Best Response: End Co-Ed Basic Training
In an article titled "Air Force Sex Probe Gets First Trial," (July 17), Wall Street Journal reporter Nathan Koppel described in detail the testimony of female Air Force basic trainees who were assaulted or taken advantage of during a worsening sex scandal at Lackland Air Force Base, TX. Female witnesses at the court-martial of Staff Sgt. Luis Walker testified that Walker was a "wolf in sheep's clothing" who repeatedly exploited his authority over vulnerable recruits.
Time and again, twelve drill instructors allegedly seduced or demanded sex of young women in basic training, repeating patterns of assault or "consexploitation" that came to light in 1996 at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
This analysis of what a recent Army report called a "chilling trend" of sexual assaults in all branches of the service puts this story into context:
Congressional and civilian feminists are demanding procedural remedies in response to the scandal at Lackland, but none of them recognize or address flawed policies that have worsened problems of violent sexual assault since the early 1990s.
In 1997, the Kassebaum-Baker Commission unanimously recommended that army gender-integrated basic training (GIBT) be ended because it was "resulting in less discipline, less unit cohesion, and more distraction from training programs." (p. 15) That advice was ignored. The commission also noted that the Marines' single-gender basic training was producing superior results. The Center for Military Readiness compiled information from several official reports on the subject, which is posted here.
The answer is not to handle these cases outside the military justice system; nor is it to have more female drill instructors. For starters, the Air Force should reinstate separate-gender basic training, and the Army and Navy should do the same.
-- Elaine Donnelly