‘This goes to the heart of systemic problems with culture inside the army’: Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The Australian Defence Force is reeling from another internet sex scandal in which at least 17 male army officers formed an email ring that circulated footage of members having sex tagged with demeaning commentary about the women.
Police sources told Fairfax Media that the ring of soldiers called themselves ”The Jedi Council” and that they swapped footage of sex acts without the knowledge of the women depicted . At least 17 soldiers – including senior officers – were involved in receiving and distributing the footage, and it is understood three members of the ring shot the footage, starting in 2010.
The material also includes stills, some of which have been doctored.
The Chief of the Army, Major-General David Morrison, on Thursday branded the emails ”demeaning, explicit and profane” as he announced that the three ringleaders had been stood down and were ”persons of interest” to NSW police.
The emails also implicated some of the soldiers in illicit drug use, General Morrison said . At least five women – and likely more – were victims of the email ring, he said .
They included female soldiers, public servants and others.
Fourteen army members were ”closely linked” in distributing the emails, he said . Five of them faced imminent suspension and the other nine could also be stood down.
Illustration: Ron Tandberg.
Up to 90 other Australian Defence Force members, mostly in the army, were on ”the periphery” of the affair.
”I’d say it’s worse than the Skype matter,” General Morrison said, referring to the notorious 2011 incident in which an Australian Defence Force Academy cadet broadcast himself to friends having sex with a female cadet, who was unaware of the broadcast.
”These are actions by men who have been in the defence force for in excess of 10 years . This goes to the heart of what I said about systemic problems with culture inside the army.”
General Morrison took personal responsibility for the affair and
repeatedly acknowledged the army had a persistent cultural problem.
”The leadership of the ADF no longer accepts the ‘bad apple’ argument when one of these incidents does occur,” he said.
”These behaviours are symptoms of a systemic problem and we will continue to address them in a comprehensive manner.”
General Morrison said he had spoken to four of the women and apologised .
They were ”angry” and ”concerned”.
The email ring included a lieutenant-colonel – the sixth-highest rank in the army – as well as majors, captains, warrant officers, sergeants and corporals . They were based around Australia and did not belong to any one area of the force, he said.
The three ringleaders are being investigated by NSW police for possible offences relating to producing and distributing the material on the internet . The wider ring of soldiers are being questioned by the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith agreed that the scandal reflected a systemic problem.
”It’s a failure of culture and that failure has been there not just for weeks or months or years, but for decades,” Mr Smith said.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who worked closely with Defence in the wake of the Skype affair, said she was appalled at what she called a setback .
But it was a sign of progress that General Morrison was ”not just trying to explain it away”.
The army, which has the lowest female representation of the three defence services, at about 12 per cent, needed mid-ranking and senior role models, Ms Broderick said.
with Lisa Davies
A series of sexual-assault cases has exposed a festering problem that has plagued the military for years . But the new cases and the continuing growth in reports are focusing attention on the issue like never before. Some 70 troops a day are assaulted, according to a newly released Pentagon survey that estimates last year alone, a staggering 26,000 servicewomen, and some men, were raped, groped or otherwise sexually assaulted, a 35 percent increase from two years ago.
Those figures follow a series of high-profile cases, each more outrageous than the last: * The arrest of a lieutenant colonel in charge of the Air Force s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office on allegations that he groped a woman near the Pentagon. * The investigation of an Army sergeant first class, a sexual abuse educator, for allegedly assaulting one soldier and persuading another to work as a prostitute.
* A general s overturning of an Air Force lieutenant colonel s conviction on sexual assault against the advice of his own legal team. * Revelations about Facebook sites that denigrate junior Marines, especially women, and which had been under investigation for at least three years. * A long-running scandal at Air Force basic training, where 19 instructors have been found guilty of sexually assaulting trainees or engaging in inappropriate relationships with them.
So when Gen . Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that about 20 percent of female airmen had been sexually assaulted before entering the service, and offered that part of the problem was a harmful hook-up mentality in broader society, it was like kicking a hornet s nest. Suddenly, it wasn t just a military problem, but a national crisis .
Welsh was blasted for blaming the victim and failing to grasp the difference between consensual sexual relations and rape and assault. To be fair, there are kernels of truth in what he said . The sexual assault epidemic in the ranks is mirrored by a similar problem in the civilian world, but it is also exacerbated by a male-dominated military culture that often embraces brutish and boorish behavior and is too accepting of drinking to excess.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the service chiefs concede that the sexual-assault problem has grown so grave, it actually threatens national security. That s not an overstatement. With one in every 50 troops at risk of being assaulted by another service member, both individual and unit readiness, morale and safety are threatened .
