BRIAN LAMB, HOST:
Stephanie Gutmann, author of "The Kinder, Gentler Military," what's the book about?
Ms. STEPHANIE GUTMANN, AUTHOR, "THE KINDER, GENTLER MILITARY": It is mostly a look at what the, quote, unquote, often called "new military" looks like. A lot of civilians are not really aware how massively the military has changed in--in the last 10 or 15 years. And I really--I really wanted people to see, and I wanted to do with that vignette, with on-the-ground reporting as much as possible. We're suffering now from something people talk about a lot, the—sort of the civilian military rift. It's particularly been between sort of, quote, unquote, "elite civilians" or, you know, the academia, intelligencia. There's a great rift now, which started in Vietnam, between civilians who really know and care and have a sense of what's going on there and--and those that--that do know and care. I mean, there--the people that should know and care about their military don't, on the whole. There's a lot of ignorance out there, especially among the media elite and academia...
LAMB: When did...
Ms. GUTMANN: ...stuff like that.
LAMB: When did you first go to the USS John Stennis, and what is it?
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, it's an aircraft carrier. It, at that time, was one of the very brand newest. It's nuclear powered. It's a fantastic behemoth with every modern convenience, like StairMasters and frozen yogurt and things like that. And I went on that for about five days in May of 1998. I wanted to look at--there's been a lot made of the carriers because the carriers were gender integrated. They brought women into the crews in 1994 and it was supposed to be a whole new world. So I wanted to go look at that whole new world. And I—I wanted to look at the "new military," the "new Navy" in action.
LAMB: What'd you--what did you find when you first got there? What was your first reaction?
Ms. GUTMANN: It's not a happy world. It--this ship in particular was not a happy ship. I--I can't attribute all of that to the political retr--political correctness that's currently sweeping the military. But it was not a happy ship mainly because of many of the things that have been happening in the Navy lately. Richard Cohen of The Washington Post said that the military may have become the most politically correct institution in the country and I think that's—I think he's just about right there. Other than the school systems, the military is way up there in--in terms of, you know, sort of touchy-feely values and, you know, we want everybody to get along and we want everybody to be sensitive and--and stuff like this. But the problem is that sort of culture, that civilian culture which our, you know, civilian society is now flooded with, just does not work well with the military, with the military's job. And so you have, you know, in this clash, a lot of--a lot of unhappiness, a lot of unhappy so--sailors, pilots, you know. And a lot of people are leaving and...
LAMB: When you went on board the Stennis, where did you find it--where was it steaming?
Ms. GUTMANN: It was doing its little patrols in the Gulf. I landed in Bahrain and had to wait around until they were in a good position to pick me up and then I was brought out on a tran--a transport plane to the ship as it was in mid-ocean, which was a very exciting experience. And then basically the ship sort of traced this rectangle around and around in the Gulf.
LAMB: Where did you stay while you were on the ship?
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, I was very lucky because berthing for most people, even on a big spacious air--aircraft carrier is very, very tight. Enlisted people sleep in what are called racks, like practically on top of each other, stacked like, you know, cords of wood. Officers get what are called "state rooms" which sounds deluxe, but they're not. It's more like a little metal cubicle with sort of bunk beds. I happened to luck out. I got the chief of staff's or some--some big wig's state room and it actually had its own bathroom. It had a television. It had a phone, and it was way up at the top of the aircraft carrier, steps away from the observation deck where you could go out and observe the whole flight deck from all different directions operating at night.
LAMB: What was the Navy's attitude about having you on there?
Ms. GUTMANN: The Navy was not happy. They had been very reluctant to get me out there in the first place. It had taken me months of sort of waiting and waiting and writing more memos and writing more requests and finally I did get out there. I think once I got out there, they got even more uncomfortable with me because I made an off-hand comment. I said something about--people kept asking me over and over again. 'What are you writing about? What are you writing about?' And I said something about, `Well, I--I'm writing about how politically correct you all have become.' And people got very, very tense about that and then I was sort of treated like a--a prisoner, you know, under escort ….
LAMB: Did you ever have a time when an escort wasn't with you?
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. Yeah. I--I eventually had sort of a violent divorce from my escort. I--on the first day, he showed up at my—my state room, accompanied me down to breakfast, sat next to me at breakfast. Then I said, `OK, I'm going to do my first interview now.' And he sat right there through that. And I said to him afterwards, `You know, I just can't work wi--this way. I can't--I can't function this way.' And he said, `You can't function this way? Well, maybe you'll have to leave the boat then. Maybe we'll just have to fly you right off the boat. We have a transport plane leaving in an hour.'
And at which point I got very angry and we had what is very, very unusual in--in the "new Navy," because it's--the new Navy is very, very controlled, and we had a big screaming argument up and down the corridors and I kind of stumbled into the ready room of an air squadron that I had gotten to know and I was by then crying. And the commanding officer of the squadron came over and said, 'Well, what's going on here?' And the public--public affairs officer said, `She refuses to be escorted.' And I sort of bawling heavily, explained my side and the commanding officer of the squadron said, `Well, I think we can give this little lady an escort.' And basically from then on, I was escorted by junior officers--junior pilots, who were much more, let's say, less dedicated to the task of sort of, you know, shadowing my every move. So I had quite a bit of freedom after the first day and was able to roam around pretty much as I pleased.
