Posts Tagged With: Pentagon

Major Concerns Concerning Women In Combat.

Male Marines listed being falsely accused of sexual harassment or assault as a top concern in a survey about moving women into combat jobs, and thousands indicated the change could prompt them to leave the service altogether.

For a good look at what can happen when a female service member falsely accuses a male service member of sexual assault or rape, read this true story of a court-martial that was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

 (http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK)

The anonymous online questionnaire by the Marine Corps surveyed 53,000 troops last summer, with the results provided to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta before he opened thousands of combat positions to women last week.

The Marine Corps released the results to The Associated Press on Friday February 1, 2013.

Among the other top concerns listed by male Marines were possible fraternization and preferential treatment of some Marines.

Respondents also worried that women would be limited because of pregnancy or personal issues that could affect a unit before it’s sent to the battlefield.

Military experts said the results were not surprising because the Marines have the highest percentage of males among the branches of the armed forces.

Former Marine infantry officer Greg Jacob of the Service Women’s Action Network said the Pentagon‘s estimate that 86 percent of assault victims opt against filing complaints “suggests that there’s hardly an overabundance of reports, false or otherwise.”

Some, however, said the survey shows the need for sensitivity training and guidance from leadership so the change goes smoothly, as occurred when the military ended its policy that barred openly gay troops.

“I think there is this sense among what I would imagine is a very small minority of Marines that this male bastion is under siege and this is one more example of political correctness,” said David J. R. Frakt, a military law expert and lieutenant colonel in the Air Force reserves.

Just as the Marine Corps adjusted to the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” despite being the most resistant among the military branches, troops will likely fall in line again with this latest historical milestone, said Frakt, a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Marine Corps officials did not respond to a request for comment on the survey results.

About 17 percent of male Marine respondents and 4 percent of female respondents who planned to stay in the service or were undecided said they would likely leave if women move into combat positions. That number jumped to 22 percent for male Marines and 17 percent for female Marines if women are assigned involuntarily to those jobs, according to the survey.

Both sexes mentioned intimate relationships between Marines and feeling obligated to protect female Marines among their top five concerns about the change.

Female Marines also said they worried about being targeted by enemies as POWs, the risk of sexual harassment or assault, and hygiene facilities, according to the survey, which did not give specifics.

The women surveyed also expressed concern about acceptance and physical abilities if given a ground combat job.

About 31 percent of female respondents — or 1,558 women Marines — say they would be interested in a lateral move to a combat position as their primary job, and 34 percent — or 1,636 — said they would volunteer for a ground combat unit assignment.

Elaine Donnelly of the conservative Center for Military Readiness and a vocal critic of the change said the survey asked the wrong questions and should have been asking if troops favor it and whether it will make a more effective force.

The questionnaire also relied on the “mistaken belief” that training standards will remain the same, which Donnelly said is not realistic given the differing physical abilities between the genders.

She said the Pentagon is bent on imposing gender-based quotas that will drive down standards. Defense leaders say standards will not be lowered.

“The results that are being put out there are designed to manage public perception,” she said. “There is a lot about this that still needs to be discussed and it’s really not fair to the women who serve out there.”

The infantry side is skeptical about how women will perform in their units, and some positions may end up closed again if too few females meet the physically demanding standards of combat, said Gen. James Amos, head of the Marine Corps, who spoke to reporters Thursday at a defense conference in San Diego.

“I think from the infantry side of the house, you know they’re more skeptical,” Amos said. “It’s been an all-male organization throughout the history of the U.S. Marine Corps so I don’t think that should be any surprise.”

Most Marines support the policy change, Amos said.

It will be up to the military service chiefs to recommend and defend whether women should be excluded from any of those more demanding and deadly positions, such as Navy commandos or the Army’s Delta Force.

Over the past decade, many male service members already have been fighting alongside women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women who serve in supply units, as clerks and with military police have ended up on the unmarked front lines of modern warfare.

More than 150 women have been killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while serving in support roles.

