Home » Uncategorized » Department of Defense Press Briefing with Secretary Hagel and Maj. Gen. Patton on the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Strategy from the Pentagon

Department of Defense Press Briefing with Secretary Hagel and Maj. Gen. Patton on the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Strategy from the Pentagon

A sexual assault awareness poster.

A sexual assault awareness poster. (Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery)

            SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
CHUCK HAGEL:  Good afternoon.  I’m going to make an announcement this
afternoon, and after my announcement, I’ll take a couple of questions.
And then I’ll ask General Gary Patton to get into the specifics of the
briefing of what I’m going to announce.

            Last night, I spoke
with Secretary of the Air Force Donley about the allegations of
misconduct involving the officer who had been responsible for the Air
Force sexual assault and prevention efforts.  And as you know, he’s been
removed from his position pending the outcome of — of this
investigation.

            We’re all outraged
and disgusted over these very troubling allegations.  Sexual assault is a
despicable crime and one of the most serious challenges facing this
department.  It’s a threat to the safety and the welfare of our people
and the health, reputation and trust of this institution.

            That reality is
underscored by the annual report on sexual assault in the military being
released today.  This department may be nearing a stage where the
frequency of this crime and the perception that there is tolerance of it
could very well undermine our ability to effectively carry out the
mission and to recruit and retain the good people we need.  That is
unacceptable to me and the leaders of this institution.  And it should
be unacceptable to everyone associated with the United States military.

             We need cultural
change where every service member is treated with dignity and respect,
where all allegations of inappropriate behavior are treated with
seriousness, where victims’ privacy is protected, where bystanders are
motivated to intervene, and where offenders know that they will be held
accountable by strong and effective systems of justice.

             All of our leaders
at every level in this institution will be held accountable for
preventing and responding to sexual assault in their ranks and under
their commands.  The department is putting in place important new
programs to achieve this level of accountability.

             Last month, I
announced a set of measures to reform the military justice system.  This
included proposed changes to Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military
Justice
.  That change would eliminate the ability of a convening
authority to change findings in courts martial, except for certain minor
offenses.  These changes would also require the convening authority to
explain in writing any changes made to court martial sentences, as well
as any changes to findings involving minor offenses.

            Today, I’m announcing
a new series of actions to further DOD’s sexual assault and prevention
efforts.  I’m directing the military services to align their programs
with a revised sexual assault prevention and response strategic plan.
By clearly defining priorities, objectives, tasks, responsibilities,
this plan and its effective implementation will help ensure that the
DOD’s ongoing initiatives to reduce and ultimately eliminate sexual
assault are being closely tracked and are achieving their purpose.

             In addition, I’m directing implementation of measures
specifically addressing accountability, command climate, and victim
advocacy.  These new actions are as follows.  I’m directing service
chiefs to develop methods to hold military commanders — all military
commanders accountable for establishing command climates of dignity and
respect in incorporating sexual assault prevention and victim care
principles in their commands.

             I’m directing the
service secretaries to implement methods to improve victim treatment by
their peers, coworkers, and chains of command.  Direct victim input will
also be incorporated into these methods.  I’m directing that all
commanders be provided the results of their subordinates’ annual command
climate surveys in order to enhance accountability and improve insight
into command climate at every level — at every level of the chain of
command.

             I’m directing the department to improve the
effectiveness of sexual assault prevention and response programs in
recruiting organizations to ensure the awareness and safety of new and
aspiring service members.  I’m directing DOD component heads to direct
comprehensive and regular visual inspections of all DOD workplaces to
include military academies to ensure that our facilities promote an
environment of dignity and respect for all members and are free from
materials that create a degrading or offensive work environment.  This
will be complete by July 1st.

             To enhance the
administration of military justice, I’m also directing the DOD acting
general counsel to develop a method to incorporate the rights afforded
to and through the Crime Victims’ Rights Act into military justice
practice.  The general counsel will also evaluate the Air Force Special
Victims’ Council pilot program and other approaches to ensure that
victims of sexual assault are provided the advice and counsel they need.