LAMB: How many women were on the USS Stennis?
Ms. GUTMANN: Only about 200 to 300. I mean, the number varies all the time because people are getting on and going off a lot. And—and that's in a--the entire crew was about 5,000 people. So it was a small number, which made for some problems.
LAMB: Any of them fly jets, the women?
Ms. GUTMANN: There was, I believe, one jet pilot in the air wing on that ship. But generally the women were in support. There were--there was, when I got on the ship, one woman working on the flight deck and two came on while I was there. So that--that's really
not very many.
LAMB: You said morale was low on that ship. What was your first indication that it was low?
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, it's something that you just sort of feel. I mean, on a happy ship people are talking to each other. They're kind of, you know, joshing a lot. There--there's a feeling of bustle and activity. On this ship there was sort of a stony silence all the time. And I know that people were very, very tense around me. And that's because I'm female and I--I don't even think it had anything to do with me being a reporter, because I wasn't obviously a reporter. I didn't have a press badge or something. They knew I was a female civilian of some kind. And that was enough to make the men very, very uncomfortable with me. That was one of the things really poisoning the atmosphere on this ship, was the intense uncomfortableness over--you know, over women, and over the feeling that they--the men could do something wrong, say something wrong, be put up on charges by any sort of wrong movement.
Basically we were seen as kind of walking time bombs. And you just--basically you had to just--if you were smart, you stayed away from women. And so people treated me really with kid gloves unless I really worked on it. I mean, I became friendly with a squadron full of Prowler pilots. And they knew I was a reporter. I went to great lengths to sort of gain their trust. And I also, you know, began to talk quite openly with a lot of enlisted guys, a lot of enlisted girls. But it took work. I don't think that your ordinary reporter from major new--newspaper or--or certainly a television network trailed with all kinds of photographers can achieve that kind of rapport.
LAMB: Did you carry a notebook? Did you have a tape recorder?
Ms. GUTMANN: Yes, I did. And I certainly always announced, you know, that I am a reporter and, you know, can we tape this part, you know. But, I mean, I didn't make a big deal. I didn't run around like Jimmy Page like this. I keep them in my pocket and--I mean, you try--it's a--it's a difficult balance when you're a journalist because one of the things that you absolutely want to do is be a fly on the wall. I mean, not to deceive people, but you want--you don't want to alter the atmosphere you're trying to study. It's the classic, you know, scientist problem. How do--does your very presence change what you're trying to see in action? And I have to say I am--I'm the great granddaughter of the anthropologist Robert Park and--who was a big proponent of this sort of hunker-down method. You know, you go to wherever and you kind of live like everybody else does and you do—and you just sort of spend months. And that's the only way you get to some truth, because otherwise all the time people are kind of reacting to you. And this is particularly true in this day and age of, you know, omniscient media and you know, sound bites. Where everybody, in a sense, has learned how to present themselves.
So it was a delicate balance, both trying to be, you know, a fly on the wall, just nobody notice me, and--but on the other hand, you can't--you can't deceive people. You're really supposed to let them know that you are a reporter.
LAMB: Where--Robert Park was from--from where?
Ms. GUTMANN: I think he started out at the University of Chicago.
LAMB: How was--what's the relationship there? You said you are the great granddaughter?
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. Yeah.
LAMB: Who's--you know, what's the--what's the connection here?
Ms. GUTMANN: Oh. Well, the connection is that he's a--he is sort of one of the fathers of modern anthropology. Everybody in anthropology knows about him.
LAMB: Did you study him?
Ms. GUTMANN: No. No. But I'm--what I'm suggesting--I'm sort of suggesting that it--it comes in the--it's been passed down through the bloodline.
Ms. GUTMANN: My father is a gerontologist and does--also studies in the field and also believes very much that, you know, you don't get the truth by just walking up to people and sticking a mike in their face. You have to spend a lot of time and you have to have a lot of
conversation only about, you know, this much of which is going to actually address the subject that you're trying to find out about.
LAMB: Where are you--where do you live now?
Ms. GUTMANN: I live in New York City.
LAMB: Where are you from originally?
Ms. GUTMANN: I was born in Chicago and grew up mostly in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I'm a--sort of a university brat.
LAMB: Did you go to Michigan?
Ms. GUTMANN: No, I didn't. I--I ignored college for a long time. Tried to avoid it. I--my first interest in life was dancing and—so when I was 17, I went off to New York and--and took classes and classes and classes. And then when I was 18, I was admitted to a professional school in London which had a--you know, professional training program and eventually I had to quit dancing because I had knee problems. But it took me a long time to wind around and finally go to to college and get a college degree and then start journalism.
LAMB: Where did you get the degree?
