25 September 2009

Sexual Assault Prevention

This month, Secretary of the Navy Mabus hosted a Navy Sexual Assault Prevention Summit.  At the summit, he noted the pervasive effects of sexual assault, stating "the effect on a survivor is devastating, but it's not just an individual travesty. Sexual assaults affect the survivor's family and friends. It's corrosive to morale and to our operational and combat readiness."  SECNAV has rightfully focused us on a core Navy issue, at the very heart of who we are and what we represent.

One of my fundamental beliefs is that we should honor and respect those around us and treat others as we would want to be treated. A violation of this respect is a violation of the individual dignity we possess as human beings.  We all know sexual assault is wrong - and a clear violation of individual dignity - yet it still is happening within our ranks.  And when it happens, we find that victims often say they feel re-victimized as we pursue justice.

This is not an issue that will be solved simply by shouting louder or pounding the table harder because we already know it is wrong.  So why are we not making sufficient progress in eliminating sexual assault in the Fleet, in our Navy?  What I would like you to do - what I need you to do - is to take an honest look at this issue:

What do you think is the most effective way of ending sexual assault in our Navy?  How do we keep from victimizing the victims when we pursue justice against those committing these crimes?  What will you, as a Shipmate and a leader in your workspace, your ship, or your squadron, do to help eliminate sexual assault?


CDR Salamander said...

ADM Harvey,
Well, I'll break the seal on this one.

I think that we need to first accept that as an institution that draws heavily from the 18-24 demographic, that we will experience a similar set of behavioral problems to that of the culture we draw them from. As we expand the percentage of our junior sailors who are female and inject them into a large co-ed cohort, we will see what the society as a whole sees in similar situations - co-ed dorms at colleges and universities for instance.

When you add to the mix the 24/7/364 nature of what we do for a living, and have the resulting situations where there is little to no way, even on "liberty," to interact with anyone but that cohort for months on end - well - the fallen nature of humans will show itself.

There is no way we can eliminate sexual assault, just like we cannot eliminate simple assault or drug use. It will happen. It is what we do before and after it happens that is important.

I agree completely with you that "...shouting louder or pounding the table harder because we already know it is wrong..." won't get us were we want to be. The CNO made a similar statement recently, and he is exactly right. Perhaps what we "shout" (at a lower db) and how we "pound" may be a place to look.

People respond best to direct, short, clear, precise, and credible direction and guidance. Start there.

Provide that to everyone and hold them accountable. That will create the climate needed to create self-adjusting adults. It worked well with drugs. Remember where we were WRT drugs as early (for you and me at least) the mid-80s and where we are now?

Sure, the problem is still with us (and always will) - but look at the delta between then and now.

Two final notes that are uncomfortable to talk about,;

- Do we create an environment that enables behavior that puts people in situations that can lead to sexual assault? Co-ed (if you can throw a rock at a female barracks, you are co-ed) barracks on a Friday or Saturday - what type of leadership is there, or do we effectively have an un-supervised co-ed dorm atmosphere? I actually have been known to hang out in an all-hands smoke-pit after hours. I listen. I hear the stories - a lot of stories over the course of a nice cigar. That is just ashore. The liberty stories from the smoking sponson are equally interesting to hear. When we do the paperwork as we MILPERSMAN an unwed mother out of the Navy - we hear the echo of those stories as well.

- As we go after those who commit sexual assault, do we have a system in place that properly holds accountable those who make false claims? It does happen. There is also the problem of the alcohol abuse byproduct of "buyers remorse." We have seen that as well (those at Annapolis are the best known) - and reducing access to alcohol isn't the solution.

Those last two notes are indeed uncomfortable - heck, the last one is a minefield - uncomfortable because they are the most difficult to address. Difficult at the "intrusive leadership" level - and difficult at the 4-Star level.

LT B said...

