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Department of Defense Press Briefing on Sexual Assault in the Military, May 1, 2014

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–May 1, 2014. Presenters: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; Major General Jeffrey Snow, director, Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office; Nate Galbreath, senior executive advisor, Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: Good afternoon. Happy May Day.

Last week, as I think many of you know, I visited DoD’s safe helpline for survivors of sexual assault. And I saw, when I was over there, an interesting wall with Post-it notes on it. And so I went over to the wall and looked at what those Post-it notes said. And what they were, were notes that recorded individuals who had used the hotline and what they had said, as they called back or ended their conversation with the people in the hotline office.

And they were pretty penetrating, pretty significant, I thought, because those notes were in the words of the people, victims who had used the system. And there was — among many sobering quotes, there was one in particular I want to quote back to you that really struck me. And it read — it was very simple, very brief — it read, “Thank you. All you did tonight was save my life.” That’s pretty powerful.

Now, I know this business is not all that dramatic. I get it. But when you think about what was behind that message and what that victim said, but more importantly what she meant by those words, was — was pretty powerful. And I think we should keep in mind, as we think about this issue and how we continue to go forward and address sexual assault everywhere, the depth of this great crime that is perpetrated against our fellow citizens.

And I want to address here this afternoon very briefly the report that we are issuing today, which some of you, probably most of you have seen. I know it’s been out in the media. And then General [Jeffrey J.] Snow is going to come behind me and kind of go through some of the more specific parts of — of that — with the report that we’re issuing.

Sexual assault is a clear threat to the lives and the well-being of the women and men who serve our country in uniform. It destroys the bonds of trust and confidence that lie at the heart of our armed forces. Over the past year, I’ve issued 22 separate directives to strengthen how DoD prevents and responds to sexual assault in the military, how we support the victims of this despicable crime, how we educate and train our people, and how we hold both offenders and ourselves accountable. I also recently directed standardizing how we screen those in positions of trust throughout the force. These were important steps that we needed to take, but we must do more.

Today, I issued six new directives that will build on what we’ve already done. They include a department-wide review of institutional alcohol policies which will be revised where necessary to address risks that alcohol poses to others, including the risks that alcohol is used as a weapon against victims in a predatory way.

They also require new methods to better encourage male victims to report assaults and seek assistance. With estimates that men comprise more than half the victims of sexual assault in the military, we have to fight the cultural stigmas that discourage reporting and be clear that sexual assault does not occur because a victim is weak, but rather because an offender disregards our values and the law.

Input from male victims will be critical in developing these methods, and results will be closely monitored so we can make them more effective. The best way to combat this crime is to prevent it. As a result, today we are issuing a substantially revised DOD sexual assault prevention strategy.

While many of my directives this past year have focused on strengthening prevention, the prevention strategy hasn’t been updated since it was first drafted here in 2008 and will now be updated every two years. The updated strategy reflects the initiatives I’ve directed over the past year and was put together in consultation with experts from the CDC, the FBI, law enforcement, and other organizations, as well as colleges and universities.

By collaborating with people and institutions that also deal with this problem every day, we learned a lot about how to develop the most effective evidence-based methods to prevent sexual assault. Now we will put them into practice.

We’re also releasing the 2013 annual report on sexual assault in the military, which underscores that we have a long way to go before we get close to solving this problem. We believe victims are growing more confident in our system. Because these crimes are underreported, we took steps to increase reporting, and that’s what we’re seeing.

Last year, we had a 50 percent increase in sexual assault reports, which is unprecedented. We also had 492 servicemembers — nearly four times more than ever before — come forward to report assaults that had occurred before they joined the military, which meant that we were able to get them the care and give them the support that they need.

However, we also believe these crimes are still underreported, so we must keep up the pressure and intensify our efforts to improve victim confidence in our system as we work to prevent sexual assault in the military. The 2013 report also shows that commanders were able to take stronger disciplinary action against alleged perpetrators and that they were doing so much more frequently than in the past. Disciplinary actions in cases where the military had jurisdiction reached a high of 73 percent last year. When commanders took disciplinary action on sexual assault offenses, they moved to court martial a record 71 percent of alleged perpetrators. These results indicated that our investments in training investigators and attorneys are continuing to make a difference in our ability to hold offenders accountable.

As I noted, Major General Snow will provide more detail about both the strategy that I’m announcing today and the report. But let me close by saying that every single person in the military, every single person, must take personal responsibility for helping stop sexual violence within our ranks. That includes both sexual assault and sexual harassment. Every one of us must hold ourselves and each other accountable at every level of command. We must hold ourselves accountable for living up to our values, meeting standards, and making sure that everyone, whether they’re in the military or not, is treated with dignity and respect.

To the victims and survivors of sexual assault in the military, know that DoD’s leaders and I are listening to you, and we will do everything we can to support you. So will our commander-in-chief. The recommendations announced on Tuesday by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault underscored the president’s strong commitment to putting an end to this violence wherever it occurs.

