By Matt Smith, CNN
updated 4:28 PM EDT, Sun June 16, 2013
- Lt . Gen . David Morrison says sex scandal hurts Australia’s army
- Women are “vital” to the army, he says; if you don’t like it, “Get out”
- Morrison says he’ll be “ruthless” in rooting out offenders
(CNN) — Faced with a sex scandal in his ranks, the chief of Australia’s army delivered a blunt message to his troops: Treat your female comrades properly or “get out.”
Gen . David Morrison announced last week that three soldiers had been suspended and he was weighing action against five others implicated in the distribution of videos he called ”demeaning, explicit and profane.” In a follow-up statement posted on the service’s YouTube page1, Morrison told soldiers that female troops “are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future.”
Lt . Gen .
David Morrison: “I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values.”
“If that does not suit you, then get out,” he said. “You may find another employer where your attitude and behavior is acceptable, but I doubt it . The same goes for those who think that toughness is built on humiliating others.”
Australian women began serving in auxiliary units and as nurses in the early 20th century and were integrated into the armed services in noncombat units in the 1970s and ’80s . They were allowed to join combat units in 2011, and female troops “have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian army,” Morrison said.
“No one has every explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances capability or honors the traditions of the Australian army,” he said in his message to the troops. “I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values, and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this.”
Australian news outlets reported last week that at least 17 soldiers circulated video of themselves having sex with women .
The videos were shared without the women’s knowledge .
Some of the material was distributed over military computer networks, and those under investigation include a lieutenant colonel and a major, Morrison told reporters on Thursday.
The distribution dates back to 2010, and another 90 people “may have been on the periphery” of the group’s e-mail exchanges, he said .
Military investigators and the New South Wales state police are conducting the probe, and Morrison said he had apologized to some of the women involved.
- ^ YouTube page (www.youtube.com)
- ^ Daughters and moms now consider rape before applying to military (www.cnn.com)
Officers swapped derogatory and explicit images of sexual conquests
A group of Australian army officers in an internet sex scandal circulated videos and photos of naked women, challenging “Jedi Council” members to try to bed them too.
Emails sometimes included the victims’ names, addresses and phone numbers so other members had the chance to try to “have sex with them”, Australian newspapers reported.
Fairfax Media reported the ring included elite special forces soldiers and some civilians.
After the unsuspecting women were picked up in places such as airport lounges and bars, the men filmed them in sexual acts, sometimes without their knowledge.
The shared images were often embellished with the men’s derogatory comments about their conquests .
Demeaning commentary included details such as the size and shape of the woman’s breasts and a rating of the sexual experience.
On Thursday, Australia’s Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison, announced three of the ringleaders had been stood down and a further 14 Defence Force personnel were under investigation in relation to a group of “demeaning, explicit and profane” emails that began in 2010.
Of the 17 who formed the core of the sex ring, the most senior was reported to be a lieutenant-colonel.
Often the material was sent using Defence Force email systems.
General Morrison won plaudits for a steely YouTube video in which he warned that soldiers who did not appreciate the role of women in the force should “get out” of the army.
“If you’re not up to it, find something else to do with your life .
There is no place for you among this band of brothers and sisters.”
The Defence Force investigated the allegations for nine months before asking the New South Wales police to take over in June last year.
General Morrison described the internet ring’s activities as worse than the Skype scandal in 2011, when a defence force cadet was caught broadcasting himself having sex with a female cadet over Skype without her knowledge or consent.
A police spokesman said Kings Cross Local Area Command established Strike Force Civet in July last year to investigate the alleged exchange of offensive emails by Defence Force personnel.
A brief had been sent to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, who was assessing it.
Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James said the actions of the men involved did not reflect the broader military.
“They were calling themselves the Jedi Council, but they were doing the exact opposite of what Jedis are supposed to do, thinking they were above normal ethical standards.”
By Yereth Rosen
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – The U.S . Army officer in charge of a remote missile-defense station in Alaska has been temporarily relieved of his command over accusations that he had turned a blind eye to improper sexual relations at the facility, an Army spokesman said Thursday.