About 7 percent of Marines are female compared to about 14 percent overall for the armed forces.

Both sexes surveyed said getting women closer to the action will improve their career opportunities.

(Julie Watson, AP)

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Women In Combat

Women In Combat

The Pentagon is pushing ahead with its campaign to move women closer to the battlefield, despite a series of sex scandals involving senior officers and a report showing an increase in sexual assaults among the troops.
At the dawn of the all-volunteer military force in 1973, women accounted for less than 3 percent of active-duty and reserve members. Today, 310,000 women make up about 15 percent of the force. In and around the Afghanistan War are nearly 17,000 women in uniform.
With the influx has come increasingly close contact between men and women — and a sharp rise in sexual misconduct. Military-wide, sexual assaults are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a Pentagon report.

“The problem is getting worse. It’s not getting better,” said Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness. “Part of the reason is people don’t want to admit what everyone knows to be true.
“Men and women are human beings. They react to each other. The do things they are not proud of. Rank has nothing to do with it. It’s not solely a gender issue. Both sexes are involved. All ranks.”
In recent months, an Army general in Afghanistan was accused of forcing a female captain to engage in sex acts, and the Navy has fired commanding officers for sexual misconduct.
Even four-star officers are not immune. Marine Gen. John Allen, commander of all NATO forces in Afghanistan, is under a Pentagon investigation for an exchange of flirtatious emails with a married Florida socialite.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have pushed the sexes closer together than ever before in shared living quarters in isolated bases, as well as the close quarters of Navy ships and, now, submarines.
A Department of Veterans Affairs research panel survey found that about half of all women sent to Iraq and Afghanistan say they were sexually harassed, and 1 in 4 say they were sexually assaulted. The findings were based on surveys mailed to 1,100 women who had served in or near the two war zones, according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, most recruits begin military life in sex-integrated barracks.
“The only thing the military can do is try to encourage discipline instead of indiscipline, and try to avoid the kind of hazardous situations that just make it worse,” Mrs. Donnelly said.
One of the trends Mrs. Donnelly said is making things worse is the Army’s drive to put women closer to combat and, perhaps one day, in direct land combat.
Early last year, the Army began opening 14,000 combat support jobs below the brigade level, down to smaller units close to front lines.
In a more revolutionary move, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, ordered a study to learn whether women can be assigned to direct land combat occupations as infantry and armor soldiers.

The Air Force and Navy removed most combat barriers in the 1990s. Since then, it has ballyhooed the methodical promotions of female generals and admirals to key commands.
The Army suffered through its worst known sex scandal in 1996 when 12 officers and enlisted leaders were charged with sexually abusing female trainees at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Sixteen years later, the Air Force discovered the same type of widespread sexual abuse at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio.

At Lackland, all enlisted recruits undergo an 8?-week boot camp under the wing of a mostly male staff.
More than 30 female trainees complained of sexual harassment, and even in-barracks rapes, by instructors. The Air Force fired scores of instructors.

The scandal involving former Gen. David H. Petraeus, who formed a close relationship with his biographer in Afghanistan while in Army uniform and then began an extramarital affair while CIA director, has garnered the most attention.