             It is important for them to better understand their
rights and to feel confident in the military justice system.  That’s a
particularly important point.  They have to feel confident that if they
come forward, that, in fact, they can rely on our system of justice and,
in fact, action will be taken and responsibility at all levels of
command will be implemented and commanders will be held responsible.

Last week, I named a set of highly respected and
experienced experts to serve on a panel called for in the National
Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013.  The panel will conduct
an independent review and assessment of DOD’s systems used to
investigate, prosecute and adjudicate crimes involving adult sexual
assault and related offenses.  It will convene its first meeting no
later than July 1st.  And I will ask the panel to accelerate its work
and provide a final recommendation within 12 months.

Together, everyone in this department at every level of
command will continue to work together every day to establish an
environment of dignity and respect, where sexual assault is not
tolerated, condoned or ignored, where there is clear accountability
placed on all leaders at every level.  The leadership of this department
has no higher priority than the safety and welfare of our men and women
in uniform, and that includes ensuring they are free from the threat of
sexual harassment and sexual assault.  I will continue as secretary of
defense to prioritize the department’s efforts to turn this problem
around.

Thank you.

Lita.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, one quick follow-up on your statement
and then a question.  In your statement, you mentioned some of the
goals of eliminating the problem of sexual assault.

SEC. HAGEL:  Ultimately eliminating, yes.

Q:  Ultimately.  I’m wondering, how possible do you think that is, considering the societal problems?

And then my question is actually on North Korea.
There’s been some discussion about this sort of provocation pause, and
I’m wondering what you think about this, and do you think that the
removal of the Musudan missiles constitutes some sort of calming down or
pausing in aggression of North Korea?  How are you interpreting this?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, on your first question, as I said in
my — in my comments, we’re going to stay focused on every aspect of
this problem.  And ultimately eliminating sexual harassment, sexual
assault should be our goal.  Of course it’s our goal.  Is it going to be
difficult to attain that?  Of course it is.

But if we don’t have that as the goal setting out, or if
we have halfway measures or we’ll — we’ll accept 80 percent, that’s
not good enough.  We recognize what’s ahead.  And as I’ve already
explained — and I think pretty honestly and pretty clearly and pretty
directly — this is a cultural issue.  It is a leadership issue.  It is a
command issue.

So we’re not unaware of the challenges.  And it isn’t,
as you note — as I’ve said, it’s not just isolated in the military.  It
is — it is a cultural issue.

Second, North Korea; I would answer it this way.  We are
prepared to always respond to any contingency.  As you know, the
president of South Korea is here today, as you know, met with the
president this morning.  I was in one of those meetings.  I will see her
later this afternoon and be with her tonight.

Obviously, we talked a lot about this issue.  But the
United States is prepared with our allies, certainly with South Korea,
to deal with any contingency, and we would hope that the leadership in
North Korea understands that the wiser course of action is to
participate in a process toward peace.  And we would hope that — and
believe that can happen.

Q:  Mr. Secretary.

SEC. HAGEL:  David.

Q:  The — the case involving the Air Force officer has
gotten, obviously, a lot of attention for obvious reasons, but do you
think it says anything larger about the Pentagon’s efforts to combat
sexual assault?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, obviously, I have expressed my
personal feelings rather directly.  I think Secretary Donley; Chief
Welsh expressed themselves rather clearly and directly this morning in
their testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the
questions they answered.

No one in this building is happy about what happened.
We’re disappointed.  But that doesn’t fix the problem.  And it’s just
not the Pentagon.  You saw the reports.  You’ll see more reports today
on — on this — this issue.  It’s bigger than just a Pentagon.  We’re
particularly disappointed because this alleged incident occurred here at
the headquarters, the heart and the — and the main leadership of our
institution.  And our men and women around the world who give of
themselves and their families certainly must expect more and deserve
more.  So we all have to take some responsibility, and I have said
clearly in my statement that we’re all going to be held accountable at
every level of command for every one of these incidents.

Q:  Mr. Secretary.

