Military woes: sexual assaults – and nuclear weapons

Sexual assaults in military going up, according to Defense Department study, despite promises to fix the problem. Why is sexual assault such a hard problem for the military?  

By , Guest blogger

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    Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, right, and Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday. The Air Force is dealing with controversy over sexual assaults and how the military justice system handles it.
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After years of repeated reports of sexual assaults – and years of promises to prevent them, and then years of studies and commissions to find the best way of doing so – a Defense Department study released Tuesday estimates that some 26,000 people in the military were sexually assaulted in the last fiscal year, up from about 19,000 the year before. 

Moreover, it turns out the Air Force lieutenant colonel in charge of preventing sexual assault has been arrested for  … sexual assault. According to the police report, a drunken Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski allegedly approached a woman in a parking lot in Arlington, Va. Sunday night, and grabbed her breasts and buttocks. 

Why has it been so difficult for the Air Force or the Defense Department to remedy this problem?

Recommended: The evolution of sexual harassment awareness

Speaking of which, the Air Force has just removed from duty seventeen launch officers at the Minot nuclear missile base in North Dakota — one of three bases responsible for controlling, and, if necessary, launching, strategic nuclear missiles — for violating weapons safety rules. The base commander characterized their negligence as “rot.

One officer was found to have intentionally broken a safety rule that could have compromised the secret codes enabling missiles to be launched.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley points to the removal of the seventeen as evidence that the Air Force has strengthened its oversight of the nuclear force. And he explains that members of the launch crew are usually relatively junior officers with limited service experience. 

Reassuring? 

Further steps will be taken to prevent one of our missiles from accidentally causing a nuclear holocaust. But I hope the Air Force does a better job remedying this problem than it’s done preventing sexual assaults. 

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. This post originally ran on www.robertreich.org.

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