But the military branches have suffered through much more disturbing cases of misconduct.
The Army has charged a deputy commander of its storied 82nd Airborne Division with forcing a female captain to perform oral sex. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair’s sexual relations with his subordinate went on for three years in the U.S. and on deployments to Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Another former commander, Army Col. James H. Johnson III of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, was convicted in June of having an affair with an Iraqi woman, aided by government cars and travel vouchers. A military judge fined him $300,000. His wife had turned him in.
Army Col. Avanulus Smiley was relieved of his command for committing adultery.
A ‘chilling trend’
Former sailors cannot remember an era when so many Navy commanding officers are being punished for improprieties with female shipmates.
Navy Times, an independent newspaper, has taken to publishing a running tally. As 2012 came to a close, the Navy had punished 40 commanding and executive officers, as well as senior enlisted personnel in command-type positions.
Several cases involved inappropriate sexual conduct. The Navy relieved Capt. Robert Martin, a ship commander, for having an affair with a fellow captain’s wife. Adultery is a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“The Martin case is the latest evidence that a small but significant number of the Navy’s best officers continue to engage in improper relationships,” Navy Times said. “At least seven other [commanding officers] have been relieved for adultery and inappropriate personal relationships since 2010.”
Not all cases are about men behaving badly.
The Navy fired Cmdr. Sheryl Tannahill as head of a Navy support center because she carried on an “unduly familiar” relationship — sometimes called fraternization — with an enlisted man.
Neal Puckett, a lawyer who specializes in defending military clients, has witnessed officers who grow so senior in rank that they think they are above the law. Mr. Puckett has taken an advisory role with the Navy in anticipation that the military will launch more sex-abuse prosecutions.
“Hubris, I think, is the word that best describes the condition,” he said. “Sometimes those very senior positions give men a greater sense of power and belief that they are indeed, and finally, masters of their own destiny. Not above reproach, but rather above scrutiny. The system promoted them to where they are, thus they are justified in all of their actions, even when they are abusing that rank and position to satisfy some of their more primitive needs.”
Sexual assaults have become such unwanted occurrences in military life that the Pentagon set up the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office. It reports that sexual assaults have increased 22 percent since 2007.
The Army has issued a report that talks of a “chilling trend” of violent sex crimes growing at a rate of 14.6 percent a year.
Army figures show that reports of such crimes have nearly doubled, from 665 in 2006 to 1,313 last year.

The storyline got worse Dec. 21, when the Defense Department released a report saying sex assaults at the three service academies increased by 23 percent in the 2011-2012 academic year. They grew to 80 cases, from 65 in 2010-2011. The alarming numbers were contained in the Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies.
“Sexual assault has no place in this department,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said. “We take care of our people on the battlefield better than anyone else.
“We must extend that same ethos of care to combating sexual assault within our ranks. We have made progress in preventing and responding to sexual assault, but we are not satisfied and recognize there is much more work to do,” she said. “Our aim is to reduce, with a goal to eliminate, the crime of sexual assault from the armed forces.”
(By Rowan Scarborough)

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Sexual Assault Conviction Thrown Out By (CAAF) Court Of Appeals For The Armed Forces.

Sexual Assault Conviction Thrown Out By Armed Forces Court Of Appeals.

by London Steversonon Monday, March 12, 2012 at 10:51am ·

Captain Nicholas Stewart, USMC.

 

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces threw out this week the sexual assault conviction of Marine Captain Nicholas Stewart, citing issues with the prosecution as well as improper action by a military judge.

Stewart, who served as a fighter pilot in Iraq, was convicted of sexual assault under a 2006 law that enabled the military to make charges in cases in which the victim was “substantially incapacitated” from alcohol. Stewart was accused by a longtime friend who said although she was not forced by Stewart, she was too inebriated to have consented to sex. Stewart challenged the accuser, but was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. He was also registered as a sex offender.

As McClatchy reported Thursday, Stewart’s case was appealed, and the court found that the prosecution lacked evidence to support the accuser’s claims. The court also stated in its ruling that the military judge at Stewart’s initial trial had “created the framework for a potential double jeopardy violation” by having the jury re-deliberate the charges against Stewart. In the first deliberation, Stewart was found not guilty. However, when asked by the judge to consider what was essentially the same charge, the jury found the Marine to be guilty.

“As a result of the military judge’s instructions, [the jurors] were placed in the untenable position of finding Stewart both guilty and not guilty of the same offense,” wrote the appeals judges.

The 33-year-old Stewart, who had served more than a year of his sentence, expressed relief after the appeals court’s decision.

“I am grateful for this long-awaited proof of the integrity of our judicial system,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to serve our country and our Marine Corps.”