SEC. HAGEL:  I’ll take one more and — go ahead.

Q:  You said people should feel comfortable coming
forward.  Senator Gillibrand, others have said, as long as commanders
have control and oversight of this — of sexual assault cases, whether
they have the convening authority and the — the decision to move
forward cases, people will not feel comfortable.  Are you ready to
endorse some of those proposals coming out of the Congress to put some
of that power into the hands of prosecutors or investigators?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, as you know, I took the initiative
last month in suggesting we make some changes in Article 60 of the
UCMJ.  And it deals directly with that — that issue.

It is my strong belief — and I think others on Capitol
Hill and within our institution — the ultimate authority has to remain
within the command structure.  There are things we need to do, should
do, will do to make it more accountable.  That’s why I suggested the
changes.  There will be more suggested changes.

We’re working with the senators and the congressmen.
They, I think, have very legitimate points.  As I said in my comments,
as I said a month ago, and every response I’ve had — and I think our
leaders have said — what’s going on is — is just not acceptable.  And
we do have to go back and review every aspect of that chain of command,
of that accountability.  And some things do need to be changed.  But I
don’t think taking it away, the responsibility — ultimate
responsibility away from the military, I think that would just weaken
the system.

We know we’ve got big problems.  We know that.  And we’ve
addressed that, and we’ll continue to address it.  It is imperfect.
But I do think — and it does say something that we’re seeing more and
more people come forward.  That, I think, means — and when you talk
with some of these individuals — that — that there may well be some
new confidence starting to develop that we will take it seriously, those
charges, they won’t — the victims won’t be penalized, we will do
something about it, and we will get control of this.

So it’s imperfect.  I understand that.  It’s a problem.
We know that.  But we’ve got to address it.  And I — and I think
working with the Congress, which we want to do, we will do, we are
doing, is a responsible way to do this.

Thank you.  Now I’m going to ask General Patton to come
up and go into the specifics of the — of what — what I talked about
specifically on what we’re announcing today.  Thank you.

SEC. HAGEL:  General. Thank you, general.

MAJOR GENERAL GARY PATTON:  Thank you, Secretary Hagel.

I’m General Gary Patton.  I’m the director of the Sexual
Assault Prevention and Response Office for the Department of Defense,
and I’m just going to have a couple opening remarks and then I’ll
address the rest of your questions.

Let me just reiterate that sexual assault’s a terrible
crime.  It’s an affront to the values we defend and the cohesion that
our units demand.  As today’s report shows, we got some work to do.  It
remains a persistent problem in the department.  It’s a serious
challenge confronting our military.

While we’re moving ahead and putting in place important
new programs to combat this crime, it’s very clear we have more work to
do.  We have to eliminate this threat for the safety and the well-being
of our men and women in uniform.

This year’s report contains data from military services
on reports and outcomes of sexual assault, as well as results from
confidential service member surveys of both the active and reserve
components of the force.  The surveys are now conducted every two
years.  That was mandated in the last National Defense Authorization
Act.  And so this is the year where we have survey results incorporated
into the annual report.  And it will be so included in every two years
from here on out.

The surveys provide us prevalence estimates or estimated
occurrence of the unwanted sexual contacts that are occurring out there
among the force.  This year in our report, we’ve also included survey
findings from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
This was a joint effort between the Centers for Disease Control and the
National Institute of Justice and the Department of Defense.

So, first, I’m going to go through some of the key
findings of the annual report, and then I’m going to talk to very
briefly about the strategy — the strategic plan that Secretary Hagel
announced, and then I’ll — I’ll break there, because he already covered
some of the — the eight initiatives that he announced.  And I’ll be
prepared to take any questions you have on those initiatives or anything
else.

So from the annual report, what we have is some of our
principal findings.  Survey findings showed the prevalence of unwanted
sexual contact increased for active-duty women.  In this context,
unwanted sexual contact is defined as any offense in the full range of
offenses, from rape as a penetrating crime to abusive sexual contact as a
non-penetrating crime.

