By Debbie Gregory.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is frustrated with the military’s inability to end sexual abuse within their ranks, and even more so with service members trusted with the task of preventing such abuses. Sexual assaults are a criminal offense. The fact that Military Training Instructors are accused of victimizing trainees makes it even more egregious.
Yesterday, Hagel was informed that sexual assault allegations have been made against a sergeant first class who is a sexual assault prevention and response coordinator at Fort Hood, Texas. This is the second time this month that a service member in a sexual assault prevention program is being investigated for a sexual crime.
All branches of the military are under intense scrutiny for sexual assaults within its ranks. Anonymous sexual assault reports have grown by more than 30% in the past two years.
The news of the Fort Hood case comes as the military prepares for a historic move: opening combat roles to women for the first time. It’s unclear how that might affect the apparently increasing problem of sexual assault.
Army and Air Force assault cases highlight a problem that is drawing increased scrutiny in Congress, and expressions of frustration from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Secretary Hagel has ordered the armed services military recruiters and sexual assault prevention officers to be re-trained, re-credentialed and re-screened. Last week, he warned that the military’s ability to recruit and perform its missions was becoming endangered by deepening public perceptions that the armed forces are unable to or unwilling to cope with a sexual-assault crisis in the ranks.
No one, female or male should have to tolerate sexual assault in the armed forces. This must not be a concern or fear. It is a very positive move for this problem not to be ignored and to be addressed by Secretary of Defense Hagel.