Stammer talks SHARP, Fort Campbell's role
June 6, 2013
As an epidemic of sexual assaults and harassments continues to surface among the ranks in each branch of the armed forces, officials are working to strengthen emphasis on zero-tolerance policies while re-establishing trust in and outside of the military structure.
The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) responded to the Army's directive to tackle the issue of sexual misconduct across its military posts by conducting a media roundtable at McAuliffe Hall Thursday in the division headquarters to discuss the topic and their efforts to combat it.
"Sexual harassment and sexual assault are inconsistent with Army values and are not going to be tolerated here at Fort Campbell," said Division Senior Commander, Brig. Gen. Mark Stammer.
"We in the 101st Airborne Division take sexual misconduct very seriously and are committed to proactive approaches to addressing it -- because it's the right thing to do, and it's necessary," he said.
The roundtable was part of the Fort Campbell Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program's week-long "Stand Up" initiative, which began Monday, June 3.
Stammer began the week by addressing all senior military leadership on the installation. He said he believes the initiative of rebuilding trust must begin to ensure a solid foundation of intolerance for sexual misconduct.
"I believe that leadership responsibility and accountability are crucial to successfully addressing the sexual misconduct issue," he said. "Most important, we need responsible leadership to change the culture of even the slightest bit of tolerance for ill-disciplined and criminal behaviors."
In addition to highlighting the importance of leadership accountability and involvement, Stammer emphasized that the community must be responsible for making victims feel comfortable coming forth with any allegations of sexual assault or harassment, without fear of jeopardized careers or personal persecution.
"I would not want to calculate the emotional toll on a male victim, female victim or categorize it in any way as different," Stammer said. "It's an egregious crime; it doesn't matter who the perpetrator is or the victim is. It doesn't matter their sex or any other affiliations. It matters that a crime was committed."
While caring for the victim, Stammer said apt punishment is crucial for those who are investigated and found guilty of sexual misconduct. This is necessary to ensure that the acts of few do not hamper the efforts of those that strive to perpetuate and exemplify the Army's core purpose, he said.
"The Army has a culture; the Army has values," Stammer said. "You're talking about a few people in an organization that are operating outside of that. Those few people, if left unchecked, can cause tremendous negative impact…a cancer if you will; a poison. It can't be tolerated in the formation."
Ultimately, Stammer said the goals at Fort Campbell will be directed toward education and prevention -- making sure that Soldiers, civilians, Family members and leaders all own their shares of responsibility in making sure the installation maintains an environment of safety and trust.
"There was an article just written by Roger Canaff that states, 'There is no vulnerability without the danger,'" Stammer said. "We're going to start at the very beginning of this thing and try to get it before it starts."
The Fort Campbell SHARP "Stand Up" initiative will continue Friday.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, Gen. Ray Odierno, Army Chief of Staff, stated that sexual assault and harassment are serious problems the Army is vigorously addressing.
"We must take deliberate steps to change the environment," he said. "We must restore our people's confidence by improving our system of accountability."
Odierno said Army officials would need to do more regarding five particular points of concern:
• Prevention of sexual crimes
• Meeting each allegation of assault and harassment with necessary investigation and appropriate action
• Encouraging an environment where crimes can be reported without fear of stigmas or retaliation
• Making sure organizations, individuals and leaders know their responsibilities
• Putting a fully-engaged chain of command at the center of solutions for combating sexual assault and harassment
"We will fix this problem," Odierno stated.