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Dr. Elizabeth Van Winkle and Rear Adm. Ann Burkhardt Media Engagement on DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, May 2, 2019

STAFF:  All right.  I think we'll get started in a couple of seconds.  I don't think any of you are new to this, so just have your phones on silent.  We're going to have four individuals here today that are our subject matter experts.

We have Dr. Elise Van Winkle -- Elizabeth Van Winkle, who is the director of the Office of Force Resiliency.  We'll have Rear Admiral Ann Burkhardt, who is the director of our SAPRO office.  We'll have the deputy director of the SAPRO office, that is Dr. Nate Galbreath.  And then we're going to have Dr. Klahr, Dr. Ashlea Klahr, who's the director of the Health and Resilience Research for the Office of People Analytics.

So the way this one's going to work, it's going to be a little bit different format.  Dr. Van Winkle and Admiral Burkhardt are going to come in.  They're going to read a statement.  And then they're going to go, and they're going to let the subject matter experts field the questions.

But they're going to be here today, available to answer any questions that you may have.  So if you have any questions for them specifically, just come find me and we'll connect you with those two.

We also have two reports coming out today.  One is the task force report, the secretary's task force.  The other one is this annual report.

So we're really here to talk about the annual report and not the task force report, Dr. Van Winkle will be available today to answer questions about the task force report and then there will be a separate opportunity maybe later, early -- early next week maybe to address the task force report specifically.

So if there aren't any questions, we'll go ahead and turn it over to the team.  Just make sure when you ask questions that you state your name and your affiliation and try to limit it to one question at a time.  Dr. -- Dr. Van Winkle, let's start with you.

DR. ELIZABETH VAN WINKLE:  Sure.  Good morning.  Today, the department releases the 2018 annual report on sexual assault in the military.  In a moment, I'll turn it over to Rear Admiral Ann Burkhardt, the director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, to discuss the results of this year's report, but before I do, I have a few things I would like to say.

This report highlights a number of areas of continued progress, some when we began assessing ourselves 10 years ago, but unfortunately, the report mostly showed areas of concern.  Too many service members experienced sexual assault at the hands of those who they are supposed to trust the most.

Specifically, we found the highest rates amongst our youngest service women, ages 17 to 24.  Additionally, we found far too many service members are experiencing sexual harassment, also with the highest rates among women.

These results indicate the rise in sexual assault and sexual harassment are of the greatest concern for our youngest service women, but this is neither a youth problem nor a female problem.  Sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexist behaviors are a human decency problem.

They undercut the order and discipline necessary to maintain the strongest military force in the world, the order and discipline our service members deserve.  These negative behaviors are also an accountability problem.

This is men and women seeing things and doing things that contradict our core values, choosing not to take action, potentially because they don't know how, they aren't empowered to, or they don't know they need to.  This is a department problem and we are all responsible for fixing it.

Our mission is to win wars.  Sexual assault is incompatible with our ability to achieve that mission.  To win on the battlefield, service members must be able to implicitly trust each other and know that their peers and their leadership have their back.

Our expectations for our military are clear and we use words like dignity, respect and discipline.  We include behaviors aligned with these expectations in our uniform code of military justice for a clear reason.  Our ability to win wars depends on the readiness of our force, which we cannot achieve without securing professional standards in everything we do.

Sexual assault is counter to our expectations for our force and I sit here today, as I did earlier this year, for the roll out of the military service academy report, similarly disheartened and frustrated, but I'm not without hope.

The department's leadership is committed to getting this right and I have been energized by their dedication.  Acting Secretary Shanahan made this clear in a memo he released this morning.  In it, he takes a strong stance and outlines significant actions the department will take to eliminate sexual assault from the military through a two-pronged approach, prevention and accountability.

To address accountability, he has approved the recommendations from the sexual assault accountability and investigations task force report.  These actions will improve our military justice system and enhance commanders' ability to maintain good order and discipline within the ranks.

For example, the department is taking steps to make sexual harassment a stand-alone crime, sending a strong message to the force of our expectations in this space and the consequences of failure to our readiness.  The acting secretary is also directing a number of prevention actions.

This includes developing new unit climate assessment tools and oversight mechanisms, which will help leaders better understand the extent of these challenges, assist them with developed courses of actions from a suite of interventions and provide them feedback on the impact of their efforts.

