Military News

Friday, January 10, 2014

AF JAG Corps gains insight at SAPR Summit

by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


1/10/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -  -- The Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps held its first Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Summit Dec. 17-18 at the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy on Gunter Annex.

The purpose of the summit was to bring total force legal professionals together to improve the way they handle all aspects of sexual assault cases, most importantly supporting the victim of the crime.

"Part of the goal is certainly to improve our accountability processes that might be prosecution on the one hand; there are other accountability mechanisms that we can use," said Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, the Air Force judge advocate general. "But, it's equally important that we improve, wherever we can, victim care. And those Airmen that come forward to disclose that they have been victimized need to feel that they've got trust and confidence in the processes that are available. ... By holding people appropriately accountable and supporting the victim, we can improve how the Air Force responds to these events, all to the good of America's Airmen."

Throughout the summit, the 230 professionals in attendance heard from psychologists, legal experts and mental health experts. They discussed topics detailing how to identify perpetrators and providing support to victims.
"All of these folks have a wealth of information that we would be foolish to ignore and not invite in to help us figure out what we can do to help Airmen who are victimized by this act," Harding said.

The topics ranged from military justice to "victimology" and the neurobiology of trauma.

"Hearing about the various aspects about these complicated cases from senior members of the JAG Corps is important for all of us in a senior leadership position," said Lt. Col. Kate Oler, a judge advocate attendee from Joint Base San Antonio. "(This way) we can gain a better understanding of the issues that surround the problem and come together as leaders to discuss the important topic."

Currently, the Air Force and its JAG Corps have numerous initiatives that support victims of sexual assault, to include the special victims' counsel program, which provides the victim with an attorney whose sole role is to represent the victim in a confidential, attorney-client relationship throughout the investigation and prosecution process; and using events such as this SAPR summit to educate legal professionals on the spectrum of trauma victims endure, thereby making them better able to support and understand victims and prosecute the crime.
"The people that can fix this problem are in this room today - make no mistake of it," Harding said to the audience. "I, like you, know that more can be done when it comes to this topic. What we're doing now is impactful, but we can do more ... we can improve how the Air Force handles these cases, and that is really what this (summit) is all about."

Harding urged his team to take everything they hear at the summit into account and not only discuss the topics here, but take what they learned back to their home station legal offices. This will not only help get ideas from others, but it will help more people better understand the issue, he said.

The director of the Headquarters Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward, gave an example of the hurdles the Air Force is going through with the sexual assault problem.

She presented a group with the following equation: 42+__+__+21+__+__-13+49 = Answer.

The hardest part of this issue is that, like this equation, there are so many unknowns, said Woodward.

"The problem is that people are filling in the blanks with their own personal biases," she said. "The more we can educate our Airmen, the more we can help them fill in the blanks with the correct variables."

Woodward shared with the group common biases that came up when she spoke to Airmen of various ranks during the focus groups her office conducted earlier in 2013.

"Some Airmen told us that they believed as many as 90 percent of sexual assault reports are false," she said. "The most validated studies we have put the false reporting rate for this crime between about 2 to 8 percent."

Another common misconception was that victims are to blame.

"There is not a victim out there who should be blamed for a crime that was perpetrated against them, no matter how much they put themselves at risk preceding the crime," said Woodward. "This is not about going out on a date and dressing too promiscuously. This is not about sex. This is about power and control, and until we understand that better, I think we risk filling in those equations with the wrong answers."

For both Woodward and Harding, what the issue comes down to is mutual dignity and respect for fellow Airmen.

"When you join the Air Force you join a family, and we are committed to that family," Harding said. "When a member of that family is in pain, you reach out and you help that Airman. So, this really is a family matter, and it needs to be treated as such."

For more information on the special victims' counsel, visit http://www.afjag.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-130711-021.pdf . For more information on SAPR initiatives visit www.maxwell.af.mil/library/sapr/index.asp.

C-130H mission takes flight as the sun sets on 2013

by Bryon Turner
103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs


1/6/2014 - Bradley Air National Guard Base -- The 103rd Airlift Wing reached a historic milestone when it launched the first locally-generated sortie with one of the unit's newly-assigned Air Force C-130H Hercules aircraft on Dec. 19, 2013, here.

The Flying Yankees took flight shortly before 5 p.m., soaring off into a stunning winter sunset over the Bradley Air National Guard Base with a local aircrew augmented by members of the New York Air National Guard and a member of the Air Force.