That is a difficult problem. I am concerned that we, the military, do not handle sexuality honestly. This is an interesting question on the heels of the latest discussion of women on subs.
I was in the Navy for a bit over 10 yrs and I never saw a sexual assault. I DID see 4 cases of false accusation where the males were acquitted and subsequently their careers were still negatively impacted with no punishment for the females.
As for actual assaults, I think that alcohol is the issue; I am not certain that training is the answer. If we are honest about sex/alcohol, and make the consensual infractions punished very harshly, we might make the environment unfriendly for any of that. Unfortunately, my time in the Navy shows me that we handle fraternization episodes in a double standard manner. They are not punished hard enough, and we also deal with sex on ships like the three chimps of see/hear/speak no evil. The wink wink nudge nudge attitude where we do not acknowledge the real issues with both genders sailing together has made an almost permissive attitude. The lack of corporate honesty leads to the assaults and false accusations of assault.
I don't know the stats, but I'd imagine an inordinate amount of assaults are largely date rape in their classification. Colleges are still dealing with this and have not found the answer either. Alcohol seems to be the shared variable.
One way to help clear it all us is to put both parties on a lie detector. While not used in court, it weeds out the false accusers. Next, court martial those that falsely accuse someone. This will help us focus on the real victims and treat them as victims not possible liars. The stats will go down by 20 to 30 percent I'd guess and then eventually, the convictions would come easier but I don't know how to deal with defense counsel beating the victims on the stand. That is the nature of the ugly legal beast.
That's my first take on the problem sir. Maybe it will open up some discussion and other answers.


Ken said...

It comes down to holding ourselves and our shipmates to a higher standard. Yeah, that 2nd Class from supply division is seriously good looking, but hey, she (or he) is a shipmate. A bother-in-arms. Nothing more, certainly nothing less.

Of course, this is all easy to talk about. Self control and higher moral standards are much more difficult to keep.

eric sterk said...

Sir, assuming your post is not just a rhetorical, the basic problem is a failure to either comprehend reality or to truthfully deal with all the facts. I would suggest you start by reading Prof. Kingsley Browne's book, "Co-ed Combat". The result of that would tell you whether you suffer froom one or both of the above failure points. Once you've established an actual perception then solutions would be apparent.

AW1 Tim said...


I'm no longer on active duty, but there are a couple of points I'd offer to you, as a former LPO of my division.

1.) Leadership by Example. We say it, but how many make the effort to follow through? The commander can't be the marble bust of days of old, but he can't be the "best friend" of his men and women either. He or she needs to set the example of what will and will not be tolerated, starting with the ward room and then letting the DO's take the message back to the CPO's and from them down the line.

2.) If you expect your sailors to act like adults, then treat them like adults. Part of this problem comes from attempting to force discipline through control of activities. The classic example is the liberty form some ships use. They require a sailor to spell out what he or she is planning on doing. Where will they go? Who will they be with? Do they have a cell phone? Will they be consuming alcohol? if so how much? etc. That's a parent gone berserk, and, frankly, insulting to a young sailor who might be entrusted with a multi-million dollar aircraft and a pilot's life.

3.) Constant personal behavior seminars and lectures. You can't swing a dead cat in a working space without seeing some CNO (or other) directive regarding the issue d'jour. Sexual harassment, diversity, binge drinking, cultural awareness, safe sex, ad infinitum. There is so much of this, that the sailors begin to tune it out. It literally falls on the ears of folks who couldn't care less. They couldn't care less because it is so prevalent that it has become ambient noise.

Now, those same sailors will be attentive and participate, and nod at all the right places, and be respectful, but as soon as they are dismissed, they hit the delete button, because every single word the instructor told them was put into a temp file. They have heard the message. They've heard it so much that it's become a running gag. It is rapidly approaching (and in some cases has been there for decades) the type of situation that existed between the Soviet sailors and their Zampolits.

I could go on, but that's a short summary.

It's a tough row to hoe, and it doesn't get easier as societal expectations evolve and mutate. We are and always have been a cross section of our nation. Still, the US Navy should always lead by example, if for no other reason than pride amongst ourselves. We can be better, we must be better, because we defend the nation. Treating all of our young men and women as the adults we tell them they are, and expect them to be, would, in and of itself, go a long way towards resolving a great deal of these issues.


lex said...

