BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Capt. Carol Barkalow, author of "In the Men's House," why did you join the Army?
CAROL BARKALOW, AUTHOR, "IN THE MEN'S HOUSE: AN INSIDE ACCOUNT OF LIFE IN THE ARMY BY ONE OF WEST POINT'S FIRST FEMALE GRADUATES": I decided at 16 years old I wanted to be an officer in the Army. It was right before my senior year in high school, and the Army had appealed to me. I had seen some commercials. I had played sports all through high school --field hockey, basketball, I ran track. I loved the discipline. I loved the camaraderie, the teamwork, winning, losing, and I thought that the military would be a logical extension to that. I also enjoyed working with people.
LAMB: Why did you write the book?
BARKALOW: Three reasons. The first reason is I wanted to give the American public an understanding of what women do in today's Army because I really don't think they understand. I'm sure maybe later on we'll get into what's going on now with Desert Shield, but I don't think they know. There has never been a book like this written. The second reason is I wanted to say thank you to those women who came before me -- those women who opened the doors for me at West Point. So many women served; their dedication, their selflessness to service. The third reason is I want young women who are thinking about a non-traditional career to know that they can do anything they want.
One of the things that West Point did for me almost daily was it took me to my limit, or what I thought was my limit, then took me beyond. So, I realized very quickly that my own potential was limitless, and I'm not sure a lot of young women know that. So, hopefully, if they read "In the Men's House," they'll come away with something like that.
LAMB: Where's your hometown?
BARKALOW: I grew up in upstate New York, in Saratoga, New York.
LAMB: You were, what, one of 119 women that entered the academy in 1976?
BARKALOW: That's correct.
LAMB: The first ever.
BARKALOW: The first ever.
LAMB: What was it like the first day?
BARKALOW: Well, it was pretty tough. I can remember, we drove down that morning since we were only about two hours away. I don't think I could have stood it, staying the night there and then going in. My father, my mother and my younger sister drove down with me, and we were herded up into Meige Stadium for about a 15-minute briefing. I didn't hear a word the cadet said. All I knew was at the end of that 15 minutes, I'd stand up and I'd go one way and my parents would stand up and go the other way, and I probably wouldn't see them again for a good while. We were herded down to some buses, and then went to the gym to start our in-processing. In that day, in probably a span of about four-and-a-half, five hours, we learned how to salute, we learned how to march, we did facing movements -- right face, left face. We got haircuts if we needed them. We got fitted for our white over gray -- our trousers, our shirts. We ate lunch. We learned how to march as a squad. We learned how to march as a platoon. And then late that afternoon about four o'clock, we marched onto the Plain. It didn't end there. We went back to our rooms, we did have dinner, and things just kept on going. I kept a diary as a cadet, and my words were, "What a day." I was totally overwhelmed.
LAMB: Did you write in your diary every day?
BARKALOW: I tried. I started out very well, trying to do all that, but it got to the point where it was pretty tough. I was pretty tired, and I ended up taking a flashlight underneath my covers at night, writing away. It got to the point where I would write on weekends sometimes. If there was a significant event, I would do it that day.
LAMB: Did you write thinking you were going to write a book someday?
BARKALOW: Not really. It was therapy for me. There really wasn't much of an outlet at West Point, except for maybe bayonet drills, and I explain those in the book. So, it was a way for me to think about my emotions and think about what I was going through as I put it down on the page.
LAMB: Was anybody else in your family ever in the military?
BARKALOW: My father served a tour in the Navy before I was born, and my oldest brother served a tour in the Navy. But I was still young, where I didn't really know what the military was about, when he got out. I was the first girl after three boys, and I grew up a tomboy. When the opportunity presented itself, my oldest brother Jack, who was in the Navy, told my parents this would be the greatest opportunity that I could ever have. That helped convince my parents.
LAMB: What does it mean to grow up as a tomboy?
BARKALOW: Well, it's almost survival of the fittest. It was a very physical environment. I'd played football with my brothers. I'd do all kinds of sports. So I had to survive, being the only girl. I have a younger sister, who is four years younger than I am, but I was definitely a tomboy.
LAMB: Sixty-two of 119 graduated from your class.
BARKALOW: That's correct.
LAMB: What would you say was the most obvious reason why the others didn't make it, the 40-some?
BARKALOW: Most of the cadets quit at the end of their two-year mark. When you start your third year, you start to incur time. If you quit West Point after the third year starts, you'll have to go into the active duty force, enlisted. So the decision factor comes that summer, and most of the people do quit at that point. I think most of the women left because they realized it wasn't for them, that there were other things that they wanted to do.
LAMB: How did you get the appointment?
BARKALOW: Well, that was even a story. I originally applied for an Army ROTC scholarship. I wanted to go to a regular college, live a regular college life, and then go through the ROTC program on a scholarship. My guidance counselor had suggested to me when he had helped me fill out the ROTC paperwork ...