Stewart’s case illuminates issues that some have taken with the 2006 law. As McClatchy reported last year, the law has been described as “flawed” for its confusing language, as well as the fact that it shifts the burden of proof to the accused.

 

However, with recent Pentagon reports showing that sexual assault in the military has taken a dramatic rise, others worry that not enough is being done to prevent assault. After the report, which showed a 64 percent jump in assaults since 2006, was released, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced plans to create new initiatives aimed at curbing the growing problem.

Several cases invoking the 2006 law have made the news recently, including the charging of three Air Force cadets with sexual assault. Two of those cadets were charged with assaulting women who were “substantially incapacitated.” These cases were also reportedly complicated by a lack of forensic evidence.

 

Compare this case to the Webster Smith case and you will see how fickle this court can be. The Smith Case was appealed to the Supreme Court. Most Supreme Court watchers had expected the Supreme Court to hear the case or at the very least to give an explanation of why not. We were all sorely disappointed.

 

 

Coast Guard Academy Cadet Webster Smith

This Smith Case implicated a deep federal circuit conflict regarding the standard of review that applies when a trial judge’s restriction on the cross-examination of a prosecution witness is challenged on appeal as a violation of the Confrontation Clause. The Court of Appeals for the  Armed Forces (CAAF) held that the standard of review is abuse of discretion rather than de novo. Applying the former standard, the court rejected Webster Smith’s Confrontation Clause claim by a vote of 3-2.

The Courts Of Appeals Are Deeply Divided Over What Standard Of Review Applies To Confrontation Clause Claims Like Webster Smith’s. The CAAF employed abuse-of-discretion review in resolving Smith’s Sixth Amendment challenge to the military judge’s restriction on the defense’s cross-examination of Shelly Roddenbush. That approach conflicts with the holdings of five circuits, which consider comparable Confrontation Clause claims de novo, reserving abuse-of-discretion review for non-constitutional challenges. For example, the Seventh Circuit has stated that “[o]rdinarily, a district court’s evidentiary rulings are reviewed for abuse of discretion.

However, when the restriction [on cross-examination] implicates the criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him, … the standard of review becomes de novo.”

The First, Fifth, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits have adopted the same approach.

Six other circuits, by contrast—the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Eleventh, and District of Columbia Circuits— Take  the same approach that CAAF does, applying abuse-of-discretion review even when a restriction on the cross-examination of a prosecution witness is attacked on constitutional grounds. The Sixth Circuit, for example, stated in one case that “[defendant] argues that his right to confrontation was violated when the trial court ‘unfairly’ limited his cross-examination of [a] government witness .… We review the district court’s restriction on a defendant’s right to cross-examine witnesses for abuse of discretion.”

In short, CAAF’s use of an abuse-of-discretion standard in the Webster Smith Case perpetuated a clear—and recognized—conflict in the circuits.

The Question Presented Was Recurring And Important, And The Smith Case Was A Good Vehicle For Deciding It.

The circuit conflict warranted resolution by the Supreme Court. It was indeed a sad day for Supreme Court watchers when that court of Last Resort side stepped an issue of monumental importance without a word of explanation.

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Sexaul Assaults Return To Military Academies. Boys will Be Boys. Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

English: Cadets of the Air Force Academy Class...

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<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2″>http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2</a&gt;

To start the New Year with a bang, commanders at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on 5 January 2012 charged three Air Force Academy cadets with sexual assault in cases that occurred over the past 15 months.

The cases involve acts allegedly committed at the Academy, and involve civilian women as well as female cadets.

In November 2011, Cadet Stephan H. Claxton is alleged to have unzipped the fly of a female cadet while she was “substantially incapacitated” — a phrase the military has used in the past to describe intoxication.

Cadet Claxton faces assault and attempted rape charges, including an allegation that he forcibly kissed one cadet and assaulted another. He is also charged concerning an incident in March 2011, where he is accused of forcing a fellow cadet to touch his genitals and indulge in underage drinking.