"It was very exciting to be a part of the first local launch," said Senior Master Sgt. Bill Westling, a flight engineer assigned to the 118th Airlift Squadron. "From the preflight to takeoff without any hiccups is a testament to the team effort from maintenance and [operations]."

The composite crew was required to fill critical roles aboard the C-130H as members of the Connecticut Air National Guard continue to train for the new mission.
Maintainers and aircrew deftly completed final adjustments moments before take-off as other Airmen, drawn to the wintery flightline, watched this historic moment unfold before their eyes with great anticipation.

"Being in the seat for engine start with familiar faces on our own flightline was exciting," said Maj. Joshua Panis, a pilot assigned to the 118th Airlift Squadron. "The fact that we were able to get airborne on our first attempt at a locally launched C-130 line speaks mountains to the amount of time, effort and training that everyone on base has dedicated themselves to in support of our new mission."

With the next C-130H scheduled to arrive in January, followed by four additional aircraft, and more trained aircrew members returning to Connecticut in the weeks and months to come, the flightline and the skies above are poised for increased activity and the Flying Yankees are ready.

"I look forward to the future here at Bradley," said Westling.

Warrior Transition Command Restructures as Numbers Fall



By J.D. Leipold
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2014 – With the numbers of wounded, ill and injured soldiers steadily declining over the last 14 months to the lowest levels since 2007, the Army’s Warrior Transition Command will restructure over the next nine months.

Five of the 29 warrior transition units, known as WTUs, and all nine community-based warrior transition units, or CBWTUs, will be deactivated due to the falling numbers, explained Army Brig. Gen. David Bishop, Warrior Transition Command’s commander, during a media roundtable yesterday.

Thirteen community care units would be formed and embedded within warrior transition battalions and brigades at 11 installations, he said.

"The decision to reorganize was also based on periodic reviews and lessons learned over the last few years," Bishop said, emphasizing that WTC remains fully funded and that upcoming changes "are not related to budget cuts, sequestration or furloughs."

The WTUs being shut down are at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; Fort Irwin, Calif.; Fort Jackson, S.C.; West Point, N.Y.; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. As of Jan. 2, the total number of soldiers assigned to those five units stood at only 62. Bishop said those 62 soldiers are expected to transition naturally as part of their healing plan by the end of September. If they haven't, he added, they'll be assigned to a community care unit at another installation.

The nine CBWTUs in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Utah, Virginia and Puerto Rico all will be deactivated, but Puerto Rico will have a community care unit detachment under the mission command of the warrior transition battalion at Fort Gordon, Ga.

Before the 13 community care units begin receiving soldiers from the CBWTUs, the commanding generals of regional medical commands will certify their initial operating status to ensure resources and training is in place, Bishop said.

"Every soldier will go through a series of interactions with both their gaining and losing cadre to ensure their complete care and transition plan is fully understood and accountability is maintained and the general added.

Warrior Transition Command began looking at ways it could improve the transition process in July 2012. While the command had the capacity to handle 12,000 soldiers, the population had dropped to 7,070. Bishop said it was appropriate to reduce capacity given the population decrease, but feedback from oversight agencies, soldiers and their families identified improvements that could be made.

"We were able to add capabilities to units, as well as occupational therapists, occupational therapist assistants, physical therapists, transition coordinators and nurse case managers to improve the experience of soldiers going through the program," he said.

"For example, nurse case managers have a ratio of 1 to 20 soldiers across the program. In battalion headquarters companies, we're now going to improve that to 1 to 10, and squad leaders will go from a ratio of 1 to 10 across the program to 1 to 8 within battalion headquarters," Bishop added, noting that in the CBWTUs, the ratio of platoon sergeants to soldiers was 1 to 40, and that will change to 1 to 33.

That will increase the capacity of leadership to take care of soldiers and it should be felt positively by soldiers and cadre members, he said.

The command also is working to reduce the transfer and evaluation time, Bishop said. Now, when soldiers go to a CBWTU, they must first in-process at a WTU on an installation, and after evaluation and assessment, they go through several medical appointments until the commander deems them prepared to go home. That takes an average of 107 days, Bishop said.