So I just want to say, when the survey gives us
prevalence for unwanted sexual contact, unwanted sexual contact is the
term that encompasses that full range on the continuum of harm of the
offenses I just described.  The prevalence of unwanted sexual contact
that we derive from the survey remain unchanged or active-duty men and
for reserve component Reserves National Guard, men and women, so
unchanged active-duty men, unchanged men and women in the Guard and
Reserves, and I already described the increase for the active-duty
women.

There were a total of 3,374 reports of sexual assault
involving active-duty service members as either victims or
perpetrators.  Now, I’ve switched from the survey results and the
prevalence to the actual reports.  And these are the reports that come
in from the victims, reported in either the form of an unrestricted
report, unrestricted being one that then goes forward, and every
unrestricted report is investigated independently by a military criminal
investigative office, and restricted reports.  Restricted reports
remain confidential, but the victims still get medical care.  So total,
3,374 total reports.  That is a six percent increase from fiscal year
’11.

Of these 3,374 reports, 816 were restricted, 2,558 were
unrestricted.  And these figures are all in our annual report.  I’m just
going through the key points here.  And so when you compare the survey
results, the prevalence figures, with the actual reports, the victims
that make the tough step of coming forward and — and filing a
restricted or unrestricted report to an authority, it shows that sexual
assault is a vastly underreported crime.  And with prevalence remaining
at a current high level, we view an increase in reports — again, the
victims coming forward and making these restricted or unrestricted
reports, we view an increase in those reports as meaning that we have
more victims coming forward that are receiving medical care, and — and
in the case of the unrestricted reports, we have more victims coming
forward where their cases are entered into the law enforcement system,
and ultimately, we have more cases that are investigated and then
proceed into the military justice system and we hold — holding
offenders appropriately accountable.

Despite our, you know, strong leader emphasis, increased
awareness and new SAPR [Sexual Assault Prevention and Response] programs
that I’ve seen since the time I’ve been director past — this past
July, we have these things in place across the department, but this
report tells us we’ve got more work to do.

With this understanding, the department today is
publishing a revised sexual assault prevention and response strategic
plan.  Secretary Hagel made reference to this.  This plan defines our
strategic priorities and actions.  It provides authoritative guidance to
all department agencies and components.  It operationalizes the key
tasks that were defined by the Joint Chiefs last year at this time, when
it developed and published the Joint Strategic Direction to the Force
on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.  And maybe most importantly,
it aligns and really synchronizes the efforts across the department on
five lines of effort.  And those five lines of effort are prevention,
investigation, accountability, victim advocacy, and assessment.

And the term assessment is important, as one of our lines
of effort, because this is not a static program.  The Sexual Assault
and Prevention Response Program you see across the department today is
not the one we saw even — even as I stepped in the office, you know,
just months ago there in July, and it’s not the program we’re going to
see in the future.  Secretary Hagel mentioned, we are continually
reassessing ourselves, looking at ways as we strive to improve and make a
difference here and put in place initiatives, eight announced new —
new initiatives announced today that will make a difference and change
the culture, really drive the culture change that we’re talking about
here to turn this around.

Along with the strategic plan that Secretary Hagel has
just described for you — and I’ve given you some additional description
of it — he also gave you the eight initiatives that we feel are
directly responsive to issues identified in the annual report and which
will contribute to making this enduring culture change.

I’m prepared to describe any or all of these initiatives
right now in more detail.  And I’m happy to answer your questions.
Please.

Q:  Secretary Hagel mentioned climate survey.  I know the
Air Force only has a climate survey every two years, and they’re not
used to rate leaders.  What’s going to be new here?  Are the services
going to be having climate surveys more often?  And are they going to be
focused specifically on sexual assault?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Okay, the — all the services do some
form of climate survey, command climate survey.  The National Defense
Authorization Act stipulated that these climate surveys be done at a
certain frequency, that there’s one initially done at 120 days or
earlier upon assumption of command.  That’s the initial one.  And then
NDAA also specifies that there will be one done annually thereafter.  So
within the first 120 days is the initial, and then annual through the
time — the lifetime of the commander in command.

