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April 27, 2012

Armywide News

Army lauds slight increase in sexual-assault reporting

By Rob McIlvaine, Army News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an annual Department of Defense (DoD) report just released, the Army had a slight increase in reported sexual assaults, but a senior leader explained this as actually a positive thing.

It means “Soldiers have enough confidence in our programs, the system, and their chain of command to come forward and report a crime,” said Brig. Gen. Barrye L. Price, director of Human Resources, Army G-1.
PHOTO: Military and congressional leaders meet to discuss new measures to combat sexual assault in the military. photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts (left to right), U.S. Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speak with reporters at the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Panetta and Dempsey met with members of the House April 16 to discuss new measures to combat sexual assault in the military. (Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Price, who oversees the Army’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention program, known as SHARP, briefed the report’s conclusions during a media roundtable April 17.

In the DoD Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, released April 2012, the Army had 1,695 reported cases of sexual assault.

This was an increase of six cases from the previous fiscal year, Price said — actually much less than a 1 percent increase.

The Army has a goal of eradicating sexual assault completely, Price said, but the effort had to begin by encouraging reporting and changing the paradigm.

“On (April 15),” Price said, “our nation and major league baseball paused to pay tribute to the legendary baseball player who broke the color line in professional athletics within our nation ... Jackie Robinson.

“Of all of Mr. Robinson’s achievements, perhaps his greatest offering, was ... a 15-word quote: ‘your life is not important except for the impact it has on another life.’”

Robinson’s quote illustrates today’s Army as being in a perpetual state of refinement as it takes both a top-down and bottom-up approach to eradicating the issue of sexual assault within the ranks, Price said.

“This is, in Navy lore, an all-hands-on-deck endeavor which has required the time, talents and treasure of the entire force, the Congress and subject-matter experts from across our nation to usher in a program for our goal of eradicating sexual assault to become a reality.

“As you are well aware, the Army is a value-based organization where dignity, respect, honor, discipline and integrity aren’t simply slogans or bumper stickers, but they are the hallmarks and foundational tenets of the profession of arms, and they are the mandates and watchwords of the treasure that we endeavor to serve,” Price said.

The Army, he said, is learning more about sexual assault ... the psychology of an assailant, and how to treat victims to ensure they’re not victimized twice.

Of the 1,695 reported cases of sexual assault in FY 2011, only 301 were restricted reports in which victims opted not to release personal information to their chain of command or criminal investigators.

“We know that 53 percent of restricted reports involve a servicemember assaulting another servicemember. We know that most assaults occur in the first 90 days within a unit; that 61 percent occurred on weekends and that 84 percent of the victims of this evil are lower enlisted in grades E-1 through E-4.

“Likewise, we know that 59 percent of the alleged offenders hail from the same demographic,” Price said.

“Whereas we’ve made much progress, there is much work that remains on three fronts:
• Removing the stigma of reporting;
• Securing the trust of victims to ensure they aren’t victimized twice;
• Ferreting out would-be and alleged perpetrators by every Soldier, Department of the Army civilian, and member of our team — intervene, act and motivate others to do the same.

“Finally, our focus remains on prevention, intervention, investigations, and prosecutions, with an emphasis on victim support and protection,” Price said.

To help address the crime of sexual assault within the military, the DoD annual report states that data provided in such reports serves as the foundation and catalyst for future sexual assault prevention, training, victim care and accountability goals.

“We have a new survey that starts next month that really informs leaders of how we’re doing and this really helps to inform us.

The Army chief of staff has directed the creation of a Red Team to do an internal assessment of the Army’s efforts.

“A Red Team is an organization that takes a hard look at a program or a system and goes down to posts, camps and stations, to assess how that guidance matriculates and how it’s being executed and implemented in the field.

“It’s us grading ourselves, but they have freer rein to report,” Price said.

He said this team went out April 24 to several installations — both virtually to bases in the west, and physically to most in the National Capitol Region.

They’ll go out within another six months to see how the programs have improved, he said.

To view this and past year reports, visit http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/annual-reports

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