- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
Air Force officials testify about sexual assaults
General stresses predators must be identified
Gen. Welsh talked about his weekly meetings Wednesday, when he testified before the House Armed Services Committee about the Lackland Air Force Base sex abuse scandal, which has led to charges against 32 instructors and identified as many as 59 victims.
The Air Force chief of staff appeared with Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, who acknowledged that a key challenge to eradicating sexual assault is learning how to better connect with victims so that they feel comfortable coming forward to report the crime.
“We have a system of getting feedback, but it’s not effective enough. We’ve got to find a better way of connecting with them … We know that you can’t just ask the question once,” Gen. Rice said, adding that the Air Force has asked Rand Corp. to study the problem. “The key to solving the problem … we are missing something fundamental in human-to-human interaction … that’s at the heart of the problem.”
Gen. Rice said the Air Force already has implemented 23 of 46 recommendations from an internal review of the Lackland case, and that 22 others would be in force by the end of the year. He said one of the recommendations is not applicable to the Air Force.
Gen. Rice stressed that most Air Force instructors serve with distinction and that sexual predators must be identified and screened out. He said it is “unacceptable to us that so many instructors have committed crimes.”
The Lackland case began in 2009, but the assaults did not come to light until 2011.
“If the people do not trust who is leading them, then the whole system breaks down,” said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the committee’s ranking Democrat. “This is a problem that has plagued the military far too long. At the end of the day, the culture needs to change.”
The Pentagon estimates that 19,000 sexual assaults occur every year among the armed services, but only a few thousand are reported and about 200 end in convictions.
Part of the reason is that victims — men and women — do not report assaults for fear of reprisals, said Nancy Parrish, president of the nonprofit advocacy group Protect Our Defenders.
Brian Lewis, 33, said he faced reprisals when he was serving onboard a ship as a 20-year-old Navy fire control technician in August 2000 and was raped by a noncommissioned officer.
He said his command refused to pursue an investigation because it would “look bad for the ship,” and he was forced to go back out to sea with the perpetrator, who is now retired from the Navy. He said he began carrying a knife in case he was attacked again.
“The chain of command explicitly ordered me not to talk to the Naval Criminal Investigation Service,” Mr. Lewis said in an interview with The Washington Times before the hearing. “I eventually ended up pushed off the ship and sent to San Diego where I was ultimately discharged with a personality disorder.”
He had a message for sexual assault victims, male and female: “We need you to come forward. We need you to have the courage that you had when you agreed to serve the country to come forward and tell your story.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- Air Force building drone for operations in 'hostile' airspace: Report
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Joint Chiefs chair Dempsey: Pentagon, VA too slow in merging medical systems
- Pentagon may give recruits 'a shot to start over' after shameful social media posts
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Obama tries to calm Israeli fears over Iranian nuke deal 'not based on trust'
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- EDITORIAL: Our ideological president
- Snow storm sucker punch: U.S. hit by winter wave
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- KEENE: Nelson Mandela's legacy
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
White House pets gone wild!