We have a problem. We know we have a problem, yet we are not taking action that is bold and decisive enough to right the ship. Sexual assault and sexual harassment are significantly degrading our operational readiness. More than 10,000 men and women reported they have been victims of unwanted sexual contact in the past 12 months. Most victims are young, enlisted women from 18 to 24. However, it is not just a female issue. Both men and women have been victims, and all too often the perpetrators are other sailors or military personnel.1 The sexual-assault official reporting rate remains relatively constant. Yet despite all we have done to date, the gap between incidents reported by survey and official reports underlines the magnitude of the problem (see Figure 1).2 As for sexual harassment, both reports and substantiated incidents are increasing (see Figure 2). We must solve this issue.
Sexual Assault: A Fleet Readiness Problem
The Navy urgently needs a new model of behavior expectations that will better connect leadership with young sailors and change cultural perceptions.
By Rear Admirals Martha Herb and Tony Kurta, U.S. Navy