- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

As most of America sharpens its focus on battling terrorists abroad, there is a small but determined contingent in the Pentagon intent on waging a different sort of fight: the battle for sexual equivalence in the military. The agenda of the Pentagon's "PC brigade" gained momentum under the previous administration and has subverted commanders' ability to maximize the readiness of America's fighting forces. Through a combination of inertia, spin and political muscle, the brigade has achieved some of its priorities, to the detriment of the military's fighting ability.
Rowan Scarborough reported Monday that, according to an internal study, top Army policymakers have decided to continue with mixed-sex recruit training, otherwise known as basic training. While some of the findings of the study, conducted by the Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), were sound, its conclusion was illogical, and clearly based on political, rather than military, considerations. Army Secretary Thomas E. White requested the study in December 2001, after mixed-sex training apparently led to serial instances of sexual harassment.
Slide 12 of TRADOC's presentation accurately upheld the findings of numerous blue-ribbon commission reports, in stating that mixed-sex training is "not effective," and can lead to a "disproportionate" number of injuries to women, which lead to emotional and financial costs.
A 1997 Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training and Related Issues came to similar findings, and said that "the present organizational structure in integrated basic training is resulting in less discipline, less unit cohesion, and more distraction from training programs."
But in a parsing of its own rhetoric, TRADOC concluded that although the mixed-sex training was "not effective," the policy of putting men and women into the same training squads was working. The reasons TRADOC states justifying this mixed-sex training are quite revealing. This type of training "improved female performance…increases acceptance of women in the Army" and "provides shared training experience." This description sounds more like a couple's therapy brochure than an evaluation of military training. By using criteria such as "shared training experience," it's difficult to imagine what type of training couldn't be justified. In order to change this training policy, all President Bush has to do is give the word. Congressional support for such a measure would be reaffirming, but it isn't necessary.
Women in the military carry out a host of critical functions, including signal corps, military policing, operating air cavalry and transport helicopters, and serving on Navy ships, carriers and amphibious vessels. Since basic training is the building block on which all other expertise hinges, women must be thoroughly inducted into military discipline at this stage. But training with men undermines this induction in a variety of ways. Male recruits, meanwhile, also perform better in single-sex training. The Marines continue to train male and female recruits separately, to great effect and satisfaction for both sides.
At such a critical time for America's security, military policy must be based on empirical evaluations of troop performance. Questions of political correctness should have no bearing on military decisions.

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