Ms. GUTMANN: I got it from a--a sort of subway school in Chicago called Roosevelt University.
LAMB: Right there on Michigan Avenue?
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I went there because it offered, you know, credits for life experience. Basically, I was looking for the cheapest, fastest, stamp of, you know, certification that I could find. I figured, you know, like I'm 25 years old, I got to, you know, work. I can't be, you know, getting the phone slammed down on me because I say I'm not a college grad. Just give me the damn diploma. So I went there. I--I--I was able to test out of a lot of subjects like English. I--you know, there was also some very good teaching there because a lot of people who also taught at the University of Chicago sort of split their time in between the two schools. And plus, you know, I got tons of indi--very small classes in things like English which was my favorite subject.
LAMB: Besides going to the USS John Stennis, you went to Fort Jackson. What...
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. Well, I went a lot of places. I went to Ft. Jackson, Great Lakes Naval Training Base, etc.
LAMB: Go back to Ft. Jackson.
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: Where is that located?
Ms. GUTMANN: It's in Columbia, South Carolina.
LAMB: What kind of a base is it?
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, it's a very large, sprawling base, as most of them are. It is intended to process people coming into combat service and combat support. That means everything else that isn't shooting and killing with tanks and guns. You know, can be--service support can be all kinds of things. But basically they're non-combat positions. Because they are non-combat, they also process about 70 percent of the women who come into the Army because overwhelmingly women are still going into su--support.
LAMB: On this book you have a--a grenade at the top with a little pink ribbon around it. Was that your idea?
Ms. GUTMANN: No. No. But I--I thought it worked.
LAMB: What's it saying?
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, it's saying that our magnificent sort of warrior culture has been under attack and under pressure for the last 10 years to be more like civilian culture, to be more like current civilian culture which is all very touchy-feely and you know, things like competition are frowned upon. And it's--it's--this federal institution, the military is now being asked to sort of take on the reforms that the school system is currently taking on.
LAMB: Whose idea has it been?
Ms. GUTMANN: Congress generally. Congress and with help from the various presidents along the way. I only looked at the '90s. I wanted to limit this a little bit.
LAMB: When did it start?
Ms. GUTMANN: Ah, this kinder, gentlering process? It's hard to say. Very hard to say. You could say--a good date would be 1973 when we became an all volunteer army because we had to please the soldier more. We couldn't draft him anymore so we had to lay out more goodies. That was the beginning. But I--I think that when the really--the really dangerous period started in 1990, and this was a period that I call the acceleration. This is when things just reached the surreal level. You know, the--the pursuit of a politically correct military, a sensitive military, a military that is, you know, not a warrior military, really, you know, began to achieve surreal levels in the '90s. And it's also the decade where we saw morale just plummet and where we s--we--we saw attrition, people leaving the services, just go over the cliff into crisis numbers, and when we really began having serious problems with recruitment again. I mean, periodically we've had problems with recruitment. We didn't in the '80s, but now we're ha--we're having a terrible time.
LAMB: You point out in your book several times that the Marines don't have the problems that the others do.
Ms. GUTMANN: That's right.
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, they are the service that have really courageously sort of stuck to their guns, not to make a--a pun. I mean, they have--the other services are incredibly sort of other directed. They--they--they just seem weaker and more afraid. They're much more timorous in the face on Congress. They're much more timorous in the face of the press. The Marines have stayed the course. They have--they've given little concessions here and there to a Congress, you know, demanding that they become less mean and warlike and all those things, but they have stayed the course and I--and I think in the core--core matters.
LAMB: Are there any women in combat forces?
Ms. GUTMANN: No.
LAMB: Have there ever been a--a woman in our--any combat action in thi--in this country's history?
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, unofficially and illegally.
LAMB: But, I mean officially?
Ms. GUTMANN: No, not officially.
LAMB: Will that ever happen based on what you've been finding?
Ms. GUTMANN: It could. It really could. It just depends what is down the road in terms of enemies arising, in terms of danger. I mean, I happen to think that a real good scare from--from some other hostile force--I mean, a real scare, sort of Cuban missile crisis thing would knock any thought of integrating the combat arms out of people's heads, out of--you know, it's mostly Congress that--that's pushing for this. Congress and so--and lobbyists of various political--you know, from different political organizations. I don't think, you know, and--and polls have shown that American people are not crazy about drafting women into the combat arms.
LAMB: You talk about two other countries that--first of all, you suggest that we often use Israel as an example of where women are very active, but you say that image is incorrect?
Ms. GUTMANN: It's such a distorted image. It's wild. I mean, writing this book, I came across many great distortions. But, no, Israel has--until about, like--literally two months ago, women were barred from combat positions. They were kept to support positions, mostly clerical positions. In fact, they weren't even allowed into support positions as American women are, that brought them out onto--close to the battlefield. I mean, you can have support positions now in America like reconnaissance, which actually can get you pretty close to fire. Israel keeps its woman--women further back from the front line. They really sort of shield them a lot more.
