- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2016

FORT JACKSON, S.C. (AP) - Fort Jackson has become a guide for other military organizations trying to expand training for women now able to enter additional combat-related jobs, the post’s departing commander said.

“We’ve been a model to other services and other organizations that are trying to do gender-integrated training,” Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier (Klew-TEE-Ay) said in an interview prior to his departure Friday as the commander of the Army’s largest training installation.

“I mean, we are kind of the model for the rest of DOD (Department of Defense),” Cloutier said.

Fort Jackson spokesman Christopher Fletcher said representatives from all of the military service branches, including the Coast Guard, have sent representatives to the installation to study its approach to training men and women together.

Fort Jackson trains around 62,000 soldiers annually. Women began being integrated into basic training units with men in the 1980s.

Now, the installation trains 54 percent of all male soldiers and 65 percent of all female soldiers during the first 10 weeks of training that prepares them for military life and combat.

Late last year, the Pentagon decided to allow females to compete for all front-line combat jobs, opening areas such as infantry and armor that had been closed to them.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered all service branches to allow women to compete for the most demanding and difficult jobs, such as the Army Delta units and Navy SEALs.

The Marines have never integrated basic training. Male and female Marines train in separate units.

The Army’s basic training weeks include physical fitness, marksmanship, land navigation, obstacle courses and lengthy marches, among other types of training. Men and women are separated in their sleeping quarters and while they conduct personal hygiene.

Cloutier said he thinks the installation has made “a lot of progress” during his single year on the job. He pointed to some improvements in renovating some of the post’s buildings and training areas, and that he has been able to work closely with residents in the local community.

The Army has just begun a year of celebrations leading up to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the training post outside Columbia. Camp Jackson became a training facility in 1917 as part of the nation’s preparation for World War I.

Cloutier said he’s sorry he has to leave early - commanders usually remain at the post for two years - but he has been ordered to the organization that oversees Army operations in Africa. The headquarters of the Africa Command are in Stuttgart, Germany.

Cloutier hands responsibility to Brig. Gen. John P. Johnson, who has been the director of training for the Army’s deputy chief of staff.

“We have some good plans down the road for moving the installation forward,” Cloutier said, adding, “Gen. P. Johnson is a great American and he’s going to pick it up and just continue to move the ball forward.”


Follow Susanne M. Schafer on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/susannemarieap

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