We will also launch the Catch a Serial Offender Program, which will provide service members with additional reporting procedures that will improve our ability to hold repeat offenders appropriately accountable while potentially preventing additional crimes.

Furthermore, we will execute the Department of Defense sexual assault prevention plan of action to implement actions that include assessments and evaluation of our targeted prevention strategy.  The results of this report are not acceptable by any standard.

We will learn from what our women and men in uniform told us this year and adjust our strategy.  I remain optimistic that we will course correct.  There is no higher calling than to serve in our military.  Because of our members, unmatched service and patriotism, they remain the core advantage against our enemies.

Our absolute dedication to their well being must be no less than the commitment they made when they stepped forward and volunteered to serve this nation.  I will now turn it over to Rear Admiral Ann Burkhardt to talk more about this.

REAR ADMIRAL ANN BURKHARDT:  Thank you, Dr. Van Winkle.  Good morning and thank you for taking the time to be with here -- with us today as we release the fiscal year '18 annual report on sexual assault in the military.  Sexual assault is an appalling crime that infects incredible pain on the men and women who have sworn to keep our country safe.

Every sexual assault is a failure to meet our expectations of good order and discipline.  Consequently, responsibility for eliminating this crime from the military life with leadership.

However, this year's report emphasizes that leadership throughout the chain of command, from our senior mission commanders to our newest leaders and first line enlisted supervisors, must be both skilled and engaged to help every member of our force realize the role they must fill if we are to see an end to this crime.

Today, I will review our top line results and ways forward, then doctors Nate Galbreath and Ashlea Klahr will take your questions about the report.  Each year, the department publishes the annual report to document the sexual assault reports that we've received, the outcomes of cases and the progress we've made against this crime.

This year's report also includes results from the workplace and gender relation surveys for the active component within the department, as conducted every two years.

The Department of Defense's Office of People Analytics administers the survey to estimate the past year prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the active force, as well as other factors known to contribute to these behaviors that detract from military readiness.

This is the department's 15th annual report and it covers programmatic activity and sexual assault reports made during fiscal year '18.  To begin, I'd like to just remind you that we have two overarching goals in the sexual assault prevention and response program.

First, we encourage greater reporting of sexual assaults.  Experts told us over a decade ago, when we began this program, that many victims would rather suffer in silence than report the crime and experience the stigma and scrutiny of others.

As a result, we've put policy in place to encourage greater reporting of the crime and empower victims to get the care and restorative services they needed.  In addition, reporting enabled the department to hold offenders appropriately accountable.

Our second goal is to reduce the number of service members that experience the crime each year through preventions.  Since sexual assault is an under-reported crime, we know it occurs more often than what we see in restricted and unrestricted reports by service members.

As a result, use our scientific surveys of the military population to estimate how many service members are impacted by this crime.  This year, we have both reporting information and updated prevalence information to share with you.

First of all, to reporting.  When we last estimated our reporting rate in fiscal year '16, we found that one out of every three service members who experienced a sexual assault reported the crime to DOD authorities.  This year's report finds the same reporting rate, about one in three military members reporting the crime in fiscal year '18.  We believe this represents tangible progress, that this is four times the reporting rate seen a decade ago.

Second, our estimated prevalence of a crime in the active duty population.  This year's survey found that the sexual assault prevalence rate for active duty men has remained at about the same rate as seen two years ago.  In sum, the rate observed in 2018 is about two-thirds less than the rate we observed for men in our first survey in 2006.

We are encouraged that the work we have done with the services -- service men has sustained this lower rate.  However, we still know there is much more work to do.

Unfortunately, our survey found that the past-year prevalence of sexual assault for active duty women increased in fiscal year 2018, compared to the rate we saw in 2016.

When we more closely analyzed this data, we found that the increase in rate was mostly within our youngest service women, between the ages of 17 and 24 years old.  And also our junior enlisted women.  This increase is absolutely unacceptable.

As a result, we are going to take the following actions.  First, we're going to release the Prevention Plan of Action, which reflects the result of two years' collaboration with experts both internal and external to the department.

The plan is a coordinated and comprehensive approach to optimize the department's prevention resources, that also includes targeted prevention efforts for people at higher risk of sexual assault, such as the young women I just mentioned.

