By Ms. Susan Huseman (IMCOM)April 7, 2009
STUTTGART, Germany - While U.S. troops battle al-Qaida and Taliban forces, the Army is waging war against another enemy - the problem of sexual assault.
While sexual assault and harassment prevention has been an Army focus for years, the Army's I.A.M. Strong campaign is a major change in strategy.
"I.A.M. Strong is an Army campaign executed by front-line unit leaders and Soldiers across the Army to combat sexual assault and harassment by engaging all Soldiers in preventing sexual assault and harassment before it occurs," said Command Sgt. Maj. Tracey Anbiya, the Installation Management Command-Europe command sergeant major.
"Any type of sexual assault or harassment is unacceptable and reportable. Period," she said. "Again, in line with our Army values and Warrior Ethos, anyone observing sexual assault and harassment should report it to the appropriate agency, whether it be through official or civilian chains."
Anbiya has 25 years of service and knows firsthand how sexual assault and harassment can affect Soldiers and units.
"During one of my past assignments, I witnessed the tragedy and toll it took on a Soldier. The Soldier was a top achiever, but after returning from a deployment, I saw a decline in performance and observed that the Soldier's emotional state had changed from confident to jittery and withdrawn," she said.
Anbiya was concerned and began asking questions. The Soldier admitted she had been sexually assaulted while deployed. "A sterling performer, full of confidence, someone I admired, was ruined," said Anbiya.
Those who commit sexual assault are criminals, she continued. "They hurt unit morale and erode the credibility of Soldiers in a unit and the confidence people have of the unit. That behavior also betrays the band of brothers and sisters, and it breaks the bond of trust essential to our mission and our team."
Anbiya said the I.A.M. Strong campaign will help to "create a more open environment of trust, where people who believe they may be a victim of assault or harassment will be willing to speak up.
"In today's Army ... in today's military, there is no tolerance for sexual assault or harassment. I hope anyone who is victimized finds the courage to speak up and place their trust in our commitment to combating sexual assault and harassment," she said.