LAMB: In high school?
BARKALOW: Right -- that they were going to accept women at West Point the next
year. Why don't I apply? Think it over. I didn't really think about it too much. I kind of knew what I wanted. I got the nomination after going in front of a board of about 12 individuals. I can remember it was the Friday after Thanksgiving. We went up to Saratoga. I was asked questions that I really wasn't sure how to answer. I remember there was another woman there who was so sure of herself. She had a pilot's license already. She knew she wanted to be a cadet. I said, "Oh, what am I doing here?" I went in, I answered the questions about wanting to be an officer. I think that I convinced them that I was adamant about being that. I found out right after Christmas that I had been nominated, and then I had to go through a process with West Point to be accepted. I found out from West Point on March 5, 1976, from a public affairs officer. It was a Saturday morning. He asked me if he could release my name to the public because I had been accepted. At 17, I said okay. I didn't know what else to say. But I hadn't heard from the ROTC scholarship program, so I was still unsure of what I wanted to do. Well, it turned out that I didn't get the ROTC scholarship. Being a fatalist, I figured that West Point was where I was supposed to go.
LAMB: Why were women allowed to enter West Point in '76?
BARKALOW: Back in the Carter administration, there was a bill introduced that granted women acceptance to all the academies. The Coast Guard Academy, however, was a year prior. Women entered in 1975 in the Coast Guard Academy. But for the other three academies, they opened up in l976. At that time President Ford was the one who signed it into law that women were allowed to attend the academies.
LAMB: Where is West Point?
BARKALOW: West Point is off the Hudson River in New York, about an hour-and-a-half north of New York City, and about half an hour south of Newburgh, New York.
LAMB: What is West Point?
BARKALOW: What is West Point? Well, that's a pretty tough question. For me, West Point was a stepping stone to my future. Four years of an academy, not a full college, not the full military, but with the combination of both, it breeds fine young officers in the Army.
LAMB: How many are there at West Point at any given time?
BARKALOW: In the four classes, probably 4,400 cadets.
LAMB: Free education?
BARKALOW: Yes, it is a free education going through it, but then you incur a five-year commitment when you come out.
LAMB: How long have you been in the Army?
BARKALOW: I have been in the Army 10 years.
LAMB: What is your job now?
BARKALOW: Right now I'm a staff officer on the Army staff. I've been in the D.C. area for almost two years. I spent the first 18 months working on the Joint Staff as an intern in the J-3, in the operations division, working counter-narcotics issues as it relates with DOD and law enforcement agencies.
LAMB: OK. We've got to go through all that stuff. What does Joint Staff mean?
BARKALOW: OK. The Joint Staff. Gen. Powell is the chairman. He's the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The Joint Staff is a body of military officers and enlisted from the Air Force, from the Navy, from the Marines, from the Army, that put together information for the rest of the military. I guess you could say the chain of command would be the president, the secretary of defense, and then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, which is Colin Powell. Then you have your service staffs, which are different, and now I work on the Army staff.
LAMB: But you did work on the Joint Staff?
BARKALOW: Yes, I did. I worked on the Joint Staff.
LAMB: Is that what J-3 means? Joint three?
BARKALOW: Right. Joint three, and the three means operations. You have a J-1, which is administration personnel. Not a J-2, they call it DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, where you do all your intelligence. The J-3 is your operations, and J-4 is logistics, J-5 is policy, J-6 is communications, J-7 is strategic planning, a J-8 is training.
LAMB: If you're in J-3 and you're in operations and we go to war, what does operations do?
BARKALOW: For instance, Just Cause.
LAMB: Which is?
BARKALOW: Just Cause was the operation down in Panama last December. The Joint Operations Division of J-3 was the cell that really from the Pentagon ran that war, that conflict. There was constant communication between Panama and JOD, the Joint Operations Division. We're full of acronyms.
LAMB: What does DOD stand for?
BARKALOW: The Department of Defense.
LAMB: What was your job at J-3?
BARKALOW: I was the liaison between the Department of Defense and the law enforcement agencies for counter-narcotics. My area of specialty was forces command--all the forces within the United States. So, I talked to Force Com, which is at Fort McPherson, Georgia, and I talked to the different continental United States armies around the United States and was the go-between between our civilian law enforcement agencies here in D.C. and in those specific areas.
LAMB: Would those forces be used to inderdict drug flow?
BARKALOW: Not interdict. DOD has the mission of detection and monitoring. So, what we do is provide forces that help them, that aid them--intelligence gathering, signal units go out and listen. We also provide patrols down on the southwest border mainly in the United States, and we teach the law enforcement agencies tactical intelligence -- how to put together that intelligence and then put it back out into the field. Those kinds of things.