That makes sexual assault a greater threat than illegal drugs, and it will take a similar zealous, zero-tolerance commitment to stamp it out for good. Declaring all-out war on sexual assault in the ranks means cracking down on behaviors that facilitate sexual misconduct, including excessive drinking, sexually explicit or suggestive talk and images, tolerance of abuse, and the sense of privilege embraced by some who think women are in the military for their own sick entertainment, rather than full contributors to the mission. And it means rethinking training, discipline and even the legal system, so that victims feel safe reporting the abuse and assailants are held accountable.
This must be done without creating an environment that leaves men in fear of being in proximity to their female colleagues, undermining trust, readiness and morale.
This is, in the end, a civil rights issue .
Women are equal to men, and the military cannot tolerate any action or behavior that suggests otherwise.
President Obama announced that sexual assault in the military was a national security risk,2 a scourge on the military . Air Force General Mark Welsh admitted that sexual assaults3 in his branch of the military typically involve alcohol use and can be traced to a lack of respect for women.
That s great .
Really enlightening . But, uh, what is the military going to do now that they haven t already done?
The military has been educating its members constantly . Sexual assault response coordinators train every member of the Air Force every single year about sexual assault prevention.
For the past five years, the Army has been drilling every new soldier with the I A.M .
Those rules are good, I guess . But we are living in a society in which sexual assault is not limited to the military .
Every college campus in this country is blighted by the scourge of sexual assault . Sexual assault cloaked in shame and silence and alcohol.
How do you change a whole society ? The very idea seems impossible to me .
Brilliant academic and political minds have worked on this issue for decades . What can one little person do?
I am only one person, but I am one person . I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do .
I think that I m responsible for my own self . I think I am responsible for the raising of my children . So instead of teaching the Army s sex rules, I m going to start my kids on my own sex rules in the hope that these will keep my military kids out of trouble:
3 Mom Rules To Prevent Military Sexual Assault
1.Unconsciousness is not a family value. We ve got beer in the fridge and a couple of bottles of wine in the kitchen, but we don t drink to oblivion in our family .
I ve seen my husband drunk maybe five times in 25 years . I have never seen my parents or my in-laws drunk . We are a lucky family that way .
I am hoping that my kids absorb the idea that a drink is something that adds to your pleasure it isn t the pleasure itself.
2 . Women are smart. I ve always credited my mother-in-law for my husband s attitude toward women . She is smart .
Really smart . So my husband was raised expecting all women to be brilliant . He is so surprised to run into a not-so-bright woman .
I want my kids to grow up with the same idea . I want them to act like people are smart and decent . They know their dad and I expect them to treat others especially their mother with respect.
Sex is for relationships. Most of all, I try to teach my children that sex is something that you have inside a relationship . Sex isn t a sport . Sex isn t a sign of your own power .
Sex isn t a secret . Ever since my kids took their first family life course in grade school, I ve been telling them that sexy stuff happens with someone you love . I don t want them to know the emptiness that follows sex without love .
I don t want them to believe that sex is something you take whenever it is offered . I want something better for my kids.
I know my kids will never be perfect on any of these rules . I probably haven t been perfect about these rules either.
But if we are going to really change a society, we can t wait for the military to instill values in people .
We ve gotta get em while they are young .
We ve gotta get em while they are fresh .
We ve gotta start preventing sexual assault at home.
May 17 2013
All in good fun, we thought we d share the results of the WhatsYourPrice.com1 military dating survey . Let us know if you agree or disagree with these results ! We are branch agnostic, in case you were wondering, and already taken anyway.
Looking for a date this weekend to celebrate Armed Forces Day ?
Then you probably shouldn t sail with the Navy. WhatsYourPrice.com2, the world s only dating-auction website, conducted a first-date survey to determine which of the five military branches have the greatest first-date potential based on the three following categories: Activity, Generosity, and Baggage.
There are a total of 5,877 military profiles on WhatsYourPrice.com3, 2,810 of which were surveyed suitors: 922 from the Army, 630 from the Marines, 569 from the Navy, 476 from the Air Force, and 213 from the Coast Guard.
