About a year ago, the on-going problem of Sexual Harassment in the Military was raised to a higher level–both in Congress and the White House. These crimes–committed against both Men and Women–were first brought to public attention, in 1991, for crimes committed at a convention of Navy and Marine Pilots–The “Tailhook Association”. Well, yesterday something happened that shows that the Sexual Harassment issue might be finally getting some powerful recognition at the Pentagon
The Senate has had a number of Committee Meetings to discuss the causes, effects and a potential solutions to the problem. The energy behind this effort has been provided by a bi-partisan group of Female Senators led by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Unfortunately, at least so far, military commanders have successfully retained “command and control” over the issue. But, will that continue?
It appears like the Good Ole Boys–both in Congress and the Pentagon–are continuing to fight any change from the status quo. This is why the recent case of Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair has been followed so closely. Gen. Sinclair was accused of forcing sex on a Female Captain, his long-term mistress. Although he faced significant jail time, he got-off with a reprimand, a fine and forced retirement. So, how is the Pentagon Brass going to correct this problem when they cannot even control themselves?
Yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel appointed Read Admiral Margaret “Peg” Klein as his Special Advisor for Military Professionalism. Admiral Klein will report directly to Mr. Hagel with regard to Ethics, Character and Competence, in all activities, and at every level of command.
She will also work directly with the (individual) service Secretaries regarding the Defense Department’s focus on ethics, character and competence. Her advisory duties will include all activities at every level of command, and pertain to an uncompromising culture of accountability, Hagel said in a statement announcing Klein’s selection. She will also coordinate the activities of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The linked notice on the U. S. Department of Defense, is as follows: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=121896.
It looks to me as if Secretary Hagel is not quite ready to remove control of the Sexual Harassment problem from the commanders; however, by establishing a new position reporting directly to him, he is firmly telegraphing that this might be their last chance. Defense is just another example of a bureaucracy which, perhaps, needs to move slowly at first. Now, the commanders know that Secretary Hagel is definitely engaged.
NOTE: A Brigadier General has One-Star and a Rear Admiral has Two.