United States Military New Training Tactics: Sex

As a new Army Cadet, you pack your bags and begin your bus trip to the nearest military training facility. You joined the Army because you haven’t found your purpose in life, but you do understand the benefits of a military career. During the bus trip, a thousand different thoughts are going through your mind. Your mind becomes a hurricane full of thought, wander, and doubt. As your bus nears your U.S Army Training and Doctrine Command base, you see the signs to your destination; a destination that you will soon call home for the next six months. You hear the inevitable screeching breaks as the one-ton bus to comes to a halt. As the dust settles, an officer screams at you to get off the bus. As you make your way down the aisle, there are dozens of eyes glaring at you and scrutinizing you – head to toe; analyzing the curvature of your hips and upper torso, and your bone structure. Worst of all, those glaring eyes belong to your new commanding officers who now ultimately determine YOUR future in the U.S military.

Basic training is already daunting and challenging enough without having to deal with sexual assault and harassment. This is a harrowing situation for any new cadet. The examination of new cadets was brought to my attention in General Robert Shadley’s book, “The GAMe: Unraveling a Military Sex Scandal.” General Shadley was a newly appointed one-star general. His responsibility as Chief of Ordnance was in regards to doctrine, training, leadership development, organization, material, and soldier issues for all 129,000 Ordnance soldiers and leaders. Not to mention the fact that he was also responsible for training an average of 25,000 students per year at 11 different installations. General Shadley’s job difficulty was about to get much more difficult because of the sexual assault epidemic throughout the U.S Army. Based upon his outstanding credentials of thirty-five years of military experience, he was the perfect person to confront this problem.

It all began on May 1, 1996; Major General Shadley received his first notification of a sexual assault case reported under the command of COL Webb. The report involved sexual misconduct involving drill sergeants and noncommissioned officer instructors with female trainee students. From here it appeared the floodgates of sexual assault and harassment cases began to overwhelm his desk.

When he led the investigation into sexual assaults, he discovered a juvenile game drill sergeants liked to play. Basically, the objective was to have sex with new cadets who were under their command. Now, if a cadet refused to have sex with their drill sergeant, the drill sergeant could use the threat of giving the female cadet a poor rank. This begins to put the entire TRADOC training process into question, because now there existed an internal variable that directly correlates into a poorly trained unit and creates dysfunction amongst a particular platoon or squad.

What kind of military training are we to expect from these drill sergeants if they are more concerned with having sex than training cadets? How much will the Pentagon, Congress, and our Generals allow before enough is enough?

Now, I understand that not everyone is at fault, and I know there are honorable American soldiers who read and follow the TRADOC Pamphlet, which they were assigned in basic training. General Shadley is one of those great American soldiers who understand his duties and responsibilities as a commander in the Army. He created “crisis” teams to immediately respond to the victims and to ensure they were safe from their assailant; as well as, notifying the Pentagon in order to address this in timely manner. Yet, this was not taken seriously enough and became a lightning rod of blame and accusation from media outlets and his commanders. He lost his position, and after thirty-five years of service, was forced to retire.

Why are there so few books on documented sexual assaults in the military? How are the military branches confronting this epidemic throughout all six branches of the military? Can we as taxpayers blame the Pentagon, the commanders for failing to abide by their sworn oaths, or the lack of education? There are just too many unanswered questions and not enough results. Every year sexual assaults and harassment has increased. For example, in 2012 a confidential Pentagon survey estimated 26,000 men and women were sexually assaulted. Of those, a mere 3,374 cases were reported. In contrast, 5, 061 cases were reported in 2013. The military needs more leaders like General Shadley and should be supporting their actions not condemning them.

Sexual assault continues to have a negative connotation in the military, because it puts young female cadets in a difficult situation. For example, in General Shadley’s book, he describes how both women and men used sex to get ahead. He described the war on sexual assault as necessary and needs to be enforced similar to the Army’s handling of drug abuse in the 1980s; no second chance, no mercy. Prevention of sexual assault is a personal and human relations issue that can only be addressed through legal means. This is just another example of an abuse of power by those who have historically gotten away with it – now is the time to be beholden to legal, moral and ethical standards in the military.