Skip to comments.Pentagon Moves to Prevent Sexual Assault
Posted on 01/04/2005 5:55:22 PM PST by neverdem
WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 - Acknowledging serious flaws in how it has dealt with sexual assault within the military, the Pentagon announced steps today aimed at preventing such crimes, investigating them more thoroughly when they occur and treating victims with more consideration.
Defense Department officials said that, from now on, there will be one set of definitions among all services, and at every base within each service, on what constitutes sexual assault. There will also be uniform procedures for dealing with possible victims and suspected offenders, the officials said.
"The department understands that our traditional system does not afford sexual-assault victims the care and support they need across the board, and we are moving aggressively to put new systems in place to address this shortcoming," David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said at a Pentagon briefing.
"Under the past system, every military branch had its own programs to deal with sexual assault," Brig. Gen. K.C. McClain of the Air Force said. She was named last September to a newly created post, policy chief for sexual assault prevention and response.
To a surprising degree, Mr. Chu said, victims and offenders may not fully understand what constitutes sexual assault, as opposed to, say, sexual harassment.
"Sexual assault is a crime," he said, "defined as intentional sexual conduct characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent."
A key component of the new policy is the creation of a post, that of sexual assault response coordinator, at every American military installation in the world. The coordinator will follow a sexual-assault case from accusation through resolution, with particular attention to helping the victim, Mr. Chu said. "It has an acronym, like all Pentagon titles: SARC," he said.
Mr. Chu said a typical coordinator might be a colonel or other high-ranking officer, "someone who's got clout" and can deal effectively with a base commander. He said military people would be educated on the new procedures up and down the chain of command, with commanders having ultimate responsibility.
Under the new system, a sexual assault response coordinator will know the identity of a person making a complaint and the accused, but a commander will not, at least in a case's early stages, before the accuser must confront the accused. "We are still working out exactly who needs to know what," Mr. Chu said. "This is a need-to-know kind of thing."
The procedures announced today, which Mr. Chu said would be put into effect as soon as possible, arose from numerous ugly incidents within the ranks. Last February, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered an investigation into more than 100 instances of suspected sexual assault or misconduct over 18 months within the United States Central Command area, which includes Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
And last month the Pentagon inspector general, Joseph E. Schmitz, reported that successive commanders at the Air Force Academy failed over the course of a decade to recognize the seriousness of sexual assault and harassment at the Colorado Springs campus.
Mr. Chu said the new procedures would apply to members of the service academies as well as to military people on active duty. "They are, of course, also educational institutions, and so there will be some tailoring of these policies to fit their specific circumstances," he said.
The officials at today's briefing said many victims of sexual assault have been afraid to come forward because they feared lack of privacy, embarrassment, intimidation and damage to their reputations.
The Pentagon inquiry into sexual assault cases in the Central Command Area noted how difficult it can be to make changes within the military culture, which until relatively recently was overwhelmingly male. The report noted, too, that there is "an inherent tension" between a victim's need for privacy and a commander's need to know what is going on in his unit.
Mr. Chu and General McClain said education on the new procedures would continue throughout the careers of every person in the service. "We will start with basic training," Mr. Chu said.
During the Clinton administration, troops of both sexes were allowed to share the same tents. Something of an experiment. I wonder if this contributed to any of the 'sexual assaults'.
Of course it did. But the Left won't admit it.
You know, I'm having a hard time believing there's all this sexual assaulting in the military going on.
It's reminding me of when Reagan was president and homelessness was reaching epidemic proportions. The MSM told us that 3 million people were homeless. Later we found out the actual number was 300,000.
Warning: If your a man and work at the Pentagon, don't ever tell a girl OR a guy that they look good today.
A co-worker of mine was assaulted while in the military, and was told, "move on, it didn't happen." (the clinton response). It is real, and they need to deal with it.
Don't ask, don't tell, was supposed to keep all sexual problems out of the military. Now the victims of the assaults are telling, with no one asking. It could possibly be that the military is better suited to the male culture and not as well suited to the feminine side. I don't recall that the Roman Legions were composed of mixed couples and they were some of the more successful warriors of their day.
I agree, we don't need gay or women soldiers. However a crime should be prosecuted.