<b>CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq</b> - Sexual assault is an issue within all communities, including the Army. As a preventative measure against cases of sexual assault, Task Force Marne held sexual assault awareness training for more than 150 Soldiers on Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, April 15.

The training focused on the definition of sexual assault and sexual harassment, statistics of incidents reported, and strategies that all Task Force Marne personnel can put into action to help prevent the occurrence of sexual assault and harassment.

"It's important to give this training because throughout COB Speicher and theater, we are a community," said Sgt. 1st Class Jamal Reid, a division equal opportunity advisor, Division Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart.

"The goal for what Soldiers will gain from the training is awareness," he said. "They will understand that sexual assault and sexual harassment is real - it's happening."

Lieutenant Colonel Shatrece Buchanan, the division EO program manager, DSTB, 3rd ID, stressed the impact of sexual assault on Soldiers in theater by saying it's a "showstopper."

To keep as many Soldiers as possible in the fight, it is necessary to recognize and prevent sexual assault in its early stages. Nine times out of ten, assault is preceded by harassment, according to Lt. Col. Buchanan.

Soldiers can prevent harassment and sexual assault by traveling with a battle buddy, carrying a flashlight, adhering to theater policies, staying aware and reporting incidents when they happen.

Unreported incidents remain a huge problem that EO advisors encounter. According to the training, most offenders assault multiple times until they are caught. When Soldiers don't report incidents, nothing can be done to prevent it.

"Prevention is everyone's responsibility," Sgt. 1st Class Reid said. "You cannot turn a blind eye. If you do that, what is the impact of sexual harassment and assault on a unit' It destroys cohesion, espirit de corps."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16