WASHINGTON, D.C. --
“We cannot truly be loyal to our Nation without first being loyal to each other. All Marines must be involved in preventing and addressing sexual assault and harassment. There is no room in the Marine Corps for either of these behaviors.” ~ Gen. Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps
QUANTICO, Virginia – Senior Marine Corps leaders have been briefed on the topline issues of the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. The results are disturbing and a clear indicator the Marine Corps must reexamine its sexual assault prevention efforts. Our Marines have a fundamental right to live and work in an environment free from sexual assault and harassment. The Marine Corps is committed to purging these criminal behaviors from our ranks, taking care of victims, and holding offenders accountable.
The DoD report shows the number of Marine Corps in-service sexual assault reports increased by 20 percent in FY18 (694 FY17, 835 FY18). Knowing this is a highly under-reported crime, we have historically viewed an increase in reporting as an indicator Marines feel more empowered to report, more confident in the care victims receive, and have more faith in their leadership. However, with the number of estimated sexual assaults rising, especially among our young Marines, the Marine Corps must evolve its prevention methods and continue to foster a climate and culture of dignity, respect, and trust.
The highest at-risk population are female Marines 24 years old and younger, serving in the ranks private through corporal. Most perpetrators are usually their peers within one or two ranks. With this knowledge, Marine Corps leaders and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response coordinators will:
- Increasingly engage lance corporals and below to ensure awareness and recognition of these crimes, their prevalence in our organization, and prevention initiatives at initial training schools and via social media and the chain of command.
- Further educate and empower frontline leaders, young company grade and noncommissioned officers, with the knowledge, training, and tools to swiftly address instances of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, or sexual assault within their units.
The Marine Corps is currently implementing these initiatives:
- Creating additional rank-specific leadership training to address skills and knowledge of SAPR program applicable to each phase of a Marine’s career: contracting for SNCO-specific training and developing field and company grade officer training.
- Providing Sexual Assault Response Coordinators with continuing education opportunities to maintain their certification. The 2019 training will focus on leadership, prevention, emotional intelligence, self-care, program management, and positive cultural change.
- Updating the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response order, MCO 1752.5C, with accompanying directives that operationalize protocols, processes and implementation of the SAPR program across the Marine Corps, e.g., expedited transfer of victim from unit, High Risk Response team, and credentialing for Marines serving in SAPR roles.
- Overhauling SAPR Victims Advocate (VA) Training. The revised 40-hour curriculum focuses entirely on building and refining victim support skills with activities and practical applications to reinforce lessons learned during the course.
Sexual assault is a crime and an affront to everything Marines and the Marine Corps represent. Sexual assault erodes the trust and cohesion within the Marine Corps team, degrades our lethality and readiness, and is incompatible with our core values of honor, courage, and commitment. In the end, this is an issue of trust – trust that fellow Marines will look after each other, trust they will not be assaulted, and trust their command will take appropriate action. Only Marines who trust and respect each other can be fully prepared to fight and win our Nation's battles.