Basic Training:

Services Using a Variety of Approaches to Gender Integration

NSIAD-96-153: Published: Jun 10, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1996.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the services' enlisted basic training to determine the: (1) extent to which the services conduct gender-integrated basic training; and (2) changes that the services made to accommodate gender-integrated training.

GAO found that: (1) the military services use several different approaches to integrate men and women into basic training programs; (2) male and female trainees experience the same type of recruit program outside of having separate berths, medical examinations, hygiene classes, and physical standards; (3) the costs associated with gender-integrated training are low; (4) the Army spent $67,000 to modify its barracks to house gender-integrated basic training units; (5) these modifications included installing partitions between male and female berthing areas and creating separate bathrooms for male and female trainees; (6) the Navy made modifications to its basic training facility in response to base realignment and closure decisions; (7) the performance of military trainees is not harmed by gender-integrated training programs; (8) women performed better in the Army's gender-integrated training units, but male trainees' performance remained the same; and (9) the Army has no record of the gender-integrated training it conducted during the late 1970's and early 1980's to compare with its current program.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense instructed each of the services to retain and analyze comparative data on the performance of men and women in single-gender and gender-integrated training over a 1-year period to be completed in fiscal year 1999. The services apparently never collected this data. The report of the Congressional Commission on Military Training and Gender-Related Issues stated that it was told that no such data exists and each service reported that it had no current or planned efforts to study gender-integrated training.

    Recommendation: To evaluate the effectiveness of each service's approach to the integration of recruit training, the Secretary of Defense should direct the services to retain and analyze comparative performance data for men and women in single-gender and gender-integrated training units.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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