WAR ON HARASSMENT
SEPTEMBER 11, 1997
Sexual harassment exists throughout the U.S. Army, crossing boundaries of gender, rank and race. That was the conclusion of two separate investigations. After a background report, Phil Ponce talks to officers on the Army's senior review panel about the "leadership failure" that has allowed the problems to continue.
PHIL PONCE: This is a typical scene at an army boot camp in today's army, an army which says it's committed to integrating the sexes. But today the Secretary of the Army released the findings of two independent investigations showing how far the army has to go to make that happen.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
September 11, 1997:
Two senior officers discuss findings that sexual harassment persists in the military.
April 30, 1997:
A discussion of mixed-gender training in the military.
April 29, 1997:
Staff Sgt. Simpson is convicted of raping trainees while at the
Army's Arberdeen Proving Ground
March 6, 1997:
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) discusses the state of the military investigation into the sexual misconduct..
February 4, 1997:
Senators Chuck Robb (D-VA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) discuss whether the military is doing what it can to protect the women who protect our country.
April 4, 1996:
A NewsHour discussion of Women in the Military.
Browse the Online NewsHour's military coverage.
TOGO WEST, JR., Secretary of the Army: Sexual abuse, sexual abuse is not endemic throughout our army. Sexual harassment, however, continues to be a problem.
Aberdeen revealed a wide-spread problem.
PHIL PONCE: These investigations were triggered by numerous allegations of sexual assault against female trainees by their drill sergeants at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The army-wide investigations too eight months to complete and resulted in more than 35,000 interviews at 59 bases around the world, a key finding, according to Army Chief of Staff General Dennis Reimer, the need for better selection and training of drill sergeants.
"A leadership failure."
GEN. DENNIS REIMER, Army Chief of Staff: We had a leadership failure. We had a leadership failure to selected individuals. And I want to re-emphasize my great respect and admiration for those great drill sergeants, the vast majority of them out there, who do such a great job. At the same time we had some leaders that let us down. And we have to deal with that.
PHIL PONCE: The investigators also found that sexual harassment exists throughout the army, crossing gender, rank, and racial lines; that sex discrimination is even more common than sexual harassment; that the army lacks commitment to the equal opportunity program, and that soldiers don't trust the complaint system; that too many leaders are not trusted by the soldiers; and that respect is not well taught in basic training.
GEN. DENNIS REIMER: The United States Army is made up of 14 percent females, and as I mentioned before, we're a diverse organization in terms of both race and gender. There is great strength in that diversity if we can leverage that strength and treat everybody as--with dignity and respect and as human beings. That's been a fundamental principle of the United States Army for a long time that we train the way we fight. We're going to fight together as male and females; we've got to train together, and the sooner we start it, the better off we'll be.
Aberdeen's top official gets a reprimand.
PHIL PONCE: The first allegations of sexual abuse at the Aberdeen training center became public last November. After a two-month investigation, the army charged three drill sergeants with rape and sexual harassment involving at least 17 female soldiers. Eventually, the army charged a total of eleven sergeants and one captain at Aberdeen with offenses ranging from rape and adultery to obstruction of justice. In May, a miliary court martial sentenced Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson to 25 years in prison for raping six female trainees, but still no commanding officer was blamed for what happened at the Proving Ground until yesterday. That's when the army announced its intention to reprimand the man who was in charge of the Aberdeen base, General Robert Shadley, and two battalion commanders and a brigade commander at the training facility. After Aberdeen, the army set up a hotline which generated another 341 criminal investigations at based around the world.
SEC. TOGO WEST: Sexual abuse is not endemic to the army that Aberdeen was an aberration, but to say that somewhere someone is not being subjected to sexual abuse in an agency, an institution as large as the army, would be a mis-statement by me. What would be a fair statement and an accurate statement is that it is far less rampant than sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, and that even one instance will continue to be the subject of our action.
Strategies for fighting sexaul harassment.
PHIL PONCE: Sec. West went on to announce several steps the army was taking to address the overall problems. They include: adding a week to basic training to teach values; tougher selection, training, and supervision of drill sergeants; and more pressure on the chain of command to be responsive to issues of harassment and discrimination against women.
SEC. TOGO WEST: I ask you to remember several points about these reports and this action plan. First, the army found these conditions and the army disclosed them. The army commissioned these reviews, and the bulk of the work in support of them has been done by army personnel. The army takes the responsibility for these reports and is proud of them. And the army will act on their recommendations.
PHIL PONCE: West said the army will conduct a full-fledged review in the next year and a half to see if the reforms are working.