Statement of Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President National Women’s Law Center, Before the Subcommittee on Personnel, Committee on Armed Services U.S. Senate on Gender-Integrated Training
June 5, 1997
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center. The Center appreciates the leadership the Subcommittee has shown on many important issues affecting women in the military. I submit this statement in support of gender-integrated basic training and Senator Olympia Snowe’s bill to ensure the continuation of the Armed Services gender-integrated training programs.
The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s legal rights. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including employment, education, family support, income security, reproductive rights and health care — with special attention paid to the concerns of low-income women and their families. Most relevant to this hearing, the Center has played a leading role in analyzing Pentagon policies relating to women in the Armed Services, and has authored monographs on sexual harassment in the military, parents in military service and women in combat. Center staff have testified before the Senate Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on National Security on issues affecting women in the military and, at the invitation of the Secretary of Defense, I participated in the 1994 Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, a Defense Department program designed to brief approximately 60 opinion leaders and active communicators on national defense issues and the strength and readiness of the U.S. military services through meetings with senior members of the Defense Department and hands-on visits to Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force commands.
As the Subcommittee knows, all of the services have had gender-integrated advanced training since at least the 1970’s. The Air Force integrated basic training in 1976, before it integrated advanced training. The Navy integrated basic training in 1993 and in 1994 the Army followed suit. Although the Marine Corps remains gender segregated in basic training, every non-infantry Marine must, before beginning advanced occupational skill training, complete an intensive 17-day field program of combat training that was gender integrated for the first time earlier this year.
1. The goal of military training should be to produce the best Armed Services possible and research demonstrates that the performance of both women and men in gender-integrated basic training units is higher than in segregated training units.
As Secretary of the Army Togo West recently stated, studies have documented that gender-integrated basic training programs produce service members performing as well, and in some categories, better than when they went through segregated training by gender. The General Accounting Office (GAO) examined the performance of men and women in gender-integrated basic training in 1996, at the request of the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel of the House Committee on National Security, Rep. Robert K. Dornan, and determined that the available data show that gender-integrated basic training programs are effective. Basic Training: Services Are Using a Variety of Approaches to Gender Integration, U.S. General Accounting Office, Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, Committee on National Security, House of Representatives (June 1996) (1996 GAO Report). Although data were not available from the Air Force, the Navy and Army data examined by GAO showed improvements in the performance of both male and female trainees.
A 1992 study by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) conducted for the Navy found that gender-integrated basic training units produced the same performance results as segregated units but had improved teamwork. A 1996 study by the Army Research Institute (ARI) concluded that the performance of female trainees improved in gender-integrated basic training units and the performance of male trainees was about the same. The performance indicators ARI examined, over a three-year period, included physical fitness, marksmanship, and individual proficiency tests. GAO then compared the results of this study to the Army’s performance results from all-male basic training companies during 1993-95 and found that men in gender-integrated companies had higher pass rates than men in segregated companies in the categories of physical performance for which data were available — the Army physical fitness test and the basic rifle marksmanship test. GAO did not address the reasons for the success of gender-integrated basic training, but other observers have stated that the healthy competition between the male and female recruits makes both perform at higher levels than recruits in single-gender training: the women work hard to keep up with the men and the men don’t want to be bested by the women.
Although the argument has been made that the Army’s previous attempt at gender-integrated basic training in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s was abandoned because it didn’t work, GAO stated that the Army could provide no documentation of its earlier gender-integrated training, its results or the reasons it was discontinued. In speaking with Army officials about the results of the earlier effort, GAO found “various opinions….Some said the results were not good, which led the Army to stop the training. Others said the results were good and that the training was stopped because of a lack of support within the Army.” In addition, Army officials told GAO that “many factors [have] positively affected the training environment since then, including improvements in training equipment and facilities, advances in sports medicine, the use of athletic shoes for physical training, and increased roles for women in the military and society in general.” On the last point, although not noted by GAO, some military personnel have stated that Congress’ passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 led to significant improvements in women’s sports programs in high schools and post-secondary schools, with the result that women enter military service today far more physically fit than in the mid-1970’s.
Col. Thomas Kreger, a 27-year veteran who commanded a training brigade at Fort Jackson, the Army’s main basic training base when gender-integrated training began there a few years ago, asserts that another positive effect of gender integration is the increase in the number of women recruits who complete basic training. For FY 1996, women were 20 percent of the new recruits who completed basic training in the Army and the Navy, 25 percent of new recruits in the Air Force, and 7 percent of new recruits in the Marine Corps. These numbers represent a 2-5 percent increase in the number of female recruits who completed basic training in these services since FY 1995. “From a training standpoint, there isn’t a downside to this,” Kreger said recently.
