ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Army’s top Priority is their people, and it is developing strategies and programs that will prevent and reduce issues like sexual assault, sexual harassment, suicide, discrimination and extremism. Developing programs to reduce these harmful behaviors will create a safer working environment for Army soldiers, civilians and contractors.
One of these initiatives is the new SHARP Fusion Directorate that opened in late April.
The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Fusion Directorate is open to APG military members and civilians. The center will prioritize victim care through providing full services in one centralized location.
The SHARP Fusion Center originated as an Army pilot program, an initiative of the People’s First Task Force in response to the widely publicized murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén when she was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. In December of 2020, the Secretary of the Army initiated the People First Task Force to address the findings of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee that highlighted the need for a stronger and more proactive approach to preventing sexual assault and protecting victims when they come forward.
The People First Task Force has developed and evaluated a variety of recommendations for combating sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other detrimental issues. These included a multi-disciplinary fusion directorate under the oversight of an installation’s senior commander. The Task Force used procedures and metrics from an earlier pilot resource program that was discontinued in 2015; however, there are notable differences.
With the SHARP redesign, the new pilot centers will prioritize victim care through providing all-inclusive services in one location. The purpose of the redesign is to increase accountability, transparency and efficiency through the coordination of victim care providers, law enforcement investigators and criminal prosecutors. Through doing this, survivors will be able to navigate their reporting process, case resolution and recovery resources more easily.
The fusion directorate is an improvement over past systems through the development and issuance of military protective orders and the process where victims receive case notifications. In addition, commanders must assign an investigating officer from outside the chain of command to ensure nonpartisan individuals are integrated into the investigation process.
The planned redesign of the SHARP program will be a yearlong initiative hosted at seven different sites. Besides APG, fusion centers will open at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Irwin, California; Fort Riley, Kansas; and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In addition to the in-person sites, the Army Reserve will pilot a virtual fusion directorate for the 99th Readiness Division.
The redesign and restructure of the SHARP Fusion Directorate Center is based on the Army’s People First priority. People are the Army’s greatest strength and most valuable asset, and sexual harassment and sexual assault hurts readiness — and our Soldiers, civilians, and families and negatively impacts our mission to serve and protect America.
Tracy Marshall, the APG Installation SHARP Program Manager, said, “These pilot programs will foster relationships with a variety of organizations which will better provide resources and advocate for victims”.
If you need to contact the SHARP Fusion Directorate Center for information or to report an incident, please refer to these resources:
APG 24/7 Sexual Assault Hotline (410) 322-7154
DoD Safe Helpline (877) 995-5247