This plan also emphasizes the department's need for robust research, evaluation and analytics to assess the effectiveness of the department's and each military service's prevention effort as they are implemented.

Additionally, we're going to be developing new tools to ensure that our new leaders and first-line supervisors are prepared, have what they need to promote stability and cohesion in their units, and also model appropriate behavior.

And finally, we're going to be conducting focus groups targeted at our 17- to 24-year olds, to understand and identify relevant and motivating initiatives to help us eliminate this crime.

And as we look deeper into the survey results, we also found that most perpetrators were service members in the E-3 to E-5 grade, and that alleged perpetrators were often of the same grade or slightly higher than the victim.

To address this finding, we're launching Catch a Serial Offender Program.  That will come out this summer.  It will allow our service members who choose to make a restricted report, confidentially identify information about the alleged incident to investigators.

Should there be a match on the name or description in our system, those who reported will be given the opportunity to convert their report and -- convert their report to an unrestricted report and participate in the military justice process.

We will also develop and evaluate assessment criteria to enhance the recruitment of service members to ensure those coming into the military are of the highest quality, and also compatible with our military core values.

Our survey results also emphasize that unhealthy unit climates continue to be strongly associated with an increased risk for sexual assault.  These environments include behaviors of sexual harassment, gender discrimination of both sexes, lower levels of unit cohesion and workplace hostility.

Our actions to address these findings include providing leaders with improved assessment tools to help them identify climate challenges within their units so that they can take appropriate action.

Finally, I'd like to highlight that commanders remain at the center of our justice system.  According to this year's annual reporting data, commanders had sufficient evidence to take disciplinary action in two-thirds of alleged military offenders to the court-martial process or other available means to hold alleged offenders appropriately accountable.

In summary, no one should have to worry about being a victim of sexual assault, the target of sexual harassment, or experiencing any form of misconduct when they volunteer to serve our country.

After a decade of very meaningful changes in response accountability, our data shows that sexual assault is occurring less often than it did.  It has been a decade of very difficult lessons, one in which that -- one of the factors is -- that gives rise to this crime is constantly changing.  What once worked for a while is no longer sustaining the progress we need.  As a result, we must and we will change our approach.

There are no easy solutions but the department stands resolved to support our service members and prevent this horrible crime.  Our actions will target changing unhealthy climates by focusing on new leaders and first-line supervisors, and then stopping the crime before it happens through our prevention efforts within the Prevention Plan of Action, and holding offenders accountable through the launch of the CATCH program.

The Department of Defense remains committed to our goals of ending sexual assault, providing the highest quality response to victims, and holding offenders appropriately accountable.  We will not be deterred from our mission and we will not rest until all service members serve in an environment of dignity and respect.

Thank you for your time.

STAFF:  Thank you, Dr. Van Winkle and Admiral Burkhardt.

We're going to transition over to our Q&A portion.

Do you have the first question?

Q:  Yes.

STAFF:  (inaudible).

Q:  Hi, Nate.  Can you -- I mean, obviously, the results show that -- (inaudible) a bit to previous years, both in the prevalence and in the reporting.  Can you address a couple things?

Number one, what impact do you think the whole #MeToo campaign had on the survey?

Second, what impact, if any, do you think the ongoing integration of women into combat units, where there are very young women in units, in smaller units with also very young men, had on these results, if you can determine that at all?

And then secondarily, we've heard a lot of these new prevention and whatever programs in the past before.  What gives you any suggestion at all, that any of these are going to work?  They clearly haven't worked in the past.  What works now?

DR. NATHAN GALBREATH:  Well, I would beg to differ with your assessment, largely because we've shown that for two survey periods, prevalence of sexual assault decreased for everyone in the department.  And so we know that what we do works with people.  The challenge is finding the right mix, and as the -- as the report shows this year, we didn't have increases with men, (inaudible) greater (inaudible) for sexual assault than they were into 2016 and 2014.

In addition to that, we also found that the prevalence that increased for women was largely driven by women in the ages of 17 to 24 and -- and also our junior enlisted women.  So this surveillance data worked exactly like it was supposed to.

