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Despite all the policies, punishments and training that has been implemented over the years, sexual violence and harassment continues to be a major problem in our Army today. This kind of behavior ruins morale destroys team cohesion and, in some cases, shatters trust with leadership. Why does this happen? Does our current approach work? Is there anything we can do to effectively put an end to it? These are some questions that this essay will attempt to answer.
There are a few things that lead to sexual assault and other cases of sexual violence. Sadly, one of the leading causes of sexual assault in the Army occurs in units with reportedly toxic leadership and an unhealthy command climate. Army Times reporter, Kyle Rempfer, has quoted Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in saying “24 percent of women serving in the Army report toxicity in their chains of command”.
The most effective way to counter this trend is simple. It is the job of NCOs and leaders to get to know the ins and outs of our soldiers and make them feel confident in our ability to provide help and guidance, whether directly or indirectly. It is also the duty of the NCO, as well as other leaders, to be involved with soldiers and actively engaged with the surroundings and what is going on in the elements of the Army.
A pentagon study has revealed that, not only is our current system not ending this cancerous behavior, the amount of sexual violence cases increases every year. There has been a reported 38% increase in sexual assault cases over the last two years. 62% of which alcohol was involved, another disturbing statistic. This study shows that our current approach and ending sexual assault is not working and a new approach may be needed.
There is really no way to outright end sexual assault and harassment in our Army, however we can attempt to mitigate the growth rate. An effective way to do so would be to hold officers accountable, not just for SHARP training meetings, but for results. Joseph Grenney of Time magazine suggests setting a standard disciplinary action for officer (and NCOs) who fail to meet a set score on a 3-question survey that deals with a soldier’s confidence in their leadership and fellow soldiers.
Even though the Army has several policies and training activities to help mitigate the growing trend of sexual assault, it does continue to grow. Although there is no way to completely eradicate it from our ranks, by being more involved leaders, we can ensure that our soldiers feel safe at work and confident in coming forward with any issues they have with fellow soldiers.
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