Admiral, when I was going through CO's leadership course at Newport we took a field trip to GLAKES to talk to some recruits and visit with their chain of command. This was several years ago, but one of the captains - might even have been the CO of the unit - told us some pretty shocking statistics. I dis-remember the exact numbers, or how they were gathered (i.e. attributable or anonymous) but somewhere around 25% of the female recruits apparently had been pre-service victims of sexual assault. A slightly smaller percentage of male recruits had admitted to having *committed* pre-service sexual assault. So we were recruiting predators and placing them among victims.

It seems to me that the former class ought not to have cleared MEPS, and the latter probably needed some counseling and mentoring prior to being placed in positions of vulnerability.

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

Lex, I've seen the stats from RTC Great Lakes wrt our new female sailors who report themselves as pre-service sexual assault victims - it's a real eye-opener to see what our starting point is; I think you're absolutely correct on how we should counsel/mentor them before they complete boot camp. I know quite a bit of formal, and informal, training is given at RTC on this issue, but I suspect it's insufficient (quality mostly - how do we REALLY reach people on this subject?).

Once the young Sailor reaches the Fleet, mentoring is key - my reading of the morning "rap sheet" (a daily summary of all the serious disciplin-related incidents Navy-wide) while CNP and DNS revealed an inordinate amount of these incidents were characterized by alcohol fueling an already "bad" situation. Deck-plate leaders getting in front of the problem with junior Sailors, of both sexes, is key - keeping the initial decision from being made that sets the conditions for what sometimes follows.

LT B - based on what I know, I'd be hesitant to put a large number of these assaults in the date-rape category. I'm also not surprised that you may not have had direct knowledge of any sexual assaults during your service. A large number of surveys, both inside and outside the Navy, indicate that this crime is one of the most under-reported we have; understandable given that prosecutions are difficult,lengthy and can "re-victimize" the victim.

CDR S - I agree with you concerning the nature of the guidance we must give - direct, precise, clear and credible. I'll be reviewing the body of exisitng Fleet guidance that has developed over time to ensure we at least meet that minimum standard.
We did indeed make great progress on eliminating drug use in the Navy, on duty and off duty. Our success wasn't just from issuing crystal-clear, unambiguous direction and holding accountable those who violated the direction - we tested a great deal (still do) and practiced zero-tolerance for violators with a "one strike and you're out" policy. I don't see a clear path right now that could lead me to recommend a testing regime of some kind, but I will be exploring how we could get to zero-tolerance for those who commit sexual assault.

This issue is a very tough one, but, as I said in the original post, it strikes at the core of who we are and what we believe - we have to get at it and stay on it. Thanks very much for your responses, JCHjr

Submarine Iconoclast said...


I know this won't apply to every case of sexual assault the Navy sees but it applies to at least a few which I've heard about anecdotally. Maybe it would help address at least part of the problem.

Is there any reason that we don't hold our Sailors accountable for their personal behavior when drunk? I know we do in most situations, but to call someone a "victim" for their conduct after they've ELECTED to give away their mental self-control panders to those who reject responsibility for their own actions. There's no such thing as "re-victimizing" someone who injured one of our Sailors (i.e. themselves) through irresponsible behavior in the act of getting drunk. Sailors may be hesitant to report other injuries they cause themselves while drunk, but that doesn't stop us from holding them accountable (for non-sexual-assault injuries) when we find out that they've fallen short of "Honor, Courage and Commitment" in the process of drinking too much and losing self-control. They're not victims in the non-sexual cases, merely offenders.

Hold our Sailors to the published standard and remind them that they don't get as free pass for what they do when they're drunk. That should encourage a bit more hesitation before anyone assumes the risks of abandoning personal responsibility in a drunken stupor. I'd like to see Sailors assume a significant fraction of the responsibility for their own safety.


ADM said...

