I A.M. Strong: Stand with me, take action
April 1, 2011
Recently, I attended the Army's fourth annual I. A.M. (Intervene, Act, Motivate) Strong Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Summit in Alexandria, Va., and thought it was important to share my views on this serious subject so significant to our Army.
First, I need you to know that I am all in. I am convinced that this is classic "leader business." We must decide whether this abhorrent behavior meets our standards, is consistent with our values, or not.
The Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond F. Chandler III, made it very clear that it is all about the enforcement of standards and discipline. We are an "Army of action" in his words and the action he demands is to intervene when called upon and make clear to our subordinates, our peers, and our superiors that we will not stand for these kinds of attacks on our team members and our readiness. Gen. George W. Casey, the Chief of Staff of the Army, said we will be successful when we have meaningful discussions on this subject at the platoon level.
Second, I want to recognize the month of April, when the Army observes Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I encourage all of our IMT Soldiers, civilians, and family members to re-dedicate their efforts toward preventing sexual assault and ultimately change a culture through the SHARP program and "I A.M. Strong" campaign.
This comprehensive program is the Army's strategy to eliminate sexual harassment and sexual assault by 2014. Part of this strategy is to vigorously educate new Soldiers and leaders to prevent sexual harassment and assault before they happen. It is simply unacceptable to be satisfied with responding to incidents after the fact.
As a cadre member, trainer, or staff in Initial Military Training, you directly influence the attitudes and behaviors of the newest members of our Army. You are mentors and role models for the Army's newest generation.
I need your complete dedication and support for the SHARP program.
The Army has invested significant resources to provide IMT with all the tools we need to execute this training. You will see a different approach to our traditional training techniques, including an innovative program called "Sex Signals" where Soldiers interact with professional actors, promoting sound judgment in relationship decision making. Drill Sergeants will also teach "Sex Rules," aligned with our seven Army Values, to engage new Soldiers on the importance of this program while making them better Soldiers, ready to protect their battle buddies, on and off the battlefield.
We know that sexual harassment and assault can impede training, break-down unit cohesion and reduce combat readiness. Sexual assault is a crime and all incidents of sexual assault must be reported.
We want every Soldier and leader to feel a responsibility to Intervene, Act, and Motivate others to prevent sexual harassment and assault.
The success of this campaign strategy depends on you - give SHARP the same detailed attention you provide to other critical individual and team tasks.
We also need to continue our focus on reporting. We, as an Army, have seen a six percent reduction in reported cases over the last year. Though I am encouraged, I know that we are only as good as our reporting.
So what am I asking' As the Sgt. Maj. of the Army says, let us all be Soldiers and civilians of action! Just as we would not walk by a cigarette butt without picking it up, or walk by a Soldier with their hands in their pockets without making a correction, let us decide together that we will never again tolerate an offensive remark, overlook an offensive email, or the much more onerous examples of sexual harassment and assault that we all have witnessed in our prior "culture" of turning a blind eye to what we knew was inappropriate. Let us shine a bright light on this issue and take back our Army from these predators.
With your help, I am confident we can meet our goal of eliminating sexual harassment and assault from our ranks by 2014.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault are unacceptable. Please stand with me as we solve this Army problem.