WASHINGTON (April 1, 2015) -- The Army's senior non-commissioned officer, or NCO, announced a new initiative to rid the ranks of sexual assault and harassment by giving responsibility for zero tolerance to first-line squad leaders.

"'Not in my squad' is not a bumper sticker; it's an anthem, a call to duty," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey during a Pentagon courtyard observance, March 31, kicking off Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

"'Not in my squad' is a promise that each leader must take in order to care for those in his or her charge..." Dailey said. "'Not in my squad' is about junior leaders taking ownership of solutions."

The Army is working a plan to have division-level and corps sergeants major identify their best squad leaders and select a diverse group of 32 squad leaders from across the force who exemplify the Army profession, Dailey said. These squad leaders will discuss and develop recommendations on how junior NCOs can further build and sustain a climate of dignity, respect, trust and inclusion, he said.

Citing statistics outlined in the 2014 Department of Defense report to the president on sexual assault prevention and response, Dailey said the reporting of sexual assault in the Army had increased by 12 percent, a statistic he viewed as a vote of confidence.

"We are headed in the right direction to change the culture of reporting and ultimately preventing sexual assault and harassment," he said. "We must remain committed to making further advances along our five lines of effort - prevention, investigation, accountability, advocacy and assessment and we must continue to work on fostering a climate where individuals are not afraid of retaliation or the stigma of reporting a crime."

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno followed Dailey, telling the audience of Soldiers and civilians about a video he had seen during the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, summit of senior leaders he had hosted in February. The video was shot shortly after the Soldier and NCO of the Year had just finished an obstacle course.

"They were tired and were given a pop question - how do you think the Army should deal with sexual assault and sexual harassment - their answers got to the core of everything we believe in - they talked about the core of a squad, the importance of each other, relying on each other and the importance of eradicating this from our Army... and that told me our Soldiers understand what's right," Odierno said. "This is really about the core of who we are and making sure everybody underneath us understands we will not tolerate these acts."

"Not in my squad, not in our Army: we are trusted professionals, so I know all of us will join together and continue to tirelessly and tenaciously focus on the well-being, safety and dignity of our Soldiers and equally dedicated civilian corps," Army Secretary John McHugh said.

"Sexual assault and sexual harassment shatters good order - it shatters discipline, but more than anything else it shatters the lives of our Soldiers and our larger Army family, and for all those reasons and so many more, we've got to do everything we can, day after day, hour after hour to stamp out sexual assault and reprisal," McHugh said. "We have to instill trust and confidence in our Soldiers and our civilians so they know they can come forward to leaders and when they do, they won't be victimized again."

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