Navy Unveils New Initiatives in Battle Against Sexual Assaults
Navy News Service
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2013 Navy leaders have announced their newest sexual assault prevention initiatives in a message and a policy letter designed to continue the service’s battle against this crime.
Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations, outlined additional fleet initiatives from the San Diego fleet concentration area, and Fleet Training Center Great Lakes, Ill., and directed the rest of the fleet to implement some of the best practices proven to help in combating sexual assault in the Navy.
Greenert named Rear Adm. Sean S. Buck, director of the 21st Century Sailor Office, to direct the Navywide implementation of effort.
"Everyone, from [seaman recruit to admiral], must take responsibility for promoting a climate of dignity and respect and an environment that does not demean individuals or tolerate sexist behavior, sexual harassment or sexual assault," Buck said. "The execution of the sexual assault prevention and response initiatives across the fleet is an imperative that I believe will have an impact on reducing, with the goal of eliminating, the crime of sexual assault from our Navy."
The new initiatives are part of the Navy's ongoing efforts to provide for the safety and security of every sailor, the admiral said.
"We also are emphasizing other programs like Keep What You Earn and Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions to help our people understand the negative impact that alcohol can have on their lives and how they can support and help their shipmates make good decisions," he added.
While the programs and initiatives are primarily focused on prevention, they also serve as a deterrent and reinforce commanders’ responsibility for victim support, Buck noted.
"Commanders have the responsibility for ensuring victims of sexual assault are supported, provided options in accordance with Department of Defense guidance,” he said, “and that the allegations will be independently investigated and offenders held appropriately accountable."
The initiatives, to be implemented by Oct. 1, include increasing leadership visibility with roving barracks patrols led by chief petty officers or experienced officers, and augmented with first class petty officers to deter behavior that may lead to sexual assault or misconduct.
Also the Navy will assign dedicated sexual assault prevention and response officers -- lieutenant commander or above -- to U.S. Fleet Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Naval Surface Forces, Naval Submarine Forces, Naval Air Forces, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, the Navy’s four systems commands and U.S. Fleet Cyber Command who will report directly to their respective commander.
In addition, the Navy will deploy resilience counselors to CVN and LHD/LHA commands by the end of fiscal year 2014. These counselors will be dedicated civilian professionals with sexual assault response coordinator training, certification and credentials, and they will be able to take restricted and unrestricted reports of sexual assault.
The counselors will deploy with carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups and amphibious ready groups to provide services, support and coordination for sexual assault prevention and response and continuity of care for suicide prevention, stress reduction and other situations.
Additionally, the latest initiatives include implementing best practices from fleet concentration areas throughout the fleet and revising alcohol sales policies at Navy exchanges worldwide.
Changes in liquor sales will be implemented over the next 90 days. Liquor will be sold only at main exchanges or at dedicated package stores, and the footprint of alcohol displays and merchandise in stores other than package stores will be no more than 10 percent of the retail floor space. NEX facilities also will make single-use alcohol detection devices available to customers.
The new initiatives also direct commands to ensure all sailors residing in barracks attend indoctrination training within 30 days of occupancy.
To reduce vulnerability of sailors while walking on base, commanders will survey facilities to identify areas that require better lighting, visibility or other safety improvements.
Each Navy installation and fleet concentration area will have a senior flag officer designated to lead the area sexual assault prevention and response program. This flag officer will establish routine coordination meetings with installation, local command representatives and local community and civic leaders to review program efforts.
Duties also will include ensuring a community outreach and engagement plan is part of each area's program. The plan must include base and region commander cooperation, coordination and consultation with local law enforcement, hospitals and hotels.
"Ensuring a command climate of respect, trust and professionalism is critical to combating sexual assault," Buck said. To this end, he added, commands must review their compliance with command climate surveys, ensuring one is conducted within 90 days of a new commanding officer assuming command and every 12 months thereafter.
Also, commanders must ensure they have briefed their immediate superior on their most recent command climate assessment using the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute Organizational Climate Survey, including a plan of action and milestones for corrective actions.