The problem of sexual assault and the related set of problems due to consensual sexual activity were all predicted when the women's auxiliaries were abolished 30 years ago, the academy integrated and the first steps taken towards a fully coed force. Despite a less sexualized culture, the problems predicted immediately materialized. At the time, the solution was held to be better training, discipline and leadership. Time passed, the problems remained, and the solution was then to lift the combat exclusion, the assumption being that the men were behaving badly because they saw the women as second class. Then, the explanation was the legacy of men who couldn't get their heads around the equality of the sexes, and the solution was time because the new generation didn't see things that way having grown up with feminism. Most recently, the solution is to increase the number of women further, especially amongst the officers. Oh yes, and more training, better leadership and discipline.

It didn't take 30 years to solve the drug problem.

Maybe it's time to consider an alternate explanation and different solutions. Single sex ships (albeit with either male or female commanders and coed flag staffs) or a mostly sex Navy (with women's auxiliaries) would solve these problems. But, we won't dare talk about let alone try either because both are politically incorrect and thus unthinkable. So, we continue to try basically the same solution as before, and continue to fail. And, that's the very definition of insanity: trying the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.

I respect the sincerity of what the Admiral is saying, but unless everything is considered, you won't get a solution. Prohibition after all, had to be repealed because it didn't work, couldn't be enforced, and ultimately was corrupting the society and the institutions it was intended to benefit.

Old CAPT (ret) said...

Admiral- Sexual assault is somewhat related to fraternization, and stopping that may be a necessary starting point for a crackdown or enhanced and clearly stated policy making on sexual (mis)conduct.

Apparently fraternization is punished in high visibility cases with significant rank difference (E.g- over many years, the ship CO and HM, and a Flag Officer and a staffer, or the LPO and sailor on "Carrier"). While their hanging/flogging/firings made the news, similar misconduct at any level, and even without the rank differences must be treated swiftly, fairly, consistently and harshly. Frigging in the rigging or fan rooms must not be ignored or tolerated. Zero tolerence for voluntary fraternization will make it more clear that involuntary sexual activities will not be tolerated either.

Still, the basic problem stems from outsiders throwing foxes in hen houses and expecting nothing to happen. That may have been (and still be) popular with the political class, but the chicken farmers should not bear full blame for the resulting chaos.

The Browne book may be a worthwhile starting point for policy evaluation, based on facts as they are rather than as the politically correct class might wish them to be.

MR T's Haircut said...


Please for the love of god, NO MORE NKO GMT on this...

Take the bull by the horns. Throw the offenders in the Brig and move on.


Cap'n Bill said...

Good Day Admiral-
Please consider these thoughts coming from a career officer long on the retired list but quite up to date on today's social scene.
What the Navy is seeking to accomplish is 100% dead off base as judged by today's social values and actions. I've seen children and grandchildren pass through the college/university scene and can testify that what you seek is almost impossible to achieve.

The effort that CNO/CNP have spent on the matter has been pretty much doomed at offset. Listening to all the civilian "experts" has not brought any success. Yale, Boston College, Florida--they all have the same difficulties in maneuvering young adult's urges. Young Navy people present similar challenges.Back to Basics, Please!

What seems not to have been tried in USN is to appeal to PRIDE, Espredecorps and Tradition. We Navy people just don't do that stuff ! Start at the recruiting level. If you don't want to measure up to this impossibly (?) high standard, don't sign your contract. Refuse to enlist a few people and the word will get out onto the street. Send a few home immediately to get the point across. It is too late to get much accomplished after the young recruit has put on the uniform. You have seen what happens if you wait until after recruit training. I don't mean to suggest that everything being tried now is dead wrong. It is good and somewhat effective. Maintenance of constant discipline and leadership by senior officers must be assured. Failures must be advertised. Punishment must be clear and simple.

One doesn't have to look far to see the results of superb initial screening and hard nosed constant leadership during the recruit stages. Take a close look at the USMC for effective indoctrination.

Bucking the tide is never easy. Most tire of the process. I wish you well in the effort.

sobersubmrnr said...


