U.S. Army Chief of Staff Speaks Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

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U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has lunch with junior leaders during his visit to Wiesbaden, GE. April 30, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez/ Released)

Over the last twelve years of war, our Army has demonstrated exceptional competence, courage, and resiliency in adapting to the demands of war and accomplishing the mission.  Today, however, the Army is failing in its efforts to combat sexual assault and sexual harassment.  It is time we take on the fight against sexual assault and sexual harassment as our primary mission.  It is up to every one of us, civilian and Soldier, general officer to private, to solve this problem within our ranks.

The Army is committed to the safety and security of every soldier, civilian, and family member.  Our Army is based on a bedrock of trust – the trust between soldiers and leaders that we will take care of each other.  Recent incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment demonstrate that we have violated that trust.  In fact, these acts violate everything our Army stands for.  They are contrary to our Army Values and they must not be tolerated.

It is up to every individual to contribute to a culture in which our soldiers, civilians, and family members can reach their full potential.  It is imperative that we protect potential victims from ever experiencing a sexual crime.  We must provide compassionate care and protect survivors after a crime has been committed.  Our people must be confident that complaints will be handled quickly and decisively, and that our system will deliver justice and protection throughout the reporting, investigation and adjudication process.

Commanders, non-commissioned officers, and law enforcement must ensure that every allegation of sexual assault and sexual harassment is thoroughly and professionally investigated and that appropriate action is taken.  Leaders at every level are responsible for establishing a command climate and culture of mutual respect, trust, and safety.  Leaders must develop systems to “see” their units, and understand the extent to which their leadership promotes a positive command climate for all soldiers.  I urge everyone to start a conversation within your unit or organization, among leaders, peers, and subordinates and with family and friends to better understand one another’s experiences and to develop better solutions to this problem.

Our profession is built on the bedrock of trust; sexual assault and sexual harassment betray that trust.  They have a corrosive effect on our unit readiness, team cohesion, good order and discipline.  We are entrusted with ensuring the health and welfare of America’s sons and daughters.  There are no bystanders in this effort.  Our soldiers, their families, and the American people are counting on us to lead the way in solving this problem within our ranks.

Raymond T. Odierno
General, 38th Chief of Staff
U.S. Army

The strength of our Nation is our Army
The strength of our Army is our Soldiers
The strength of our Soldiers is our Families
This is what makes us Army Strong!

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  • ArmyGal

    Really; Anyone would know after one experience in the Military EEO Process, Civilian, vet, Disabled Vet, or Active Duty the daunting gauntlet you go thru and the insurmountable delays that rune up to four times as long to go three the process as the regulation allows (requires) an investigation to be completed in. That coupled with the “NOT on MY WATCH, Will it be reported” that the problem is often ignored, swept under the carpet or slowed down or misplaced seems to be common place. The business of retraining the trainers is not nearly as paramount as having management, and commander believe the act are committed by personnel , and that there in action, and subsequent thought of not on my watch will this surface needs to be addressed.

    this from a Disabled Vet, a former service member, and still working on supporting our troops.

    Straighten up and fly right
    Does the best approach to this not seem to allow it in the first place and promote practices where the command is not put in peril or the perception or peril if the react or take action on the bad apples within their command and to act in fast manner when reported make more sense. REALLY!

  • ArmyGal

    MY first CG used to say quit blowing smoke up ma A##, or quit peeing on my leg and telling me its raiining,

    Its time to WAKE UP and take Action, failure to take action on a bad aple in your command and allowing the wond to fester could result in the death of your troops instead of just one person.

    Dear Sir;
    Thank you for the opportunity to espress my concerns of sexuaal assault, sexual harassment, and hostile work envirnments.,and SHARP Training/ for this I submit information;
    I know as a Former Active Duty NCO; as well as a former National Guard
    NCO, and presently a Civil service Employee I am stepping outside of the chain
    of command in regards to the information I am providing you. I do this because I have nofaith in the system or the Chain of command in regards to
    AMRDEC or RDECOM at this point in time and even fearing furthe5r reprisal,
    I am losing faith in the ability of the RDECOM and AMRDEC to handle sexual
    harassment, and in the ability to provide adequate training or to have
    supervisors act in a judicious, and timely manner to be able to resolve even
    sexual harassment, or hostile work environments in a timely manner. I am even more surprisedafter being on the receiving end of sexual harassment,
    and a hostile work environment, from Military, Civil Service, and contractor
    augmented personnel. I however cannot let things esclate further.
    The present climate that I have personally experienced is neither settled at the lowest possible level, nor is the present command inclined to even try.
    In addition the record of default judgments against RDECOM makes me even more leery of taking it up further for fear of further reprisal and retaliation.

