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Mixed Training Faulted

Discipline has decreased. Recruits are called "lazy," "selfish," and "out of shape," according to The Washington Times.

CBS News Correspondent Dan Raviv reports the conservative newspaper blames it on the Clinton Administration's decision five years ago to have men and women take basic training together.

The Times says an overwhelming number of drill-sergeants and other supervisors criticized today's generation of military inductees. Only 11 percent made "positive" comments.

The Pentagon, in response, tells CBS Radio News the military has high-quality recruits, and standards have not been lowered. "Of course, we're competing against a booming economy," the Defense Department admitted in a statement, "but our quality has not dropped."

Defense also pointed out a basic factual error in the Times story: The Air Force began "gender-integrated" basic training in 1976, the Navy in 1992, and parts of the Army in the 1970s. The paper said mixed-gender training began in 1994 throughout the military.

Last month, CBS News reported that the Congressionally appointed Military Training and Gender-Related Issues Commission was recommending that mixed-gender training should continue, despite some problems.

According to the Times, the Commission voted 6-3 to recommend that the Army, Navy and Air Force continue mixed-gender training. The Marine Corps still segregates recruits.

The report obtained by the newspaper did not directly tie the poor discipline to mixed-gender training, but three-fourths of the instructors surveyed did say discipline had decreased during the same five-year period in which men and women trained together.

"Whenever men and women are mixed, one goal is in the male mind, and that is sex," said an unnamed Army trainer in the report, excerpts of which were published Tuesday.

An Army drill sergeant is quoted as saying "I think the gender-integrated training is a contributor to the decline in military discipline."

The Times reports there were only two comments in favor of mixed-gender training.


CBS News Correspondent Dan Raviv

However, a Department of Defense official familiar with the Commission's report told CBS News the report is in favor of continuing mixed-gender training. The report "finds no evidence of mission failures. therefore no compelling reason why the training format should be changed" and concludes that basic training in U.S. military services is "delivering well-trained soldiers, airmen, sailors and marins."

As for the complaints by the drill instructors about the quality of recruits, the official commented, "Most people might suspect every generation of drill instructors may harbor similar stereotype views of the teen-age generation of their time. It doesn't matter [whether it's] in '60s, '70s, '90s: what is society dumping on my doorstep?"

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