How the Military Can Change the Culture of Assault

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Cadets march at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Over the past decade, the U.S. military has faced controversies surrounding soldier suicide, cultural sensitivity in theater, veteran unemployment, and now sexual harassment and assault.

To me, the most recent scandal — the revelation that Sergeant First Class Michael McClendon allegedly filmed female cadets in the shower at my alma mater, West Point — illustrates an inherent problem in how the military handles such matters.

Having served in the Army through many of these scandals, I know that they will likely respond to the latest crisis by implementing training programs. But the truly horrific feature of these recent incidents of sexual harassment and assaults is that very few are peer on peer; many involve a leader (or counselor) targeting a female subordinate, exercising an outrageous abuse of power.

One suspect, a sergeant at Fort Hood, was even a coordinator for the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program. McClendon, the suspect in the West Point case, wasn’t some impressionable 18-year-old kid. He was a grown man with a decade of military experience in charge of 140 other cadets.

A training session would not have stopped his actions, nor will it stop future incidents from happening.

The only way to keep bad leaders from sexually harassing and assaulting their subordinates is to keep them from being leaders in the first place.

Full dispatch here.