LAMB: You're not wearing a uniform.
BARKALOW: No, I'm not.
LAMB: How come?
BARKALOW: Well, there's a regulation in the Army that states that you shouldn't use the Army for a private endeavor. "In the Men's House" is a private endeavor. I did have to receive an exception to policy to appear on the cover, and some of the interviews I do are in uniform. I figured that this was pretty much for the book, so I didn't want to use the uniform to sell the book.
LAMB: Did you have to have this book cleared by the Army before you wrote it?
BARKALOW: I had to have one part of the book, the Germany part, read by the Army security because I served on a nuclear-capable Nike-Hercules missile site in Germany, and a lot of top-secret items. We went through a lot of tests, so they read that. They did classify it "secret." So, I took out those things that they deemed that were secret, and there wasn't a problem.
LAMB: Otherwise, the rest of the book and what you said about West Point, didn't have to have clearance.
BARKALOW: No, it did not.
LAMB: Have you gotten any feedback from your fellow military people since you wrote this book?
BARKALOW: I certainly have, and I am very glad to say that it's all been positive for those who have read it. I think people are a bit skeptical when they see, "Oh, here is another whining feminist." They see the book, they see the title, they see me. But for those who have read the book, and a number of older grads, I might say -- a lieutenant colonel, colonel rank -- I think they interest me the most. I'm very sensitive to how they feel about this book, and each one of them who have read the book have come back to me and said, "This is a balanced account. You've brought up a lot of things that jogged my memory. I felt almost like a plebe again," a first-year cadet. One full colonel told me he learned two things. He learned, again, those feelings he had as a plebe, and I think the more important thing he learned, for the first time in his life he felt prejudice. He felt that discrimination. So, that to me makes this book a success, that someone like that can feel those things. That what I want.
LAMB: The statistics in the back say that in 1986 that 10.4 percent of the people in the Army were women, 43 percent of them were black. What's happened to those percentages since '86? Do you know?
BARKALOW: No, to be honest, I really don't know. I think that our military is becoming more of a minority group. But I don't have the exact figures for you as to what the population is now.
LAMB: When I saw those figures, it triggered me to ask you the question. With over 40 percent of the females in the Army being black, that's disproportionate to what the society is. What impact has that had, then, on the military? Is it a different atmosphere than we have out in the rest of the United States?
BARKALOW: No, I don't think so. I think the overriding factor with the military is that you have people who are committed. They're competent, they're capable and their race doesn't have a lot to do with it. I think that more women are finding that there are better opportunities in the military than there are in the civilian world. I think that that's a factor.
LAMB: There were 119 women that entered that class of '76 at West Point out of, what, 1,100, 1,200 total?
BARKALOW: About 1,400.
LAMB: What's that percentage today?
BARKALOW: I don't know the men, but I do know that of the 62 of us who graduated, 31 are in, and 31 are out. We're 50-50 right now. I think that our statistics are a bit higher than the male counterparts of my class.
LAMB: When I asked the question what I really wanted to know is that the class of, say, 1991 will be how many women to men? In other words, if you had roughly 8 percent ...
BARKALOW: It's about the same percent. What I think that the Army tries to keep -- although there are no hard-and-fast rules or hard and fast figures, but since we comprise a little over 10 percent of the force, West Point does the same kind of thing. I don't know the exact number of the women, say, in the class of 1993.
LAMB: Is there a quota?
BARKALOW: No, there is not a quota.
LAMB: So, it just happens that just roughly 10 percent are women and 90 percent are men?
BARKALOW: Well, I guess I could say there's no official quota. I think what they try to do is take a proportion of those who apply to the academy, and there are many more men who apply to the academy than there are women, though I think that they've not had a problem with deciding how many women to take or not to take.
LAMB: How did you write the book? Andrea Radd is on the cover. It says, "Capt. Carol Barkalow with Andrea Radd." Who is she?
BARKALOW: Well, back in 1985 -- and how this book really came about -- there was an article done in the New York Times magazine. It was the end of our five-year mark, the end of our five-year commitment. The author of the article took the angle of having one woman from each academy, and one women of those three getting out, one woman unsure of her future and one woman staying in. I was the one that she interviewed that knew I was staying in. In the article, I'd said I kept diaries as a cadet. I had a literary agent call me and ask me if I ever thought about doing a book. I think that was the first time I seriously thought about it. I told him, "OK, I'll think about, but a few things. I wouldn't have time to write the book myself. I am not a professional writer, so I would definitely need someone to help me." So, he said, "OK, let me see if I can find you someone," and in February of 1986 Andrea Raab flew down to Fort Lee, Virginia, where I was. We met and on a handshake we said, "Let's try it." And four-and-a-half years later, here it is.
LAMB: Who is she?