It's our tripwire to identify something has changed in the environment and we need to focus in on what that is.  And so as a result, what I would tell you is, is that with our focus in these areas, this is where our prevention focus -- focuses are -- are going to be honed.

What I would also want to correct -- that assumption is -- is that -- is your assumption that nothing seems to work.  As a matter of fact, things do work.  But I think one of the things that we all discussed at the national summit that was just recently held at the U.S. Naval Academy was that there are pockets of things that have been shown to work under very controlled conditions, and we call those science and research.

There are other, more naturalistic interventions, in other words that have been put out through, like, an entire school system in the -- in the state of Kentucky, where one of the efforts called Green Dot was actually shown to reduce sexual assault and sexual harassment throughout those schools.  That's a published document that you can look up yourself.

And so we know that at -- in a broader scale, some of these also work.  The challenge that we have within the Department of Defense is our reach is global.

We have 1.3 million people stationed throughout the world that we have to be able to intervene with these folks, we have to be able to give them the skills to promote dignity and respect, to reduce sexual assault and to take action when they see things that are -- that aren't -- that are inappropriate and we have to be able to do that at scale, and then you all expect us to sustain it, as well, as do we ourselves.

And so overall, that brings us to the prevention plan of action that we have.  In the past, I think what I would tell you is -- is that prevention plan has not evolved to the state where it's at.

In just the past couple of years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a technical packet that essentially said these are the things that you need in order to leverage effective prevention work, and here are the programs that we see are showing the greatest promise, the greatest evidence that they will work.

So our challenge now in the department is we've, after 12, 13 years of doing this -- we've built a response system that is as robust as any in the country, with sexual assault response coordinators at every installation, sexual special victims counsel and victims legal counsel available to -- to support folks in improved investigative and prosecution processes.

That's our response system, but now what we need is a prevention system.  And it's going to look very much like other prevention systems that we have in the United States.

That prevention system is largely composed of having the right team and resources trained to be able to do -- to do this work, having interest structures, in other -- the data, the programs that we would need to want to put in, and also the collaborative relationships so that we are all working together on a focused goal.

And that's really what our -- our focus is.  You asked about MeToo and we did ask that question, but they -- we had very few people endorse that as a reason for reporting.

I would offer to you that when Secretary Panetta took the podium in January of 2012 and talked about this problem publicly -- this was the first secretary of defense to actually announce (inaudible) number for that year and that -- and then say that this is our -- this (inaudible) own it and we're going to do something about it.

Frankly, that was our MeToo movement, because if you look at reporting over time, since that -- since that time, it's done nothing but increase.  And of course, as Admiral Burkhardt said, we encourage greater reporting to connect victims with services and restorative care and also to hold offenders appropriately accountable.

So again, I would also correct the record and say that our reporting rate is about what it was last year.  Yep, it went down two percent, but it -- I -- what I would tell you is one in three service members who've experienced a sexual assault in the past year continue to report the crime and get the care that they need.

You asked a lot of other questions ...


Q:  ... women in combat.

DR. GALBREATH:  The women in combat?  I -- I don't have information about that.  The survey that we do -- and I'll let Dr. Klahr comment, but the survey that we do doesn't necessarily reach to every -- it goes out to a lot of folks, but in order to really understand, we would have to focus in on just those combat units where women are integrating.

And the sexual assault, while occurs way too often, is still a rare event statistically.  And so we wouldn't have necessarily the statistical power to measure what's going on necessarily in those units.  Do you want to correct the record?


DR. ASHLEA KLAHR:  That -- that basically captures it.  We -- we are looking to do some follow ups, looking at specific occupations.  We haven't had a chance to look into that now, but one of the challenges in these recently integrated occupations that Dr. Galbreath noted is the numbers are so small that it becomes very difficult to create a statistical estimate for -- for those small units.

It's something to track over time as the numbers increase in those occupations.

Q:  A quick question about the task force and a couple of the other things that were mentioned.  I know you might not (inaudible) making it a stand-alone crime, you sort of able to speak on that or not as much?


Q:  And in terms of the sort of the 17 to 24 year olds, is there -- what were you -- what do you specifically need to target the younger women and sort of some of those specifics rather than the broader (inaudible)?