Although available data show that gender-integrated basic training is effective, because the data are limited, GAO recommended that the Secretary of Defense “direct the services to retain and analyze comparative performance data for men and women in single-gender and gender-integrated [recruit] training units over a 1-year time period to be completed by fiscal year 1998.” In a letter to GAO from Under Secretary of Defense Edwin Dorn, the Department of Defense (DoD) agreed with the GAO report and its conclusions, and stated that each of the services would be directed to retain and analyze comparative performance data as recommended by GAO.
In sum, the available data show that gender-integrated basic training is improving the performance of the force in the Army and the Navy, and the Defense Department is currently collecting data in all the services to permit further examination of the effectiveness of such training. Until it can be demonstrated that gender-integrated basic training is interfering with performance or harming the readiness of the Armed Services, Congress should defer to the services’ judgment to train men and women in gender-integrated units.
2. Gender-integrated basic training helps new recruits, from the outset of their military service, learn to respect each other and work together successfully in a gender-integrated environment.
It is important for new recruits, whatever their attitudes and backgrounds, to understand that the military values both men and women and they will be expected to do so as well. Putting men and women together from day one of their military service furthers this goal. “It’s absolutely essential that men and women train together from the very beginning,” Rear Admiral Kevin P. Green, commander of the Navy’s Great Lakes Training Center said recently. “In the process of transforming adolescent civilians to sailors, to prepare them for the fleet environment, I don’t want to wait.”
In addition, it is important for the military to train the way it fights and fight the way it trains. As Fort Jackson’s Col. Kreger has said, “Almost everybody in the Army works in a gender-integrated environment, so the anomaly would be if you were training men and women separately.” This has become even more true in the last several years, as many military occupational specialities have been opened to women, greatly expanding their assignment opportunities. This expansion did not occur because of some notion of “political correctness,” but, as Secretary of Defense William Cohen has said, because women performed so highly in such a range of duties in the Gulf War. Women now fly combat aircraft and serve on combat ships and are eligible to perform virtually all military duties except those involving direct ground combat. As the services become even more gender-integrated and women increasingly serve in the same roles and assignments as men, it is important that men and women learn from the outset — in basic training — to work together effectively.
3.Gender-integrated basic training is cost effective, but a return to segregated training would entail a considerable increase in costs.
The 1996 GAO Report concluded that the cost of gender integration of basic training has been low. The Army is the only service that incurred expenses to accommodate gender-integrated basic training — $67,000 to modify barracks at one installation. No staffing or curriculum changes were made to accommodate basic training by any of the services.
In contrast, to return to gender-segregated basic training would result in significant costs. This is particularly so in the Navy, which, in response to base realignment and closure decisions, consolidated all of its recruit training in one location in Great Lakes, Illinois. If the Navy were forced to re-segregate basic training it might have to establish another training location for recruits and would, under pending legislation that requires instruction be provided only by persons of the same gender as recruits, have to institute staffing changes — including removing the current commander of recruit training because she is a woman. According to the Washington Post, the Army estimates it would cost $1.5 million “to train and relocate the number of drill sergeants necessary for sex-segregated basic training.”
4. Although there are some differences in the instructional programs for men and women in gender-integrated basic training, these differences do not warrant a return to gender-segregated basic training.
The 1996 GAO Report found that the Army and Navy basic training programs are nearly identical for men and women and that in gender-integrated units trainees are together at the operating level. The only differences are that male and female trainees are berthed separately, have different medical examinations and hygiene classes, and must meet different physical fitness test standards. Similarly, men and women trainees in the Air Force have the same program of instruction, with differences in the medical examinations, hygiene classes, and physical fitness test standards. In contrast to the Navy and the Army, men and women in the Air Force are segregated at the operating level of recruit training, the flight, training side by side but not together. The exception is the physical conditioning program, in which men and women train together.
Although separate berthing, medical examinations and hygiene classes have received no particular commentary, the differences in physical fitness test standards have led some critics of gender-integrated basic training to claim that men resent being held to “higher” standards and that this resentment lowers morale and impedes men’s performance. As the 1996 GAO Report demonstrates, however, there is no evidence that these physical fitness test differences affect men’s performance in gender-integrated training. Indeed, the 1996 ARI study, as reported by GAO, found that the pass rates on the Army physical fitness test for male trainees in gender-integrated companies exceeded the pass rates for male trainees on the same test in gender-segregated companies. If anything, then, gender integration tends to improve the physical fitness of male recruits.