BARKALOW: She is a freelance writer, lives in Manhattan. She worked for a while as an editor for Macmillan, and now she does freelance work. This is her first book, first major undertaking, and it's definitely been an education for the both of us.
LAMB: How did you do it?
BARKALOW: We both bought computers so that we could exchange floppies back and forth. When I moved to Maryland, she came down from New York to live with me for about six weeks, and we did a lot of the writing there. I would go to work all day and then come home at night, and we'd sit for an hour or two at night and we'd review. I'd talk into tapes. I would write, she would edit. On two occasions, we had a group undertaking of my classmates. They granted interviews to us. I went to a school out in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1988, and while I was out there I saw a number of my classmates -- in fact, both my roommates from that first summer. We sat down on a Friday evening with about seven or eight other West Point grads, five of them my classmates -- women -- and we talked for about seven hours about all kinds of things. We recorded those. Andrea did a lot of interviewing on her own. She went up to West Point on numerous occasions. We put her in BDUs. She threw a grenade. She kind of got the feel of what it was like.
LAMB: What is a BDU?
BARKALOW: Battle dress uniform. That's what we wear today, the camouflage uniform. So, she got a real good feel for what it was like at the academy. She saw an R-Day, which is reception day, that first day. She saw a graduation. So, she really got intimately familiar with what life was like, just looking at it from the outside. I have to say that she has done a magnificent job in turning something so technical into something that I believe that the American public can understand and enjoy.
LAMB: What was the hardest part of doing it together like that?
BARKALOW: I think the fact that we were both pretty independent people. And I think we both had our own ideas of how the book would be. It's turned many corners since the first time we looked at it and what we thought it would be like. But we always knew that there was a goal at the end, and what we wanted was a book that people wanted to read that was insightful, that was educational, and I believe we've gotten that.
LAMB: Have you had any feedback from younger women that might have read this book and decided that because of what you've told them that they want to go into the service?
BARKALOW: Honestly, no. I have not heard anything. I'm just starting to get some feedback. In fact, probably one or two times a day, now, I'm starting to get phone calls from people who have read it. They'll call me and say, "Hey, I was there in the admissions." I had a lieutenant colonel call me. He's now retired, he's in the area, and he said that he was in the admissions office when I entered and he thought it was a wonderful book. I had one of my soldiers, who at that time was enlisted, when I served with the Delta Battery in Germany on the air defense artillery site -- I got there, and about three weeks later, four weeks later, she left. She came back to the States, got out of the Army. She just called me yesterday. She's a lieutenant now. She saw the book, she started reading the book, and she said, "You know, I went through hell those two years that I was in Germany, and I didn't know that it was as bad for someone else." So, she was very glad that I wrote about it, and thought it was very indicative of what was happening over there.
LAMB: Earlier in the interview, you talked about the fact that at the end of two years, if you don't get out of the academy you have an obligation to serve in the Army. For how long?
BARKALOW: It depends. That's situational. When you start your third year and quit, it's at least two years. But it depends on where you are in terms of whether you quit as a third-year cadet or a fourth-year cadet, so that's situational in terms of that.
LAMB: But if you do quit, you'll be an enlisted person.
BARKALOW: That's correct.
LAMB: Define what an enlisted person is and what an officer is.
BARKALOW: Well, the standards. To be an officer, you are supposed to have a bachelor's degree. You're supposed to have four years of college. Now, there are some exceptions, and you can get in on a program whereby in a certain amount of time you can finish your degree. For an enlisted person, you only need a high school education or a GED, an equivalent degree. The ranks start out as private in the enlisted and go up to the command sergeant major or sergeant major of the Army, and there's only one of those. The officers start out as second lieutenants, and they make first lieutenant, captain -- that's what I am. The next rank is major. I have made the majors' list, but must wait my turn to get promoted.
LAMB: How long will that take?
BARKALOW: That will probably be another year-and-a-half or two years. Promotions are slowing down. We're in the process of downsizing the force as I'm sure everybody knows. Congress wants to cut us a lot.
LAMB: Is it fair to say that an officer lives better than an enlisted person, physically? Where they're housed?
BARKALOW: Yes, I guess I'd have to say that. But for single officers, and I am one of those, the accommodations aren't that much better.
LAMB: Do you get more pay?
BARKALOW: Yes, we get more pay.
LAMB: Substantially more?
BARKALOW: I would say substantially more for the time in service, yes. But we also incur a lot more responsibility. There's a saying, a commander and even an officer who's in charge of any other soldiers, that they're responsible for everything their soldiers do or fail to do. So, even though that NCO, non-commissioned officer, which is a senior enlisted soldier, has responsibility for that squad, maybe 10 people, or even a platoon as a platoon sergeant of about 30 people or 40 people, the officer at that point would be a lieutenant of the platoon. That lieutenant would be responsible for all those soldiers and even that platoon sergeant, so that responsibility goes beyond what a platoon sergeant's responsibility would be.