If you want to wear the uniform of the United States military, just understanding our core values is not enough. We must live all — live and enforce those values. And we must do that every day. We must each be responsible for our own actions, but we also must step up and take action when we see something happening that undermines our values and puts one of our own at risk.

The victims are not only human beings; they’re fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. We cannot let them down. Thank you very much.

General Snow? General, thank you for your tremendous work and leadership. Thank you very much.

MAJOR GENERAL JEFFREY SNOW: Well, good afternoon. Our mission is to reduce, with the goal of eliminating, sexual assault for the United States armed forces. As you just heard from the secretary, today we’re releasing the annual report on sexual assaults involving military members, as required by Congress.

This year, we organized a report according to the five lines of effort in the strategic plan the secretary approved last year — prevention, investigation, accountability, advocacy, and victim assistance and assessment.

In addition to giving you the top-line results from the fiscal year ’13 annual report on sexual assault in the military, I’ll also give you more detail on the Department of Defense sexual assault prevention strategy and the initiatives directed by Secretary Hagel.

In the report, we have detailed the policy and program enhancements made in FY13 to prevent and respond to the crime. In the interest of time, I’d like to highlight three for you.

We created the special victims counsel program. This offers legal consultation and representation to victims of sexual assault throughout the justice process. More than 185 attorneys are now directly supporting victims across the armed forces.

Another reform, we put in place new methods of assessing the performance of military commanders and enlisted leaders in establishing command climates of dignity and respect. This is done through a system of unit surveys and performance evaluations.

And the last example, we fielded a special victim capability in each of the services. This is a program designed to improve collaboration between specially trained investigators, collaboration — prosecutors and legal personnel who respond to allegations of sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence. This capability improves our ability to identify evidence, support victims, and hold offenders appropriately accountable. Numerous additional program or policy enhancements are detailed in the report.

Our top line results are measured in the choices of victims, victims who have made the courageous choice to report. And as you just heard from the secretary, they’re doing so in unprecedented numbers.

I’d like to remind everybody that sexual assault is an underreported crime. As such, the department took steps to increase reporting, because each report allows us to provide care to a victim and an opportunity to hold an offender appropriately accountable. This year’s 50 percent increase indicates to us that victims have greater confidence in the response system.

While we see indications that our efforts over the last year-and-a-half are having an impact, it does not mean that we are satisfied with our progress. We will continue to encourage greater reporting while reducing the occurrence of this crime by improving our prevention measures.

The department takes action in every case where it has jurisdiction and sufficient evidence to do so. This year, commanders had sufficient evidence to take disciplinary actions against 73 percent of alleged offenders. This is up from 66 percent from the prior year.

This chart shows the historical trends of our sexual assault reporting in the department. It is important to note that each report consists of at least one military subject or one military victim. The crimes involved, the range of — involved the range of sexual assault offenses in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, from abusive sexual contact to rape.

As you can see on the chart, historically, reports of sexual assault on the average have increased 5 percent per year since 2006. This year’s overall increase in reporting was an unprecedented 50 percent.

In the department, there are two ways to report a sexual assault — an unrestricted report, which is referred for investigation by independent criminal investigators, and a restricted report, which remains confidential. As in prior years, about 75 percent of our reports are unrestricted reports, and 25 percent are restricted reports. This has stayed somewhat stable since 2006.

In fiscal year 13, just over half of the matters investigated by military criminal investigators involve an initial allegation of a penetrating offense, such as rape or forcible sodomy. The remainder of the allegations involved non-penetrating offenses, which are sexual contact crimes, such as groping. The proportions of the types of crimes alleged have stayed somewhat — somewhat the same over time. The top three crimes reported to the department were abusive sexual contact, sexual assault, and rape.

The department’s assessment of increased confidence is supported by the additional metric that shows an increase in victim reports of incidents occurring prior to military — prior to joining the military. Ten percent of reports made this year were for incidents of sexual assault that occurred prior to military service. This figure has never exceeded 4 percent.

The percentage of alleged sexual assault offenders receiving some kind of disciplinary action has been growing each year. We believe this reflects an investment in the training of our investigators and prosecutors. This chart answers the question, when commanders have legal authority over the offender and sufficient evidence of a sexual assault, what form of disciplinary action do they take against the offender? As you can see, this year’s commanders had sufficient evidence to prefer court martial charges on 71 percent of accused service members. That has not always been the case. The system of military justice that we have in place today is significantly different from the one that existed as recently as two years ago.

This data also demonstrates that more and more victims are getting an opportunity to be heard in the military justice system. As I mentioned, we’ve taken our assistance to victims to a new level with the special victims counsel program. This confidential support helps keep victims participating in the military justice system for as long as they desire.

