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Military Chiefs Dispute Wisdom of Gender-Segregated Training

May 22, 1997| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The nation's four military service chiefs argued against legislation Wednesday that would segregate men and women in basic training.

The four-star officers said the decision of how to train recruits should be left up to them rather than imposed upon them by Congress.

"I think this is a leadership issue and we'll solve it," said Gen. Dennis Reimer, the Army chief of staff. "This is a right-wrong issue as opposed to a policy issue."

Sen. Dirk Kempthorne (R-Ida.) asked the service chiefs about the legislation at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The committee is likely to take up the legislation, now pending in the House, to segregate training by gender.

The proposal, strongly backed by Republican lawmakers as well as some Democrats, stems from a spate of highly publicized rapes and sexual assaults at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., an Army weapons-testing center.

Gen. Charles Krulak, commandant of the Marine Corps, pointed out that the Marines, unlike the other services, already train men and women separately. But Krulak agreed with his colleagues that no action by Congress is needed.

Gen. Ronald Fogleman, the Air Force chief of staff, said such a bill "would be a step backwards."

None of the service chiefs, who also included Adm. Jay Johnson, chief of naval operations, indicated any plans to change training policy.

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