VICENZA, Italy -- (June 17, 2013) Secretary of the Army John McHugh spoke with a group of senior leaders, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention unit representatives and the Sexual Assault Response coordinator during lunch at Caserma Del Din yesterday.
"The president recently spoke with secretaries from different branches and (sexual assault prevention) is critically important," McHugh said. "The Army values are being challenged in negative ways. I want to know what is working and what isn't working."
U.S. Army Africa Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, known as SHARP, representative Master Sgt. Steve Pauling told McHugh how the Vicenza Military Community SHARP representatives gather once a month for a lunch to talk about issues and keep communication flowing.
"We are a small community, but this is a collaborative duty and spending time away from our desks is important," Pauling said. "We all know each other very well and (our meeting) is a great tool."
McHugh stressed that contact between leaders and troops is critical.
"We have to do everything we can in leadership and within our ranks to talk about and face up to this problem," McHugh said. "This is the main challenge we face today beyond being at war. This is not why people come to the Army, which has been admired for 238 years."
While here, McHugh discussed the dozens of activities USARAF is working with African partners.
"I think Africa is a part of the world we needed to pay more attention to," McHugh said. "We've seen the challenges in the last several years that have risen, such as terrorism, that challenge our national interests."
McHugh also spoke about the footprint the Army has in Europe and said, "We are currently undergoing a lot of changes throughout the Army, with consolidations ongoing."