These surveys are important.  We wrote a number of
questions into the survey.  It’s not just about sexual assault.  It’s
about hazing.  It’s about other elements of climate that are important
to having an effective command.  But we wrote some questions into the
survey.  We put those questions in the first surveys back last April, so
about a year ago.  About 50,000 of those surveys are conducted every
month.  We see the results.  We office sees the results of the ones
focused solely on the sexual assault questions.

What’s different answering your questionnaire?  What’s
different is that this initiative will direct that the survey results be
given to the next higher commander in the chain of command.  Currently,
the system is, the survey results are provided to the surveyed
commander.  The higher level commander can request the results, but
they’re not given as a matter of policy to the higher level command.

So what this does is afford the visibility and the — of
that senior commander.  So if I’m — I’m a colonel in command, I have
subordinate lieutenant colonel battalions in the Army beneath me,
subordinate in my organization, I’m going to be seeing the annual
reports — annual surveys, rather, command climate surveys of each of
those battalion commanders as they are provided to me directly.  And by
this, we — again, we’re increasing the level of visibility of the
command climate in the subordinate units.  It adds a more senior, more
experienced commander into the mix, in terms of analyzing, assessing
these results.  And ultimately, if there is trouble and climate issues
that are not corrected and remedied and addressed, able to hold that
junior commander accountable by virtue of that.

And that’s just one set of inputs.  There’s lots of other
ways commanders can get a sense of what’s going on across their
formation, but, again, this is aimed at increasing accountability and
visibility at the higher level commander.

Q:  We’re talking about (OFF-MIKE) level these surveys are going to be done?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  It’ll — the surveys will — will be
— they’re currently conducted at multiple levels in the services.  And
so the direction is that they’ll now be provided — whatever levels
they’re conducted will be provided to the next higher level commander.

Yes, Larry.

Q:  But, general, do you accept that the problem is
getting worse?  Or do you think that people are simply more comfortable
reporting the problem and that this might be a measure of success that
the number has gone up?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Yeah, well, I’ll break that into two
pieces.  The — when we look at the — the actual reports — these are
the victims that, again, make the very difficult step coming forward and
filing a restricted or unrestricted report — we actually view those —
an increase in those reports to be — it could be a sign of improved
victim confidence.

And there are other things we look at in terms of victim
confidence, as well, and I’ll get to that in a second.  And like I said,
we want to keep — we want more reports, because more reports — every
report means another victim getting cared for.  And for the unrestricted
reports, it means more cases being investigated by law enforcement and
then ultimately taken to, you know, the prosecution to the justice
system and holding offenders accountable.

On the prevalence side — now I’m shifting back to the
survey — the survey is — it’s confidential.  It goes out to a broad
base of individuals, all service, male and female, different ages.  We
take the results.  They’re weighted.  I mean, I got a team of Ph.D.s and
statisticians that look at this every year.  It’s the same questions.
The methodology is consistent from 2006 to 2010 to 2012.  Those are the
three data points for the survey, very consistent methodology through
those years.  It’s the same questions.

And — and what we saw this year was, as I mentioned, for
the active-duty females, an increase in the prevalence indicated by the
responses in that survey.  And so we have to take that very seriously.
That is another data point.  It’s one of the key ways that we measure
whether a program or prevention programs are having — are effective and
having — having the, you know, ultimately preventing the — preventing
the crimes from happening in the first place.

What we want to see is the prevalence trend to come
down.  And until the prevalence trend rate comes down to the point where
it essentially intersects with the reporting rate, then they both go
down.  But as long as the prevalence  rate remains at a point and a
condition that are very high, unacceptably high level, you know, we see
that additional reports at least means a sign of victim confidence and
more victims coming forward.

What else do we look at for victim confidence?  We look
at the rate at which victims remain in the justice system.  That’s
something we look at very closely.  You can’t prosecute a case when the
victim withdraws, maybe makes an unrestricted report, but then withdraws
from the process.  And so we look at that rate.

