By Kari HawkinsFebruary 11, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - A retired general officer who was in command of an organization that experienced the Army's worst sexual abuse scandal will speak at Redstone Arsenal during a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program Feb. 20.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Shadley, whose 33-year Army career included assignments at Redstone Arsenal and with the Army Materiel Command, will share his story of leadership challenges during a SHARP presentation entitled "Preventing a Crisis" set for 1:30 p.m. at Bob Jones Auditorium.
"Sexual assault is a force protection and a force readiness issue in our Army," Shadley said in a phone interview. "It is absolutely essential that we take care of our Soldiers and get the perpetrators out of our military.
"How we address sexual assault starts at the top with leaders who must take responsibility to enforce SHARP tenets in our units."
The Army SHARP program provides educational and advocate resources in an attempt to prevent sexual harassment/assaults before they occur; and to eliminate sexual harassment/assault by creating a work climate that respects the dignity of every Army Soldier, civilian and family member. SHARP programs work to reduce the stigma of reporting; protect victims and increase prevention, investigation, prosecution and victim care capabilities.
"Promoting a culture of trust, dignity and respect whether you are a Soldier, federal employee, contractor or family member is the goal of our AMC SHARP program. We should expect to come to a healthy work environment, which also carries over into our community and our families," said Kim Green, the AMC SHARP program manager.
Shadley, a veteran of the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm, was the commander of Aberdeen Ordnance Center and School, Maryland, when a sexual abuse scandal was uncovered in 1996 during two Army investigations, and led to the Army announcing an "action plan" for expanding screening procedures for Army drill sergeants and for new training guidelines for sexual harassment awareness and prevention.
Shadley is the author of "The GAMe: Unraveling a Military Sex Scandal," which tells the story of how he helped to expose the Military Sex GAMe (GAMe referred to "Playing the Game" or "GAM" - game a la military) that began at the Aberdeen school and then continued at other Army installations. Shadley has spoken to many military and civilian groups about the leadership lessons and reform measures that came out of the GAMe scandal.
"We all must take personal responsibility to protect against sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace," Shadley said. "It is important for leadership to understand this is about protecting our force so we can get the work done, so we can come to work without the fear of being victimized by abusive talk or inappropriate touching or even worse."
During his Army career, Shadley led more than 3,500 Soldiers in combat and more than 20,000 students in training. His military highlights included serving as an advisor to the Vietnamese Ordnance Corps in Vietnam, commanding the Division Support Command, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) during Operation Desert Shield/Storm, serving as director of logistics for the Atlantic Command during Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti and serving a director of logistics at the Forces Command.
Shadley's career brought him to Redstone Arsenal several times. He first came to Redstone as a student in the Officer Basic Course, graduating as a missile maintenance officer. He commanded the 249th Ordnance Detachment and then the 86th Ordnance Detachment, both at Redstone Arsenal. He served with the Army Materiel Command as a captain from 1972 to 1976 and as the executive officer to commander Gen. Paul Kern from 2001 to 2003.
Shadley retired from active duty in 2000, following the Military Sex GAMe scandal.
"Since then, there have been an estimated 400,000 Department of Defense civilians and military victims of sexual assault. That is between 15,000 and 20,000 a year," he said. "We've had more men and women injured by sexual assault than we have had injured in combat during those years. This has a devastating impact on the victims, and those who love them and care for them."
Speaking out against sexual harassment/assault and taking his message to service members and DOD civilians around the world is a life mission for Shadley. He urges Soldiers and civilians to speak out when they are a victim of sexual harassment/assault. It is crucial, he said, for leaders to believe victims when they do come forward.
"Research has shown that 92 to 98 percent of victims who come forward and say they have been sexually assaulted are people who are telling the truth," Shadley said. "If you are going to err, err on the side of the young man or woman who had the guts to come forward and tell their story even though they may face retaliation and become a victim again."
Leaders who set high personal and professional standards for themselves and for the Soldiers and civilians who work for them set the right conditions to prevent sexual harassment /abuse, he said.
"I am speaking out because I want something good to come out of what happened in 1996-97," Shadley said. "This still hasn't stopped. It's so important to get this story out so that we protect our nation's greatest assets - the young men and women who serve this nation. We have to get the word out that this is a crisis and we need to work together to solve it."
Addressing and preventing sexual harassment/assault in the workplace is a major step toward prevention of sexual harassment/assault in society as a whole, said AMC Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Maureen Trainor.
"We spend the majority of our day with our co-workers, more time than we spend with our families during the work week. That's why it's important that Soldiers and civilians have trust in each other and trust to speak out freely if they feel victimized in any way," Trainor said.
"SHARP is not only mandatory, but necessary. Coming to the workplace should not cause fear in anyone, but rather a sense of belonging. We have a mission, and the impact and accomplishments we make relate to whether the Army is successful or not."
Editor's Note: Victims of sexual harassment/assault can obtain anonymous help by calling the DOD Safe Helpline, 1-877-995-5247.