DR. GALBREATH:  Absolutely.  As -- as a matter of fact, Jessica, would you switch it to slide seven?  I don't know if you guys have seen this -- this heat map, but -- you want to talk about the heat map a little bit and then we'll talk plenty about what we're trying to do?

DR. KLAHR:  So what we're showing you in the heat map, this is based on survey data.  So for those who experienced a sexual assault in the past year, we asked them more about what occurred and who the offender was.  89 percent were military offenders.

So for women victims -- that's what's been on this slide -- we -- we took the -- the map of the victims rank across the bottom and then we mapped it against the rank of the alleged offender or, if there were multiple offenders, where -- we captured them both in there, as well.

And so what you can see is that across all pay grades, the offender is most often either the same rank as the victim or slightly higher in rank.  And it's also really concentrated in these junior enlisted folks, which we know, based on the sexual assault rates in this -- this group, as well.

So one of the things in talking about focusing on this age group, it's not just because the victims are in this age group but many of the offenders are in this age group, as well.

DR. GALBREATH:  So specifically to your question, what are we going to do?  We have to focus in on who we're bringing in to the service because there's -- there's a range of things that we have to do, it's not just one thing.

And we're focusing in on perpetration, I want to make that very, very clear.  Victimization is never the victim's fault, it's only the perpetrator's fault.  And so for -- so for us to get after perpetration, we have to look at three primary things.

First of all, we're going to be looking at making sure that the people that we bring in are in the moral center.  In other words, they're not on the edges, and that we want to make sure they're of the highest...


... for aptitude, we test for grit with the type of test.  Now, what we want to be able to do is see what's out there that might be able to help us understand where someone's moral center is, and to select those people that are most compatible with our -- with our core value.

The second thing that we want to do is we want to get after perpetrators.  So we're going to learn a little bit about them from some review work that we're going to be doing out of the criminal investigative file to better understand (inaudible) characteristics.

But then the third thing that we're going to do is to launch that Catch a Serial Offender Program, is -- is that this is a -- a -- this is an untapped resource.  Many of you might be familiar with its civilian program, called Callisto.  This is somewhat similar in that it allows a victim of sexual assault who's made a restricted report to confidentially provide us details about their incident, or even this individual's name, or biomarkings or social media handle.  And then that'll go into a confidential system that's run by -- that's run for us by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.  OSI and CID will also be participating in this.  And for people who've been put into that system, they'll be taking a look to see if there's others, both in that system and other crime databases and determine what kind of information there might be.  And if there is a match with other victims or other reports that might have been made on this individual's name, then we'll provide that information back to the individual who's made that restrictive report and give them the option to convert to an unrestricted report and participate in the justice system to their comfort.

STAFF:  Jeff?

Q: Thank you.  Two quick questions.  The report noted 7,623 sexual assaults in fiscal 2018.  Is it possible to get a breakdown by service?

DR. GALBREATH:  It -- it is, and I'll give you my slides at the end and you can get it.  Do you want me just to list you off the numbers?

Q:  Yeah, that'd be great.

DR. GALBREATH:  OK.  So Army received -- OK, so of 7,623, Army received 3,155 reports.

Q:  I'm sorry.  What was the (inaudible)?


Q:  I'm sorry.  I'll give you just my...

DR. GALBREATH:  We will give you the slides...

Q:  Oh, (inaudible) OK. Oh.

DR. GALBREATH:  ... and you guys can do this so that you don't have to do this.  But Carla, do you want to copy these for the folks so that they can get that?

But anyway -- so, took my numbers, but we'll get you that.

Q:  OK.

DR. GALBREATH:  All right.

Q:  Now the sexual assaults mark a 13 percent increase; I think the unwanted sexual contact is more than a 30 percent increase.  Is it time for you and Admiral Burkhardt and Ms. Van Winkle to resign?

DR. GALBREATH:  I don't think so.  We're the -- what I would offer to you is, is that we're the folks here that are -- that are the biggest advocates for victims of sexual assault, I would tell you, in the Department of Defense.  We have been -- and I'll tell you my -- personally, I've been with this now since 2007, and I plan to see this out to the end.

I would offer to you that -- that again, if you think about it, this year's report is disheartening, and it personally makes me angry that we are here having to talk about an increase in prevalence because of what I've devoted my life doing this, both as a criminal investigator, as a clinical psychologist who's treated sex offenders, and tried to reduce things through that way.