The suspension of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Miley, commander of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, comes as policymakers in Washington have focused renewed attention on sexual harassment and sexual assault in the ranks of the U.S . armed forces.
Miley was removed from his post on Tuesday and replaced by his second-in-command, Major Scott Monson, said Marco Morales, chief spokesman for the U.S .
Army Space and Military Defense Command.
Miley has been the subject of an Army investigation launched in January over accusations that improper sexual relations between Army employees were being tolerated by commanders, said Morales, who is based at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
The allegations do not concern rape or sexual coercion, Morales said . The Army Times and other media have reported that the misconduct in question included extramarital affairs among uniformed personnel.
The origin of the allegations was not explained.
Miley “is not charged with sexual harassment or assault,” Morales said. “Leaders were not charged with any sexual harassment or assault . It was more of a leadership-type investigation.”
Preliminary findings were forwarded last Friday to the commanding general of the Army Space and Military Defense Command, Morales said.
“When the commander reviews all of that, then he’ll make his final disciplinary action, if there is any,” Morales said.
Miley’s suspension came a day before the U.S .
Senate Armed Services Committee endorsed several measures aimed at bolstering prosecution of military sexual assault cases as part of its debate on the annual defense authorization bill.
Fort Greely is a launch site for the Army’s anti-ballistic missile program .
The facility has 26 ground-based interceptor missiles on site and is touted as a defensive shield against any potential missile attacks from North Korea.
The facility is located near Delta Junction, Alaska, about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks .
About 540 military and civilian personnel resided at the site as of 2010, according to state records.
Heightened scrutiny of sexual misconduct in the military follows an annual Pentagon study that showed a 37 percent jump in the number of reports of unwanted sexual contact reported in the ranks, from 19,000 cases in 2011 to 26,000 last year.
It also comes amid a spate of high-profile sexual assault cases in the military.
A one-time World War II Army airfield, Fort Greely underwent numerous changes in size and mission before getting its current designation as a missile-defense launch site.
Fort Greely also provides support to the Army’s Cold Regions Test Center and Northern Warfare Training Center, located at nearby Fort Wainwright.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Richard Chang)
The latest Defence scandal has prompted calls for a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct, with experts suggesting that engrained sexism in the Army may be worse than first thought. Earlier today the Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, revealed that three personnel had been stood down over a series of explicit and offensive emails that degrade women. A further five personnel are facing suspension and nine others are being investigated, with around 90 more people implicated in the emails.
Lt Gen Morrison said he had been in contact with several of the women targeted by the emails to apologise. Defence Minister Stephen Smith says the Army should take a zero-tolerance approach to the misconduct. Australia ‘s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, made a similar recommendation when she investigated the culture of sexism in the Defence Force less than a year ago.
The email scandal involves a Lieutenant Colonel, majors, warrant officers, sergeants and corporals. Ms Broderick released the Human Rights Commission report on the treatment of women in the ADF, finding sexual harassment and abuse exist across the Defence services. She says she is appalled at the range of people implicated in this latest scandal.
“That’s what’s so abhorrent about it and it also shows the complexity of the issues that have to be solved,” she said. “Because this is just not a particular rank who are all coming together, it’s across from senior officers – Lieutenant Colonel – right through to general enlistment.” Culture of sexually objectifying women
Dr Ben Wadham spent five years in the Australian Defence Force and is now a sociologist at Flinders University. Dr Wadham, a former infantryman, says the use of images to denigrate women is a long-standing tradition in the Australian Defence Forces, but he says the involvement of senior personnel shows the problem may be much worse than previously thought. “My own experience of being involved in Facebook groups, watching soldiers engage in this sort of behaviour.. .
younger soldiers and.. . soldiers of different ranks, and the kinds of imagery – the kinds of words and meanings and names and things which come out – are often quite extreme,” he said. “This is a case of quite senior officers over a long period of time and we’ve just got to ask the question, when will military culture get this right?”
Dr Wadham says the senior ranks of those involved shows that sexism is not confined to young members of the Defence Force. “I think it also highlights many of the excuses that the Australian Defence Force has used over the past don’t hold water,” he said. “In the past, we’ve blamed it on young men .
