Sexes To Remain Separate In Marine Basic Training

Leader Says Female Recruits Want Female Role Models

April 25, 1997|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

While the Army sex scandal has renewed a debate about whether men and women should train together, the top Marine general said yesterday that he would insist that his service continue to separate the sexes in basic training.

"Why aren't we integrating gender? We don't think it's a good idea to do that," said Gen. Charles C. Krulak, commandant of the Marine Corps.

Krulak said it was best for women to first learn "the ethos of our precious Corps" and to train with female sergeants and officers before being integrated with men. The four-star general said that in talks with female trainees, he found support for the segregated training.

"We want to look up to a role model that we can identify with," Krulak recalled the trainees saying. "We want to look up and see the battalion commander is a woman. We'll see enough guys in the next four years or 40."

Krulak's comments came in response to questions from the audience after his address to the U.S. Naval Institute's meeting at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

The Marines are the only service in which female recruits train separately from men, and Krulak -- a 1964 academy graduate -- recently has taken steps to make the training tougher for women.

The Army sex scandal at Aberdeen Proving Ground and Army posts worldwide has renewed the debate of whether men and women should train together.

Some senators on the Armed Services Committee have said the services are tempting "natural sexual tension" by placing young men and women together in such an environment. But the Army has defended its integrated training and said it has no plans to change, arguing that the scandal amounts to abuse of power, not sexuality.

"We're not knocking how anybody else does it," Krulak said of other services. "We're just saying, for our Corps it works for us, and we're not going to change no matter how much pressure is put on."

Appearing before an audience of institute members, midshipmen, Coast Guard Academy cadets, retired and active-duty military officers, Krulak was asked whether it was "moral" for men to send women into combat. Isn't it the duty of men to protect women? he was asked.

"I think humans have a moral obligation to take care of humans," he replied. "I don't think it's strictly in the purview of men to take care of women. I expect my wife to take care of me -- and she does," he added, to chuckles.

Still, Krulak -- a highly decorated infantry officer in Vietnam -- said he sees no role for women in ground combat. Although women in all the services are serving aboard ships and aircraft, they are barred from infantry and armored units.

"I do not believe that women should be carrying a rifle in an infantry battalion," said Krulak.

Krulak told the audience that the military must adapt and become more maneuverable to deal with new challenges and threats in the next century.

Besides conventional wars, he said, the military must be able to deal with everything from humanitarian relief to terrorism and urban warfare.

"The game is changing and so are the rules," he said. "Merely buying new equipment and adapting to new technology as it becomes available is not the kind of change we need. We need change fueled by a vision of the future."

Pub Date: 4/25/97

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