Cadet Kyle A. Cressy, a graduating senior and a member of the soccer team, is charged having sex with a woman at the academy who was “substantially incapacitated.” It’s unclear from the charge sheet whether the alleged victim was a civilian or a female cadet.

Cadet Robert M. Evenson Jr. is alleged to have forcibly raped a female cadet in the spring of 2010. He’s also charged with breaking cadet regulations by having an ongoing relationship with a female freshman. He also is suspected of abusing his power position as a “cadet non-commissioned officer for honor cases” to extract sexual favors from a female fellow cadet. This is serious. He was charged with enforcing the Honor Code. he may have used it to supply gris for his mill. As one of the cadets entrusted with enforcing the Academy’s Honor Code, he would have been in a very coveted position.  He was expected to  punish those who lie, cheat, steal or tolerate others who do. Those who violate the Honor Code face a maximum punishment of expulsion from the Academy. Allegations of corruption in the Honor Code enforcement system will likely send shockwaves through the Cadet Corps and the Academy alumni. The Honor Code is the very touchstone of the Academy’s culture.

These charges come to light a week after the Pentagon reported a spike in the number of sexual assaults at the air Force Academy. There were 33 reported incidents in the 2010-2011 academic year. This is a four-fold increase in a two year span.

There are about 4,000 cadets at the Air Force Academy.  A senior academy spokesman said these charges don’t appear to mark a return of the level of incidents of sexual assault of 2003. In 2003 the Academy and the nation were rocked when dozens of female cadets reported incidents of alleged sexual assaults. Many of those cases were mishandled or ignored.

Several senior officers at the Academy were fired in the wake of the 2003 scandal. This resulted in congressional scrutiny to the issue of sexual assaults at all the nation’s military academies. There were courts-martial at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut  and the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Three were major reforms at those institutions.

The Coast Guard Academy court-martial of  Cadet Webster Smith marked the first time in history that a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy was given court-martial.  Some Coast Guard Academy graduates accused the Coast Guard of racial discrimination because the accused, Cadet Webster Smith, was African American and all of the accusers were white females. One of them was his girl friend who had become pregnant, and had an abortion more than six months before the Coast Guard decided to charge Cadet Smith with rape.

In the meantime it was learned that about 11 other cases of confessed rape had been resolved without resort to a court-martial. All of the other cadets were allowed to resign quietly and slip into darkness. All the other cadets were white. This is part of the reason that there were claims of bias and inappropriate command influence in the prosecution of Webster Smith.

The conviction was appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. It is interesting to note that there were several ‘Friend of the Court‘ or ‘amicus briefs’ filed with the Supreme Court by senior military lawyers from other branches of the armed forces in favor of the reversal of the Webster Smith conviction. It set a very bad precedent and there were irregularities in the prosecution and the appellate review of the conviction. The case was thoroughly critiqued in a book available on Amazon.com. (See http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2)

The Pentagon in a December 2011 report to Congress praised the Air Force Academy’s efforts to curb sexual assault in the ranks and gave the school high marks for its programs to encourage sexual assault reporting.

“[The academy] demonstrated commendable practices that should be considered for replication by other military service academies,” the Defense Department wrote in the report. The Coast Guard Academy had already implemented a new procedure for reporting and investigating sexual assaults in the wake of the Webster Smith case.

If any of these cadets get convicted, it would mark a reversal of fortunes for air Force prosecutors. Since the 2003 scandal, the academy has prosecuted a string of rape cases against cadets. But none of those cases has resulted in a conviction. Unlike the Coast Guard Academy, where one prosecution in 2006 resulted in one conviction and six months in jail for a graduating senior. (<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2″>http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2</a&gt;)

Recent rape trials at the Air Force Academy have almost always centered on the issue of ‘consent’. The defendant always used as a defense that the alleged victim gave her consent. He said she asked for sex. The cases were also marked by a lack of forensic evidence that could help sort out the conflicting claims. One can never be sure what a jury will decide in a case of ‘he-said, she-said’.

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