We also look at the rate at which victims come forward
and make an unrestricted report and then they convert from a restricted
report to an unrestricted report.  We see that as a sign of victim
confidence, willingness to go into the — take their case into the law
enforcement realm.  And this year, we actually saw an uptick there,
again, a positive indicator that we’re having — that there are some
signs there of improved victim confidence.  We saw an increase from 14
percent last year to 17 percent this year in terms of people, victims
who came forward, made a restricted report and converted to the
unrestricted report.

So there are a number of things we look at.  The survey’s
a big part of it, but we’re also pulling apart reports and things we’re
trying — that also get at victim confidence.  I’ll just — just
reference back to one of the things Secretary Hagel announced in terms
of initiatives, is this initiative to direct the service chiefs to
develop methods that — where we are caring for victims and we’re
monitoring and assessing how — and improving how they’re being treated
by their peers, their coworkers, and their leaders.

And why is that important?  Because our survey told us
that victims weren’t satisfied with the way they’re being treated in the
unit.  They perceive retaliation in the form of social retaliation,
leadership retaliation, again, perceiving different forms of
retaliation.  That’s a huge barrier for reporting.  And so we pay
attention to that.

And then so what the secretary directed is directly
related to that.  Get out there and develop methods, by which we are,
you know, given better treatment, not medical treatment, but better
peer-to-peer, better leader-to-led treatment in terms of, again, having
the effect of improved victim confidence.

Q:  What is the — what are the survey numbers that you
mentioned?  Is that the — that’s the 19,000 number that we had two
years ago, right?  So what’s the number for this year?

             MAJ. GEN. PATTON:
Yeah, let me describe that.  So, first — first, you have to take the
percentage that’s derived from the survey, so it’s a probability.  And
so for active-duty women, the percentage that we get from the survey is
that — again, this is an estimate, but it’s derived from the survey
methods, that the 6.1 percent of active-duty women were victimized by
unwanted sexual contact based on the 2012 survey.  That’s a percentage.
For men, that percentage was 1.2 percent, so 1.2 percent active-duty
men, victims of unwanted sexual contact, according to the survey.

             The number you’re referring to, in 2010, a calculation
was made, an extrapolation made.  When you take those percentages —
percentages and you apply those percentages against the end strength of
the force for male and female that gives you a figure.  Again, it’s an
extrapolation from the percentage that’s derived from the survey.

             This year, when you
apply the 6.1 percent figure to the female end strength of the force,
you get about 12,000.  And when you apply the male percentage, 1.2
percent, to the male end strength in force, you get about 14,000, plus
or minus, you know, 1,000 or so within the — within the survey
results.

             So that’s — that’s what you get when — that’s the
equivalent figure.  So you add those two together, that’s a five-digit
figure, 26,000.  And that would be the comparative figure to the 19,000
derived from the 2010 survey.

Q:  And that’s active-duty and Guard and Reserve, the 26,000, right?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  No.

Q:  Okay.

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  That’s the active-duty — that’s based on the active-duty survey.

Q:  Okay.  And then, also, one more numbers question for
you.  How much of the — because — and I apologize, but we didn’t get
the report in advance of the briefing, so, you know, we don’t have these
numbers — how many of the — the total number that were eligible for
charged — to be charged by the U.S. military, how many were actually
court-martialed and convicted?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Yeah, if I could save that question
and get you an answer to that when we dig into the — that’s in the
report.  I can get that answer to you.  My conviction — I need to make
sure I got the numerator and the denominator correct, and I want to — I
want to make sure I have that straight before I give that to you.  So
we’ll — I’ll come back to you on that.  I’ll take that question for
you.

Please.

Q:  So among the things you’re worried about is the
perceived legitimacy of the process.  What’s the argument for not just
taking it outside of the chain of command?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Well, I think Secretary Hagel
addressed that question.  And so I’ll just say that, having been a
commander for over five years in the — in the field grade ranks, at the
grade of lieutenant colonel and colonel, I mean, I’ll just say that we
need to have commanders more involved in the solution to this problem,
not less involved.  And we want them more involved because we know it’s
important to set the right climate.

