Recent daily news is replete with worldwide challenges that are being faced with aggressive action. We need to remind ourselves that aggressive action also needs to be taken by senior leaders in all organizations to eliminate sexual misconduct occurring in this country and abroad.
In the military alone, in just the past 25 years, over 500,000+ victims have been assaulted, raped, abused, harassed, beaten, and/or retaliated against at their jobs/careers. Furthermore, the Department of Defense (DOD) daily challenges these survivors’ honor, word and reputations. Like the virus, this behavior is toxic to the institutional and country body, and all are vulnerable. Victims’ numbers grow each day.
As part of strong leadership, identifying the problem, having a concrete integrated action plan and holding all accountable is the expected response to address such tragedies. The DOD has constantly stated that their hard charging approach is “Zero Tolerance”, yet all questions are brushed aside when asked about its effectiveness and answered with, quote “We got it”.
Bullshit. Using the DOD’s own statistics (including suicide), they reflect military sexual misconduct is out of control. The numbers reflect a staggering and horrifying increase in sexual misconduct. The zero tolerance marketing pitch is a façade. Senior leadership, based on its performance, appears to have very little to NO interest in the truth, but a great commitment to getting rid of the annoyance of having to discuss and deal with this problem. They want it to go away. NOT, END IT. This is a big difference in approach and consequences. We say “No=No©”
The external message is “Military won’t tolerate this”. Internal actions: belittle, disregard, actively block legal structure/staff created to protect and enforce sexual misconduct protocols. Punish those who surface the problem: promote those who stay silent and therefore, tolerate continued illegal sexual misconduct; i.e , Don’t rock the boat.
Growing numbers throughout senior leadership find themselves complicit in allowing sexual misconduct. It begins to explain why at the senior management levels enforcement of the laws, policies, regulations, aren’t effective. It is because there aren’t more definitive/aggressive actions against perpetrators, e.g., judicial, non-judicial and/or administrative actions. The news is filled with leaders who did NOTHING when advised of the misconduct, yet the victims were injured, some went on to commit suicide. NO punishment for the leaders charged with caring for their troops.
Survivors are now beginning to consistently seek outside assistance in alerting, pursuing and prosecuting failed military governance actions. The survivors see first-hand the retribution, lack of management commitment, failed enforcement and lying that goes on around them in their units. Please understand, the military has incredibly wonderful, unique Americans who willingly give their lives to protect us… The “military institution” does not protect them… ONLY it’s brand and senior flag officers (generals, admirals, and Senior Executive Service).
As we sit watching on TV about the latest military sexual misconduct horror story, the question is why does the DOD continue its inexcusable behavior? Troubling, because we the country, also are a part of tolerating this appalling poor leadership performance.
We have lost focus on the job. DOD has the policies in place; however, some commanders do not enforce the policies, and even worse, ignore it. As we have seen, it only takes a few at the top to destroy the fabric of the organization and cause harm to our service members. WE all need to know that our leaders will always do the right thing.
Frequently military leaders will say “off the record” that they know misconduct is occurring, but they fear for their careers. It is abundantly clear that it is “more dangerous for your career to report misconduct, than it is to participate in it!” — a quote from MG Robert D. Shadley’s book, “The GAMe: Unravelling a Military Sex Scandal”. In a personal conversation with a superior, General Jack Keane, who is now about to receive an award from President Trump, stated to MG Shadley, “ Not one general officer in the Army agrees with what happened to you”: i.e., punished for reporting the “Aberdeen Sex Scandal.”.
Here’s the catch… The majority of generals in 1996-1997 said and did NOTHING publicly. That same leadership approach was tolerated 25 years ago; AND apparently is just as acceptable now. “There have been little to no consequences for bad leadership. Are these the type of leaders we choose to guide our loved ones who are in harm’s way?
Sexual misconduct in its current form has been an issue since the mid-1970s’. After 50 years of paying lip service to solving the problem, when will America hold the military leadership accountable for its continued abject failure to protect her sons and daughters.
Soldiers repeatedly tell us they do NOT trust their leadership because they see the same lying. The real question to be asked is why aren’t we as a country demanding immediate accountability, change and honesty?
The military leadership says the chain of command is working this problem; however, in reality, the sexual harassment and assault response and prevention programs are victim driven, not commander driven. In military institutional speak, the commanders (as the leaders) should be driving and supporting the system, instead in many cases, they are blocking the system and the victims. This distrust is earned. So now more survivors seek out their state and Congressional representatives to get relief; just as in 2019 the military spouses living in deplorable installation housing sought out Congress.
Our service members deserve the best leadership that this country can provide. AND NOTHING LESS. Leaders to the highest levels need to be accountable for failure which causes irreputable damage, to include death, to America’s young men and women who protect us.