WFED’s Max Cacas reports.
Battling sexual harassment and sexual assault in the ranks is one of the highest priority work-life issues in the U.S. Navy. Yesterday, a group representing women in the military discussed the issue during a conference here in Washington.
Twenty-two commanding officers were removed from their positions in 2011. The offenses of relieved commanders run the gamut, and they run across all of the Navy’s mission areas. The Navy wants its incoming commanders to be wary of the “intoxicating” aspects of leadership.
One goal with the new initiatives is to increase reporting. DoD estimates about 86 percent of sexual assaults are not reported. Nearly 3,200 assaults were reported in the 12-month budget period ending Sept. 30, a slight increase from the year before.
Ahead of the markup of the annual defense policy bill by key House committee, hundreds of survivors of military sexual assault take to the Capitol to demand change.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said the military needs to take sexual assault more seriously.
Each sailor will be required to take a new round of training by the end of this year. Courses will emphasize the need for “bystander” servicemembers to intervene when they see activities that could foreshadow sexual assault.
Reports of unwanted sexual contact increased sharply in the past academic year. The Pentagon believes the spike shows more reporting, not more crimes.
The Air Force said it has identified 59 victims at a basic training facility. Thirty-two instructors are among those who have been accused or convicted of committing sexual improprieties with trainees. Senior leaders say they must do more to stop the problem.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he’s taken several steps to improve the military’s response to and prevention of sexual assaults, but that the problem can’t be solved by policy directives alone. On the matter of sexual assaults, he said he believes the military’s chain of command has suffered an accountability breakdown.