By Jessica MaxwellMarch 30, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 30, 2010) -- Beginning the second day of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention conference, Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commanding general of Army Materiel Command noted the Army is fully engaged in preventing sexual harassment and assault.
"We have critical work left to do though," Dunwoody said. "We want our Army to be an example for the rest of the country."
Later in the morning, Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., chief of staff of the Army, spoke to the crowd about the progress made since 2007. Recently, Casey and Secretary of the Army John McHugh spoke to Congress about the budget needs of the Army for 2011. With the proposed 2011 budget, Casey said he believes it will be possible to finish regaining balance in the Army.
"We have loose ends to tidy up," said Casey. "We need to consolidate, assess and refine ourselves and this great Army we have built."
Casey said Soldiers and families are the most important element of the Army and their support must be sustained.
"Sexual assault eats away at this support," he said. "We cannot tolerate it."
Originally focused on after-the-fact care, Casey and Army leadership are striving to change the culture and environment. Casey said it starts with small steps and committed Army leadership. Prevention must not only be pushed from the top down through the ranks, it must also come from company commanders, first sergeants and up from the platoon level.
"I am not focused on numbers right now," said Casey. "We need to create an environment and culture which rejects assault, where someone feels comfortable in coming forward (to report assault)."
Casey said he believes by placing more visibility on sexual harassment and assault, the problem will be fixed faster. By using the Army structure in place, training can be pushed down through the ranks.
"Every leader needs to see sexual assault as fundamentally counter to the warrior ethos," said Casey. "It's all about leadership and leaders setting the right examples."
Casey said the Army needs to approach sexual assault from an offensive mindset, which includes focusing on the enemy and being opportunistic in solutions.
Dunwoody added that every unit needs to be a high-performing organization.
"These are people that care about individuals, units that are trained and ready and they have respect for each other," said Dunwoody.
Closing his talk, Casey asked the audience to think about three things: building conviction to fight sexual assault, sustaining momentum for the fight and changing the culture to stamp out assault and harassment.
"I appreciate the energy in this room," said Casey. "Now carry that energy back with you (to your home stations)."