But I'm also, as Dr. Van Winkle mentioned, not without hope because the focus that we had here is on a very tightly-knit -- tightly-focused percentage of our population, where we have to -- we have to adapt and change.  If we fired everybody...


... in the -- in the -- in how the -- in how the problem presented itself, we would have no one with any experience doing this job.  It's just like if the enemy changes its tactics, do you fire all the commanders?  Absolutely, you don't.  You have to get after this and you have to -- you have to understand what's happening and what's changed.

So for example, we have to look and see, what is the new thing -- what's new happening with these 17- to 24-year-olds that made -- that our programs aren't accounting for?  I would offer that there's been a huge change in how people meet and -- and interact with each other in the past decade, largely due to social media.  That's one of the things that we want to investigate to kind of see what risks are posed by -- by using social media sites.

And there's a variety of other things that we also want to target, as well, with regard to understanding why is it that more of our folks are coming in with a history of sexual assault victimization, which actually increases your risk for sexual assault -- future?  And so those and other risk factors are what we're going to be targeting.

STAFF:  Caitlin?

Q:  Can you explain the prevalence increase?  You never actually said, like, how much it increased by.

DR. GALBREATH:  So for men, it increased by zero, statistically.  For women we saw a 44 percent increase, from 4.3 percent in 2016 to 6.2 percent in 2018.  That’s the percent change between those statistics

Q:  And why do you think that that is?

DR. GALBREATH:  Largely because of -- you want to show the next slide, Jessica, for the climate?   Here we go.

Dr. Klahr, you want to talk a little bit about that?

DR. KLAHR:  Sure.  So one of the things that we looked at this year to try to understand more about predictors of sexual assault and why this has changed over time is you look at the association between various climate factors and how they increase risk for sexual assault.  So what you're seeing on this slide -- there are risk factors that are listed in descending order from the strength of their association.  So sexual harassment is the best predictor that we have for sexual assault.

So on the left-most part of the slide we're showing you the percentage of active duty women and the percentage of active duty men who experienced each of these unhealthy climate factors.  So for example, 24 percent of active duty women and six percent of active duty men experienced sexual harassment in 2018, which is a statistically-significant increase from 2016.

But if you look across the row, we're showing you that for those who experienced sexual harassment, one in five women also experienced a sexual assault, and for men who experienced sexual harassment, one in 12 also experienced sexual assault.  This is a dramatic increase in risk, versus the reference percentages, which are one in 17 men -- or, I'm sorry, one in 17 women and one in 143 men without having sexual harassment in the mix.

And so when we see the rates of these other sort of lower-level negative climate factors increase between 2016 and 2018, and because they are so strongly-predictive of sexual assault, then in many ways, it's not surprising that we see increases in the rates of sexual assault, as well.

Another thing I'll highlight on this slide, just for your reference, is that some of these factors are not specific to how men and women are treating each other or sort of gender relations-type issues, but they're more general about the climate.  So workplace hostility -- are people interfering with your work performance?  Are your coworkers doing things that are actively negative towards you?  Or respect and cohesion -- this is, is there good levels of unit cohesion, respect people have for the chain of command?  These more general climate factors are also associated with risk for sexual assault, and what we're seeing in our data this year, and so it suggests the importance of really going after the climate issue.

DR. GALBREATH:  So in sum, there are things (inaudible) we can point to such as these climate factors and there's things that the survey doesn't capture that -- and -- that we -- that we can't necessarily reach to.  But for the things that we can identify, we believe very strongly that it lies with the unit climate.

Q:  Were you disturbed by a 44 percent increase in prevalence?

DR. GALBREATH:  Absolutely.

Q:  I mean has that -- has that statistic number ever happened within this 15 years?

DR. GALBREATH:  Sure, if you go back to 2010 to 2012, yes.  That kind of increase occurred then.

Q:  And then -- so what -- but I know that there's been a lot of -- like all this -- prime -- you know training within units on this issue, so you know, to get everybody trained on it, so -- I mean I understand the work place has escalated ?

Is there any, like, other factors about why this prevalence seems to have increases in two years?

DR. GALBREATH:  Go ahead.

