WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 2, 2008) - Secretary of the Army Pete Geren told senior leaders Tuesday that the Army will be launching new sexual assault prevention initiatives that he believes will eventually help change society.

Geren opened the sexual assault prevention and response refresher training session telling a full Pentagon auditorium that sexual harassment and sexual assault is not just problematic in the Army, "it's a national problem, a problem of society."

He said the Army will lead the way in prevention and envisions someday every man and woman who enters the American work force will be confident that they will never experience sexual harassment or sexual assault.

"We're a large enough organization that the progress we make in the Army can help shape society, where we as an Army can be a leader in society shaping societal values which shape the work place and the work force in all of our country," he said.

The secretary called on Army leaders to make sexual harassment and assault prevention a priority and to think of ways in which they can help to change the climate in the Army, to make a climate that sets an example for America that is hostile to sexual harassment and to any attitudes or activities which foster or allow sexual assault to happen.

"The Army will be launching some new initiatives, creating the right climate, prosecuting Soldiers and Civilians who don't live up to the standards our Army holds people to," he said. "We will work in the area of sexual assault prevention, not just responding to the tragedy of sexual assault, but we want to be a model in how we prevent sexual assault."

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program stood up in 2004 as part of the Army's effort to eradicate sexual assault through training, prevention, education and awareness programs. In cases where prevention measures fail, victims are assured that a system is in place to provide responsive, caring support, while holding offenders accountable.

The SAPR office is planning an Army Sexual Assault Prevention and Risk Reduction training summit Sept. 8-11 in Alexandria, Va., to discuss ideas and possible initiatives for improving sexual harassment and assault prevention techniques and the processes by which reports and prosecutions are handled.