LAMB: How many people are there in the United States military?
Ms. GUTMANN: There are 1.4 active duty.
LAMB: What percent of those are women?
Ms. GUTMANN: They're a pretty small percentage. It's about 15.
LAMB: And which way is that going? Is it going up?
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. It's creeping upward slowly. I know that the number of--the percentage of recruits that are women has crept up. And I heard the other day that they've started this junior ROTC program--ROTC program in high schools, that those are running about 50 percent female. So that's interesting.
LAMB: What's the status of women in the military in Canada?
Ms. GUTMANN: Canada is--is absolutely surreal. Au--Canada is like "Alice in Wonderland." Canada has been aggressively trying to recruit women for the infantry for years, since--since the mid-'90s and they've been having very little success. Canada, I believe, has--pretty much opens all spots to women. I kept stressing that our social experiment is--is sort of a bigger deal than Canada's social experiment, even though there--they are going further, because we're just a bigger force that's deployed more. I mean, Canada's military is about the size of the New York--I believe it's--Canada's army is just about the size of New York City's police department. So—and they're not as spread out all over the world--a superpower like we are.
LAMB: You write a lot about Tailhook, 1991.
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: Why did you write about it?
Ms. GUTMANN: Because it is such a significant incident in this kind of change, this kind of sea change away from the warrior culture and towards a military culture that is desperately trying to prove to Congress how politically correct and sensitive it is. People—nobody guessed the full impact of Tailhook. Tailhook was like Hiroshima to the Navy. It absolutely transformed the landscape, you know, forever. And I hope I'm not being too florid here, but left, you know, strangely mutated people all over the landscape and damaged people. I'm talking about the officers that survived and--and radiation in the soil. I mean, the--the Navy is a--a crippled place and has been since then. And I think the only way it can get uncrippled is to really have a public apology from Congress. You know, s—Joint Chiefs--whoever is most in charge saying, you know, `We forgive the Navy. It's over,' you know.
LAMB: What happened...
Ms. GUTMANN: Tailhook is over.
LAMB: What happened at Tailhook '91?
Ms. GUTMANN: Not much. It was--Tailhook '91 was very much like all of the Tailhooks before it for, you know, about seven years previous. It--Tailhook '91 was a big monster frat party. It was men and women acting really bawdy, you know, ripping off clothing. A s...
LAMB: Where? What--what city?
Ms. GUTMANN: Oh, this was in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend in a h--in a Hilton Hotel which had set aside a lot of space for this—this whole thing. They had a huge kind of ballroom area and then off of the central area, there were a number of administrative suites. These were suites that squadrons would rent and it--they would--sort of like the, you know, Prowler Squadron 27, for instance, would rent a suite and it would be their suite and you know, this would show that they were the greatest. They could put on the best party. They'd have the best booze. You know, they'd have the best entertainment, be they strippers or whatever. So that--that--that's the physical layout basically for this party. Like all parties involving, say, 4,000 people and just--just tons of liquor had some, you know, incidents where people--people were not happy with their treatment. There was--there were two incidents which I think crossed the line, but just barely, into a criminal criteria.
LAMB: What happened after it was all over? How much was it studied? And did anybody get prosecuted in any way?
Ms. GUTMANN: No. I mean, the m--the military courts took over the investigation and in the very end, they could not court-martial anybody. They couldn't find evidence to court-martial anybody. The problem was that the investigation--the period of investigating was so
long and so dragged out that many people's careers were damaged just in the process. Their careers were put on hold while, you know, investigation pending. And you know, in the meantime, they were not allowed to take positions that they were up for and the position got taken. In many cases, people were passed over from a--for a promotion because there were letters in their file simply saying that they were--now this is the exact language--"potentially implicated" in the Tailhook scandal. A line like that was enough for Congress--well, for SASC, the Senate Armed Services Committee, to put the kibosh on a promotion. SASC has to approve most upper level promotions for senior officers.
LAMB: You say in this paragraph, page 174. You say, `By then it was summer of 1992 and Tailhook, the news story got the personal focus it had been lacking in the form of Paula Coughlin (pronounced COG lin).'
Ms. GUTMANN: Coughlin (pronounced COF lin). Yeah.
LAMB: You pronounced it Coughlin (pronounced COF lin).
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: Who decided to come out of the shadows. In press crew terms, her public debut was spectacular. On June 24, she appeared on the front page of The Washington Post. That night she began a three part series about Tailhook on ABC's nightly news with Peter Jennings. Jennings listened in his fatherly way as Coughlin wept and told her
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: Among the national items was President Bush and then you go on to report it.
Ms. GUTMANN: Right.
LAMB: But how'd the media treat Tailhook?
