For more than a decade, the occurrence of sexual assault in the US military has generated increasing public condemnation from assault survivors, Congress, Department of Defense (DoD) leaders, and advocacy groups. Despite efforts to improve the prevention of and response to such assaults, the most recent DoD annual report, published in 2020, shows a 3 percent increase in reported cases—from 6053 in 2017-18 to 6236 in 2018-19. However, estimates of the actual number of such assaults are much higher. A watershed 2014 report by RAND estimated approximately 20,000 of the US military’s 1.3 active duty personnel experienced one or more sexual assaults in the previous year, representing 4.9 percent of active duty women and 1 percent of active duty men. Pressure is mounting on the Pentagon leadership to significantly reform how it handles sexual assault within the ranks—a problem that many now believe poses an unacceptable threat to the health and welfare of military service members as well as to the preparedness and effectiveness of military units.
This episode of Transatlantic Currents will discuss: the origins, methodologies, and major conclusions of a series of DoD-commissioned reports that revealed the extent of this disturbing phenomenon; and the reforms under consideration by the Pentagon and Congress.
Questions of equality and harassment have increasingly come to the fore across many armed forces. Solutions are by their nature national, but the global nature of the issues involved make it important to learn from and understand how others address these issues. This webinar reflects on issues concerning the US military but have been raised also elsewhere.
Transatlantic Currents is a monthly webinar series hosted by FIIA featuring American experts of political science and international relations. The series will cover a wide array of timely topics from foreign policy to domestic issues. The webinars will be hosted by Ambassador (ret.) Deborah McCarthy, Fellow, Harvard University or Non-Resident Fellow Leo Michel, FIIA.
The recording of the webinar is available at FIIA’s youtube-channel: