Pentagon group developing another sexual assault report

The Defense Department has asked a committee that advises top Pentagon officials on policies relating to women in the military to investigate the sexual assault issue and provide recommendations on what to do about it, drawing criticism from an advocacy group for victims of sexual misconduct.

The 13-member Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services will release its report in January, but officials at the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides services to victims of violence associated with the military, questioned the need for another report.

"It's a good thing that they're studying it, but over the last two decades, there have been more than 20 studies done on the topic.…there needs to be action taken on all these studies rather than a continuation of studies, conferences and summits," said Miles Foundation spokeswoman Anita Sanchez. The foundation is pushing for a comprehensive bill in Congress to make sweeping changes to the Pentagon's sexual harassment and assault policies.

Sanchez said the failure of the Pentagon to come up with a definition of sexual assault is the biggest problem. "You have federal statutes and you have state statutes that have been replaced and reformed to meet the changes in our society and that can easily be adapted within the military community," Sanchez said.

Senior Pentagon leaders will start meeting Wednesday to discuss future policy on sexual misconduct as a result of last month's closed-door conference where department officials discussed the findings of the an earlier task force. According to commission spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Richard, the findings will be made public.

The committee's final report likely will reinforce the 114-page report issued by the earlier task force, according to retired Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter, chairwoman of the committee, who added, "We may find a new wrinkle here or there."

David Chu, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, asked the advisory committee to study sexual assault and it's "obviously an issue on everybody's front-burner," Mutter said.

According to Mutter, Washington resident and advisory committee member Rosalie Silberman is leading the working group that will examine the focus group results on sexual assault and prepare the section of the report dealing with sexual assault.

A draft of the committee's findings contains many anonymous quotes from service members. Mutter said this helped humanize the report and takes the focus away from statistics.

"We find that people talk to us about things they don't talk to people in the military about," said Mutter. "I have not seen any indication of [the military] trying to sweep things under the rug."

The draft report reveals that the fear of repercussions is a major barrier to women reporting sexual assault. "I think folks understand what…outlets are there. But in a military environment, where you get punished for not sharpening pencils correctly, huge repercussions await," said a senior male officer, quoted in a preliminary analysis of focus group results.

The analysis indicated that focus group participants who spoke positively about their unit's leadership also said their leaders created an "open- door policy at all times," but dissatisfied participants felt their leaders were out of touch with subordinates.

The focus groups were made up of military personnel ranging from junior enlisted personnel to senior officers and conducted by committee members during 14 military bases visits this year. Of the 70 focus groups, three at each base were composed of women, one of men and one of family members.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.