The bottom line: Commanders are taking allegations of sexual assault very seriously and holding offenders appropriately accountable.

As Secretary Hagel just said, the best way to combat sexual assault is to prevent it, which is why he directed the implementation of an updated sexual assault prevention strategy designed to institutionalize a comprehensive approach across the department. Using this strategy, we will intensify our efforts at every level of military society to prevent this crime.

By establishing the right command climate, ensuring leadership support, and empowering service members to safely intervene, the Department of Defense will be the last place a military offender wants to be.

This strategy was developed collaboratively with the military service and civilian experts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI, and colleges and universities with innovative programs and research.

In order for prevention to work, as reflected on this slide, steps must be taken at every level from individuals to leadership who make policy. At the core of this effort, we place commanders. It is commanders that set the tone in their units and will be the means by which we foster climates of dignity and respect.

In addition to the prevention strategy, the secretary has also directed the implementation of several measures to enhance our program, and they are reflected on this slide. I’d like to amplify each of the bullets.

On the first directive, advance and sustain appropriate culture, our leaders must promote healthy relationships, encourage active bystander intervention and social courage, and demonstrate daily how our core values support mutual respect.

Second, we are evaluating commander SAPR training. We will be reviewing the implementation of the newly developed core competencies and learning objectives for pre-command and senior enlisted training to ensure they understand the nature of the crime and that they know how to engage our response system to support victims.

Third, we are reviewing alcohol policies. We’re asking the service to ensure their alcohol policies encourage responsible sales practice, training of providers, and involve the support of the communities around our installations to reduce the risks posed by alcohol and improve safety to our service members.

Fourth, we are taking steps to improve reporting for male victims. To promote recovery among male victims who report this crime at a much lower rate than female victims, we’re asking the services to enhance their efforts to encourage male victims to report and seek care.

Fifth, in order for everyone to have the latest information and make promising practices common practices, we are creating an online forum to share research and innovations in prevention.

And, finally, we want to hear how we are doing from those who use our services. To do so, the Department of Defense and the services are collaboratively fielding a survey for victims of this crime.

In summary, we’re encouraged by the increase in reports made by victims of this crime. Given historical data, we believe the increase in reporting reflects senior leader focus and improved victim confidence, not an increase in crime.

We continue to work to be a national leader on sexual assault prevention and response. We understand and we acknowledge the problem. We provide professional advocacy to victims and empower them to report. We provide an avenue for confidential reporting. We conduct independent investigations. And as we — as reflected in this year’s report, we measure our effectiveness and report progress publicly and transparently, and we will continue to do so.

We’ll always remember that behind these numbers there are real soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have been victimized by this terrible crime. To those that are working so hard to create an environment in our armed forces that is based on our values, that hold our troops to high standards and reject sexist behaviors, sexual harassment, and crude or offensive behavior, thank you. You are the standard-bearers, and your efforts are making a difference.

But we can, and we must do more. Help create the climate where our people do not look the other way when standards are breached and lead your troops in a way that inspire them to step up and act.

I’d like to close with two messages, one to victims of this crime and the other to the offenders. First, to the victims. For those of you that have been a victim of this crime, I want you to know that we are working very hard to establish a climate where these assaults do not happen. If you have been a victim, please, please reach out to your local [sexual assault response coordinator] (SARC), victim advocate, a health care professional, or the Department of Defense Safe Help Line. We want you to get the support you need. You will be treated with the privacy you desire, the sensitivity you deserve, and the seriousness that this crime demands.

To the offenders committing this crime, we don’t care who you are or what rank you hold. If you don’t understand our core values and are not prepared to live by and enforce those values every day, then we don’t want you in our military.

Let me say it one more time: We expect every service member to live by the values and standards we set. And if you’re not prepared to accept this responsibility, then you should leave. Thank you for your attention.

Dr. [Nate] Galbreath, who’s the primary author of this report, will now join me, and we’d be happy to take your questions.


Q: General, Bob Burns from AP. You made the point that you don’t believe that this large increase in the number of crimes reported reflects any increase in actual crimes committed. How do you know that?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Okay, here’s why I say that. I mean, number one — number one, we do a survey every two years. So you are correct in that there is no survey for this year. But we’ve done surveys since 2006, and the prevalence rate has been remarkably consistent. So, women have reported that between 4 percent and 7 percent report some form of unwanted sexual contact. In the case of men, it’s been 1 percent to 2 percent. So that’s why I don’t believe the fact that the increase in reports constitutes an increase in crimes, but I’d like Dr. Galbreath to also amplify that.

NATE GALBREATH: For the sake of argument, let’s look to the time when the department had a high prevalence rate. In 2006, 6.8 percent of women and 1.8 percent of men indicated they experienced unwanted sexual contact in the year prior to being surveyed. That year, we only received reports from just short of 2,300 military members. This year, even given that prevalence rate, we had an increase in reporting. We are eroding away at the underreporting problem.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Thanks. Next question, please. Chuck?

