The Department of Defense recently released a report stating that only 1,366 cases of sexual harassment occurred in the military in fiscal year 2013. On the surface, this report is positively rosy --- good news for a department that has been the subject of much congressional scrutiny in recent months. But language is a tricky thing, isn’t it?
Reports of sexual harassment may be down, but reports of sexual assault are up nearly 50% from FY2012. This information is present in the report, but buried beneath a headline and lead that hone in on the more positive story.
Just nine months ago, the DoD acknowledged that an estimated 26,000 sexual assaults occurred within its ranks during the previous year based on anonymous surveys, while only 3,600 were actually reported.
Something doesn’t add up.
Are we supposed to believe that for each crudely personal comment or groping hand, four people --- half of them men --- are raped out of the blue? Is the DoD seriously implying that thousands of sexual assaults happen in environments with almost zero tolerance for sexual harassment? It would seem so.
The DoD further fumbled when it attempted to frame sexual harassment as simply an issue of hurt feelings.
The official press release included this quote from an unnamed senior Defense Department official: “We want a climate where everybody reports whenever they’re offended.”
They’re framing it wrong.
What if this nameless senior official had said, “We want a climate free of sexual harassment. We understand that the belief that you are entitled to repeatedly demand access to or comment on an unwilling person’s body not only breeds disrespect, but also negatively impacts trust, unit cohesion, morale, and our capacity to mete out justice when the situation escalates to sexual assault, as it often does."
The task of assessing climate for an organization the size of the DoD is no doubt a challenging one, but the Defense Department’s carefully parsed approach to reporting the numbers is careless at best and disingenuous at worst.
Lydia Davey is an entrepreneur and U.S. Marine Veteran. She is the founder of Moriah Creatives Public Relations.
Islamic state members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 18, 2019. (Reuters/Rodi Said)
NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The Islamic State appeared closer to defeat in its last enclave in eastern Syria on Wednesday, as a civilian convoy left the besieged area where U.S.-backed forces estimate a few hundred jihadists are still holed up.
U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Wing walk to waiting family members and friends after stepping off of a C-130J Super Hercules at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 17, 2018 (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)
The U.S. Air Force has issued new guidelines for active-duty, reserve and National Guard airmen who are considered non-deployable, and officials will immediately begin flagging those who have been unable to deploy for 12 consecutive months for separation consideration.
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.