LAMB: The reason I ask all those questions is that on page 227 you talk about Sgt.1st Class Ricky Ellis.
LAMB: A woman?
LAMB: You say, "Despite the air of disapproval that surrounded our relationship, however, Sgt. Ellis and I became fast friends. We established our own old girl network." Why was there an air of disapproval around your being friends with Sgt.1st Class Ricky Ellis?
BARKALOW: Well, in some circles it's not looked too favorably on an officer and an enlisted soldier being friends.
LAMB: What are those "some circles?"
BARKALOW: Well, I think it's situational. I had some very good friends in Germany that I was good friends with, and they were enlisted. It's a very close environment in Germany. At Fort Lee, Virginia, where Ricky Ellis was and I was, I was a senior female in the battalion. She was the senior enlisted female in the battalion. There really weren't a lot of other women to talk to. Also, as a commander, I was kind of set apart. She's got, now, 14, 15 years in the service, so she's had a lot of experience. What was nice about Ricky Ellis was it gave me a chance to be around another woman who had been in the service as long as I had and who seemed as deeply committed to the Army as I was. We were in a fishbowl. When two women get together, people notice. I think that if we had been both men, people really wouldn't have noticed because it just happens so much more.
LAMB: But in the Army life, Sgt. Ellis, in effect, would have to have saluted you every time she passed?
BARKALOW: And every time she passed me, she saluted me.
LAMB: And she would call you?
BARKALOW: "Captain Barkalow," or "Ma'am."
LAMB: And you would call her?
BARKALOW: Sgt. Ellis. Or "First Sergeant."
LAMB: Or you'd address her by just her last name?
BARKALOW: No, I wouldn't.
LAMB: Is there a rank where the enlisted, as an officer, you'd call them by their last name?
BARKALOW: Usually there's the privates, or you just would call them "Private So-and-so." Or sometimes below the specialist-4 you have a private, private first class, specialist-4, and then you have a sergeant, and then at that point at the sergeant rank, you would more than likely say "Sgt. Smith, Sgt. So-and-so." At that point you'd address them that way.
LAMB: Did that result in any difficulty for you, the fact that you were friends and some met this with disapproval? Would that hurt you in advancing at all in the service or was it ever made incomfortable for you?
BARKALOW: No, never for me. Not at all. She talked to Andrea and that came out afterwards because I wasn't there at the interview that the two of them had. It was too bad that she had gotten some guff for being around me. I never got anything. Nobody said a word to me--and they shouldn't have.
LAMB: Tell us what you did at J-3, the Joint Staff. What are you doing right now?
BARKALOW: Right now, I work a couple of different issues. I still do counter-narcotics, but on a different level.
LAMB: Are you still on the same staff?
BARKALOW: I'm on the Army staff now.
LAMB: Now you work for just the chief of staff of the Army.
LAMB: His name?
BARKALOW: Is Gen. Vono.
LAMB: Will that ever be "her name?"
BARKALOW: I hope so.
LAMB: What do you think?
BARKALOW: Sure! I think so. It may not be in my lifetime, but I do believe that one day we'll see a woman chief of staff.
LAMB: What's your job? I'm sorry.
BARKALOW: That's okay. I am working counter-narcotics from a strategic level, you might say. I keep the chief informed on what's going on within the Army, wherever it may be, on where we have soldiers. I also look at, in a totally different subject, strategic mobility. My branch is transportation, and I had the truck company at Fort Lee. So, I look at those issues, and trying to get the force where we need it when we need it.
LAMB: Graduated from West Point in 1980. Your first assignment?
BARKALOW: My first assignment was at Charlie Battery, Third Battalion, Seventy-first Air Defense Artillery, in Hardheim, West Germany.
LAMB: Doing what?
BARKALOW: I was a platoon leader in the launcher platoon. There are three areas on a Nike-Hercules missile system. There's a launcher area where we keep the missiles, there's the administration area where the commander's office is, the mess hall is, where the soldiers are housed. Then there's another area called the integrated fire control where the computers are, the radars are, and where the command post is of the unit.
LAMB: And going back to our discussion about officer-enlisted -- you showed up on the job. How many enlisted were in your platoon?
BARKALOW: My first platoon had about 70 enlisted soldiers in it, probably 95 percent men. I think at that point I had three women.
LAMB: Brand-spanking-new West Point graduate, one of the first females ever.
BARKALOW: I was the first female officer to go to that site. I can remember that day that I walked in, reported to my commander, and he said, "OK. Here's your platoon sergeant. Go to work." I went down-range, down to the launcher area, and I sat my platoon sergeant down and I said, "Sgt. Quinn, you and I both know that I don't know anything."
LAMB: How old were you?
BARKALOW: I was 22 years old -- had just turned 22.
