at the headquarters.
Col. Williams said Gen. Pace, a Vietnam combat veteran and former commander of the Marine Barracks in Washington, did not participate in the runs. The spokesman declined to discuss the female officer's allegations. The run was begun by the previous commander, before Gen. Pace took command in September.
Col. Williams said the runners were usually divided into groups based on their abilities.
Said Kelley Spellman, a command spokeswoman: "The entire command would run. They would run around the area of the command for approximately half an hour. It was an esprit de corps endeavor and also physical fitness."
She said such mandatory runs are "pretty prevalent for the Army and Marine Corps, but not so much for the Navy because they are on ships a lot."
The decision to terminate the run has its critics within the command's officer corps. One suggested the decision is an example of an increasingly coed military toning down its warrior culture to accommodate women.
In 1997, then-Defense Secretary William Cohen ordered a blue-ribbon commission to look at the issue of mixed-gender basic training. Mr. Cohen was so alarmed at the panel's findings that in 1998 he ordered the services to add more rigor to training.
The run's cancellation was even more puzzling to some inside the Pentagon, given the emphasis the Defense Department places on physical fitness.
In 1998, the Pentagon kicked off "Operation Be Fit," a program designed to encourage personnel to exercise outside their units' normal physical training.
The short run at Southern Command was in addition to mandatory, twice-yearly physical fitness tests taken by all military personnel. Each branch has different, although similar, requirements.
In the Marine Corps, which places a strong emphasis on physical conditioning, a male must be able to run three miles in at least 28 minutes; a female in 31 minutes. Males and females must be able to perform at least 45 stomach-toning "crunches" in two minutes.
It varies from command to command on whether physical training is required as a group activity.
Staff Sgt. Keith Milks, a spokesman at Marine headquarters in the Pentagon, said most of his past assignments were at commands that required group runs.
"We are all supposed to be war fighters, and this is a way for commanders to gauge the physical strength of their warriors."
Because of odd working hours, he said, mandatory runs are not required at Marine headquarters. "We run individually," he said.
At U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., a spokesman said workouts and runs are left to the individual.

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