According to a recent study released by the Pentagon, sexual assault in the U.S. military increased by 35% between 2010 and 2012. Despite acknowledgement of the problem, the U.S. military is struggling to form a plan to combat the issue. However, the Australian army chief released a stern video this week that serves as a model for the U.S. to follow on combating the epidemic of sexual harassment.
Army chief Lt. Gen. David Morrison released information to the public regarding an ongoing investigation involving 17 military personnel for sending emails and images that are disparaging to women. While the rates of Australian military harassment are similar to those that occur in the U.S. military, the message given by Morrison is much different than the tone of the current debate in Washington. The video serves as an example to the U.S. military that upholding culture and standards of the military are crucial to a productive military and are the responsibility of all personnel.
Morrison gave clear instructions for his military to show "moral courage" in battling sexual harassment. For those however, who wish to degrade others, he demanded they "get out" because the "female soldiers and officers have proved themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian army." Accompanied with his commendable words was a harsh tone and serious appearance that further established the severe urgency of the issue.
Australian army Chief Morrison believes engaging all military personnel in fighting the problem reinforce the ideals of their military. Conversely, U.S. Chief of Staff Ray Odierno believes disrupting the chain of command from the commanders and "will undermine the readiness of the force." Some U.S. military officials currently believes that the only person who can change the rape culture in the army is the military command, a belief that clearly hasn't produced a harassment-free environment to this point.
As the rates of assault steadily increase in the U.S. military, officials could take point from leaders like Morrison who adamantly oppose any form of harassment. When officials are willing to back the fight against the issue with true conviction of the negative impacts on the military, the culture can begin to shift to an inclusive environment for both males and females.