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Army kicks off Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a cake-cutting ceremony, because of course
Birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations — these are all places one might expect to find a ceremonial cake cutting.
Places you may not expect to find cake, but are going to find one anyway, now apparently include the Army's Sexual Assault Awareness Month kick-off event, because sure.
The Army's Human Resources Command had a proclamation signing on Tuesday, according to its official Facebook page, to "reinforcing the fight against sexual assault and harassment."
"U.S. Army Human Resources Command kicked off the command's observation of #SexualAssaultAwarenessPreventionMonth with a cake cutting ceremony and proclamation signing," the Facebook post reads. "This was the first of a number of events #HRC is conducting this month to highlight awareness and prevention of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the #USArmy."
Screenshot from the USAHRC Facebook.
Screenshot from the USAHRC Facebook.
One Army reserve battalion commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity since she is still on active duty, told Task & Purpose that the ceremony is "tone deaf and insensitive," and that she shared the Facebook post with other leaders, both men and women, who were all "baffled."
"To have a 'kick off celebration' conveys the message that 'this month we are serious about celebrating SHARP' instead of the reality that SHARP is not something to celebrate," she told Task & Purpose in an email.
"In my opinion, HRC missed a great opportunity to convey how serious this issue is and how it impacts our lethality and readiness. ... Insincere action is almost worse than inaction because it conveys the message that 'we are taking action only because we have to, not because we truly believe in it.'"
Sexual assault has continued to be a major issue in not just the Army, but across the services. It has been on the rise at the service academies — defense officials announced in January that sexual assault increased by 50% over two years at the academies. In April 2018, the Pentagon reported that the number of sexual assaults in the military had gone up almost 10% in one year — an 8.4% increase in the Army — but that the number of cases referred to courts-martial had declined.
"Sexual assault is detrimental to readiness, and compromises unit cohesion, trust, discipline and esprit de corps," Army HRC spokeswoman Lt. Col. Mary Ricks told Task & Purpose. "The cake cutting and proclamation signing were the start of a host of SHARP events taking place throughout the month of April."
The signed proclamation, provided to Task & Purpose, reaffirmed commitment to "fight against sexual harassment and sexual assault," and recognized that "eliminating sexual harassment improves the quality of life for everyone in the Army family and reinforces a climate of trust and respect in which every member can achieve their full potential."
But hey, what if we — hear me out on this — save the cake-cutting ceremony for when assault is on the decline, or even better: the very rare exception?
SEE NEXT: 'Continuum Of Harm': The Military Has Been Fighting Sexual Assault In Its Ranks For Decades, But Women Say It's Still Happening
WATCH ALSO: Sen. Martha McSally Discloses Her Air Force Sexual Assault
Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.
On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.
Editor's note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia announced on Monday it would hold a large test of its Strategic Missile Forces that will see it fire ballistic and cruise missiles from the land, sea and air this week.
The exercise, from Oct. 15-17, will involve around 12,000 military personnel, as well as aircraft, including strategic nuclear bombers, surface ships and submarines, Russia's Ministry of Defense said in a statement.