"The Community Care model is going to help the cadre and the soldier by virtue of being on an installation within the footprint and leadership of a warrior transition battalion," Bishop said. "Right now, the CBWTU cadre are on leased space or on some military space, but separate from WTUs on the installations. But under the Community Care model, they're going to leverage the command structures, the staff of the WTB, the military treatment facility clinical staff and the senior commander who is overseeing the WTU.

"We think the increased standardization, reduction in transfer time, improvement in our simplification of the command structure and the provision and leveraging of installation command structures and resources will help very much," he added.

Addressing the nearly 4,000 military and civilian personnel required as cadre at WTUs and CBWTUs across the Army, the general said the force structure modifications would result in 549 fewer personnel requirements -- 36 fewer civilians and 513 fewer military, most of the latter from the reserve component.

"Commanders will be managing the transitions to these new unit structures, and Medical Command will do everything within its power to take care of its employees -- mobilized reserve-component cadre on active-duty orders will have the option of being released or applying for other reserve-component positions elsewhere or in this program," he said. "The same will be true for our Army civilians."

Face of Defense: Deployed Soldier Displays Versatility



By Army Sgt. Antony Lee
International Security Assistance Force Regional Command South

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Jan. 10, 2014 – In early September, during a “meet-and-greet” for a national cartoonists’ visit here, a service member waited in line to see Jeff Keane, a cartoonist who creates the comic strip “The Family Circus.”

The service member approached Army Spc. Jacob Upchurch, a soldier helping to organize the event, and asked if he could meet Keane instead of the other cartoonists on the tour. His mother, who had recently died, used to read the comic to him, he explained.

So Upchurch, who is with 4th Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, did what he says now was the “normal” thing to do: he made sure the service member met Keane and got to spend even more time with him.

“To me, that’s normal,” said Upchurch, a Princeton, Ky., native.

Upchurch is a plans and operations specialist for the International Security Assistance Force’s Regional Command South, and is serving on his second deployment. He has been stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. – his first duty station – since August 2009.

One of Upchurch’s many jobs is to help in organizing visits from celebrities who come here to meet and entertain deployed service members. He has helped to organize visits from country music star Kellie Pickler, comedian Tommy Davidson and hypnotist Chuck Milligan, among other celebrities.

Upchurch said that “seeing soldiers happy when we get visitors” is one of the things that keeps him motivated.

Army His supervisor, Maj. Tony Noce, said Upchurch is the epitome of what a junior soldier should be like.

“He’s the hardest-working soldier I’ve ever worked with,” Noce said, adding that Upchurch has grown immensely in the past six months, since both have been in Afghanistan. “He could probably organize and execute a tour all by himself if he had to.”

Although he is a specialist, Upchurch has actually been working in a noncommissioned officer role. “He works levels above his pay grade,” Noce said. “Without Upchurch, 70 percent of everything we do wouldn’t be possible. That’s how important he is to the operation.”

During his first deployment, in 2010-2011, Upchurch served in Iraq as an actions and awards clerk and mail clerk. He said he learned important lessons since his first deployment and has applied them during his current deployment, including how to be self-sufficient.

“Although I do let my leadership know about the decisions I make, they have allowed me to make choices on my own as a leader,” he said.

Upchurch, who joined the military in 2009 because of his love of country and because he wanted to serve. “I felt like it was my duty to give back after so many had given,” he said.

Upchurch also runs the “Hero of the Day” program, in which Regional Command South units recommend soldiers who go above and beyond their average duties for recognition. The soldiers are then recognized by the commanding general and division command sergeant major at the headquarters compound.

Upchurch has several other responsibilities, such as setting up video teleconferences and creating information cards of casualties and fallen warriors. Noce likened him to a utility player in baseball – someone who can play several positions.

Upchurch said he works out when he has free time, and that he is enjoying his second deployment. “I think it’s going great. We’ve got a great platoon, and my leadership is excellent,” he said.

Winds of change at Niagara

by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Caya
914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


1/9/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- The first ever Air Reserve Component combat delivery Association between the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard is ending.

As a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, the 107th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard relinquished their KC-135 aircraft and became the 107th Airlift Wing. It was decided by the Department of Defense and the Air Force that the 107th would associate with the Air Force Reserve's 914th Airlift Wing. This meant both wings would fly and maintain the same C-130 airframes in their unique situation.

"Through cooperation between the leadership of both wings the Association between the Guard and Reserve was successful," said Col. Walter Gordon, 914th Airlift Wing commander.

Despite the success of this partnership, change is a constant within the military environment.