Dating Activity was measured by the average number of dates per month, Generosity was measured by the average accepted offer price for a first date, and Baggage was determined by the number of members with previous relationships .
All three categories were designed to help determine one s ideal date depending on what they individually seek:
The Most Dateable Military Branch
Looking for a Gentleman?
- Coast Guard (Pays $128.47 per Date)
- Air Force (Pays $119.20)
- Army (Pays $115.82)
- Marines (Pays $108.61)
- Navy (Pays $89.33 per Date)
Looking for Fun?
- Army (3.4 Dates per Month)
- Marines (2.9 Dates per Month)
- Navy (2.1 Dates per Month)
- Coast Guard (1.7 Dates per Month)
- Air Force (1.4 Dates per Month)
Looking for Zero Drama?
- Navy (122 Divorced)
- Army (108 Divorced)
- Coast Guard (49 Divorced)
- Air Force (44 Divorced)
- Marines (37 Divorced)
Leave a Reply
RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – A dating-auction website had ranked all branches of the military in dating categories including which is the most dateable.
If you re looking for a gentleman, the Coast Guard leads the pack . WhatsYourPrice.com says members pay $128.47 per date .
The rest fell as follows:
Air Force ($119.20)
Navy ($89.33 per date)
If you re looking for fun, those in the Army go on the most dates per month, at 3.4:
Coast Guard (1.7)
Air Force (1.4)
WhatsYourPrice.com also says the Navy leads the way with the most divorces, with 122:
Coast Guard (49)
Air Force (44)
WASHINGTON Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed President Obama of the latest sexual assault allegations against a soldier who was assigned to prevent such crimes the second soldier involved in similar accusations and the president made clear he wants that behavior stopped, officials said Wednesday.
Hagel spokesman George Little told reporters that Hagel s staff is working on a written directive that will spell out steps aimed at resolving a problem that has outraged lawmakers.
The president has made very clear his expectations on this issue, Little said, adding that Hagel told Obama on Tuesday about the allegations facing an Army sergeant first class at Fort Hood, Texas. The sergeant is facing allegations involving three women, including that he may have arranged for one of them to have sex for money, according to a defense official.
The accused soldier, whose name has not been made public, was assigned as a coordinator of a battalion-level sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood. He has been suspended from all duties but has not been charged with any crime.
Little said Hagel and Obama see the sexual assault problem in the same light.
They expect prevention measures at all times, and when prevention isn t achieved, then both expect accountability, Little said.
He said those are the core principles of Hagel s approach to resolving the problem within the military.
The allegations at Fort Hood are only the latest in a string of cases. A defense official in Washington said it was not yet clear if one of the three women was forced into prostitution.
The official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said that the sergeant is also being investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting one of the other two women. The allegations involving the third woman were not known.
The case, along with another one involving an Air Force officer, highlights a problem that is drawing increased scrutiny in Congress and expressions of frustration from Hagel.
Lawmakers said it was time for Hagel to get tough with the military brass.
This is sickening. Twice now, in a matter of as many weeks, we ve seen the very people charged with protecting victims of sexual assault being charged as perpetrators, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said.
It s an astonishing reminder that the Pentagon has both a major problem on its hands and a tremendous amount of work to do to assure victims who already only report a small fraction of sexual assaults that they are changing the culture around these heinous crimes.
Secretary Hagel needs to act swiftly to re-examine sexual assault services across the department to ensure that these disturbing betrayals of trust are ended, Murray said.
Hagel said he was directing all the services to retrain, re-credential and rescreen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters, spokesman Little said after Tuesday s announcement that the Army sergeant was accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates.
The soldier was being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. No charges had been filed, but officials say they expect them fairly soon.
Little said Hagel was angry and disappointed at these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply. He said Hagel had met with Army Secretary John McHugh and ordered him to fully investigate this matter rapidly, to discover the extent of these allegations and to ensure that all of those who might be involved are dealt with appropriately.
The Fort Hood soldier had been assigned as an equal opportunity adviser and coordinator of a sexual harassment-assault prevention program at the Army s 3rd Corps headquarters when the allegation arose, the Army said.
To protect the integrity of the investigative process and the rights of all persons involved, no more information will be released at this time, an Army statement said.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P.
Buck McKeon, R-Calif., said in a statement he was outraged and disgusted by the reports out of Fort Hood.
