By J.D. LeipoldMay 8, 2012
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 8, 2012) -- Sexual harassment and sexual assault continue to remain a scourge the Army intends to continue battling until both are wiped out.
In opening remarks on day one of the fifth I. A.M. Strong Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention Summit, the Army's assistant secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs announced forthcoming policy changes which expand on the roles of leadership in banishing the sexual assault and sexual harassment. Both continue to cause damage to Army core values and human dignity.
"First, there's a requirement for at least one full-time sexual assault response coordinator and at least one full-time sexual assault victim advocate to be assigned to each brigade or equivalent unit level for the armed forces," said Thomas R. Lamont. "Second, we will expand services to family members Army wide, Department of Defense civilians outside the continental United States and contractors assigned to contingency operations."
Lamont added that every Soldier should see sexual assault as a personal issue, and seek to help eradicate it.
"We simply cannot have Soldiers preying on each other. This rips apart the bonds of trust that hold our Army together in both war and peacetime," he said. "At its core, sexual assault is an issue that is ultimately about our Army values -- loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage."
This year's summit, runs May 7-9, in Leesburg, Va. The campaign is in its third phase and has the theme, "Be a Force, Achieve Cultural Change." While last year the audience was made up solely of noncommissioned officers, this year the focus was on more than 500 commanders and sergeants major.
Following up on Lamont's address, Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the Army G-1, said that while beating sexual harassment and sexual assault have always been leadership issues, the Army was going to ask senior mission commanders to own their programs.
"It was garrison-based before, but now it's going to move to a commanders-based program, both in garrison and while deployed," Bostick said.
The Army's senior enlisted advisor, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, said sexual assault is not a focus on numbers. Rather, it is a focus on the fact that if the Army had but one act of misconduct or violence against another Soldier, then the service wasn't doing as much as it could defeat that violence.
"Even if it's an increase of one or a decrease of 1,000, it doesn't matter," he said. "One is one too many and that's really what we've got to focus on by changing the culture within our Army that this type of behavior is not acceptable."
"I'm encouraged by the direction that we're going," Chandler added. "Senior Army leadership is very committed to this. I know it's trickled down to the most junior Soldier and it's now about changing that culture and climate and understanding that we own this."