LAMB: How old was Sgt. Quinn?
BARKALOW: He was probably about 38, 39 years old.
LAMB: How long had he been in the service?
BARKALOW: About 17 years. I said, "You're the expert, I'm not. But you're going to have to teach me. That's your responsibility. I'm not going to change things. If things are working fine, I'm going to leave them alone. But in the end, it is my responsibility for you and the rest of the soldiers in this platoon, and I take that seriously, and I don't think we'll have any problems." And we really didn't. We really didn't have any problem. I had a good platoon.
LAMB: Were you scared?
BARKALOW: Scared to death.
LAMB: Did he know that?
BARKALOW: Oh, I think he did know that. But as that one deodorant commercial, never let them see you sweat, that was something I tried not to do. West Point helped me out there. You become very stone-faced. There's so many emotions going on inside, but you don't let a lot of those emotions show.
LAMB: Did you have any problems while you were in Germany because you were a woman?
BARKALOW: Well, I did, and I talk about it "In the Men's House." I guess it wasn't really a problem, but I didn't get a job because I was a woman. I went from Charlie Battery, Third of the Seventy-First, to Delta Battery, Third of the Seventy-First, to a different location to Fortsheim, West Germany, and I was the integrated fire control platoon leader. I had about 70 soldiers again. I had been in that job for about eight months, and the deputy commanding general of Thirty-second Army Air Defense Command, which was in Darmstadt, Germany, needed an aide, needed a lieutenant.
I wanted to be the representative from our battalion to go up and do that interview and maybe hopefully become his aide. He interviewed five lieutenants. Three of those lieutenants were West Point grads. I think he wanted a West Point grad. Two of us were women. When I went up and I did the interview, I was well received by the general. He said, "When can you start?" I said, "Anytime you want me." I walked away from that interview feeling very confident that I had gotten the job. A little while later, the executive officer, which is the second in command of the battery, called one of his friends who was up in Darmstadt and found out that the job had been given to one of my male classmates. I was pretty upset about it. There was nothing I could do about it. But a few months later, my battalion commander, nicknamed "The Dragon" . . .
LAMB: Why was he nicknamed "The Dragon?"
BARKALOW: Whew! This guy loved to blow fire and smoke -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week. His battery never died. He was always going. He was a tough guy. Tough guy!
LAMB: Tough on you?
BARKALOW: Tough on everybody. You could almost say he hated lieutenants. I was lucky. In fact, I could get a T-shirt that said, "I survived the Dragon," because it was just like that. He had the battalion command for three years. But I found out I didn't get the job as the aide because I was a woman. He was an up-and-coming one-star. He would definitely make two-star. He was having a great career. The problem was I was a single woman.
He was afraid that people would look at the two of us traveling together, because the job would entail traveling probably three out of the five days of the week. We'd be staying in guest houses together, so we would be in very intimate, close quarters. He didn't want any perception that there just might be something going on between the two of us. After hearing that, I understood why I didn't get the job. It didn't make me feel much better, but that's a reality that I hope will go away.
LAMB: What year was this?
BARKALOW: This was in 1982.
LAMB: Where is that general today?
BARKALOW: That general today is, I know, a two-star, and I think he did retire.
LAMB: Where is "The Dragon?"
BARKALOW: Retired. He is retired.
LAMB: And that was the only time during your stay in Germany that you felt being a woman had a negative effect?
BARKALOW: Well, being a woman in Germany was a lonely time. I guess if you could talk about it having a negative effect, that was negative. It was very lonely. We spent a lot of time on-site. I could go two or three days without seeing my apartment. It didn't give me a lot of time to do other things, and I think that that might have been a negative impact.
I knew I didn't want to continue on as an air defense artillery officer, so I switched my branch to the transportation corps. There are many more opportunities for women in the transportation corps than there are in the air defense artillery. There are a lot of women still in air defense artillery, but I chose to leave and get into the transportation corps.
LAMB: When did you leave Germany?
BARKALOW: In December of 1983.
LAMB: Where did you go?
BARKALOW: I went to my advance course, which was down at Fort Eustis, Virginia, for the transportation corps. That was about a six-month school. I went to a motor officer course after that, a six-week school, out at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then I went to Fort Lee, Virginia.
LAMB: What did you do there?
BARKALOW: Well, for two years I worked in the logistics center at Fort Lee as a member of the logistics assessment task group. We worked for the general -- at that time it was Gen. Berquist, and then later on for Gen. Tuttle -- and we would do special-interest projects for him. I also worked at that time, and it was kind of the same time that the book became a reality on a study that was commissioned by the training and doctrine commander -- a four-star general, Gen. Richardson at that time--to look at the use of women in the forward support battalion. The subject of women keeps coming up. It's not going away. So, every couple of years somebody commissions a study to do something about, "Well, how do we use women now?" Hopefully, and I believe this, that we're continuing forward to use women wherever.
