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Investigation into the Sexual Assaults of Military Children

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By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. military has been derelict in its duty to protect and provide justice to the children of servicemembers when they are sexually assaulted by other children on base.

Tens of thousands of children and teenagers live and attend school on U.S. military bases while their parents serve the country. Yet if they are sexually violated by a classmate, a neighborhood kid or a sibling, they often get lost in a legal and bureaucratic netherworld. That’s because military law doesn’t apply to civilians, and the federal legal system that typically handles civilian crimes on base isn’t equipped or inclined to prosecute juveniles.

Reports of sexual violence among minors on U.S. military bases at home and abroad often only get as far as the desks of prosecutors. Many cases get lost in the system, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.

The Pentagon has rules and support systems to combat sexual violence among service members, but when it comes to student-on-student assaults, officials can only point to three paragraphs of guidelines that generally prohibit sexual harassment or “physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

As a result, reports of student sex assault languish.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have requested that the Pentagon’s inspector general begin a “comprehensive assessment” of department policies related to sexual assault among military children in schools and elsewhere on base.

“It disturbs us to learn that the department’s policies and procedures may prevent efforts to help child victims of misconduct … and to rehabilitate and hold child offenders accountable,” they wrote.

Pentagon school officials said they were developing new rules and guidance for reporting and responding to such violence. Officials also said the school system had appointed additional staff to advise families on their rights and available resources, among other reforms.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Chairman of Joint Chiefs Resists Reducing Top Brass

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By Debbie Gregory.

General Joseph Dunford, the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back against critics who think the military is top heavy with high-ranking officers.

“No, right now it is not my sense that we have too many general officers,” Dunford said recently.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee wants to see the number of generals and admirals cut by 25 percent.  This may be one reason for a hold up on the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

Dunford is looking for a compromise that is less than the quarter McCain is looking for. Dunford feels that the current number is not excessive.

According to Pentagon personnel statistics, as of June, 2016, there were 418 one stars, 315 two stars, 136 three stars, and 37 four-star active generals and admirals, totaling 906.

“We’re still working with both the Senate Armed Services and House Armed Services Committees to come up with a proposal that meets their requirements for reform, right-sizes the force to include our general officer population, and at the same time allows us to maintain military effectiveness,” Dunford said.

“So we’re going to go back and look at this issue, and work with Senator McCain and others to make sure we get it right,” Dunford said of the dispute over how many generals and admirals the military actually needs, which dates back to World War II.

In May, the Senate Armed Services Committee proposed cutting 222 of the 886 generals and admirals, citing that over the past 30 years, the end-strength of the joint force has decreased 38 percent, but the ratio of four-star officers to the overall force has increased by 65 percent.

“Especially at a time of constrained defense budgets, the military services must right-size their officer corps and shift as many personnel as possible from staff functions to operational and other vital roles.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Trump, McCain on What’s Next for Bowe Bergdahl: Military Connection

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By Debbie Gregory.

Although Bowe Bergdahl’s fate lies in the hands of Gen. Robert Abrams, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that Bergdahl should have been executed. Having previously called Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten traitor,” Trump has often railed against the prisoner swap that returned Bergdahl to U.S. custody.

In March, Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl has been accused of leaving his post in southeastern Afghanistan in June 2009. He was held prisoner by the Taliban for five years, then exchanged for five Taliban commanders being held by the U.S.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, a Navy pilot who was tortured and held captive for five years during the Vietnam War, said that Bergdahl is “clearly a deserter,” and threatened to hold a congressional hearing into the case “if it comes out that he has no punishment.” McCain serves as the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

The preliminary hearing officer on the case, Army Lt. Col. Mark A. Visger, recommended the charges be referred to a special court-martial and that Bergdahl receive no jail time.

Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, said that McCain is wrong for threatening a congressional hearing over his client’s actions.

“Sen. McCain’s comments are deeply disturbing and constitute unlawful congressional influence in a sensitive military justice matter,” he said.

The preliminary hearing officer on the case, Army Lt. Col. Mark A. Visger, last week recommended the charges be referred to a special court-martial and that Bergdahl receive no jail time.

Fidell said the defense has asked that the charges “be disposed of not by court-martial, but by nonjudicial punishment” — such as loss of rank, a drop in pay, extra work, etc. He has also urged Visger to make his report public

General Abrams is expected to decide soon whether the case should go before a court-martial now that the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding has concluded.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.