As a consequence of a more recent force structure announcement, it was decided the 107th would cease flying C-130s and no longer be associated with the Reserve, added Gordon.

"That means that procedures and sharing of duties we have set up will cease on December 31st of this year," said Gordon. "Both wings have flown and maintained the same 12 airframes and as of December 31st that will not happen anymore."

"To smooth this process, we have signed an operations memorandum of agreement and we are going to sign a maintenance memorandum of agreement where from January 1st to December 31, 2014, 107th Airmen will be able to assist 914th Airmen fly and maintain the aircraft on a limited basis," said Gordon. "This is to help them keep their C-130 proficiency while they transition to their new mission flying Remotely Piloted Aircraft."

"In the long term, this change will benefit the 107th," said Col. John Higgins, 107th Airlift Wing commander.  "We are moving into a newer mission. The 107th has converted missions every five years, it seems, and the RPA mission will stick with us for a while."

Changing missions brings a plethora of challenges to the guardsmen as they adapt to their environment.

"One of the biggest impacts for the 107th is that we go from 830 people to 609, so we will have less people and eventually we will go down from a wing to a group," added Higgins.

Another big impact deals with the mission directly, said Higgins. While the 914th prepares and actually deploys to the war zone or forward operating location, the 107th Airmen, because of the RPA mission, will walk into a room and be where Central Command needs them to be via the RPAs.

In regards to the airlift mission Higgins said, this was the one base that embraced the association and really worked at it. The wings overcame many large and small challenges to make it work.

"We figured it all out and went though all those battles; now, we're pulling it apart," said Higgins. "In a perfect world, I would have loved to have kept it a few more years but I also see that we are breaking off and we have an opportunity to work on a 'sunrise mission' with the RPAs."

"During the Association the 914th and 107th became more efficient," added Higgins.

The Wings used less people to get more use out of "The Iron," meaning a normal C-130 unit has eight aircraft; Niagara had a combined 12 aircraft between two flying squadrons, so the units covered twice as many deployments with only 50 percent of the equipment needed.

"I think the Association was a great idea," said Higgins.  "It was one of two Air Reserve Component Associations...they tried it, I think we did it very well--we were highlighted at the Operational Readiness Inspection in 2012 as the best association seen by the Air Mobility Command inspection chief, so I think we excelled at the Association."

Higgins stated there is difficulty sustained in the constant retraining Guardsmen go through when their mission changes however, change is inevitable in this branch of the military.

"We're constantly evolving in the Air Force," said Higgins.  "This is just one of those steps. We're used to the change; we're used to the mission changes... some people handle change better than others, but our folks are resilient."

Defense Secretary visits wounded warriors at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston

by Maria Gallegos
BAMC Public Affairs


1/9/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The 24th Defense Secretary and the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Department of Defense made his first official visit to Brooke Army Medical Center Jan. 8.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was welcomed by BAMC Commander Col. Kyle Campbell and Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Pumphrey at San Antonio Military Medical Center followed by a meet-and-greet with wounded warriors service and staff members at the medical center.

"You inspire me," said Hagel during his conversation with 1st Lt. Micah Andersen, who was rehabilitating at the burn center rehab gym. Andersen was injured by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in Afghanistan June 1, 2013.

"BAMC offers the best care in the world," Hagel told him as they were discussing his injuries and the care he was receiving at the medical center.

"I know, this is the best place to be," Andersen replied.

Following the visit at the medical center, the secretary met with Col. Donald Gajewski, Center for the Intrepid director, for a tour of the out-patient rehabilitation facility.

After, he spoke at a town hall meeting with service members, their families and staff to thank them for their service and sacrifice.

"I'm here to first better understand the tremendous work you do here and what this place represents," Hagel said to them.

"It's about hope," he said. "It's about hope for a better life for you and your families and all our people. It's about how each of you are inspiring others who are with you now but will come after you - families inspire, you inspire, people who work here, docs and all of his team, they are an inspiration. I want to acknowledge that because we occasionally tend to drift over that element of what is done in a tremendous facility like this."

He said that with all the advances in medical technology - it is the people who make a difference.

Hagel also touched on the new law for future retirement benefits for veterans and assured medically disable veterans will be exempt from the new budget cuts.

"Let me assure you that all disabled families -- all of you in this room -- will be exempted from any adjustments in the rate of growth," Hagel said to the group. "We're not going to do anything that would inhibit the progress of this institution."