We’ve said that this is the sort of behaviour we see in broader society, even in universities . Well, here’s an example of a very entrenched culture, a predatory culture amongst a group of men sexually objectifying women.” Lt Gen Morrison was at a loss when he was asked to explain why the poor behaviour persists in the defence force.
“I don’t have one . I can’t be more honest with you than that . I can’t put a theory on it .
I certainly can’t find an easy switch to flick to turn it off,” he said. “I suspect that it’s rooted in part in human nature, but that’s no excuse either . It’s on me .
I’m responsible for this, I’m the Chief of the Australian Army. “This is a setback, but I’m going to pick myself up, use it in conversations with the workforce of Army, reflect on where things have gone wrong and try and put them right.” The email scandal comes as the Defence Force tries to recover from the 2011 Skype incident, in which a female ADFA cadet was unknowingly broadcast having consensual sex on camera.
Mr Smith says the latest scandal will damage the reputation of the Army and have a real impact in the ranks of the entire defence force.
“To the Army to the Air Force and Navy, the service chiefs, all of whom are seeking to encourage more women to join, this is a backwards step,” he said.
“This will discourage women from thinking about either joining the Army, the Air Force or the Navy, or continuing their career,” he said.
Australia’s defence boss admits there are “systemic problems with culture inside the army” as another sex scandal engulfs the military. Three officers have been suspended and more than 100 others are being investigated over the creation and distribution of explicit and “profane” material featuring several women on defence computers and the internet. Another 14 army officers and non-commissioned officers also face suspension, while a further 90 mainly army personnel have been implicated in the exchanges.
The highest ranked was lieutenant colonel. As the complex internal investigation begins, Army chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison declared it was worse than the 2011 “Skype scandal” in which a cadet secretly streamed footage of him having sex with a female colleague to his mates. “These are actions by men who have been in the Defence Force for in excess of 10 years,” the general told reporters on Thursday.
“This goes to the heart of .. . systemic problems with culture inside the army.” It’s understood the material, which was uncovered on April 10, includes images of defence women in sporting attire accompanied by offensive commentary.
Other imagery was digitally altered to be offensive. Images of naked women and videos of sex acts were also discovered, although it’s yet to be verified if they feature defence personnel. General Morrison said more than five women so far identified were members of the defence force, public servants and civilians.
The scandal emerged despite two years of concerted efforts by defence to reform its traditionally male-oriented culture. It had seemed to be working, with female recruitment up across all three services. However, General Morrison acknowledged there was a long way to go.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who conducted an inquiry into defence culture following the Skype furore, agreed. She said some quarters of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) still believed it was no place for women. “There is a lot of activity within the ADF .. .
but this is definitely a huge setback, let’s make no mistake,” she told Sky News. Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the government fully supported defence’s zero tolerance of inappropriate and “despicable” conduct by those responsible. “In the end they do reputational damage to their mates, to the army, to the defence force and indeed to the nation,” he told reporters in Perth.
“I am sure that today there will be thousands of men and women in the Australian army and ADF who will be shocked and horrified.” While Prime Minister Julia Gillard acknowledged a lot of work had gone into changing army culture to make it more female inclusive, she condemned the behaviour. “I’m very disappointed, I’m very concerned and clearly the material here is repugnant,” she said.
Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James said serving and former defence personnel were incredulous and shocked at the rank of those involved.
“The extent of the incredulity, in my opinion, shows that the cultural change is working quite well,” he said.
Opposition defence spokesman David Johnston will seek an urgent briefing with the Chief of Army on the progress of the investigations.
“Lieutenant General Morrison is entirely correct when he says that he wants the mums and dads of Australia to be comfortable with their daughters joining the organisation,” he said in a statement.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Authorities on Wednesday charged a Fort Hood sergeant with paying for sex with a soldier in a prostitution scheme allegedly arranged by a low-level coordinator of the Texas Army post’s sexual assault prevention program.
The scandal and others in the U.S . armed forces have triggered outrage from local commanders to Capitol Hill and the Oval Office, and prompted a rush of proposed legislation to deal with the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military branches . One recent scandal involved an Air Force officer who headed a sexual assault prevention office until he was arrested on charges of groping a woman in a parking lot.
