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National Journal - The Enemy Within Sept 2012

National Journal - The Enemy Within Sept 2012

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Published by Jennifer Norris

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Published by: Jennifer Norris on Sep 24, 2012
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12/07/2013

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Ney 20,000 sevce membes e ped  sexy ssedech ye by peds wh e evde pshme. Hw che Peg sp hem?By Jmes Kfed
september 15, 2012
national journal
14
The Enemy Within
DEFENSE
 
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas—
E
 very Friday, on a grassy pa-rade ground ringed by vin-tage warplanes, a reshly minted class o airmen takesthe oath o duty and is o-cially “welcomed into the blue.” Young men and wom-en who arrived at basic training as conusedand rightened individuals seven weeks earliermarch by the reviewing stand in precise or-mation. Nowhere is the U.S. military’s uniquealchemy—turning unormed young citizensinto a warrior raternity—on clearer display. Ater the ceremony, amilies wanderaround Lackland in clusters, visiting dorms where every bed and closet is organized ac-cording to strict military specication. In themess hall, the voices o military training in-structors rise above the din, shouting at train-ees one moment and commending them thenext—the instructors serving as mentors,role models, and even parental gures. “I con-stantly remind my trainers that they are themost inuential person in a trainee’s lie, andthey must embody our core values,” said Mas-ter Sgt. Greg Pendleton, commandant o themilitary training instructors at Lackland. I the MTI’s ail to instill in trainees a willing-ness to sacrice sel or the good o the unitand submit to unquestioned authority, they  will have made the Air Force weaker, notstronger. “That’s why what’s happened hereas a result o some bad apples is so disheart-ening,” Pendleton said. “The training corps is better than that. What happened is this: One instructor has been convicted o rape and multiple cases o aggravated sexual assault o emale trainees,and 16 other trainers have been charged or areunder investigations or crimes ranging romaggravated sexual assault to improper sexualrelationships with 42 emale trainees.That places Lackland atop an inamouslist o military sexual-abuse scandals, includ-ing the Navy’s Tailhook convention in Las Ve-gas in 1991 (83 emale and seven male victimso sexual assault by more than 100 Navy and
national journal
september 15, 2012
15
Targeted:Many sexual predators in the rankshave gotten away with serial assaults.
 
