Carter: DoD Examines, Uses New Data to Combat Sexual Assault

May 1, 2015 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News
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DoD will capitalize on being a learning and growing organization as it takes new data and forms new policies to combat sexual assault, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today.

The secretary told the Pentagon press corps that the fiscal year 2014 annual report on sexual assault in the military helps the services understand and correct flaws in the program.

The report, he said, contains a new measurement to better estimate the number of service members who experienced sexual assaults last year. That number is 20,300.

“That’s clearly far, far too many,” Carter said. “But we judge that it is a more accurate measurement of sexual assault, because it is more in line with the range of crimes that military law defines as sexual assault.”

An examination of the data also gives a clearer picture of male-on-male assaults, he said.

“Compared to women, men are less likely to report and more likely to experience multiple incidents by multiple offenders, and they’re more likely to view the incident as hazing or an attempt to humiliate,” the secretary said.

Examining, Using Data to Combat Sexual Assault

Carter has directed the services to examine the data and look for the best ways to meet the needs of men and women seeking treatment for sexual assault.

The survey also suggests that 22 percent of active-duty women and 7 percent of active-duty men may have experienced some form of sexual harassment last year. The secretary said that alone is abhorrent, but it is particularly so as the survey says those who experience sexual harassment are more likely to be sexually assaulted.

“So we have to better attack permissive behaviors like sexual harassment,” Carter said.

Carter is aiming at this nexus between harassment and assault.

“I’m directing the services to update their prevention training to incorporate what we’ve learned and have that integrated in the training,” he said.

Carter is also taking full aim at retaliation, especially peer-on-peer retaliation.

“Too many service members, the data shows, feel that when they report or try to stop these crimes, they’re being ostracized or retaliated against in some way,” he said.

Secretary Directs DoD-wide Strategy

Carter ordered DoD to develop a defense-wide comprehensive strategy to prevent retaliation against service members who report or intervene on behalf of victims of sexual assault and other crimes.

“The report makes it crystal clear that we have to do more, and it gives insights on how to improve this ongoing campaign to ensure dignity and respect in our institution,” he said.

“No man or woman who serves in the United States military should ever be sexually assaulted, nor should they experience reprisals for reporting such crimes,” Carter said.

The secretary said all in the department are dedicated to eradicating the crime, but that it will take time. Still, he said, the military has particular strengths.

“We believe in an ethos of honor and trust,” Carter said. “We’ve tackled tough problems before, and again, we’re a learning organization, so we’ll keep getting smarter, we’ll keep getting better, we’ll keep doing everything we can to beat back sexual assault, and we won’t let up.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)