Sexual assault has no place in the Army
February 23, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Let's talk about a very serious subject: Sexual harassment and sexual assault.
As of next Friday, the Fort Jackson EO/SHARP office will assume duties as the lead sexual assault response organization on Fort Jackson. This represents a key milestone in the merger of the Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Response Programs. The new program will work as effectively as before and will continue to work to benefit and protect our Soldiers.
Currently, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program falls under the Army Community Services Family Advocacy Program and is run under a civilian contract, which expires in March. When the EO/SHARP team assumes the lead for sexual assault response, this function will no longer be under FAP. The transition from the SAPR team at ACS to the EO/SHARP office -- which has already begun -- will be seamless.
The EO/SHARP office has eight noncommissioned officers who have been receiving extensive training in sexual assault response. After the transition these NCOs will continue their training with the SAPR program contractors until the contract expires in mid-March.
It's unacceptable that sexual assault and harassment continue to be a problem in our Army. These crimes go against the grain of everything we value in this institution. Unfortunately, we are not immune to these crimes on Fort Jackson. The last several courts-martial cases that were published in the Fort Jackson Leader dealt with crimes of this nature. Three years ago, our Army recognized this growing problem and developed initiatives and programs to battle it head-on. Our leaders have been engaged in a very aggressive effort to eradicate sexual crimes in the Army with a four-phase program, called I. A.M. Strong.
I. A.M. (Intervene, Act, Motivate) Strong began in the fall of 2008 with the launching of Phase One, which engaged leadership to understand the problem and the command culture. Phase Two dealt mainly with giving Soldiers the training and awareness so that they had the toolset to fight the fight.
Last year, we entered Phase Three, which involved partnering not only with Army communities, but also with outside educational entities such as schools and universities. As we continue toward Phase Four, which begins in 2013, the ratcheting up of the program will become more visible and zoom in even tighter on prevention.
At the same time that this four-tiered effort began, there was restructuring in the works as well. The SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention) program was formed, replacing the SAPR program (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response), and clearly reiterating the focus shift to refining and sharing prevention strategies.
Throughout this year, the Army will have mobile training teams train more than 24,000 command-selected, unit SHARP personnel. Also, SHARP and TRADOC are seeking to integrate SHARP training in all professional military education and civilian education system courses. And, we will continue to refine and share our best practices in combating sexual assault and harassment.
There is no room for this behavior within our Army and all known violators will be punished under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. Our prevention programs are critical to defeating this misconduct.
However, it will take us all to put an end to sexual assault and harassment within our ranks. You need to know exactly what to do, especially when it comes to reporting and to accountability -- all of which goes back to the I. A.M. Strong approach. We will make progress with this program -- we must. I look forward to your involvement.
Army Strong and Victory Starts Here!