News Advisory
Contact: Maria Castillo 703-631-0650
Dialogue on Diversity has for many years been involved with the issue of domestic violence, advocating for victims and taking up the themes of transparency and accountability. This article calls attention to a very sensitive concern with the branch of government which supports American lives in this country and abroad.
Washington, D.C. — July 14, 2021  Lynn Rosenthal, long associated as speaker and expert on domestic violence questions for Dialogue on Diversity, has now completed the key report of the Commission she has chaired on sexual assault and harassment in the U.S. military establishment. Appointed by President Joseph Biden, with whom she has worked for a score of years on the Violence Against Women Act and similar issues, she now heads the challenging tasks of unraveling the long festering problem of sexual abuse of women in the now growing feminine component in the active duty services. The new Administration in one of its first acts appointed a 12-member Commission to analyze and propose remedies for the growing threats of assault and other abuse of women that have threatened good order in the defense establishment. Under the direction of Ms. Rosenthal, with unmatched credentials and years of expertise in prevention of sexual abuse and harassment, the Commission has issued its report and recommendations on the problems of sexual violence in the military. National security is in the balance. Ms. Rosenthal is on the case, and reform is now clearly on the way.
Command and Enlisted Personnel: Different Perspectives
The assessment of the prevalence and gravity of sexual offenses are found to differ substantially between the high-level military commands and the rank and file members. The reason for this was found to be an erosion of any trust that had once prevailed between the command heads and the enlisted, bottom ranks of military operatives.  The command figures face a dual duty: to hone an effective fighting force and at once to police the interpersonal conduct of the members under their authority. The second goal is likely to be de-emphasized , with dissatisfaction and degraded performance, specifically among women members (and LGBT members of either gender ) who are the targets of the sexual harassment and abuse.
Recommendation: Sexual Violence handled
independently of Unit Commanders
The solution designed by the Commission proposes the establishment in each military base of an independent sexual harassment unit to which members experiencing abuse are directed to report promptly to the expert, experienced staff the detail of any incidents, following which the investigative personnel ascertain the accuracy of the report and set in motion the rehabilitation of both the abused and the abuser, each assisted by legal counsel whose loyalty to respective clients is sacrosanct. The Command does not get into the act. Trust is attained through the length and breadth of the unit. (under the previously prevailing system Commanders have been burdened with the with recalcitrant offender and alternatively facing blame for letting them off too easily. Corrosive all around of good order and efficiency. The related problem of consequences for the offending member is mapped out in detail by the report, the object being to salvage the often top-notch military skills of the offending member, and to restore the target of harassment or assault to moral satisfaction and mental alertness. The object being to retain all affected parties in reasonably effective readiness for the actual performance of the military tasks — if necessary, adjusting assignments or otherwise defusing the situation.
This note, fragmentary and a far cry from the subtlety of reasoning and the shades of nuance prescribed by the Commission in any correct response to the sexual abuse offense. Not all that would be achieved in a perfect world, can realistically be aimed at. It is the best feasible remedy that the report of the Commission essays to provide. It is hoped that these sketches suggest the careful thought given by the Commission, and the striving for precision in the crafting of remedies, and the rejection of capricious and inequitable treatment of those falling under the military jurisdiction.  It indicates something of the skill and care of the Commission and its members, in seeking to rationalize the clumsy, inequitable, and prodigiously inefficient scheme of military justice that has grown up in the twentieth century.
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