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“The amount of reports that are now coming out—people willing to go public, which I think is a good thing—has brought this to a head for me,” he told reporters at Army’s sixth annual Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention summit at Joint Base Andrews, Md. “Maybe we have a bigger problem than I imagined.”
In addition to those 26,000 claims of sexual assault, there were a number of high-profile cases of military commanders overturning sexual assault convictions and, oh yeah, the head of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office being arrested for sexual assault. Despite this rather clear evidence that the military has a sexual assault problem at several levels and that it is not being adequately dealt with by the current people in charge, military leaders continue to believe that decisions about how to respond to sexual assault should rest in their own hands.
Odierno and other top military officers may well be entirely sincere in their horror at what's been going on under their command. But it has been going on under their command, and there has been plenty of evidence of that, and yet somehow it's only now that Odierno is saying "Maybe we have a bigger problem than I imagined." Yeah, at the time you were ignoring the problem, you didn't imagine how big it was.
Military leaders don't have any very good answers about what they're going to do differently. But what they do know is that sole responsibility for stopping it should remain in their hands. Even though they're only now realizing it's a problem. Doesn't that just seem arrogant?
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:06 PM PDT.