Commanders lead by example.  They set standards.  And
commanders have to hold people accountable to meeting those standards.
And when people choose to be undisciplined and violate those standards,
they need to have the — the tools and the authorities to take care of
that and address that.

And so — so that’s one side of it.  The other side is,
I’ll just add that the — the section 576 panel, which has been mandated
in the NDAA ’13, this is the independent panel that Secretary Hagel
mentioned, that panel, one of the charters for that panel is to look
exactly at this issue, the role of the commander in the Uniform Code of
Military Justice, as it pertains to the investigation, prosecution of
sexual assault cases.  And that panel, we’ve — we’ve made — I believe
we made the announcement of the panel members today.

MODERATOR:  We’re going to (OFF-MIKE)

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Yeah, we’re going to make the —
we’re announcing the DOD members of that panel.  That panel will
commence work.  And as Secretary Hagel said, he has called upon that
panel today to complete its work in 12 months versus the 18 months that
— that it was assigned in the — in the NDAA.

So we want a quick return on that, and that’s — that’s
one of the probably most key issues that that panel’s looking at, is the
role of the commander and UCMJ and investigations and so forth.

Please?

Q:  (OFF-MIKE) understand, that panel will consider taking the investigations outside of the chain of command?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  The — I’d have to look at the exact
language in the NDAA, but it was told to look at the role of the
commander in the Uniform Code of Military Justice as applies to
investigations and prosecutions of sexual assault.

Q:  General, Secretary Hagel talked a lot about
accountability.  The president earlier today talked about
accountability.  Can you point to any cases where commanders have been
held accountable for mishandling sexual assault cases or for a poor
command climate regarding sexual assault cases?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Well, I think what I’d — what I’d
point to is the — the initiative that Secretary Hagel put in place
today, which is that, again, aiming at the greater command
accountability, in addition to the command climate survey piece, which I
already described, but I think more directly relating to command
accountability, and that is directing the service secretaries and the
service chiefs to develop methods to assess the performance of —
evaluate the performance of commanders with respect to how they — their
establishment of a climate of dignity and respect and how they are
adhering to the principles of sexual assault prevention and response in
their command.

So that’s — that’s something that is being reinforced
from the secretary of defense level out across the field, that it’s —
it’s that important.  And it’s — it’s hugely important that we get —
that commanders are held accountable.  And this is something that he’s
announcing in his initiative that will really improve that measure of
accountability up and down the chain of command.

Q:  This isn’t a new problem.  Are you saying that
people haven’t been held accountable?  I mean, can you point to any
cases of this?  I mean, we keep hearing about accountability, but, I
mean, is there any substance to it?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Well, there’s plenty of substance to
it.  I mean, there’s plenty of cases to look at, you know, in terms of
cases that are — yielded convictions of — of offenders and being held
appropriately accountable.  And — and so, you know, we’re looking —
we’re always looking at ways to improve every — every step of that
process.

We have military investigative organizations, criminal
investigators that are now taking every — every sexual assault case,
they independently investigate.  And then those cases are provided to
commanders, and commanders — we’ve recently elevated the disposition
level, the authority level.  Last year, it was at the ’05 level.  We
elevated that by order of Secretary Panetta to the ’06 level.  And so
now you have ’06s making — in command positions making disposition
decisions as to how the sexual assault cases will be handled in terms of
preferring court martial charges or taking to a non-judicial punishment
administrative action.

So there’s — I’d just end at there and say that this is
not a static program.  All the lines of effort are subject to change.
And this is an area we’re taking very seriously and our accountability
system — in addition to the independent panel that I described — we’re
looking at ways we can improve that.  And I think some of the
secretary’s initiatives today really — you know, really do focus on —
on greater accountability.

MODERATOR:  We have time for two more questions.  Andrew.

