Hagel to Visit Illinois for Transcom Change of Command
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 2, 2014 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will travel to Illinois for two days early next week for a variety of official functions and visits, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.
On May 5, Hagel will participate in the U.S. Transportation Command change-of-command ceremony at Scott Air Force Base. The secretary will welcome incoming commander Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, and celebrate the accomplishments of the departing commander, Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, the admiral said. Fraser is retiring from the Air Force after 40 years of service.
“The secretary [also] is looking forward to thanking the men and women of Transcom for all they do to ensure the agility, flexibility and global reach of our armed forces,” Kirby said.
The following day, Hagel will deliver a speech in Chicago to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and will speak with students from the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics.
“The secretary has long wanted to travel to the Midwest to talk about the need for America's continued engagement in the world, and the important role the military has to play in that,” Kirby said. “His speech will talk about that and how he's navigating the strategic and fiscal challenges facing the department.”
That afternoon, the defense secretary will visit Naval Station Great Lakes, the home of the Navy’s only boot camp. Hagel will meet with instructors and recruits and observe a sexual assault prevention and response training class for recruits.
“This builds on the six new directives that the secretary announced yesterday, to continue strengthening how we prevent and respond to sexual assault in the military, as well as his visit last week to the department's safe help line,” Kirby said.
Hagel has been concerned about this element of training since he first took office, the admiral said.
“In his first two months as secretary, one of the things he was hearing consistently from the junior enlisted men and women with whom he spoke was that their sexual assault training wasn't being taken seriously enough and wasn't seen as a priority. They told him that people were laughing it off [or] sleeping through it,” Kirby told reporters.
This information spurred Hagel to issue one of his first directives after becoming secretary, the admiral said. The department was directed to “improve the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention and response programs in recruiting organizations, to ensure the awareness and safety of new and aspiring service members,” Kirby noted.
The Defense Department is monitoring the services as they implement the directive, seeking to continuously improve the process, Kirby said, and with the trip to Great Lakes, Hagel will see the results of that implementation firsthand.
“He'll be looking at what's changed, and also what the recruits are being taught about our values of dignity and respect, how they need to live and enforce those values, and most importantly, how they need to look out for one another,” the admiral said.
The base has been on the leading edge of experimenting with new ideas and implementing comprehensive, evidence-based methods of sexual assault prevention training, Kirby said.
“They're really a model not just for the Navy,” he noted, “but for the whole military. They've been working with the local community on things like bystander intervention and alcohol policies, and they've been seeing some promising results, to the point that other installations are starting to follow their lead.”
And DOD is mining the Navy’s program for best practices that can be put in place or slightly modified to implement at other bases, Kirby added.
On May 8, Hagel will co-host a conference at National Defense University in Washington, D.C., with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The day-long conference will provide combatant commanders with an opportunity discuss regional issues, the department’s global posture and ways of ensuring “the joint force stays as deployable and as flexible across the globe as possible,” the admiral said.
“The secretary's looking forward to a rich and timely discussion with them,” he added.
(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @rouloafps)