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Duffy talks prevention of sexual assault/sexual harassment

By Air Force Col. Brian P. Duffy | JBER and 673d Air Base Wing commander | Dec. 2, 2013

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Sexual assault remains a significant concern both within the Department of Defense and here at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. We've spent a lot of time over this past year educating our Service members, Civilians, and family members on expectations of conduct. Sexual assault is a matter on which we need to remain ever vigilant and one for which I know leadership has zero tolerance.

It's equally important - for those unfortunate victims of actions by perpetrators who take advantage of position, circumstance, or time - to understand that we remain ever ready to assist you, but without you coming forward, our options are limited. We want to help ... and ask your trust and confidence that we will take actions that are in your best interest along with the best interest of the Department of Defense.

To keep a spotlight on the results of non-judicial and legal proceedings here at JBER, we will, on a monthly basis, provide those in our Arctic Warrior newspaper and additional online sources. This action is taken to advise our team of the ramifications of behavior and conduct we consider well outside our standards and expectations, and also to serve as a warning to those who might consider similar actions.

The following is a quick synopsis of what the Air Force and Army are doing these days to combat sexual assault.

Air Force efforts
As an additional resource, you should also know the Air Force now publishes sexual assault convictions online at www.afjag.af.mil/sexualassaultprosecution/index.asp. Anyone can go to this site and review more than 100 sexual assault convictions from across the Air Force, to include searching by base.

I encourage you to visit the Air Force Web site and review the facts of the cases which resulted in these Airmen being convicted of sexual offenses. As you review the facts of these cases, you will see many are similar, involving the use of alcohol, an absence of personal respect for the victim, and the absence of the victims' consent. Additionally, a number of these involve Airmen assaulting fellow Airmen. Many times victims were co-workers and former friends - people who trusted their assailant.

You will also quickly see how Airmen convicted of sexual assault are held accountable by military judges and court-martial panels ... with punishments that often include jail time, rank reductions and punitive discharges.

As required by many state laws, convicted Airmen must also register in their jurisdiction's sexual assault registry. These sex offender lists include the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders, and are publicly available online.

Another change to Air Force policy includes mandatory involuntary administrative discharge processing of Airmen who commit a sexual assault. Specifically, an Airman found to have committed sexual assault or sexual assault of a child will be discharged, unless the member meets all the enumerated retention criteria outlined by the policy.

Consideration of the impact of the sexual assault or sexual assault of a child on the victim and the views of the victim on retention by recommending and decision-making authorities is also required.

Army efforts
For the Army, the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program aims to prevent these crimes before they occur. The SHARP program promotes an Army culture that ensures every team member will be treated with dignity and respect at all times and in all circumstances.

Intervene, Act, and Motivate (I. A.M.) STRONG is the Army's campaign to combat sexual assaults by encouraging everyone to actively engage in preventing these crimes. Everyone can participate in peer-to-peer communication and active intervention to create a climate that does not tolerate sexual abuse.

The I. A.M. Strong campaign seeks to create and encourage a culture where Soldiers believe that failure to prevent the crimes of sexual harassment and sexual assault is incompatible with Army values. This culture change is possible when units actively ensure everyone knows how to protect themselves and their battle buddies from attitudes and behaviors that may lead to criminal sexual behavior.

Soldiers can visit www.preventsexualassault.army.mil for the latest information and resources available for combating sexual assault and harassment in the Army.
Finally, and very importantly: when you see a situation that isn't right - be a good wingman or battle buddy. Intervene, and insist on respect for others. It's not a bother, it's not an imposition ... it is your business. Please don't regret remaining a passive bystander when a few words of intervention could have forever positively changed the lives of those around you!