LAMB: I've got to ask you about a picture in here.
BARKALOW: Okay. I think I know which one. Go ahead.
LAMB: I waited 45 minutes to ask about this picture, and I'm going to get a lot of trouble anyway. We'll get a close-up of it. Did this picture get you in a little trouble?
BARKALOW: It almost did. And that's the best part about the story, is that it almost did. In Germany, I had started lifting. Well, I had started lifting at West Point.
LAMB: Lifting what?
BARKALOW: Lifting weights. And in Germany, I lifted at a local gym in Fortsheim, and the owner of that gym used to body-build nationally in Germany. He thought I had some potential. Well, at that point I decided maybe one day. I had about a six-month time frame before I took command of the company to pursue that dream. I started in mid-January. The contest was the first weekend in May. I took second place in the contest. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, instilling that self-discipline inside me. No external. It was all me. About three weeks later, the picture appeared in the post newspaper. I did the interview for the newspaper, I posed for the newspaper.
LAMB: This picture?
BARKALOW: That's right. There had been another individual, an NCO -- non-commissioned officer -- a guy who had been in the same contest, so it was kind of an angle of the both of us from Fort Lee had been in this contest. I didn't find out about all this until a couple of months after I took command, but during that time my brigade commander -- a different individual; he was the quartermaster brigade commander -- was furious. He had the feeling that my soldiers would look at me as a sex symbol and wouldn't look at me as a commander. They wouldn't respect me, wouldn't follow me, wouldn't do what I had to say. The decision to allow me to take command of the Fifty-Seventh Trans went all the way up to the post commander, and I'm very, very glad that he didn't take away my command because there would have been a lot of trouble.
I know that I would have done my utmost to get that command back. I found out from one of my NCOs that there had been some trouble. I had no trouble from my soldiers. Sure, I think there were some who had cut the picture out and maybe put it up in a wall locker or something like that, but it didn't take my soldiers long to understand that I was there to do two things as a commander -- accomplish the mission and take care of my soldiers. So that really won out over all of it. In fact, I had a discussion at length with my brigade commander who still feels that it was wrong of me to appear in there as an officer, and I respect that opinion, and I've kind of heard the same comment, "Why did you put it in the book?" That's part of the story.
LAMB: Do you still body-build?
BARKALOW: Well, I don't have a lot of time, but I'd like to do one more contest.
LAMB: I've got to ask you one question about this picture. We see this whole page here. Was there a decision made to keep this picture small, as it relates to the others, just because of the controversy?
BARKALOW: No, not at all.
LAMB: You didn't care what they did with it.
BARKALOW: No. In fact, I had the decision on what photos went in there and what didn't, so I guess you could say I was probably taking a chance by putting it in there anyway. But if I wasn't willing to take a chance, I probably wouldn't have written the book.
LAMB: Your Fort Lee experience, was it a good one or a bad one?
BARKALOW: Oh, it was a wonderful experience. I spent 19 months in command of that truck company, and it was probably the best 19 months of my life. I didn't want to give up command. That's the ultimate for an officer. The ultimate -- to take soldiers, to affect their lives on a daily basis. It's all-encompassing. It's what the Army is about, and I didn't want to give it up. The next time I get a chance to do something like that will be as a battalion commander. That's my next goal, to be a battalion commander which, hopefully, will happen in about the next eight years.
LAMB: How many people in a battalion?
BARKALOW: Depending on the battalion size -- the battalion at the 240th Quartermaster Battalion had about 700 people in it.
LAMB: What's a quartermaster?
BARKALOW: Supply and P.O.L.
LAMB: When did you leave Fort Lee?
BARKALOW: I left Fort Lee in December of 1988 and came up here to the Pentagon.
LAMB: And how long will you be at the Pentagon?
BARKALOW: Well, I have been selected to go to a school -- Commanding General Staff's College -- out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, which is a 10-month course, but I'm not sure yet when I'll go. The course starts at the end of July and goes through May, I guess, of the next year. I'll find out probably within two weeks whether I'll go to that course this summer or next summer.
LAMB: Combat. I've got to be the 7,000th person to ask you this, but ...
BARKALOW: That's OK.
LAMB: Combat ... women in combat. Do they belong there?
BARKALOW: Yes, they do. Women are there.
LAMB: I mean, how far should they go? Rifle in hand, on the front lines?
BARKALOW: Well, they're on the front lines. They're in military intelligence units, they're in signal units that are out there, that are near the front, on the front. With the lethality of the battlefield today, there is no division between the front and rear.
LAMB: A better question: Is there anything a woman shouldn't be allowed to do in the military?
BARKALOW: No. I honestly believe that. Going back to the potential for women, I think that we've been limited, our potential has been limited culturally. I believe that we can do anything we put our minds to. We have the capability.
