- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

The Army's top brass has concluded that mixed-sex recruit training is "not efficient" but nevertheless is a policy worth keeping, according to an internal study.
The study, conducted by the Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), concedes that mixed-sex boot camp leads to a "disproportionate" number of injuries to women, and that the system also is "not efficient" in producing new soldiers.
But overall, the system of putting male and female recruits in the same squads and companies from the start is working, said a panel of senior officers who produced the review.
The conclusions were presented as a slide show to Army Secretary Thomas E. White. Mr. White, a self-described military traditionalist who is a retired Army brigadier general and decorated Vietnam War combatant, requested the study in December 2001.
Several lawmakers asked Mr. White to follow through on what appeared to be assurances by Bush campaign aides in 2000, who said the president was likely to have the Army revert to training men and women separately as recruits, then integrate them for further training.
Supporters of the separation said it would rid the service of embarrassing boot-camp sex scandals, improve discipline and rigor, and produce better soldiers.
But the TRADOC study says mixed-sex training "improved female performance … increases acceptance of women in the Army" and "provides shared training experience."
Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, viewed the slide show and said the presentation ignores problems with coed training documented by independent commissions and government investigators.
"There's just so much wrong with that slide show, it's just incredible," she said. "Is there any other program the Army retains when they know it's 'not efficient'?"
With TRADOC saying the system works, it will be difficult for Mr. White to enter into a potential battle with feminists in Congress over reverting to sex-separate training, Army officials say.
The study was completed last spring.
A Pentagon official provided a copy to The Washington Times last week.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Maryland Republican and a subcommittee chairman on the House Armed Services Committee, said in an interview he was "disappointed" by the Army study but not surprised.
"You need to understand that these people are going to give you the answer they think you want, and these people are not going to run contrary to the Joint Chiefs," the congressman said.
He said it is up to the chief of the Army and the other Joint Chiefs members to change any policy that is not working.
He said he does not expect the president to "spend political capital" by entering the debate and does not plan at this point to bring the issue up before the Armed Services Committee.
"I still believe an unbiased study would come to the same conclusion as 'Kassebaum' came to," Mr. Bartlett said, referring to a bipartisan commission appointed by the Clinton administration.
It unanimously recommended in 1997 that the services revert to separate-sex training of recruits. It cited a lack of discipline and physical rigor as the main justifications. Former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, Kansas Republican, headed the commission. White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was a member.
Then-Defense Secretary William Cohen appointed the commission after a rash of sex scandals in which Army drill sergeants had relations, sometimes forced, with young female recruits.
But the Joint Chiefs rejected the panel's conclusion and instead instituted reforms of its own.
The Army, for example, set up physical partitions in barracks and placed restrictions on who could visit the buildings after hours.
The Army, Navy and Air Force train male and female recruits in the same companies. The Marines train them separately.
The Army's combat-recruit training, which includes the infantry, armor and artillery, is limited to men. Women are barred from land combat units.
Mrs. Donnelly submitted a document to the Army that lists all the problems with mixed-sex training documented by commissions and other groups.
"Apparently the Army decided to ignore all that," she said. "There was no way they could justify coed training because the benefits were virtually nil and the costs are extremely high."
She said many of the benefits cited by the Army "relate to emotional feelings of females. Since when is basic training a charm school?"
Mrs. Donnelly also said the Army's justification of "we train as we fight" should not apply to boot camp.
"What the phrase should be is 'training for transformation from civilian to a soldier,'" she said.


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