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JANUARY 2008 DACOWITS RECOMMENDATIONS
AND’s POSITION: DACOWITS must:
· Actively seek to have DACOWITS serve as a public forum to discuss military women’s issues and provide a truly independent feedback mechanism on these issues.
· Appoint enough new members to bring the Committee up to the full complement of thirteen members and provide adequate staff support to the Committee.
· Allow DACOWITS to select its own areas for review/investigation and to select its own sites for visits.
BACKGROUND: DACOWITS was created by Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall in 1951. With the United States involved in the Korean War, there was a substantial need for additional “manpower” to provide support functions in the Armed Forces. DACOWITS’ mission was to advise the Department of Defense on how to obtain more servicewomen, increase their retention rate, and better use their capabilities.
Over the fifty plus years of DACOWITS, members have visited military installations across the world. They have visited all Services, active, Reserve and Guard units, interviewing military women and men, their families and the support facilities.
ACHIEVEMENTS: DACOWITS has recommended many actions over the years that have increased the Department’s utilization of women such as:
· 1955- that DoD adapt the male Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) to increase women's much needed participation in the Services. In 1969, the Air Force first started enrolling women in ROTC.
· 1956- that DoD give top priority to a career incentive bill for nurses and medical specialists the bill became law in 1957.
· 1960 -that grade restrictions on female officers be removed. In 1967, Public Law 90-130 was passed and removed promotion ceilings for women.
· 1969- support of the Griffiths-Tower Bill to provide equal treatment for married members of the Service. The Supreme Court in 1973 in Frontiero v. Richardson ruled unconstitutional certain provisions of law which required a difference in the treatment of female members in the application of dependency criteria.
· 1974- to allow women to attend the Service academies. The first women entered the Service academies in 1976.
· 1978- with substantial DACOWITS support, Title 10, Section 6015 was amended to allow Navy women opportunities to serve aboard Navy ships.
· 1980- supported DOD issuing a sexual harassment policy.
· DACOWITS has been active in addressing the issue of sexual harassment throughout its history. DACOWITS identified incidents of sexual harassment that DoD went on to address including conducting World Wide Surveys on Sexual Harassment.
· 1991- DACOWITS supported the removal of combat exclusion statutes. The statutes were repealed in1992 and 1993 and women are assigned in their respective Services according to policy, not law.
Fifty women were invited to serve on the inaugural DACOWITS. They included such notables as Dorothy Height, Helen Hays, and Assistant Secretary of Defense, Anna Rosenberg Membership has averaged around thirty members. The Committee served as an independent agency which focused on the issues that Servicewomen raised to them. DACOWITS members visited all DoD activities.
DACOWITS started 2007 with only 5 members, none of whom had served in the military. Two members were military dependants. There was no racial, occupational or geographic diversity. Three new members were added in February 2007 which added some measure of racial diversity. Former members were asked to serve a fourth year.
The Alliance for National Defense and other like-minded organizations provide educational material on sexual harassment and other gender discrimination to legislators, decision makers, educators and military members on this and other pertinent issues.
Alliance for National Defense
For over 50 years, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) served as a force for the successful integration of women into the military and steady expansion of women's roles in our armed forces. In the Bush Administration, the Committee's mission and responsibilities were downgraded. For the sake of overall readiness and effectiveness of our armed forces, DACOWITS should be restored as a meaningful advisory body with authority to independently advise the Secretary of Defense on issues concerning military women.
DACOWITS was established in 1951 as a civilian board of individuals appointed by the Secretary of Defense to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary on matters and policies affecting women in the armed forces. The Committee served as a vital link between the civilian community and the Department of Defense. The role of DACOWITS in initiating positive change for military women has been chronicled by Major General Jeanne Holm (USAF Ret.) in her definitive history, Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution.
Through public meetings, conferences and installation visits, the Committee gathered information and analyzed issues concerning the utilization of women and formulated recommendations for consideration by the Secretary of Defense and the Services. MG Holm observed that "[w]ithout the Committee the senior officials in the Pentagon would have remained oblivious to the women's needs and concerns that were not being addressed." Secretary of Defense William Perry stated that the Committee members were his "eyes and ears' in speaking directly to women service members. Over the years, the Committee gained a reputation for doing serious analysis on integrating women into the military at little expense to the United States Government.
Soon after taking office, the Bush Administration cancelled all meetings, conferences and installation visits of DACOWITS, terminated the appointments of all current members, and failed to renew the Committee's charter.
Instead, the Administration introduced a new, more restrictive charter to water down the ability of the Committee to research and highlight issues affecting women in the military and advise the Secretary accordingly. The Bush Administration (1) cut the number of members of the group from 25-40 to a maximum of 15 and significantly reduced its funding, staff support and access to military advisers; (2) revoked the group's ability to set its agenda and call meetings; (3) shifted the focus from military women to a primary emphasis on issues of concern to military families; (4) drastically reduced the number of military installation visits; and (5) reduced the diversity of the membership. This new group has recently met with as few as six members in attendance. Its recommendations have not addressed critical issues such as war zone assignments of women and sexual assault.
As confirmed in a 2004 report prepared by the Office of Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, The Downgrading of DACOWITS: How President Bush Has Failed America's Women in Uniform, the result of these Bush Administration changes has been the weakening of a source of credible, outside advice on important issues affecting the service of military women.
The next Secretary of Defense will inherit a daunting set of national security challenges, including two ongoing wars, the global campaign against terrorism, with concomitant strain on our fighting men and women. The need to recruit qualified people-men and women-for military service and need for men and women in the military to work together for our nation's defense in the most effective way have never been more important. Policies regarding the assignment of women in combat situations need to be reexamined in light of today's wartime realities, and the need to eliminate sexual assault within the ranks must be addressed. DACOWITS should be revitalized to aid in these efforts.
1. DoD should re-establish DACOWITS under the Federal Advisory Committee Act with the mission to advise the Secretary of Defense on a full range of matters and policies relating to women in the armed forces.
2. The Committee should again serve as a vital link between the civilian community and the Department of Defense. Accordingly, the membership should number at least 25 and be chosen from diverse backgrounds and geographic areas.
3. The Committee's focus should again be on military women's issues (and issues concerning military families should be dealt by a separate advisory group dedicated to that subject).
4. Because the work of the Committee directly impacts force readiness, the Committee should report to the Secretary of Defense through the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.
5. The Committee should be supported with adequate staffing and budget and senior military representatives from each of the Services should be designated to provide the Committee necessary technical advice.
Recommendations from joint letter to Presidential Transition Team
jointly signed by
AND, Women's Research and Education Institute & National Women’s Law Center
DECEMBER 3, 2008
DACOWITS Should Be Revitalized