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, I mean, my God. I think that the--the media is pretty silly most of the time, but this was like the silly season of them all. I don't think we've seen excesses--I mean, possibly John John, the period of th--the--John John mourning was bigger. But I found this shocking as a reporter whose worked at, you know, newspapers and has heard over and over again, ad nauseam, the—the sort of reporter's creed about balance and seeking out the other side, and you know, and how--you know, `We're skeptical. We're always skeptical of people.' There was no skepticism applied to this story. I mean, we had leads, you know, I--I'd have to look in my book to find the exact words, but that said things like, you know, Tailhook '91, the weekend that, you know, 4,000 Navy aviators assaulted, you know, nearly 200 women. You know, you had leads like that which is a very--creates--I mean, when I read that lead, I see like sort of a hoard of Huns descending on, you know, fair, young maidens tied at the post.
LAMB: Was it an official Navy function? Tailhook '91.
Ms. GUTMANN: No. No. It was a quasi official. The Tailhook Association is a private association for members of the aviation community, Marine and Navy. It pays for its own conventions. Over the years, because it has existed for so long, there was beginning to be some merging. Participants sometimes took Navy planes to fly to the Tailhook conventions. On the other hand, Navy officers often had to come to the conventions to speak. During the day, there was a perfectly civilized, respectable roster of speaking engagements and question and answers and technical seminars. And it was just at night that you had these--these bacchanal party things.
LAMB: You say in your book we probably will never know the full financial costs of the Tailhook investigations, but the morale cost and loss of talent have been as--astronomic.
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: "A 1999 damage inventory taken by the Navy Times counted 14 admirals and almost 300 naval aviators whose career who had been tainted or ended and thousands more"--that's in quotes--"who were affected when officer promotion boards resulted--results were screened and officers had to sign papers stating whether they or anyone under their command attended Tailhook '91."
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. Well, Navy Times is a very conservative newspaper, you know, in its reporting. It's a very sober, boring newspaper, and I--but I completely go with them on that. I think that's a good estimate.
LAMB: Who--who's--what's an organization called DACOWITS?
Ms. GUTMANN: DACOWITS, that stands for Defense Advisory Committee On Mil--Women in the Military Services or something like that. It--it is a DOD funded arm of the DOD. It was set up in 1957 to monitor, you know, women's troops concerns. I think that was a good thing at the time because women were just beginning to ease in, you know, more.
Ms. GUTMANN: No. There are men and women, but it's predominantly women.
LAMB: Who appoints them?
Ms. GUTMANN: They are sort of a point--they're--I'm not sure. They're nominated. Women are nominated by--it's very complicated. It's like a five-step process. You get nominated by so-and-so who passes your name on to so-and-so who passes your name on to so-and-so...
LAMB: What impact do they have?
Ms. GUTMANN: They have a great impact. They get a--good media attention. Their conventions are attended by, you know, The Washington Post...
LAMB: Who pays their bills? Who--who do they work under the aegis of?
Ms. GUTMANN: The DOD pays their bills.
LAMB: So they work under the Defense Department.
Ms. GUTMANN: That's right. The DOD pays their bills.
LAMB: Have you attended any of their meetings?
Ms. GUTMANN: I've attended about three of them, yeah.
LAMB: What did you see when you went to those meetings?
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, I think what--I thought they were silly. I mean, just silly as hell. The problem was the DACOWITS is that they--you're only allowed to be on the committee for three years, which means that people are always rotating off. You're always getting newbies. And the newbies--there doesn't seem to be any requirement for sort of base knowledge of the military. So you have people at--you know, these are rather high-level topics they're covering, discussing, you know, whether women should be allowed to fly special operation helicopter planes, such as the ones we used in Mogadishu. Michael Durant, for instance, was a special operations helicopter pilot. This is a position that DACOWITS rec--recommends that we open.
So you have people sitting at a table discussing this and saying things like--and they have to be explained, you know, where the front is and what--what the concept of front and rear means. And--so that's bad. And they're also--I don't know. I think they basically exist to--and this is just my opinion, but I think they basically exist as sort of a perk for--for women who, you know, who have been slogging away in public service, civic service for a long time and this gives them a chance to go to military bases and throw around that military jargon, which is always very sexy to throw around. And I--I'm sorry, ladies, but I've been to three of these things and I don't see
anything coming out of them.
LAMB: On the back of your book--advance praise for your book comes from people like James Webb, who is the former secretary of the Navy.
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: He went to the Naval Academy with John McCain and that...
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah, he was in that group.
LAMB: ...whole group. `Read this book. Stephanie Gutmann is an acute observer with an impish ability to poke fun at hypocrisy and farce that reminds one of Tom Wolfe at his best.'
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, he--he knew that I'm crazy about Tom Wolfe, and I think that's why he put that in. That was very sweet of him.
LAMB: Do you know former Secretary Webb?
Ms. GUTMANN: Oh, yes. Very well. I mean, we have lunch, we talk on the phone. He's a very hard guy to get because he's just constantly touring and lecturing. He has a million projects going all at once and he writes screenplays and--yeah. Yeah, I consider him a friend. He's a good friend.
LAMB: Lieutenant General Bernard Trainer, retired. He's--he's a New York--he's been a New York Times reporter, he's--we see him on television from time to time. `Stephanie Gutmann fires a fully charged broadside at feminist zealots and social engineers in the "Kinder, Gentler Military." The book is bound to trigger a fierce
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: Do you know him?