The new law suggests that working-age military retirees would see their pensions increase at a slower pace, with cost-of-living adjustments pegged to the rate of inflation minus 1 percentage point. Once they turned 62, they would go back to receiving adjustments pegged to the full rate of inflation.

He stated that the law will not take effect until 2016 and that the administration and Congress have two years to fix the law and grant an exemption for disabled vets.

"We'll make it work - we'll fix it - and we'll do it so it doesn't hurt," the secretary said.

AF senior enlisted leader visits N.H. Air National Guard

by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt
157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


1/5/2014 - PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, returned here Jan. 3 and 4 to visit the men and women of the 157th Air Refueling Wing nearly 23 years after leaving as young staff sergeants.

The sergeants, stationed here as air traffic controllers from June 1988 to January 1991, worked the last shifts performed by active duty Airmen before turning the tower over to the Federal Aviation Administration in early 1991.

"It's great to be able to come back here and interesting to see how the base has evolved over the past 23 years," said Cody. "It's pretty neat and encouraging to see the evolution of the base and also how the mission has evolved."

Reflecting on the success Pease has had with Total Force Integration, or TFI, Cody said the Air Force is looking at all options as the service looks to restructure in order to meet end strength.

"I think there is no set-in-stone decision on what the structure of the Air Force is going to look like," said Cody. "But it's clear that the structure will change and evolve and when you look at the initiative here at Pease, it is part of the modeling we use to make decisions on the future of the Air Force."

During his visit, Chief Cody held two all-call sessions: a morning session for technical sergeants and below and an afternoon session for master sergeants and above. He also met with N.H. National Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and victim advocates to discuss sexual assault prevention.

"(Air Force Chief of Staff) General Welsh just recently put out his latest 'Airman to Airman' video and he talked about respect and how we treat each other, how we look at each other," said Cody. "I think what we can all do as Airmen is to ensure we're looking out for each other."

He added that each Airman has to take ownership to get to the right place, "it's going to be because we all understand and appreciate the dynamics associated with this and we do something about it."

While addressing the most common questions he hears from Airmen while traveling, Cody said that many revolve around the angst that exists throughout the service today as it relates to budget uncertainty and force management.

"Our Airmen are very much in tune to what is going on with the fiscal environment," he said. "Whether it be the force structure that we're working through, some of the force management issues we're going to execute on the active duty side of the house to get down to the end strength, or the uncertainties with pay, benefits or retirements, all those things weigh heavy on Airmen and their families."

Closing out an all-call session with junior enlisted Airmen, Cody thanked them for their service and commitment.

"We thank you for what you do each and every day for your Air Force and your nation," said Cody. "The fact is what you do has purpose to our nation and is impacting people around the world, don't lose sight of that. You are all part of the world's greatest Air Force. You and your families are without question our most valuable asset. Our nation treasures each and every one of you."

DOD Focuses on Healthy, Active Lifestyle for Kids



By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2014 – With the national rate of childhood obesity increasing, the Defense Department wants to ensure children in military families lead healthy and active lifestyles, the Defense Department’s director of the office of family policy and children and youth said.

In a recent interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel, Barbara Thompson said that nationally, 12.5 million children and adolescents from age 2 to 19 are overweight -- a figure that’s tripled since 1980. Military children are a microcosm of that group, she noted.

Today’s generation of children is the first one at risk of dying before their parents, she added. Facing such risks, families should set goals for healthy food choices and more physical activities for their children, Thompson said.

“It’s important for children to see the most important models in their lives doing the same things they should do,” she said. “It’s of critical importance that children start healthy habits at a very early age. The bottom line is [that] obesity is preventable.”

DOD’s message for young children and adolescents is called 5-2-1-0, Thompson said. It calls for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, two hours or less of “screen time,” one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise and zero sweetened drinks, which is a plan that can be used at home and in school. She defined screen time as any activity involving television, computers, video games, movies and other devices that lead to a sedentary lifestyle.

Obesity also can lead to serious diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, Thompson said. Children without healthy diets and routine exercise start at early ages to build plaque in their arteries, and are at risk for future health issues, she added.

And national security can become an issue when people cannot enter military service because of their weight and health-related diseases, Thompson said.

