WASHINGTON–The Pentagon on Thursday announced a new policy to combat sexual misconduct in the military by creating a framework outlining how to prevent and respond to harassment incidences and requiring each branch of the military to come up with implementation plans in the next 60 days.
The services have had harassment policies in the past, but they have been policies individual to each branch, with no consistent methodology. This new plan would establish across the board standards for service requirements and create common procedures for tracking offenders and reporting data.
“Let me be clear: harassment has no place in our military,” Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. “This policy brings us one step closer to eliminating these behaviors.”
Brian Clubb, military and veterans program coordinator for the Battered Women’s Justice Project and a retired Marine officer, said it will be important to follow how well Defense Department officials follow through on the plans.
“The [Defense Department] has lots and lots of policies and directives in black and white,” Clubb said. “How they’re being implemented differs based off of the importance placed on them by individual commands and commanders.”
of women who reported sexual assault face retaliation
of men who reported sexual assault face retaliation
of incidences went unreported in 2016
Defense Department officials told a congressional committee on Wednesday that no more than 1 percent of generals have been accused of improper sexual relationships or sexual misconduct.
Central to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s defense strategies is making sure the military is ready for action after a decade of stopgap funding bills caused erratic training schedules and acquisitions problems for the military. Sexual harassment is a part of that readiness problem, and White said the policy was a top priority for Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Robert Wilkie.
“Something that affects lethality and readiness is sexual harassment in all forms,” White said.
White noted that the goal of Pentagon is to eliminate all forms of harassment in the workplace, including discrimination.
“No one should feel intimidated,” she said. “No one should feel as though they can’t do their job without being discriminated against–this also goes to hazing, this goes to political beliefs, this goes to religious beliefs.”