By NICK DUKEAugust 7, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Aug. 7, 2013) -- During the Maneuver Center of Excellence's Senior Leader On-Site July 30, one of the topics discussed at length was the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program.
Col. Scott King, commander of the 194th Armored Brigade, served as the group facilitator for the discussion on SHARP and also helped to present the group's findings and recommendations at the end of the On-Site.
One of the topics the group discussed was the level of confusion that can often arise for company commanders when dealing with sexual harassment or assault issues.
"What's a harassment, what's an assault, what can they do -- as a company commander or first sergeant, it's confusing," King said. "We really have to go back to our company commanders and our first sergeants and make sure they understand that you might have somebody who needs to go to a lot of appointments, and you don't need to ask."
King also said that part of the problem at Fort Benning stems from a lack of faith in the reporting system.
"Our restricted reporting is not confidential," he said.
"The perception for potential victims is that it will get out. They don't have trust in the system that it's going to be confidential and not everybody is going to know about it. We are not getting the reports that we probably should be getting. Part of it is the perception that it's going to get out and it's the lack of trust in the system that we really have to work at."
King also said that the installation currently lacks the manpower to completely address the problem when it is most prevalent.
"We're good from 9 to 5, but that's not when the incidents are happening," he said. "We don't have the depth. We don't have all of the nurses that are certified to do the intakes and we don't have enough in the Criminal Investigation Division arena."
King also took time to talk about the results of command climate surveys conducted during recent sensing sessions.
"There's a lack of faith that something is going to get done if an incident is reported, and we've got to change that," he said. "A lot of Soldiers think this is just the flavor of the week and next week there will be something else. They don't realize the seriousness of this and the trust factor we're losing as a profession."
The group recommended making efforts to ensure that each brigade's SHARP location is well known and well placed, as well as continuing to train commanders on SHARP.
In addition, the group also recommended that SHARP training be constantly reviewed to ensure quality of both the training and the trainers.
Some of the group's recommendations were technology based, such as a suggestion to create a smartphone app for reporting instances of sexual harassment and assault and installing hotlines and closed-circuit television in barracks. TRADOC is working on the installation of hotlines in training barracks now.
The group also recommended the development of a Fort Benning female mentorship program that would help female Soldiers to connect and develop outside of their units.