When men and women are placed together in close quarters for extended periods, there will sexual tension and sex, both consensual and not. That is especially true of the people in their late teens and early twenties who make up the majority of our sailors. Sexual battery cannot happen without an opportunity to commit said act. By placing men and women together in the conditions I mentioned above, the opportunity will exist and the sexual assaults, along with sexual favoritism, fraternization and sexual harassment will continue. No amount of training will overcome the hormones and in some cases, the effects of alcohol when in the barracks or on the beach.

Having said that, I have a question for you, sir. With all the gender related problems we already have, why do the SECNAV and CNO want to place women in submarine crews? That will just exacerbate the problem....big time. I am a recently retired submariner who spent some time on a mixed-gender surface ship and has been to sea on a submarine with women for extended periods (civilian test engineers). This is a bad idea. All the problems that currently exist in the surface fleet will be magnified in the close confines of a submarine. The Navy already commissioned a study on this back in the mid-90s and the result was the decision to not place women in the boats. The study made it quite clear that it was a bad idea. What has changed that now makes this a good idea?


LCDR X said...


I must take exception with some of the other comments suggesting that the real problem here is a co-ed Navy. While it is a foregone conclusion that in a mixed-gender environment, there will be some amount of consensual sexual activity, it does NOT follow that there must inevitably be some amount of non-consensual sexual activity. I also disagree with the suggestion that we won't seriously consider re-segregating the Fleet by gender because the idea is "politically incorrect." We won't seriously consider it because it's the wrong answer, usually advanced by old salts looking to say "I told you so."

You asked for practical advice, so here's mine. I think we need to move away from our reliance on the general court-martial as the primary enforcement mechanism in sexual assault cases. While a court-martial is absolutely the correct response for aggravated forms of sexual assault, the reality is that we attempt to prosecute many sexual assault cases that civilian prosecutors would never touch. Military juries are fairly hesitant to label someone a rapist absent compelling evidence that the accused is a violent sexual predator. The result is that we invest a significant amount of resources in the prosecution of cases that ultimately end in a dismissal, acquittal, or finding of guilty on some lesser charge. That erodes confidence in the system, and ultimately degrades its effect on good order and discipline.

The solution to this problem is not unlike what we do now in cases of drug abuse. In serious drug abuse cases, for example those involving drug trafficking or repeated instances of drug use, the typical response is a court-martial. The type of court-martial will depend on the severity of the misconduct. In less severe cases, such as a one-time use discovered through a urinalysis test, the consistent response is mandatory processing for administrative separation. The usual result is separation with an OTH. That framework has been highly effective at deterring drug abuse in the Fleet, as others have noted.

Can this approach work for sexual assault cases? I think it can, but it will require us to move away from the mindset that a general court-martial is the only appropriate response to a sexual assault allegation. The general court-martial should only be used in cases where the evidence of sexual assault is exceptionally clear, or where there has been serious injury to the victim. We should be willing to use special courts-martial more frequently in lesser cases. In cases where we do not believe the evidence would support a criminal conviction, and this would likely include most "acquaintance rape" cases where alcohol use by both parties is involved, we should simply use the administrative separation process to fire these individuals.

The burden of proof at an administrative separation board is a mere preponderance of the evidence. While we may not believe the evidence is sufficient to label someone a rapist, we may have no difficulty whatsoever determining that their monumentally poor judgment renders them unsuitable for continued naval service. There is no reason we cannot process such cases under the existing langugage of MILPERSMAN 1910-142 (Commission of a Serious Offense). It merely requires a shift in thinking on behalf of our leadership, which currently views the general court-martial as a one-size-fits-all response to the problem of sexual assault. Give our commanders the freedom to fire those who fail to meet the core values, and they will solve this problem.

Female LT said...

