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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Feedback from Kadena Air Base meetings and focus groups about the condition of women in the military was positive, said one of two members of the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services visiting Okinawa this week.

“I think things are going very well on the base,” said Margaret Hoffman, visiting several U.S. military facilities on Okinawa this week with fellow DACOWITS member J.P. Duniphan, a Republican state senator from South Dakota.

They held five focus groups on Kadena and another five on Marine camps. “We’re here to talk to all enlisted, senior enlisted, officers and family members, male and female, for ideas and opinions,” Duniphan said.

Other DACOWITS members are visiting other bases internationally. Hoffman and Duniphan said the DACOWITS annual meeting will be at the end of May; members then will report the findings from their visits to bases, including on Okinawa. They said their report will be ready to present to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the fall.

Duniphan said focus group members have not hesitated to speak up and their comments have been very good.

Hoffman said today’s all-volunteer force is more focused because members want to serve and they know what they want out of their service.

Duniphan said women “are a tremendous part of our military and they’re pulling their fair share — we hear that from men and commanders.”

The state senator also noted that the service has seen so many technological changes and so many fields now are open to women, with opportunities for advanced training.

And servicemembers’ negative attitudes toward women in the service, Duniphan said, is not the problem it once was.

“I think it’s getting better every day,” she said. “Women are fully integrated into the system and they’re seen as equals and respected for the job they do.”

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