Q:  Okay.  General, to the point about this assessment
tool that the service chiefs might develop to determine the — whether
the commanders are creating a climate of respect, what will happen to
that — the results of that tool?  Will that be incorporated in a
personnel file, on a command screening board, in a promotion process?
What will — after that is assessed, what’s the next follow-on step
towards accountability?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Yeah, well, I think the task was
develop methods.  And so it’s a — it’s not a prescriptive task.  So the
answers to your questions will lie in the methods that are developed.
And then the service chiefs — I believe the suspense for that
particular task was — let me just put my finger on that — yeah, it was
report your methods back to the secretary by November 1st.

And so there’s a suspense there.  And the — I would — I
would expect that the methods that are developed will address the
points that you made.  I mean, how — how is this incorporated into
evaluations?  You know, what is the method of assessment?  But, again,
we’re relying on the — the service chiefs and secretaries, with their
vast experience and — and ownership of this problem, to develop
solutions that work for their service on that.

MODERATOR:  Stephanie.

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Thank you.

Q:  Yeah, have you or anyone in your office regarding
this specific incident that — they arrested happened this weekend, here
with the lieutenant colonel, have you or anyone in your office spoken
to him?  Has he offered up any kind of explanation or apology?  Or can
you just try to shed some light on that?

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Yeah, I’m going to have to refer to
the Air Force on that.  My interaction with that lieutenant colonel Air
Force officer is — he may have been in a meeting or two that I was a
part of.  I don’t recall ever meeting him.  I know he does work on the
Air Force staff, on the Sexual Assault Prevention Response Program.
He’s been removed from his job.  And Secretary Hagel made — made all
those comments to you.

I really don’t have anything to add to that.  So I — I
would expect the Air Force to keep us posted on that, but that’s where
we’re at on that right now.

MODERATOR:  (OFF-MIKE)

Q:  Hi.

MODERATOR:  (OFF-MIKE)

Q:  Sure.  You and the secretary have spoken a lot about
holding commanders accountable and caring — better care for victims;
is there anything in here that deals more directly with either stopping
attackers from committing the crimes in the first place or holding the
people who commit the crimes more accountable?  Because it seems like,
you know, sometimes even in the best of commands, there may be bad
people under those good commanders.

MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Yeah, well, I think a — something
that we’re working on right now on that line is the special victims
capability.  And this gets at investigators and prosecutors and
improving their training, their methods, and their — and the way they
collaborate and work together, so that we can get exactly what you’re
saying.

             I mean, these are —
a lot of these are very difficult cases to prosecute, whether you’re in
the civilian sector or military sector.  And so we are undergoing right
now a program and developing policy on the development of this special
victim’s capability.  This was something that was mandated in the last
National Defense Authorization Act.  We’re working on that.  We have a
report back to Congress due in September of this year.  We’re
collaborating with the services on it.

             But it really gets
at developing standards and developing the very best training practices
for investigators and prosecutors, training them together, just like
they’ll operate, and then putting them together in — in a work
environment where they’re — you know, from beginning to end, focused
solely — they’re specially trained and now they’re focused solely on
solving these cases, developing the best evidence, and then — and then
being able to take that forward and prosecute.

             Because, you know,
we got to have — the services are doing a lot of this already.  And so
we’re working to standardize, in many respects, what they already have
underway in some of these areas.  But I’ve been out to the school where
we teach a course.  It’s called the — it’s Army’s Fort Leonard Wood.
That’s where we train the Army’s criminal investigative division and
military policemen.  And I sat through this — elements of this course.
I’ve talked to the instructors.  I’ve talked to their CID agents out
there.  And people have been working on investigating sexual assault
cases really their whole military career and, in some cases, in the
civilian law enforcement.

             And — and they are
— that is a best practice out there.  And we’re looking to standardize
that as a training best practice as part of the special victims
capability so everybody can benefit from the — from that type of
training and then make them better investigators to get after these very
difficult and, in most cases, complex cases to prosecute.

             MODERATOR:  Okay, thank you.

             MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Thank you.

             MODERATOR:  Thank you, general.

             MAJ. GEN. PATTON:  Thank you.

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