Ms. GUTMANN: Just--no. I've shaken his hand at functions—official functions.
LAMB: Has this book triggered a fierce counterattack?
Ms. GUTMANN: Not yet. Any day now, I expect. But not yet.
LAMB: And on this page also, Colonel David Hackworth. Do you know him?
Ms. GUTMANN: A bit. Again, you know, met at formal functions. I subscribe to his newsletter, you know, stuff like that.
LAMB: He says, `What the British longbow did to the French army at Crecy in 1346, the failed military policy on gender integration has done to the US armed forces at the end of the 20th century--near total destruction.'
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, he--he...
LAMB: Do you agree with that?
Ms. GUTMANN: No, not quite to that degree. He's a very--that's the kind of guy he is. I mean, he is a leader. He is a natural leader and he leads people by getting them very, you know--really pumped up. He knows how to use words to really pump people up. And that's why I think that he must have been magnificent in his career. I mean, I've read one of his books, but, of course, I wasn't there. But I imagine that he was a be--a magnificent leader.
LAMB: Scribner published this book. How did you sell it to them? This is your first book?
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. Yeah.
LAMB: How--how'd it work?
Ms. GUTMANN: That was cool. It was--it was fun actually. I guess maybe now I think of it as fun because it succeeded, but--I don't know. I think that when you have an idea and it's right, you know that it's--it's bulletproof. I mean, I know as a writer sometimes I turn in a manuscript and I've just written to that point where it's, like, `There you go, guys.' You know, it's, like, bulletproof. You know, even if they were, for some strange reason, to turn it down, it like--it wouldn't matter because the gods are on my side. I felt that this idea was so right and so naturally fascinating and "sexy," as they say, and it had all the ingredients, that people could not fail
to be interested.
And I also thought that I was absolutely the right person to write it and that I had done the natural--I had the right amount of backgrounding; not too much, but some. Because if you have too much, you don't see the forest for the trees. So I don't know, I just—for once in my life, I came into something just feeling like Peter the Great or something, a conqueror. And it was, like--and I sat in that pitch meeting and just batted the objections like that. It was really fun.
LAMB: How long did it take you to write it? How many years did it take you to do this book?
Ms. GUTMANN: Not enough time. This is my first book. I didn't—I thought it would be a breeze. I budgeted myself--I signed a contract for a year--delivery at the end of the year. I said, `OK, I'm going to do six months of the kind of research I haven't been able to do up till now,' because I had some money. `I'm going to go to Bahrain, I'm going to go there and maybe I'll go to Kosovo and da, da, da. And then I'll have six months to write and what's the problem?'
I even made a little formula. Write this number of days. You have it done in three months. But it didn't work that way. I mean, immediately, I got a terrible writing block. You know, paralyzing writing block and I found for two weeks I was rewriting the same page. I couldn't--hadn't gone past the same page. And--and then, of course, which you find out is so frustrating, you--you put together this whole thing--it has a beginning, middle, end--but then, you know, you've got to find more material because you've got to build this up and you've got to answer that and--so, of course, like all writers, I suppose, I went in feeling, you know, `Oh, God, they're going to put this out in the world and it's like this--this messy thing,' you know.
And--and, in fact, I did. I made the copy editing process even more of a nightmare for the copy editor than it should have been because I kept saying, `Let me just sneak this in? Just don't worry. Just sneak it in,' you know. But we got all kinds of drafts going, all kinds of manuscripts and then it wasn't clear. Like--`Well, this one has been vetted but then you added that stuff. Have we legally vetted this one and'--but now, you know, I have it and when I sit down and I read it, I go, `This is good,' you know. `This is a worthwhile contribution. You know, I can live with this.' That's what I feel.
LAMB: In your introduction and acknowledgments, you say Linda Powell--you want to thank her for making a...
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: ...a valiant effort to get an interview with her dad.
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: Is that who we think it is?
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. She lives in my building. She's a really sweet girl. I think she's an actress and I--you know, I just kept working on it. I kept saying, `Would you fax this to your dad?' You know, `Just this one little note?' And she--she delivered several of his fax--faxed faxes and they were all very, you know, evasive, and she said, `Well, you know, I tried.' I said, `I know you did.'
LAMB: You also thank John Fund of The Wall Street Journal for revealing the crucial rule of book writing, `Forget perfection.'
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. Yes. And that is so right, because--I mean, in New York, I live in a community of journalists and book writers and I had seen several of my friends--if not crash and burn, then at least sort of end up in swamps that it took years for them to crawl out of. And I was determined not to let that happen to me. I mean, I can tell terrible stories of people turning in their books five years late, and then they find that the assigning editor is gone and the new house doesn't want it or wants it rewritten. And so I absolutely tried to keep that to heart.
LAMB: And one last thing from your acknowledgements. You thank a lot of people, but I just--this caught my eye. You wanted to thank `The brilliant and gorgeous John Hillan.'
