By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr., American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A senior Pentagon official today underscored the military’s “zero tolerance” against bullying and hazing in light of charges brought against eight soldiers.
Speaking at a Pentagon news briefing, Navy Capt. John Kirby offered condolences to the family of Army Pvt. Danny Chen, who was found dead in October from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in Afghanistan where he was deployed. The Army today charged eight soldiers in Chen’s unit with being involved in his death, although officials won’t say how.
“Our thoughts and prayers certainly go out to the family here,” said Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations. “This is a tragic, tragic incident.”
Kirby declined to discuss the Chen case, but underscored that bullying and hazing are never tolerated by service members.
“Any single case of hazing or inappropriate conduct to a fellow soldier, airman, Marine, sailor [or] Coast Guardsman is inappropriate and not acceptable,” he said. “Zero is the right number.
“We treat each other with dignity and respect — that’s what this uniform requires,” he added. “When we don’t, there’s a justice system in place to deal with it. And that’s what we’re seeing here in the case of Private Chen.”
Kirby said hazing is not tolerated in the military and “if it’s found and it’s proven — it’s dealt with.”
“This is something inculcated in our culture from the moment you join the service,” he noted. “From the moment you raise your right hand through all your basic training and your first tours of duty, these notions are bred into you in the military.
“We treat each other with respect and dignity or we go home — that’s it,” Kirby said pointedly. “The tolerance is absolutely zero and the system itself, because it works and works well, is in fact, a deterrent to future behavior.”
Kirby noted there are still “miscreants” who want to defy military regulations, and reiterated “when it’s found [and] proven, it’s dealt with.”
Kirby also cited “training mechanisms” in place throughout all the services designed to help curb these types of incidents.
“Whether you’re an officer or enlisted, this is something bred into you when you come into the service,” he said.
“Unfortunately, you’re never going to be 100 percent perfect in this,” Kirby said. “And there’s going to be those few who want to flaunt what the uniform stands for and what the regulations require … when that happens they’re going to be dealt with.”