In Texas, Master Sgt. Brad Grimes was charged in military court Wednesday with patronizing a prostitute, conspiring with another soldier to patronize a prostitute, committing adultery and solicitation to commit adultery, according to Fort Hood officials .
The woman soldier allegedly involved in the prostitution has not been charged.
The charges stem from an investigation into a battalion-level coordinator of Fort Hood’s sexual assault and harassment prevention program, post spokesman Chris Haug said.
In May, the Army said a sergeant first class was being investigated on allegations of sexual assault and possibly arranging for at least one woman to have sex for money . The Army said he was one of the coordinators of the program at Fort Hood, about 125 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
Army officials declined to comment about the case Wednesday or release his name, referring questions to Fort Hood.
Two officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case, identified that soldier as Sgt .
1st Class Gregory McQueen . U.S .
officials have said he is being investigated in connection with activities involving three women, including sexually assaulting one woman . The allegations involving the third woman were not known . A defense official in Washington said it was not yet clear if one of the women was forced into prostitution or participated willingly.
McQueen has been suspended from all duties but had not been charged as of Wednesday.
Grimes, an 18-year Army veteran, does not work in Fort Hood’s sexual assault prevention program, Haug said .
A court date for Grimes has not been set.
Congress has been weighing legislative proposals, but on Wednesday a committee rejected a bill that would have overhauled the military justice system by removing commanders from the process of deciding whether sexual misconduct cases and other serious crimes go to trial .
Instead, the Senate Armed Services Committee sided with the Pentagon’s top brass in approving legislation to keep commanders involved in deciding whether to prosecute sexual assault cases.
The House is scheduled to vote soon on its version of a defense policy bill that includes a number of sexual assault prevention provisions.
The Pentagon estimated in a recent report that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, up from an estimated 19,000 assaults in 2011, based on an anonymous survey of military personnel.
Baldor reported from Washington, D.C.
By David Alexander
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S . Army is failing to deal with sexual assault in its ranks because too many soldiers in positions of authority do not think there is a problem, the Army chief of staff told a summit of leaders called to address the issue.
General Ray Odierno told a gathering of officials in the Army’s Sexual Harassment, Assault Response and Prevention program that when he travels to different bases and speaks to smaller units, he finds too many sergeants, lieutenants and captains who say they do not have a sex assault problem.
“That’s baloney,” he said. “That’s the problem . We’re not seeing ourselves.”
Some think because they are in an all-male unit, they don’t have a sexual assault problem, Odierno said.
“That’s not right,” he said. “In fact, you probably have some perpetrators, probably have some predators and you probably have some males who have probably been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed.”
“We have not been successful in solving this problem,” Odierno said. “We have a huge issue .
And the main thing I want everybody to understand is that this is not just a passing issue . For whatever reason, this is one that we’ve had for a very long time . And we have not been able to defeat it.”
Odierno’s remarks come as the Pentagon is struggling to deal with a big jump in estimated cases of unwanted sexual contact, as well as a spate of high-profile cases of sexual assault, including some involving personnel charged with combating the crime.
An annual Pentagon study released recently estimated that unwanted sexual contact, from groping to rape, jumped by 37 percent in 2012 to 26,000 cases from 19,000 the previous year.
The issue has triggered outrage among lawmakers .
Some are pushing legislation to force the military to be more accountable in handling sexual assault cases, and others are seeking to remove responsibility for prosecuting the crimes from the victim’s military chain of command.
At the weekend, Odierno and Army Secretary John McHugh suspended the commanding general of U.S . Army forces in Japan, Major General Michael Harrison, due to allegations he failed to properly investigate a sexual assault complaint.
“From the things I see, we still have people out there who tolerate sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Odierno told the summit. “Until we solve that problem, it’s going to get worse.”
He said dealing with the problem meant getting leaders from sergeants to lieutenant colonels to “take this on seriously, because we are not doing that today the way I want us to do it.”
“This is important to me . I want to make sure everybody understands that,” Odierno said. “I sent a message out that said it’s my number one priority right now .
And I’m not kidding.”
(Reporting By David Alexander; Editing by David Brunnstrom)
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