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, he is brilliant and gorgeous. He's one of the most beautiful, brilliant, Washington pundits there is. And he's married and it's a big--just a big joke with me that--it was sort of a--a dare thing. Like he said I--you know, `You're going to put me in your acknowledgments?' And I fl--`Damn well. I'm going to call you the gorgeous and brilliant and'...
LAMB: Who is he?
Ms. GUTMANN: What? John Hillan? He's a very brilliant--he's a former Army officer. He commanded a tank unit in the Gulf War and actually saw combat. Now he's in the Reserves--paratrooping in the Reserves. I think he's a jumpmaster. And he's a--he's a scholar. He--he was at the CSIS, the Center for Strategic blah, blah. And then he's at the inter--International Committee for blah, blah, blah with Gary Hart and a number of other deep thinkers thinking about military policy.
LAMB: One of the other things that was a theme in your book was sex.
Ms. GUTMANN: Yes. Well, sex sells, and fortunately, this was a part of this story.
LAMB: Why is it a part of the story?
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, because this is all about, you know--this is all--the military is about the--the forgetting of the individual, the taking of an individual and melding them into something called a unit, which is not about unit--individuals. It's about sort of seamless, interchangeable automatons who will follow orders. And at first, there was the question of: Can we really meld women into that kind of seamless unit? Aren't women significantly different? And then there's always the question of, you know, but what about the sex factor? I mean, there are many sexual tensions among young men stationed in the desert. But that is often used, it's channeled, it's sublimated into violence, which is, I think, a perfectly acceptable thing to do.
It's the way societies have been handling male--male aggression for centuries. I mean, all--all societies, Lionel Tiger says, have a problem with what to do with their young men, who are so full of energy and aggression and libido and everything. Now what happens when you put--when the "soldiers," quote, unquote, are 18- and 19-year-old men and women? You have a whole new kind of energy bustling around. And I don't know if it can be sublimated towards fighting. I don't think so. Because the way men and women and men and men bond is very different. I believe that when men and women are together, they tend to pair off. Given long enough, they tend to form deeply passionate attachments which are a pair and which tend to push away the rest of the world.
It's--I mean, God or nature, whatever, created us so that one man and one women could be self-sufficient unto themselves. I mean, it's the whole Ark parable, Adam and Eve parable. But I think that--you know, I'm a complete Darwinist. I just believe we're all shaped by evolution. But I--I believe that we are hardwired. When men and women cohere, they tend to cohere in a way that does not enhance the group, but, in fact, splits away from the group. And says, you know, `Well, we're with each other. Forget you.' Which is not the dynamic of a military.
LAMB: Let me go back to the USS Stennis. There's a woman that you quote in here by the name of Deborah Maxy.
Ms. GUTMANN: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: And you say--I guess she was the ship's librarian?
Ms. GUTMANN: Yes.
LAMB: Twenty-six-year-old? `During the day the smoking'--is it called sponson.
Ms. GUTMANN: Sponson, yeah.
LAMB: ...`is just a place to get away from work. But at night, they can get away from talking to the person who here modestly seems to snarl the pretty Midwestern girls' ordinarily elegant sentence structure, while the person, who if they were caught together too muchother places, people would start to wonder.' What's a sponson?
Ms. GUTMANN: It's just a little area in the front of the ship. A pleasant place to stand. And it was designated as a smoking area. And because it was a smoking area, it was a hangout area, and because it was a hangout area, it was a place where the sexes mixes--mixed and mingled. In fact, on that whole hangar bay level or deck, there was--that was the place to hang out. That was the place where boy met girl and girl met boy and the flirting and pairing up went on.
LAMB: Did--Deborah Maxy says, `But that's why they hang around the hangar bay, period.'
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah.
LAMB: `I knew a girl who came the same time I did. She would go, put full makeup on, do her hair and then put on her jogging clothes to go exercise in the hangar bay. And after running, she'd walk around. That's how she met most of her boyfriends.'
Ms. GUTMANN: Yeah. Well--I mean, what can I say? You know, 18- and 19-year-old kids are intensely interested in each other. And...
LAMB: How many women that go on a ship get pregnant on the ship?
Ms. GUTMANN: It's not--not a real large number. It is a significant problem. It--it does keep happening with a lot of regularity. On, I would say, every cruise there are several pregnancies. But women have to leave ship deployments at a much higher rate than men. The naval--the study--a think tank in this area studied this. Women tend to leave ship deployments at about four times the rate of men. Pregnancy is one of those factors. It's not the biggest factor.
LAMB: You quarrel with The New York Times, which you quote in here. The New York Times reported after, I don't know, maybe you can give me the time period on this--after the Gulf, I guess, `Despite what might have been expected under the circumstances, the returning troops spoke of following the rules when it came to the members of the opposite sex. On the working level, it didn't matter if you were a female or a male, living there was hard. Just that you made the best of it the best you could...'