Resources for setting dietary and exercise goals are abundant for military families, Thompson said. One way to begin children on a path to healthy eating and routine exercise is to have meals as families, she said. Cutting sugar and salt, reducing overall fat and cooking in a healthy manner -- such as steaming certain foods rather than fat-frying them -- also are necessary to a better lifestyle, she noted.

After dinner, families can take walks together and make plans for weekend bike rides and other physical activities, Thompson suggested.

Health and nutrition help is available from numerous resources, she said, noting that First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative includes a website that provides a variety of healthy recipes and ways to add activity into childrens’ everyday lives.

While school districts have begun to offer healthy food choices, parents should become involved with the Parent-Teacher Association and similar groups if their children’s schools do not deliver healthy food choices or provide inadequate exercise time and activities, she said.

The Military OneSource website offers a health and wellness coach program that’s good for goal setting for cardiovascular health and nutrition habits, Thompson said.

Child and youth development centers and morale, welfare, and recreation programs on military installations offer emphasis on eating healthy foods and pursuing active lifestyles, she said. Help also is available to advise families on how to shop for groceries and prepare meals in a healthy manner, she said.

“The earlier children ingrain specific [habits], the more they will stay with them -- whether it's brushing their teeth before bed, washing their hands, or [remembering] to drink water and eat fruits and vegetables,” Thompson said.

New Sexual Assault Prevention Chief Briefs on Academy Report



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2014 – While all three U.S. service academies are compliant with Defense Department sexual assault prevention and response policies, more needs to be done to change the culture that allows the crime to continue, the new chief of DOD’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office said today.

Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow briefed Pentagon reporters on the conclusions of the Annual Report to Congress on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies. Air Force Col. Alan Metzler, deputy SAPRO director; Nate Galbreath, a SAPRO official; and Elizabeth P. Van Winkle of the Defense Manpower Data Center accompanied Snow.

“Sexual assault is a crime and has no place at the academies, just as it has no place in our own forces,” Snow said. “The academies are where we develop the future leaders of the military. That is why it is essential that the department instill in its future leaders a commitment to fostering a climate of dignity and respect, where cadets and midshipmen are empowered and possess the social courage to take action when faced with situations at risk for sexual assault, sexual harassment, and inappropriate behavior of any kind.”

The report, which covers the 2012-13 school year, found the academies complied with all policies regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault. “The academies instituted new initiatives during the year to enhance training, improve awareness and promote a safe environment for all cadets and midshipmen,” Snow said.

In 2013, reports of sexual assault decreased at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The number of reported incidents went up at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Overall, there were 70 reports involving at least one military victim or military subject at the academies. “Of those 70 reports, 53 were made by cadets and midshipmen for events they experienced while they were in military service,” Snow said.

The report includes the conclusions based on focus groups conducted at the institutions. One encouraging report was that cadets and midshipmen believed that reports of sexual harassment or sexual assault would be taken seriously by academy leadership and dealt with appropriately, Snow said. “That’s good,” he added. “Cadets and midshipmen also identified peer pressure as a barrier to reporting. That’s not good.”

The general also announced changes to the department’s approach to the problem that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has directed.

To ensure unity of effort and purpose, the service academy superintendents will implement sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention and response strategic plans that are aligned with their respective service strategic plans. Hagel also ordered that cadets and midshipmen be involved in command climate assessments.

“To increase a victim’s confidence associated with reporting, the superintendents must develop and implement solutions that address concerns of social retaliation amongst peers, engage with leaders and supervisors of teams, clubs, and other cadet and midshipmen organizations, and provide cadet and midshipmen influencers with the skills and knowledge to strengthen their ongoing mentorship programs,” Snow said.

The secretary also directed academy superintendents to review and expand institutional alcohol policies to address risk factors beyond individual use, including the availability of alcohol, training providers and community outreach.

The superintendents have until March 31 to report their plans to the Pentagon.

The department aspires to be a national leader in combatting the crime of sexual assault, Metzler said, just as it was a leader in integration of African-Americans. “We intend to impart a set of values and expectations and standards of behavior,” the colonel said. “That’s how we’ve led change in these other cultural issues, and that’s how we intend to lead change here.”

It starts with good leaders doing the right things, the colonel said. Offensive remarks or emails, sexist behavior and harassment all must end, he added.

“We have to start on the low end of that continuum of harm, create that nonpermissive environment, detect offenders, conduct complete and total independent investigations … and then hold offenders appropriately accountable,” Metzler said.