Vote Due on Separate Basic Training for Males, Females

Article excerpt

Despite the efforts of Rep. Tillie Fowler, R-Fla., the House

National Security Committee voted this week that military men

and women should be separated during basic training.

If approved, the measure would require the Army, Navy and Air

Force to house and train male and female recruits separately --

something the Marine Corps already does -- beginning in April

1999. Waivers would be allowed until October 2001, however, to

give the services time to build facilities.

Several members of the House National Security Committee, which

gave voice-vote approval to the revised training program

Wednesday, noted same-sex training caused problems, including

harassment of recruits by drill instructors. They said teaching

women fighting skills away from men could help women's focus and

confidence.

Boot camp is "the most vulnerable time of your life," said Rep.

Gene Taylor, D-Miss. "All we're trying to do is get basic

training back to basic training, not social experimentation."

Fowler, believes that the decision on how to train troops

should be left up to the individual services. "We're

micro-managing when we start getting down to some of this," she

said.

An amendment introduced by Fowler, and voted down 30-23, would

have allowed the services to continue training males and females

together while a congressional commission studies the issue.

"We should not be pre-judging the commission's report. We

should wait until the commission issues its report, then react,"

said Fowler, who noted the study is costing $2.2 million.

Fowler's amendment also called for the services to provide, "to

the extent feasible," separate housing. But it would not have

required men and women be separated in entirely separate

buildings.

Fowler said males and females could be housed in the same

buildings but in different wings or floors divided by locked

doors and with separate entrances, for example.

The Army alone estimates it would cost up to $200 million to

build entirely separate barracks, she said. …