Ms. GUTMANN: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...said Specialist Manuella Gabiero in The New York Times. Did you--what'd you--what do you quarrel with in that statement?
Ms. GUTMANN: I quarrel with the reporting of the major papers, The New York Times, The Washington Post. It--you know, again, we're taught to be skeptical and, you know, generally reporters are totally skeptical of, like, president so-and-so and president so-and so. But when it came to the declarations of the public relations people in the military, there was no skepticism whatsoever.
And also reporters never seem to understand that--that privates—that everybody in the military now is--is thoroughly coached to say, you know, certain set things to reporters. You don't get--you know, if you just walk up to a private and say, `Hi. So-and-so New York Times, so what can you tell me about how this is going?' You know, you're--you're going to get the top layer of the onion. You're going to get the PR level. You don't get to lower further--again, you have to hang out, you have to spend a lot of time, you have to get relaxed. They have to know you, stuff like that.
LAMB: What was the most revealing conversation you had?
Ms. GUTMANN: Wow. I don't know. I had so many. I--I...
LAMB: Well, give us a couple where you said, `This--this is what I came to get and I found it.'
Ms. GUTMANN: Well, I know that at one naval convention, there were a bunch of guys that had important roles in the Kara Hultgreen story. Kara Hultgreen was a young pilot who died trying to make a landing on a carrier. And because she was one of the very first women allowed to fly a fighter jet, as a part of a squadron, you know, officially, her death became a huge political symbol. And there's always been the question, you know, was it er--human error or--or was something wrong with the plane.
When I was at this conference, I talked to th--the--the central players in this dilemma. I talked to, you know, people who had trained her, her squadron leader. I even talked to one of the deputies under Admiral Boorda, who was then, you know, driving the whole Navy aviation program. And...
LAMB: The man who killed himself?
Ms. GUTMANN: No. The deputy of the man who killed himself.
Ms. GUTMANN: And this Mr. Gallows said, `We were under tremendous pressure to push them through and we did.' I mean, I was sitting there in the audience and I was like, `I can't believe it.' You know, this has only been debated for, like, five years, since this accident and he just said, `We pushed people through the pipeline.' One would imply too fast, you know, 'cause Hultgreen--that was not a mechanical error. I've talked to pilots, technicians of every stripe and there's no way that could have been a mechanical error. It's very clearly human error.
LAMB: Where's this all going?
Ms. GUTMANN: What? All what?
LAMB: The military and women and political correctness?
Ms. GUTMANN: I think if we don't--I think if we don't relax with
this political correctness stuff, we're just absolutely going to fall apart as a military. Are--the people are going--the people who do join are going to become less and less and less qualified. When I say the politically correct stuff, we have to let people have fun again. We have to let sailors on leave take port visits and let--we have to let them go to bars and get drunk and hook up with prostitutes. These are all the things that are sort of now banned in the image of this very kind of wholesome, sober, you know, mature new Navy. We have to let guys be guys. It was a very, you know, "typically male culture." And in many ways, the culture itself was kind of softened so that women would feel more comfortable.
In many ways, this was the brass' conception of what women needed to feel comfortable. I know plenty of military women who say, `Hey, I'm not going to fall over if I see a girlie calendar over someone's rack, you know. That's cool with me.' But, you know, the brass banned all these things. They br--they--they--they don't allow people to walk around with Playboy magazines on the aircraft carriers. And if we don't get more relaxed a lot--about that and let guys be guys when they join the service, the services are basically throwing away the one great asset--a recruiting asset that they had, which is their mystique.
You know, that, `This is a place where you can be manly, feel manly, achieve manhood, do stuff that's not allowed in civilian society, like shoot things and blow up stuff.' If the military continues to try to compete with the civilian society on the basis of, like, wages and benefits, which is what they're trying to do now. All the recruiting ads are aimed at, `Well, look at our benefits and look at our money for college' and everything. They're--they're not going to get the type of guys that we need--and women--that we need to actually win a war.
LAMB: What do you think the reaction was of the commanding officer that took the public affairs officer away from you on that ship, the Stennis, and let you run on the ship now that he's read your book?
Ms. GUTMANN: I think he's pretty damn happy.
Ms. GUTMANN: I think he's triumphant. Well, aviators--this guy was a pilot--are traditionally mavericks. They have a whole different personality from most other officers in the Navy. There...
LAMB: Had the public affairs officer been sent out from Washington, by the way?
Ms. GUTMANN: No. He was the ship's public affairs officer. Besides, it was the--the aviator community, the squadrons, who were thoroughly, you know, dumped and disparaged in Tailhook. So I think when he reads my Tailhook chapter, he'll be saying, `Right on,' you know? No, I get tremendous accolades from those guys. And--and, you know, nothing The New York Times can write makes me feel as happy as the e-mails I get from both men and women in the services, who actually say, you know, `Thank you for writing what needed to be said.'
LAMB: This is the book. It's called "The Kinder, Gentler Military," by Stephanie Gutmann. Thank you very much for joining us.
Ms. GUTMANN: I enjoyed it.
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