Moreover, it is important to remember that different physical fitness test standards do not exist only for gender or only for recruits. Thus, the military has different physical fitness test standards for individuals of different ages, as well — a 42-year-old male does not have to run as far, as fast, as an 18-year-old male or an 18-year-old female. Yet no one has suggested these differences should be eliminated or are impeding military readiness.
It is also important to remember the distinction between a physical fitness test standard and a physical standard for a particular military occupation. The military’s different test standards based on gender or age are only used in measuring an individual’s general physical fitness. The military does not distinguish between men and women or persons of different ages in measuring an individual’s ability to perform a particular military occupational speciality, and, assuming the test is actually relevant to that the performance of that speciality, this is as it should be. Not all women can physically perform all jobs, but neither can all men. The ones who can, regardless of gender, will qualify for the occupational speciality.
Finally, the gap between the physical fitness test standards for men and women has been closing in recent years, and with the increasing physical fitness of women due to greater participation in sports in elementary and high schools, is expected to continue to close. For example, women in basic training in the Marine Corps used to run 1.5 miles to men’s 3 miles, but now both women and men run 3 miles, with women permitted to run at a somewhat slower rate. Both women and men in the Marine Corps are required to do 80 situps in 2 minutes; previously women were required to do only 50 situps in this time period.
5. Most importantly, perhaps, re-segregating basic training is not the solution to the problem of sexual misconduct in the military.
If single-sex basic training were key to combating sexual misconduct in the military, the Marine Corps, the only service with segregated basic training, would have the lowest reported incidence of sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct. In fact, however, according to a Defense Department report on sexual harassment released in December, 1996, the Marine Corps has the highest level of reported sexual misconduct. In 1995, 64 percent of women in the Marine Corps reported one or more incidents of unwanted, uninvited sexual attention (including sexual coercion, sexual assault and rape or attempted rape) in the past year, compared to 61 percent of women in the Army, 53 percent of women in the Navy and 49 percent of women in the Air Force. Department of Defense 1995 Sexual Harassment Survey, Defense Manpower Data Center (December 1996) (DoD 1996 Sexual Harassment Report).
Moreover, the service that has reduced its reported incidence of sexual misconduct the most since the last DoD survey in 1988 — the Navy, by 13 percent — is the service that has integrated basic training to the greatest extent. As the 1996 GAO Report points out, in FY 1995 the Army trained all of its women and 49 percent of its men in gender-integrated units that were 20 to 50 percent women. In the same year, the Navy trained all of its women but only 25 percent of its men in gender-integrated units that were 50-50 men and women. The reason for this difference, according to GAO, is that “the Navy considers it important not to have only a few of either gender in a group because those trainees might feel isolated or intimidated. Therefore, because the number of men that can be trained in integrated units is limited by the number of women available to train with them, some units must be all male.” The Navy has followed a similar pattern in integrating women into new advanced-level positions, for example by putting not just a few but a large number of women on combat ships, even if that means that some combat ships have no women at all. Although the 1996 DoD Sexual Harassment Report shows that the Navy still has a way to go to eliminate sexual harassment, the approach it is taking is responsive to the Report’s finding that almost a third of service women who experienced one or more incidents of sexual misconduct in the previous year reported that the one incident that had the greatest effect on them took place when they were serving “in a work environment where personnel of their gender were uncommon.” The Navy’s approach is also consistent with research on the gender integration of women into other, similar nontraditional jobs for women — firefighters and police. That research demonstrates that the presence in a male-dominated workforce of a “critical mass” of women (usually at least 25 percent) reduces the likelihood of sexual harassment and other misconduct. See Thomas & Prather, Integration of Females into a Previously All-Male Institution, in Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium on Psychology in the Air Force 100-01 (U.S. Air Force Academy, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, 1976). Thus, rather than moving to re-segregate basic training, the services should be working toward greater integration of such training, as Gen. William W. Hartzog, the head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, advocated last week.
Finally, re-segregating basic training does not address the specific problem of sexual misconduct at such bases as Aberdeen, Fort Leonard Wood, and Darmstadt extensively chronicled in recent news accounts, since these are advanced training bases. As noted above, advanced training has been integrated at least since the abolition of separate services for women and will continue to be integrated because it is where new military personnel learn the specific military jobs they will perform. Men and women receive this training together because, shortly thereafter, they must perform these jobs together.
6. It is an insult to the vast number of men in the military who behave properly to suggest that they can not train with women without engaging in sexual misconduct, and it is an insult to the women who are the targets of such misconduct to suggest that their mere presence is the reason for the improper behavior of some men.