DR. KLAHR:  I mean one other thing I can point to that's been mentioned already is that we saw an increase in folks coming into the military with a prior sexual assault prior to joining the military.  So we saw that increase for women and men, we saw the same thing at the service academy.

So, you know, we can't say why that would be the case but I think it is worth noting that we are -- more people are coming in having this experience already, so they're -- suggests that there could be something happening sort of more broadly.

Of course, you can't, you know, say causally for that, it could be a selection (inaudible), but we are seeing people come in with this increased risk, based on their prior experiences.

Q:  A sexual assault victim coming in?  All right, and that -- you ...

DR. KLAHR:  That number increased between 2016 and 2018.  So the percentage of people in the military that had a -- a sexual assault before they joined the military increased.

Q:  Are you actually blaming the increase on sexual assaults on the number of recruits who have been sexually assaulted before joining the military?

DR. GALBREATH:  That's not how that works.  What happens is, is having treated a number of sex offenders and investigated the -- even more, I can tell you that when someone is raised in an abusive home and they are also -- or have experienced a sexual assault in their background, it forever changes your view of the world and -- and as a result, those changes that happen to the individual are often things that an offender can pick up on in their -- in identifying who they're going to go after next.

And so as a result, we tend to see those repeat -- those offenders pick up on people with that in their history.  And so that's something that, of course, we are also looking at ways that we can help folks with histories of sexual assault that come in.

As you notice, we count those reports that come in from folks that -- that are identified with a prior history.  So there's a number of things -- as a matter of fact, Air Force is -- is working right now on a -- on an intervention that they're -- that they're testing now with folks.

(UNKNOWN):  Carla?

Q:  Thanks for doing this.  I noticed that the Marine Corps has really spiked, the Marine Corps typically has the least numbers of women to begin with.  So this has got to be really concerning for you.

Why is there such a spike with the Marine Corps?  Is the Marine Corps not getting it?  Are they not implementing the past policies that have been done?  Why are we seeing that?



DR. KLAHR:  Sure.  So one thing, when we looked at our total active duty women in the military, we see that 39 percent of women in the active duty are under the age of 25.  However, when we look at the Marine Corps, it's more than 60 percent of women in the Marine Corps who are in this most apt group.

So certainly age doesn't account for all of it, but it is -- when we -- when we're seeing the largest increases in our youngest folks and the proportion of women in the Marine Corps are primarily this -- this young group, we believe that that explains at least a part of why they might be seeing such a significant increase.

(UNKNOWN):  Jim?

Q:  I'd like you to go back to the climate survey.  How often are those conducted?  And (inaudible) commanders or bosses, if they find that these climate surveys have created a toxic workplace?  I mean is there a consequence for a -- for being in charge of something like that?

And how fast does that turn around?  Because a commander usually -- if they're lucky, they may be in a place for two years.  Does the climate survey actually come back fast enough to give that sort of feedback to these folks?

DR. GALBREATH:  So climate -- every commander is required to conduct a climate survey within 120 days of taking command and then annually thereafter.  Some services do it a little bit more frequently, but that's the requirement in the duty policy.

Another change that happened with regard to climate policy is they became mandatory back in F.Y. '13, and in addition to that, the requirement to discuss your survey results and what you're going to do about findings in your survey with your boss, with your immediate supervisor, was also added to help people understand what they -- their responsibilities and what they were to do to get after these challenges.

What I would tell you is that I -- we never designed the climate assessment process to -- to -- to lead the people that are firing, but certainly I think that overall, when leaders decide that someone has lost faith in -- in an individual's ability to command, this could be one of those things that they consider in that overall decision.

But ultimately, this is -- this is a commander's tool to help them identify where their problems are and what they can do about it.  We're also working on ways, as we've talked about, to help people understand those units underneath them.

And that's one of the things that we want to do and build that dashboard so that we can have greater, quicker accountability for understanding what those challenges are for a given commander with a number of units underneath him.

That's one of the challenges that we're going to be addressing in -- in -- as we revamp the -- the climate assessment process this summer.

Q:  And the -- and the climate assessor -- or climate survey, climate assessment program, obviously is larger than just SAFRAM.  Do you have your SAFRAM folks working with these people, though, at -- in each one of these ...