McKeon, noting he has a granddaughter in the Army, said he saw no meaningful distinction between complacency or complicity in the military s latest failure to uphold their own standards of conduct. Nor do I see a distinction between the service member who orchestrated this offense and the chain of command that was either oblivious to or tolerant of criminal behavior. Both are accountable for this appalling breach of trust with their subordinates.
He called on Hagel to conduct a review of the military and its civilian leadership to determine whether they continue to hold his trust and his confidence to lead in this area.
Just last week an Air Force officer who headed a sexual assault prevention office was himself arrested on charges of groping a woman in a Northern Virginia parking lot.
Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his panel was considering a number of measures to counter the problem, including changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and will act on them next month.
Tragically, the depth of the sexual assault problem in our military was already overwhelmingly clear before this latest highly disturbing report, Levin said.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she intends to present new legislation on Thursday to overhaul the military justice system by removing chain-of-command influence from prosecution of sex abuse crimes.
To say this report is disturbing would be a gross understatement, Gillibrand said.
The sad thing is that this is not a unique case, Anu Bhagwati, former Marine captain and executive director of the Service Women s Action Network, said in an interview. Week after week, we re hearing of cases across the branches of military leaders taking advantage of their positions of authority.
The Pentagon is struggling with what it calls a growing number of sexual assaults across the military.
In a report last week, the Defense Department estimated that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, based on survey results.
Of those, fewer than 3,400 reported the incidents, and nearly 800 of those simply sought help and declined to file formal complaints against their alleged attackers.
There also is an ongoing investigation into more than 30 Air Force instructors for assaults on trainees at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, as well as the recent arrest of the Air Force s head of sexual assault prevention on charges of groping a woman.
An Arlington County, Va., police report said Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman s breast and buttocks in a parking lot earlier this month.
The woman fought him off and called police, the report said. A judge has set a July 18 trial date for Krusinski.
Such cases and two recent decisions by officers to overturn military juries guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases has precipitated a storm of criticism on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is holding up the nomination of Air Force Lt.
Gen. Susan Helms, tapped to serve as vice commander of the U.S. Space Command, until McCaskill gets more information about Helms decision to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault case.
Associated Press writer Lolita C.
Baldor, AP Radio correspondent Sagar Meghani and AP Radio editor Mike Gracia contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON A soldier assigned to coordinate a sexual assault prevention program in Texas is under investigation for abusive sexual contact and other alleged misconduct and has been suspended from his duties, the Army announced Wednesday. The announcement came just one week after an Air Force officer who headed a sexual assault prevention office was himself arrested on charges of groping a woman in a parking lot. The two cases highlight a problem that is drawing increased scrutiny in the Congress and expressions of frustration from top Pentagon leaders .
Pentagon press secretary George Little said after Wednesday s announcement that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is angry and disappointed at these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply. Sen . Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a statement Wednesday evening saying his panel is considering a number of measures to counter the problem, including changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and will act on them next month.
Tragically, the depth of the sexual assault problem in our military was already overwhelmingly clear before this latest highly disturbing report, Levin said. The Army said a sergeant first class, whose name was not released, is accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates . He is being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Command, but no charges have been filed, the Army said.
He had been assigned as an equal opportunity adviser and coordinator of a sexual harassment-assault prevention program at the Army s 3rd Corps headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas, when the allegation arose, the Army said. To protect the integrity of the investigative process and the rights of all persons involved, no more information will be released at this time, an Army statement said. Army Secretary John McHugh apprised Hagel on Wednesday morning of the allegations against the soldier at Fort Hood and said the Army is moving forward with Hagel s instruction to retrain, re-credential and rescreen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters.
The announcement comes as the Pentagon continues to struggle with what it calls a growing epidemic of sexual assaults across the military . In a report last week, the Defense Department estimated that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, based on survey results. Of those, fewer than 3,400 reported the incident, and nearly 800 of them simply sought help but declined to file formal complaints against their alleged attackers.
The military is struggling with a variety of sexual assault scandals, including an ongoing investigation into more than 30 Air Force instructors for assaults on trainees at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and the recent arrest of the Air Force s head of sexual assault prevention on charges of groping a woman in a Northern Virginia parking lot. A police report said that Air Force Lt . Col .
Jeffrey Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman s breast and buttocks . The woman fought him off and called police, the report said . A judge has set a July 18 trial date in Krusinski s case.
