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Military sexual assaults have reached a four-year high as the Pentagon downplays its failures
Once again, military sexual assaults are on the rise — and the numbers tell a grim story.
The Pentagon's estimate of the number of service members who were sexually assaulted rose 37.5 percent from 14,900 in fiscal 2016 to 20,500 in fiscal 2018, according to the Defense Department's latest report on sexual assault in the military.
That is the highest number of sexual assaults in four years, the report says.
Moreover, a biennial survey indicated a 44 percent increase in female service members between the ages of 17 and 24 who said they had been sexual assaulted, defense officials said.
The number of reported sexual assaults climbed from 6,769 in fiscal 2017 to 7,623 in fiscal 2018 – a 13 percent increase, the report says.
The Marine Corps saw the biggest spike in reported sexual assaults with 835 reports in fiscal 2018, a 20 percent increase, the report says.
One contributing factor to the rise of reported sexual assaults in the Marine Corps is that more than 60 percent of women serving in the Corps are younger than 25, and that is the age group that is most at risk of being sexually assaulted, said Ashlea M. Klahr, director of health and resilience research of the office of people analytics.
There were also 2,501 reported sexual assaults in the Army in fiscal 2018, an 18 percent increase; 1,271 reports in the Air Force, an 11 percent increase; and 1,446 reported sexual assaults in the Navy, a 10 percent increase, the report found.
(DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office)
Most of the alleged perpetrators are between the ranks of E-3 and E-5 and they are at the same grade or slightly higher than their victims, said Navy Rear Adm. Ann Burkhardt, director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.
As part of the Defense Department's latest attempt to curb sexual assaults, the Pentagon will make sexual harassment a standalone crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Thursday.
But the increase in sexual assaults show that commanders continue to fail when it comes to prosecuting offenders, said retired Air Force Col. Don Christensen, president of the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders.
"How many more assaults and rapes and how many more victims denied justice must there be before a stubborn and selfish military brass stops fighting reform?" Christensen said Thursday in a statement. "The young women and men who serve our nation deserve better. It is time for Congress to stop giving the failing military leadership the benefit of doubt and pass real reform empowering military prosecutors. Enough is enough."
(DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office)
Still, Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, pushed back on the notion that none of the Defense Department's prevention efforts have worked thus far.
"We know that what we do works with people," Galbreath said. "The challenge is finding the right mix. As the reports shows this year … men are at not greater or increased risk for sexual assault than they were in 2016 and 2015."
However, with the Defense Department seemingly unable to make progress on this matter, Task & Purpose asked whether it is time for the Pentagon officials tasked with preventing sexual assault to resign.
"I don't think so," Galbreath said. "What I would offer to you is that we're the folks here that are the biggest advocates for victims of sexual assault in the Department of Defense. Personally, I've been with this now since 2007 and I plan to see this out to the end."
Galbreath acknowledged that the most recent report on sexual assaults makes him angry, especially since he has devoted his life to combating sexual assault, first as a criminal investigator and then as a clinical psychologist. To get a handle on the military's sexual assault problem, he said, defense official have to look at how service members meet and interact via social media.
"If we fired everybody because of a change in how the problem presented itself, we would have no one with any experience doing this job," Galbreath said. "It's just like: If the enemy changes its tactics, do you fire all of the commanders? Absolutely you don't. You have to get after this and you have to understand what's happening and what's changed."
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Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.
For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."
Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
An airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday after a shooting at a Raleigh night club that killed a 21-year-old man, the Air Force and the Raleigh Police Department said.