When women first became firefighters and police they were told they could never succeed because the job was too physically demanding and men would be so sexually disrupted by their presence that their force’s mission to protect public safety would be threatened. These arguments are remarkably similar to those advanced by some critics of gender-integrated military training today. Yet women have shown they can excel at firefighting and police work and men have shown they can work with women in the close quarters of the firehouse and the police cruiser without wrecking sexual havoc.
So, too, the vast majority of men and women in the military are getting the job done, behaving professionally and treating each other as colleagues dedicated to a common goal. Those military personnel who are behaving improperly — and even criminally — are violating not only the law but the trust others have placed in them, undermining the good order and discipline they are charged to observe, and grossly abusing their authority. Sexual harassment and assault are not about “hormones,” and to suggest that they are excuses the behavior of those who engage in such misconduct. Rather sexual misconduct represents a serious misuse of power that should not be tolerated in, and is damaging to, any American institution. In the military it threatens the force’s very ability to perform its mission.
7. It is vitally important that the military find real solutions to its persistent problems of sexual misconduct, including in the training environment.
Although the DoD 1996 Sexual Harassment Report did not distinguish basic training from advanced training, 18 percent of the women who reported one or more incidents of sexual misconduct in the past year said that the one incident that had the greatest effect on them occurred when they were in an assignment related to training. This fact, and the recent reports and prosecutions of cases of sexual misconduct at advanced training bases such as Aberdeen, Fort Leonard Wood, Darmstadt and elsewhere clearly demonstrate a need for further examination of the systemic nature of sexual harassment and assault in the military, including in the training environment.
The Army has begun this examination with the establishment of a Senior Review Panel on Sexual Harassment, charged with investigating the extent of sexual misconduct in that service and making recommendations on ways to combat it, and with the tasking of the Inspector General to review the services training bases and make recommendations on ways to prevent and address sexual harassment and misconduct in the training environment. The National Women’s Law Center applauds the Army for this effort, and urges the other services to conduct a similar examination of the systemic nature of sexual harassment and misconduct in their service and ways of addressing it.
At a minimum, the Center believes that
- Throughout the chain of command military leaders must make clear by their words and deeds that sexual misconduct will not be tolerated and will be punished; further, commanders must be evaluated for performance and promotion based on their record of preventing and handling sexual misconduct complaints. The 1996 DoD Sexual Harassment Report found that only 47 percent of Army women, 51 percent of Air Force women, 57 percent of Marine Corps women and 61 percent of Navy women surveyed thought the senior leadership of their service was making honest and reasonable efforts to stop sexual harassment, and only a slightly higher percentage of each service’s women thought the senior leadership of their installation/ship or immediate supervisor was making such efforts.
- Drill instructors and other immediate supervisors of recruits in all the services must be more closely screened before they are selected and must receive additional instruction in how to deal with inappropriate relationships between male and female trainees. According to GAO, the 1996 ARI study reported that Army drill sergeants believed their training course did not adequately prepare them to conduct gender-integrated training, and Gen. Hartzog recently announced that the Army is considering psychological testing for screening potential drill instructors and is expanding its human relations training for drill instructors from 2 _ to 8 hours.
- Improvements must be made in all the services’ complaint processes for reporting and acting on allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, including by moving part of the process — or oversight of the process — outside the chain of command. Although 90 percent of service members surveyed in the 1996 DoD Sexual Harassment Report said they understood the complaint process, one third of members who had experienced and reported an incident were dissatisfied with the process and only 24 percent of members who had experienced one or more incidents of sexual harassment or misconduct in the past year reported the incident that had the greatest effect on them to anyone.
- The Armed Forces must be committed not only to ending sexual harassment and assault, but to ending other forms of gender discrimination and assuring that women have equal opportunity with men to serve their country at every level of military service. The 1996 DoD Sexual Harassment Report revealed that, in addition to sexual harassment, 78 percent of Marine Corps women, 67 percent of Army women, 62 percent of Navy women and 59 percent of Air Force women surveyed reported experiencing other “sexist behavior” in the previous year, including offensive actions and comments or condescending treatment based on their gender.
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In conclusion, to best safeguard our nation’s security, reduce the incidence of sexual harassment and misconduct, and obtain the best return for U.S. training dollars, gender-integrated training in the Armed Services should be continued and expanded. The National Women’s Law Center looks forward to continuing to work with the Subcommittee on this and other important issues affecting women in the military.
JUNE 5, 1997