Image Copyright: Ellen Ozier/The Associated Press
It is clear the armed forces have a real problem surrounding sexual assault and harassment and it’s just starting to gain the attention it deserves. With the Army and Marines pushing for increased roles for women, this problem must be addressed to achieve the professional reputation deserving of the American armed forces.
This week, Army Secretary John McHugh stripped Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair of two grades, making him a Lieutenant Colonel. It’s the first time this sort of demotion has happened in over a decade. Sinclair pleaded guilty to a three-year affair with a subordinate, which included a sexual assault charge. Those charges were later dropped in a plea deal, along with a $20,000 fine.
Sinclair’s guilty plea included adultery, maltreatment of a subordinate, engaging in improper relationships, willful disobedience of an order, wrongful use of a government travel card, wrongful possession of pornography, and conduct unbecoming an officer.
On a more general level, sexual misconduct case proceedings are currently being reviewed by Congress because the judicial process within the service is complicated by the fact that many of the officers in question are being protected by those in power to punish. This leads to countless cases of sexual assault or sexual harassment going unreported or unpenalized, allowing the perpetrators to continue the same behavior.
This type of behavior needs to be abolished for the American military establishment to function as the premier force in the world. Men and women have had separate roles in the military for some time but the differences between the two are slowly eroding. What kind of rules that protect all service members, men and women, does the military needs to adapt to foster oversight and protection?
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