"The assumption that sex when drunk equates to sexual assault assumes that women have no power of decision making and must be treated as inferior beings at all times who couldn’t possibly choose to do stupid things with the opposite sex. "

THIS! I agree with everything CAPT PJ wrote, and I second the positions that GMTs are a waste of time, and that fraternization, the seeding ground for a lot of sexual assault allegations needs to be punished at all levels, and that we need leadership in the enlisted barracks. However, part of the problem also lies in the continued number of individuals within the military who will always see us as inferior and undeserving of our military status. You can see some of those thoughts even in this comment thread, and that attitude will only change with time. Remember, black men were give suffrage in this country well before women of any color. The solution is not to create a single sex environment, but to make sure we are recruiting women who are competent and qualified, not coddling them, holding them responsible for their actions, and similarly, holding men responsible for their failure to accept their female counterparts. Not long ago, I had a shipmate who was formally counseled by our XO for his documented pattern of being disrespectful and insulting to the female members of the wardroom. He still got a competitive EP very shortly after this incident. This sent a message to every female in that command that the leadership really doesn't give a damn if we are treated like second-hand citizens.

So the problem needs to be addressed two-fold. Make the women perform, and if they are being treated differently, hold the offenders accountable. This is not as easy as a powerpoint training that no one actually reads anyway, but it's the only way to bring about change.

DavidB said...

A well-timed for this discussion article popped up in my RSS feed today...I haven't delved into the details but perhaps it can help in the discussion.

"Men: You Can Stop Violence Against Women"

civilian said...

I have never been in the armed forces. So not sure if my thinking is sound. And, this may have been done 1000 x already not a good solution.

Lets assume that sexual assault is not random, or even probability driven, but instead: factor based.

For any given person, male or female, when enough checkboxes in the list of factors get hit, assault occurs.

This would lead one to conclude that assault might be event driven. Eliminate the criteria for events and you might eliminate, or at least, greatly reduce assault. Without an idea for what the factors are though it seems like it would be hard to know what policy would be best to put in place.

Heretic said...


May I recommend that you (and your staff) make inquiries of foreign services which have male/female integrated crews (such as, say, Sweden) to learn from their experiences and methods (not to mention failures and challenges). I can only presume that there is plenty of knowledge and experience to be mined (or datamined, if you prefer) in the histories of foreign navies who have also integrated their crews.

Secondly, I agree with the point of posters above (hat tip: Female LT) that a contributing factor which can lay the groundwork for sexual assault is a *feeling* that females in uniform are inferior/second grade BY DEFAULT, and that there are no repercussions for that assumption. Bear in mind that such an attitude should not be given a *justification* for existing courtesy of double standards (or worse, favoritism, benevolent or otherwise). You may not be able to eliminate a sentiment that the women in uniform "aren't up to snuff" that people may hold through their personal biases, but the command environment should not allow such sentiments to be justified by the actions, rules and enforcement systems of either command *or* the sailors themselves. My point being that this is not just a top-down imperative, but also a bottom-up one too ... in a "we're all in this together" sort of way. This is not a "Somebody Else's Problem" sort of thing, it's everyone's, at every level.

To that end, it does sound as if (from a civilian's perspective) that one of the paths to take on this issue is that of esprit de corps. These are OUR people, and WE defend our OWN ... as well as the feeling that an attack on ANY of us, is an attack on ALL of us. Part and parcel of that is the *feeling* that the women (and men) in uniform are to be *included* rather than excluded in the group as full fledged members and participants who are to be respected, and defended, in their own right because WE look out for our own (all of them!). It just seems to me, as a civilian, that there is less "fertile ground" for sexual misbehavior when there is stronger unit cohesion as well as respect and appreciation for the skills and abilities of your fellow shipmates and warriors. It doesn't "sterilize" the problem entirely on its own, granted ... but it does help prevent opportunities for sexual misconduct in many (although, sadly, not all) circumstances.

So that may be a metric which you can use to "measure" to see if there is a correlation between crew morale (and esprit de corps) and the incidence rate of sexual misconduct in those crews (since I assume that the rate of this problem you're addressing is not uniform across the service).

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

Again, thanks for the thoughtful responses; they are most helpful.

