Defense Secretary Orders Review Of Military Sexual Assault Prevention Programs

Written by on January 24, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin, in his first directive since taking workplace, has given his senior leaders two weeks to ship him studies on sexual assault prevention packages within the navy, and an evaluation of what has labored and what hasn’t.

Austin’s memo, which went out Saturday, fulfills a dedication he made to senators final week throughout affirmation hearings. He had vowed to right away handle the issues of sexual assault and harassment within the ranks.

“This can be a management challenge,” Austin mentioned in his two-page memo. “We’ll lead.”

Senator after senator demanded to know what Austin deliberate to do about the issue, which protection and navy leaders have grappled with for years. Stories of sexual assaults have steadily gone up since 2006, in keeping with division studies, together with a 13% leap in 2018 and a 3% improve in 2019. The 2020 knowledge will not be but out there.

The 2018 improve fueled congressional anger over the difficulty, and lawmakers have repeatedly known as for motion, together with modifications within the Code of Army Justice.

“You do agree that we are able to’t hold doing the identical factor that we’ve been doing for the previous decade?” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., mentioned throughout Austin’s affirmation listening to. “Do I’ve your dedication to be relentless on this challenge till we are able to finish the scourge of sexual violence within the navy?”

Austin agreed, telling senators, “This begins with me and you may rely on me getting after this on Day One.”

Technically, the directive got here on Day Two. Austin arrived on the Pentagon on Friday shortly after midday, however he spent his first hours as protection chief in conferences with key leaders as he started the transition to his new job. He was within the Pentagon once more Saturday, making calls to protection counterparts world wide, and he signed the memo.

In his listening to and within the memo, Austin acknowledged that the navy has lengthy struggled with the issue, however should do higher.

The directive requires every chief to submit a abstract of the sexual assault and harassment measures they’ve taken within the final yr that present promise, and an evaluation of those who didn’t. And he requested for related knowledge for the previous decade, together with efforts to help victims.

“Embrace in your report the consideration of novel approaches to any of those areas,” he mentioned, including that “we should not be afraid to get inventive.”

And Austin mentioned he plans to host a gathering on the matter with senior leaders within the coming days.

Nate Galbreath, the appearing director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Workplace, mentioned final April that he was cautiously optimistic that the decrease improve in 2019 recommended a pattern in declining assaults. However he mentioned it’s too tough to inform as a result of sexual assaults are vastly under-reported.

Galbreath and navy service leaders have repeatedly rolled out new packages over time, together with elevated training and coaching and efforts to encourage service members to intervene once they see a foul scenario. Final yr officers introduced a brand new transfer to root out serial offenders.

Many victims don’t file prison studies, which implies investigators can’t pursue these alleged attackers. Below the brand new system, victims who don’t need to file a public prison report are inspired to confidentially present particulars about their alleged attacker in order that investigators can see if they’ve been concerned in different crimes.

Galbreath and others even have contended that, no less than early on, the rise in studies was check in that it confirmed that victims had been extra keen to return ahead, suggesting they had been getting extra assured within the justice system.

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