Congressional outrage over these incidents and two recent decisions by officers to overturn jurys guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases has prompted outrage on Capitol Hill. Air Force Lt . Gen .
Craig Franklin reversed the conviction of Lt . Col . James Wilkerson, a former inspector general at Aviano Air Base in Italy, who was found guilty last year of charges of abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault and three instances of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
And Sen . Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is holding up the nomination of Air Force Lt . Gen .
Susan Helms, tapped to serve as vice commander of the U.S . Space Command, until McCaskill gets more information about Helms decision to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault case. Lawmakers are pursuing legislation that would strip officers of that power to overturn convictions .
Members of Congress also met at the White House with senior administration officials to talk about measures to encourage more victims to come forward and ensure that perpetrators face justice.
Democratic Reps .
Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii on Sunday blasted the military’s handling of sexual assault cases, calling the system broken and in desperate need of fixing.
Duckworth, a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the military has shown it is not capable of fixing this problem.”
Gabbard and Duckworth said they were shocked over the case of an Air Force commander overturning the 2009 conviction of an Air Force captain found guilty of aggravated sexual assault by a jury.
A commander should not have the power to overturn a jury s verdict,” said Gabbard, who is in the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Duckworth called it a “betrayal of trust,” and said that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is not sufficient for sexual assault crimes in the military.
I ve been a supporter of the system, of the (Uniform Code of Military Justice) until this point .
But this is such an aberration, this is so horrendous this is absolutely so unacceptable that its time to take this next very serious step,” she said.
Duckworth said something is “breaking down between the coursework” taught on how to handle sexual assaults and what “actually happens when someone reports the problem.
We need to come up with a different system,” she said.
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By Dan Elliott – The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Mar 4, 2013 14:46:57 EST
DENVER — The appointment of the first woman to command the Air Force Academy marks another breach of the “brass ceiling” that keeps women from top assignments in the military, an advocacy group said Monday.
But putting women into top assignments won’t by itself address unequal treatment and sexual assault of female military personnel, said Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women’s Action Network.
The Defense Department announced Friday that Air Force Maj. Gen Michelle Johnson has been chosen to be the next superintendent of the Air Force Academy outside Colorado Springs, Colo.
Johnson is believed to be the second woman appointed to command a service academy, after Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz became superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in 2011. Johnson is the first woman to be superintendent at any of the three best-known academies, Army, Navy and Air Force.
“This appointment is significant for many reasons. Very few women have attained the rank of general, let alone two-star general,” Bhagwati said.
“There’s still a brass ceiling in the military, throughout the military — particularly in the Army and the Marines, particularly in the Marines,” said Bhagwati, a former Marine captain.
Johnson’s appointment comes during a time of progress and turmoil for military women. A little more than a month ago, the Defense Department announced it would remove gender restrictions on combat positions, allowing women to take on assignments considered prerequisites for some promotions.
At the same time, the military is struggling to curb mistreatment of women personnel, including sexual assaults.
The Air Force is dealing with a sex scandal at its only basic training site, Joint Base Lackland-San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas. Instructors there sexually harassed, improperly touched or raped dozens of young female recruits and airmen.
In December, the Pentagon reported that sexual assaults at the Army, Navy and Air Force academies jumped by 23 percent last year and that many victims were reluctant to ask for criminal investigations.
“I do hope that Gen. Johnson understands the severity of these issues,” Bhagwati said. “Women officers don’t necessarily fix the gender problems in a unit. It’s really the caliber of the officer.”
It’s not yet known when Johnson will assume command at the Air Force Academy. Congress must first approve her promotion to a three-star lieutenant general, the rank required for the job.
Johnson is a 1981 graduate of the academy, where she was the first woman to become cadet wing commander.
She would replace Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, the superintendent since June 2009. Gould’s plans haven’t been announced.
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A document obtained by The Associated Press shows that reported sexual assaults at the U.S. military’s three academies jumped by 23 percent this year, but the data signaled a continued reluctance by victims to seek criminal investigations.
The report says the number of assaults rose from 65 in the 2011 academic year to 80 in 2012, but nearly half involved victims who sought confidential medical or other care and did not trigger an investigation. There were 41 assault reported in 2010.
Reported sexual assaults have climbed steadily since the 2009 academic year. The Pentagon has urged the academies to take steps to encourage cadets and midshipmen at the Army, Navy and Air Force academies to report sexual harassment and assaults in order to provide care and hold aggressors accountable.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press