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Panetta ‘Disappointed, Angry’ at Child Development Center Lapses

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is “deeply disappointed and angry” at lapses at the Fort Myer, Va., child development center, Pentagon spokesman George Little said today.

Two workers at the Fort Myer facility were arrested Sept. 26 for assaulting children under their care. An investigation revealed that other workers had derogatory information in their background that called into question their suitability for working with children, officials said.

“The Army has launched an investigation into hiring processes not only at Fort Myer, but throughout the United States Army military child care system,” Little said.

Panetta learned of the problems at the facility yesterday, and immediately ordered the other services to examine their hiring procedures as well.

Little said he has no information that the problems are more widespread. “But let me be very clear: the secretary believes that the care of our children is paramount, … and he will settle for nothing less than the highest standards of care for our military children,” he added.

More than 1 million children belong to U.S. military families throughout the world. “They are part of the DOD family, and we will do whatever we can to protect them, wherever they may be,” Little said.

The press secretary said he expects the investigation to move beyond child development centers and cover youth activities programs and the DOD Education Activity facilities on bases and installations around the world.

In addition to looking at the hiring practices, Little said, the secretary is looking into why it took three months for news about the Fort Myer situation to reach him.

“No one likes to be surprised,” Little said. “I don’t know where the breakdown [in communications] was. It’s something we’re looking into, and clearly this information didn’t get reported up the chain of command as quickly as we think it should have.”

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