The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 14, 2013

Military works to change culture to combat rape

(Continued)

Saying the culture has to change, Lt. Col. Rick Hughes told the group: "America's view is that the military condones sexual assault."

At Fort Bliss Army base in Texas, Sgt. Wallace Levy inappropriately rubbed a soldier's back to see if those in his training class would react. When no one did, he admonished them: "Don't look the other way if you see it happening."

Each branch of the military is imposing new rules, mostly aimed at service members in their 20s, who the Pentagon says are most vulnerable to an attack.

The Army implemented a 9 p.m. curfew and banned alcohol for young soldiers at 22 of its basic training facilities. The Marine Corps' top leader ordered "climate surveys" for all new commanders to check for harassment, hazing and alcohol problems among their subordinates.

The Air Force put a female two-star general in charge of a beefed-up office responsible for sexual assault prevention and response, while the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado hired a civilian psychology professor to teach courses on interpersonal violence and men and masculinity for one year.

The Navy plans to replicate the nightly patrols roaming San Diego's bases at some 70 installations worldwide, including in Pensacola, Fla.; Naples, Italy; and Yokosuka, Japan.

Military officials are also learning from mistakes made while trying to address the problem. Responding to a lawmaker's complaints, the Air Force this summer pulled a brochure circulated at a South Carolina base that stated, "If you're attacked, it may be advisable to submit than to resist."

Some service members have bristled at the new restrictions, calling them unfair for punishing all for the sins of a few.

"This represents the military's simplistic approach to solving a complex issue that it has ignored for years," Army Spc. Sam Ellison, a 28-year-old soldier at Texas' Goodfellow Air Force Base, which has a 9 p.m. curfew for new troops, wrote in an email to the Army Times newspaper.

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