    I filed an initial complaint with the EEO Office, in August of 2011, and still there is no Final Decision, The AMRDEC director did not meet for arbitration in July of 2012, and even pulled out three days prior to the arranged meeting.
    The AMRDEC Director did not even show up or send a representative at the onset of the fact finding in October of 2012 an attempt to resolve the issue or discuss it. The report of investigation after the investigator questioned all, but when my
    witness were called he went off the record after limiting or not allowing
    questions he himself had asked other witnesses. My representation with the union and I objected to the seemingly preferential line of questioning, and feel
    that if the issue had been brought to light Ms. Kathy Shelton, and Lennie
    Adams would have had to add charges to the claim.

    I need to make note of a situation that OPM ProvidesGuidance, USA JOBS and
    the employment application identify guidance and information that you will
    not be discriminated against in civilian employment for your sexual orientation or your gender identity. The EEOC also have provided guidance that it is a protected class in Federal Employment. There is no information contained in the current SHARP Website or training that addresses the LGBT issues in the work place, and as long as co-located contractor augmented workforce does not receive the same
    training under AMC, then the path for Civilian manger is often to utilize
    contractors to create a hostile work environment and to support their efforts
    until an individual they might feel uncomfortable with will either be
    removed, quit or find another job. The harassment, hostile work environment and complaints often have nothing to do with the exceptional work an employee
    should be judged on but that the employee is different than someone else in a
    manner not impacting the performance of their Job. This during a time of budget cuts and scandal will only continue to keep items like this inthe limelight, and in cost due to litigation, complaints and lawsuits will increase an already
    overburdened funding issue.

    Training is severely lacking and especially after the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell and should be addressed to have in informed professional working staff that supports our soldiers, civilians, and those involved in the protection of this Great Country of ours. Please Remember that in many climates Military supervise Civilians and Civilians often supervise military personnel, and training must be in line with not only current regulations, and Directives, but must also be in line with the EEOC,
    the Department of Labor, and OPM, or the risk to the mission, morale, and
    command climate will only continue to deteriorate.

    In hearing recent comments during the meeting on the Military, I am asking
    to also look into the time the Army takes to even resolve an issue for
    Civilians, with often the excuse being the Army has no control over the investigators, or the Army has no control over the Final Agency Decision and
    therefore are exempt from the 180 day limitations. As I am a firm believer
    in the Military, discipline and regulations I have a hard time wanting to
    bring this issue to public attention by taking this matter directly to civil
    court which the IG states is my only option. That option does but
    substantiate lack or responsibility on the chain of command to resolve issues, and provide a tantamount of support to take the action to provide timely and responsive investigations out of the hands of the local command.
    I am still since leaving the PEO IEWS; where AMRDEC Matrix Employees were in
    charge of the operations I worked at have lost them professional reputation,
    and job responsibilities similar to what I had been working in the past. I have had a great deal of sickness, sleepless nights, anxiety, and general depression over the incidents. I even had an incident or verbal sexual harassment where I reported it to my first line supervisor, and she stated “People are human. They’re going to Talk, it’s human nature” After sending a letter to the Deputy Directors of the Directorate, she claimed she misunderstood what I meant. The performance Objective for
    me were to have started in July of 2012 yet I received none until January
    of 2013, the objects changed radically from a narrative approach the
    supervisor had provided from Nov 2004 to June of 2012, to a Task
    structure for objectives.

    I should note that the Aviation and Missile Research Development Engineering
    Centers (AMRDEC) Command’s SES Mr. Eric Edwards canceled Arbitration in July
    2012, and did not appear on Oct 2012 to even discuss the merits of the case.Not sure if this is also connected to the ABERDEN MD cases where the Research Development Engineering Command (RDECOM), also had judgment for the
    plaintiff when RDECOM failed to (defaulted) to even show up. I feel this information is pertinent to the questions you are currently asking the joint chiefs of Staff. In an incident last year I have an EEO case that was initiated in August of 2011, and a Retaliation case shortly after, The army requirement is to complete the investigation in 180 days. as of this date there is no final decision on the case, and the retaliation continues. During my times inquiries to the IG Office on Redstone Arsenal, I have been told the Investigators are backed up, nothing we can do, Thy Final Agency Decision Team is backlogged nothing we can do. The perceived sweep it under the carpet, or if we drag this our maybe those that knew will forget by the time the
    individual takes it to the EEOC or Civil action is in direct cont5ridiction to my
    EEO NCOIC and regulation experience.
    Besides were are trained discplned, and and learn to work in the military by Regulations, Directives, Memorandums, Pamphlets, etc. Why would you let so many of us down and try to cover it up.
    **** The honor if a man is greatly diminshed in the military when the Command fails to act becuse it could negativley impact upon the perception of their abillity to maintain discipline, and in the end results in the total demise of the discpline and honer we so try to instil in our troops.******
    “We cannot lead unless we lead by example and often are required ot make had choices between ofthen doing what is right, and doing the right Thing” Neil Armstrong

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