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Cohen Orders Separate Barracks

June 9, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Defense Secretary William Cohen says men and women will continue to train together at boot camp throughout most of the military, but in the future will sleep in separate quarters.

``One thing is clear, we cannot run the military today without women,″ Cohen said Monday. ``And our goal is to find ways to make men and women train and work better together.″

Men and women will continue to train together in the Navy and Air Force and in most Army units. Only the Marine Corps will maintain its separate boot camps under the plan. Cohen said each service should be allowed to decide what’s best for it.

However, he ordered the service chiefs to make sure the safety and privacy of men and women be guaranteed _ on separate floors or in separate areas _ if barracks are shared, as they will be in the Navy and Air Force.

The Army has decided to provide separate sleeping areas and latrines for men and women.

``The services believe they need the flexibility to design training to fit the needs of the deployments and missions, and I am giving them this flexibility,″ Cohen said. ``But I also want to make sure that the standards are high.″

The House, as part of the defense authorization bill, voted last month to separate training of men and women in basic training.

Cohen, a former Republican senator, said he doesn’t plan ``to engage in a massive lobbying campaign″ on Capitol Hill to maintain integrated training, but he expressed confidence that Congress will listen to military leaders who want control over how they train recruits _ whether it is side by side or separately, as in the Marine Corps.

``I have encouraged the (military branch) leaders to go to the Hill to testify before Congress, to give their views, so that it’s not seen simply as some kind of politically correct measure that is being imposed from the top down,″ Cohen said.

In December, a panel headed by former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, R-Kan., recommended separate basic training for men and women and made some 30 other proposals to improve training for the nation’s military.

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