DR. GALBREATH:  Yeah, we sure do.  We -- as -- as a matter of fact, the Office of People Analytics has it now and of course we're joined at the hip, but -- and in addition to that, prior to that, DEOMI, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, had it and we have added questions on climate for sexual assault back in 2013, I believe.

And so we've been looking at those.  Some of those worked out really well, really helpful, some of them not so much.  So we've been working on a way to take a look at how could we help leaders understand where the pockets of goodness are and the pockets of challenge are?

And one of those things that we designed was a time one, time two analysis that we're still working on, but essentially allows leaders to understand what units experienced large positive changes, helpful changes in their climate and which -- which units identified challenges -- or identified the large negative changes in unit climate and what we can do and to help them understand where they're -- where they need to focus time and attention.

Q:  And just one real quick on -- on sexual harassment and -- and moving that up to a standalone point.  I believe you said, doctor, the -- that sexual harassment was the biggest predictor of sexual assault.

Is that the reason why you're moving it up to a stand-alone crime? I mean it's always been charged, right?  I mean sexual harassment is a crime.  It's just, what, court order and discipline or...

DR. GALBREATH:  (Inaudible) that's right.  It was largely charged under -- under the general article in the UCMJ.  I think the recommendation is that it would help us understand how often that's being addressed with the military justice system, to have it as a stand-alone crime because we can't tease it apart if it falls under the general article at times like that.

Q:  And you'd be able to laser in and maybe stop it at the sexual harassment phase before it went on to sexual assault?

DR. GALBREATH:  Well, that's -- that's what we would like to be able to do.  We'd like to stop it before it turns into sexual harassment.  When it's people mistreating each other, we want to get there.

Of course, there's general mistreating each other.  Then when it raises to sexual harassment, and then of course there's -- we believe that this -- all these problems lie on a continuum of harm, which essentially stretches from just being -- not treating each other with dignity and respect, all the way through sexual assault.

STAFF:  We've got time for one more question.

Q:  I guess when is -- when are leaders and anyone who comes into the military really taught or trained on these issues?  Like, is it post-boot camp and OCS commissioning?  Is it when you hit the unit?  Like, when is it that it's happening, and when do you think it should start actually happening?

DR. GALBREATH:  Thank you for asking that question because that is a -- that is an issue of mine.  As a 21-year Air Force officer, I was trained on the application of air power in battle.  And flexibility is the key to air power.

But you know what I never got as a military leader, was an applied leadership situation like these.  What happens when you have sexual assault, domestic violence.  What happens when you have a suicide.

And what I would offer to you is, a lot of our professional military education spends a lot of time focusing in on -- on battle and history and things like that, that we would need to be good military commanders when we're fighting -- protecting our nation's interests.

But what -- the experience that our senior-most leaders have comes after 10, 15, 20 years of leadership experience in understanding people issues and how to get there.

The point that we make today is that we want people to get to that point sooner.  We want to give our newest, youngest leaders that wealth of experience that some of our senior folks have in working these issues over time.  We want them to be fluent in it sooner.  And -- and more ready to take action if they see these things happen when they take -- take over.

So we're looking at our junior NCOs, the -- that are our first-line newest supervisors, as well as our new officers when they come in, so they have these applied leadership capabilities.

Q:  But are you looking at doing it, like, right in OCS?  Like right when you're learning ranks and salutes, how to do this?  Or is this kind of, like, after you've commissioned or after you've become an NCO?  Like, when do you think it's, like, the most critical?  Like, day one, day zero, or...

DR. GALBREATH:  I think it's a stepwise approach.  I think you have to learn generally what we view these kind of behaviors as, which everybody does.  But then as you are increasing in responsibilities and rank, you do need to be able to have this specialized focus, to not only learn about this but also learn the skills that you need to do in order to enforce order and discipline.

STAFF:  That's all the time we have for this today.  But the P&R P.A. team are going to be here all day.  Happy to answer your questions.  Most of you know where we sit, back in the little, you know, alcove by Jim.

Dr. Van Winkle is also available for questions.  We will -- we will, like I said, in the beginning have a separate event to address a task force.  We need to have some of -- the judge advocate general who's involved in that.  So it's going to be a -- that's going to be a separate place and time.  But thank you all for coming.