LAMB: I don't know how this relates, but I'm sure you can tell me. I underlined it. "Despite these mutually high success rates, the tests nevertheless determined that there were indeed 'significant physiological performance differences between men and women, evident in upper body and leg strength, power, power endurance and grip strength.'" Remember that in the appendix?
LAMB: What's that all about?
BARKALOW: Well, they did a strength test. We talk a lot about the physiological differences between men and women, and I guess I have my own theory about that. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that there are differences between men and women. Our heart is smaller, our lung capacity is less. If a man my size and I ran two miles, for us to run it in the same time, it would take me more work. It would be harder for me to do physiologically.
But I think what happens often is that people compare a perfect male with an imperfect female. I believe that as our generations evolve that there will be a significant decrease in the physiological differences between men and women. Ten years ago or a generation 10 years my senior didn't grow up the same way I did. I grew up more athletic. Women 10 years my junior have grown up more athletic than I have.
LAMB: What's this picture?
BARKALOW: I was doing a demonstration.
LAMB: Which one is you? In socks?
BARKALOW: Yes, I am in socks. I am throwing that lieutenant over my shoulder.
LAMB: Male lieutenant.
BARKALOW: Male lieutenant. It was a demonstration. I worked on what's called the Recondo Committee at Camp Buckner as a senior at West Point. Part of that was to do a demonstration with the special forces group that helped train the yearlings--the yearlings are the second-year cadets--during their Camp Buckner summer. We would teach them hand-to-hand combat, so I learned how to do a number of throws. At that point, there, I was at Bethany Beach, teaching the National Guard soldiers how to use hand-to-hand combat.
LAMB: Was he surprised?
BARKALOW: Well, no, he knew I was going to throw him. I think that the photographer got a great shot. I think he was surprised at how fast I threw him.
LAMB: I interrupted, but I just wanted you to tell us where that picture was, because you were physically involved. Even with the difference in the men and the women, the women should be allowed to do absolutely everything that a man does in the service.
BARKALOW: Sure! Sure, and I think that we can get to a point where physical standards can be the same. You have a maximum and you have a minimum. I do believe younger women growing up, as they understand that it's okay to be physical, it's okay to lift weights, it's okay to be athletic, if they start developing at a young age, those physiological differences, I do believe, will decrease to a point where we don't need to talk about them anymore.
LAMB: Do you want to be a general someday?
BARKALOW: No, I want to be a battalion commander. That's something I've done for myself, is not look too far beyond. I make an intermediate goal and I get to that point, and then I set another one. I don't want to -- I don't know if I'll be a general. Maybe not after this.
LAMB: Nine women flag officers now? Did I read that in the back in the statistics?
BARKALOW: And one of them retired already. She retired about a month ago.
LAMB: Now, is that a flag officer only in the Army or is that in all services?
BARKALOW: All services.
LAMB: That number keeps going up?
BARKALOW: Not presently, but I do think that within the next 10 years, you will definitely see an increase in the number of flag officers who are women.
LAMB: What about your chance for advancement. Do you get a sense that there is a quota system there, on the number of women in the service and how many lieutenant colonels and colonels and one-stars there are? Where does this start tightening up for a woman?
BARKALOW: Well, it starts really tightening up for everybody at the lieutenant colonel and colonel rank. On the last list for battalion command, only 4 percent of all the officers eligible for battalion command were selected. So, it really tightens up there.
LAMB: How many chances do you get at that, though?
BARKALOW: You probably get three or four chances.
LAMB: I'm not a mathematician, so what do you have, a 20 percent chance?
BARKALOW: Well, maybe. That's right, at the most. But they're starting to promote younger officers, wanting to give younger officers the commands. It's very, very competitive. Very tough at the lieutenant colonel and colonel rank. There is no official quota, none at all. I would be hard-pressed to say that there was an unofficial quota. There just aren't the number of women at the lieutenant colonel rank and colonel rank yet, where I could say something like that.
LAMB: Is this book going to help or hurt your career or have no impact on it at all?
BARKALOW: Yes. And I say that because I'm not sure. I went through a number of gyrations about writing the book and including some things, not including other things. I've gone through the pain and agony of feeling whether this would ruin my career, and I had decided without a doubt that this book is more important than my career.
I hope this book will be read by many people who are looking to maybe try and understand what women do. The deployment to Desert Shield over in Saudi Arabia --it made such big headlines that women in such great numbers were being deployed. That was no news to those of us who serve. It was news to the media, and it was news to the American public. Women over in Saudi Arabia are really doing nothing than what they did back at their home station, what they have been trained for the whole time in the military.
LAMB: This is what the book looks like. It's called "In the Men's House,"by Capt. Carol Barkalow, who's been our guest for the last hour. Thank you.
BARKALOW: Thank you for having me.
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