Heretic, you may be a civilian (nothing wrong with that, by the way), but your final paragraph on esprit de corps really resonates with me - the importance of unit cohesion (we look out after our own!) and the true inclusion of all assigned to the unit in the unit, in the deepest sense of the word inclusion, cannot be overstated. I think the strength of the unit can be brought to bear as a significant deterrent to any predator.

LCDR X, I'm absolutely aligned with the thought expressed in your first paragraph - the fact that consensual sexual activity may occur (despite the illegality of the act) in a mixed-gender environment does not lead inevitably to, or justify in some perverse way, a certain amount of non-consensual sexual activity.
A "zero-tolerance" approach based upon an administrative board process, with the appropriate legal safeguards for accused and accuser, strikes me as the way we ought to go.

All the best, JCHjr

Shipmate said...


I have found that too many senior leaders in both the CPO mess and the wardroom do not have the ability to address this in an open and direct manner. They skirt around the issue.

Yes, these young Sailors are adults, but they need guidance. Tell them the rules up front, hold the chain of command responsible - especially those that turn a blind eye - and then enforce the standard.

In the end, the rule sets we have WORK - but it takes moral courage to enforce rules. Sometimes leaders are very uncomfortable with doing the right thing.

In that vain of honest discussion I want to share an observation. The reduced manpower, corresponding increased work loads and the strain of little dwell time between deployments IS a factor. Sailors who are 18-26 years old and who are healthy, young, warrior-spirited adults are at an age when their biological determinism IS naturally oriented toward finding a partner. We should not be surprised when they act naturally.

That said, it is even more important that leaders address this in a direct manner. Do not parse words. Do not equivocate. Clear understanding of expectations and brutal enforcement of the standards are the keys to success. The current rules work, but they have to be enforced.

Very respectfully,


ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

Shipmate, while I disagree with the conclusions in your next-to-last paragraph (I do not equate sexual assault with "natural" behavior or see it as a logical outcome of biological determinism), I very much agree with the comments in your concluding paragraph - zero tolerance of unsatisfactory/illegal behavior across the board and brutal enforcement of the standards is an absolute requirement and a fundamental responsibility of leadership. All the best, JCHjr

shipmate said...


I am sorry about any confusion. I do not think that sexual assualt is in any way "natural". My only issue is that there is a natural inclination for attraction and the chain of command must be VERY aware of that tendency. What I find is that many leaders tend to use the "it's only natural" excuse to brush off (or worse ignore) the problem. Our challenge with rapid turn around and decreased manning is that leaders have to face this challenge with the same level of concern as if it were an inbound ASCM detected at close range. When these kids (most were not born when I joined the Navy) are under stress they tend to bond. The chain of command has to be mindful of the difference between natural friendship or physical attraction and inappropriate behavior. It is a tough situation and ignoring the problem only makes it worse.

Most of the problem that I see have come from leaders who don't want to face the issues because THEY are uncomfortable.

Under no circumstance can I imagine any situation where sexual assualt (including verbal inuendo) should be deemed acceptable. In the end, absolute brutal enforcement of existing rules works very well.

I think that one of the significant problems we face is leaders who are uncomfortable with enforcing those rules. Sorry for any confusion in my position from the earlier post.

Very respectfully,


ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

Shipmate, we're in synch. Thanks very much for the clarification and all the best, JCHjr

Mike Jones said...

Since when do we want to be emulating second rate navies? I wonder if the PLAN is focusing time and resources into integrating women onto subs or maximizing the combat potential of what they have?

STGC said...

Sept 8th-ish. DON Sexual Assault Prevention Summit in DC. Sexual assualt= Zero Tolerance.


E-8 not held accountable for hazing and abuse scandal in Bahrain working dogs unit.

I understand that it was 'just' allegations for big Navy but the the command investigated him! Found him at least culpable! And no more investigations?? What?! Tell sailors to not fear coming foward, that their stories need to be heard and acted on! Why would they want to do that??? Nothing happens even when the command investigates! And he's going to be allowed to STAY in the Navy and RETIRE.

Unbelievable. Maybe we need another summit...