september 15, 2012
national journal
DEFENSE
that was tailor-made or sexual predators: 25percent o women and 27 percent o men whoclaimed “unwanted sexual contact” said thatthe assaults occurred in combat zones. Army investigators received increased reports o combat-theater rapes only ater units re-turned to their home bases, where victims eltsaer to report the assaults. (O more than 130 women killed in Iraq and Aghanistan, nearly 40 percent died o “noncombat-related” inju-ries, oten gunshots. Some were suicides, butothers occurred under suspicious circum-stances. A number o the deaths came aterthe women reported being raped.) “About hal the women we see with military sexual trau-ma also have trauma rom combat exposure,”said Deleene Meneee, a psychologist at the VA’s medical center in Houston. “On top o taking re rom the enemy outside the gates,they’ve had to cope with the trauma and earo being attacked by the enemy rom within.”How, in 2012, can sexual assault still be sopervasive and the military justice system’s re-action so cruel that it routinely revictimizesthe injured and slaps the hands o perpetra-tors? The answer may be a cultural blind spotsimilar to the Catholic Church’s myopia onchild molestation. Time and again, the armedservices have proven unable or unwilling tograsp the extent to which their core ethos andorganizational principles are vulnerable toexploitation by sexual opportunists. Indeed, viewed through a certain prism, much aboutmilitary lie—the lopsided power imbalanceso rank, the emphasis on unit cohesion overpersonal welare, the captive troops with no- where to escape, the testosterone-ueled spir-it o an overwhelmingly male proession thatis heavily dependent on emale volunteers—could make the military an almost ideal hunt-ing ground or sexual predators.
FIRED FOR BEING RAPED
Jennier Norris loved the Air Force. Sheplanned to use it to get an education and theneventually join law enorcement. The last wordshe would ever have used to describe hersel  was “victim.” Yet Norris didn’t even make itto basic training beore she says an Air Forcerecruiter drugged and raped her, a method o assault that VA mental-health experts say iscommon. In technical school, Norris learnedrom another emale trainee that she, too, had been raped by the recruiter; investigators say that repeat oenders tend to ollow a pattern.Two weeks beore graduating rom technicaltraining, Norris was assaulted again by an in-structor ater turning her back to him inside amaintenance van. Still she hesitated to reportthe incidents. She knew she’d be labeled a trou- blemaker, endangering her Air Force career. At her rst permanent-duty station with aremote communications squadron in Maine,Norris encountered lots o drunken, ater-lax its recruitment standards to ll the ranksat the height o the ghting in Iraq and A-ghanistan, and an anonymous 2008 survey  by the Naval Health Research Center report-ed that as many as 15 percent o incoming re-cruits had either committed or attemptedrape beore entering the military—twice therate o their civilian cohorts. Counterinsur-gency warare also placed service membersin a high-stress/low-oversight environmentMarine Corps aviation ocers); the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1996 (12 Army ocers charged with sexually assaulting e-male trainees); the Air Force Academy in 2003(12 percent o emale graduates reported hav-ing been victims o rape or attempted rape,and 70 percent said they had been sexually harassed); and the Marine Barracks in Wash-ington in recent years, where the documen-tary 
The Invisible War 
interviewed ve emaleMarines who reported having been raped (theCorps investigated and disciplined our o the women ater they reported the rapes but pun-ished none o the accused ocers).Two days ater seeing
The Invisible War,
 Deense Secretary Leon Panetta directedcommanders to elevate all sexual-assault in- vestigations to a reviewing authority head-ed by a higher-ranking colonel. He also be-gan creating “special-victim units” in each branch. It was a start.But the most alarming aspect o the Lack-land story is its predictability, because the very  values Pendleton is trying to inculcate (obedi-ence, sel-sacrice, stoicism in the ace o de-privation) are the ones that predators exploitin these scandals. The Deense Department’sown data suggest that, ar rom representingan isolated incident, Lackland is just the latestoutbreak o what Panetta has called a “silentepidemic” o sexual assault in the ranks. Basedon the Pentagon’s most recent survey on theissue in 2010, the epidemic aects more than19,000 victims each year. Meanwhile, accord-ing to annual Veterans Aairs Departmentsurveys, 20 percent o emale veterans screenpositive or “military sexual trauma,” as do 1percent o male veterans—many o them vic-tims o male-on-male rape. Cumulatively, thedata suggest that hundreds o thousands o current and ormer members o the military have been raped, sexually assaulted, or sub- jected to “unwanted” sexual contact. In 2010alone, the VA conducted nearly 700,000 reeoutpatient counseling sessions to veteranssuering rom military sexual trauma. And the military-justice system has ailedto check that epidemic. Persistent, corrobo-rated accounts (by victims and sex-crimesexperts) describe a command climate thattends to cast suspicion and blame on victims.Too oten, the system treats reports o rapeand sexual assault not as heinous crimes to be prosecuted harshly but as unwanted dis-tractions rom “good order and discipline” to be dealt with, hastily, at the lowest commandlevel. Frequently, this means simply transer-ring or demoting suspected perpetrators or“sexual harassment” and reerring distraught victims to uniormed mental-health experts who diagnose them with “personality disor-ders” and help wash them out o the military. A decade o conict has almost certainly exacerbated the scourge. The Army had to re-
16
   p   h   o   t   o   s  :    (   p   r   e   v   i   o   u   s   p   a   g   e ,   i   l   l   u   s   t   r   a   t   i   o   n    s   o   u   r   c   e    )   g   e   t   t   y   i   m   a   g   e   s    /   s   c   o   t   t   o   l   s   o   n  ;    (   t   h   i   s   p   a   g   e    )   h   a   n   d   o   u   t
“The wholesquadron basically turnedon me like I was a leper.
 Jennifer Norris
Hidden Victims
Service–member victims in reports of sexualassault by fiscal year
The Defense Department counted about 2,700victims of sexual assault last fiscal year, butbecause of underreporting, it estimates thatthere were far more–19,000.
,,,,,
Source: Defense Department, “Annual Reporton Sexual Assault in the Military”

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