Q: I apologize if this is in the report; I haven’t had a chance to read it all.


Q: And it’s a bit of perhaps a delicate question, but I’m interested in the directive having to do — that’s focused on male victims. Do you have any breakdown as to what share of these crimes are male-on-male and what share are female-on-male?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Sure. Do you want to do that one?

MR. GALBREATH: Absolutely. There are two sources for this data in the department. If we look at our reports, the crimes that are reported, then only a very small percentage of the crimes that the department receives are male-on-male. However, we get a better picture of the types of crimes that males actually experience when we look at our survey data.

So past survey data has shown — because, once again, if you think about our problem as an iceberg, the tip of the iceberg is the reports that we receive every year. The remainder of the iceberg, or the iceberg in total, is the survey data. So just looking at the tip of the iceberg, we don’t necessarily know what the whole nature of that problem could possibly be.

If we look at our survey data, we see a bit different picture. As a matter of fact, in the 2010 survey, where we were able to have this kind of information and had very good response rates from male victims, what we found is, is that 35 percent of men indicated their offender was another man, 40 percent indicated that their offender was a woman, and the remainder indicated that their offender were men and women acting together.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Next question, please.

Q: Secretary Hagel said that there were 492, I think, reports that had occurred prior to their military service.


Q: So that — if my math — if my math is correct, 4,679 — so the 4,679 actually occurred — the reports were that the assaults occurred in the calendar year of 2013, is that correct? Or were some of those also prior to the year, but not — but while the person was in military service? I guess what I’m trying to figure out is, how many reports did you have in 2013?

MR. GALBREATH: Absolutely.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Okay. Go ahead.

MR. GALBREATH: Yes, sir. The reports that we had that we received this year, only 14 percent occurred more than a year prior to — to the incident — I mean, to being reported. So the vast majority of the cases — of the cases that were reported this year we believe occurred within this calendar year or immediately prior to it.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Just to clarify, I mean, so the secretary, in his comment, though, was actually referring to that 10 percent — that was prior to military service, not prior to the calendar year.



Q: Okay. And then I’d also ask about the command action graph. So the number of court martials preferred went way up. Do you have any numbers on how many of those led to successful convictions? And then can you also explain why — and maybe it’s just the court martials going up — but why the non-judicial and the administrative actions and discharges went down so dramatically?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Yeah, do you want to talk to that?

MR. GALBREATH: Absolutely.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: It’s really — there’s a lot more depth behind that one slide, I guess is to say.

MR. GALBREATH: So of the court martials that went to — that proceeded to court this year, 76 percent of offenders were convicted on at least one charge resulting out of that court martial. Now, that charge could have been for a penetrating offense, a non-penetrating offense, or for some other misconduct charge that wasn’t sexual assault-related. So 76 percent of offenders were found guilty this year.

Now, the other question, remind me?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Nonjudicial…

Q: Why the nonjudicial and adverse administrative went down so much?

MR. GALBREATH: Absolutely. I believe that reflects the department’s seriousness in looking at this crime. What we’re finding is, is that the — because of the underreported — or reporting related to this crime, commanders rarely see these events out in the field. And so prior to the Sexual Assault Prevention Response Program, few of them really knew the counterintuitive nature of this crime and how offenders worked, and we’ve been working very, very hard to educate them and also our criminal investigators and our attorneys that work these crimes.

We believe that what you see is a return on our investment that people are smarter about how sex offenders behave. They’re no longer buying into the rape myths that are common in our society. And this is a direct reflection on our training and investment.

Q: And so the 76 percent of offenders who are convicted, that — at least one charge could be — just for argument’s sake, it could be — it could be anything that was related to this incident, like the alcohol…


Q: Okay, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sexual charge — a charge that’s sexual in nature that they’re convicted of.

MR. GALBREATH: Let me put it this way. The vast — the majority of them were for a sexual assault offense, but, yes, some percentage were for other misconduct.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: And that is broken out in the report.

Yes, sir?

Q: If I could follow up on that (OFF-MIC) you know, of course, a lot of these cases are restricted reports, so don’t result in any criminal investigation. Can you give us a better sense — flipping those numbers around — of how many — raw numbers — cases actually go to court martial last year and, really, what numbers all part of where you know — an offender’s name is reported who is military don’t result in any discipline?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Okay, let me — I just want to do the first part of that. So, I mean, we do know on that number report — and I think I said this, but the breakdown of those — about 75 percent of them are unrestricted reports, so that prompts an investigation done, 25 percent are, in fact, the restricted report. So it allows them to get the care, but there’s no investigation.

Q: But the percentages you’ve been giving are where you have enough evidence to move forward, so I guess I’m trying to flip that — you know, these are really difficult cases to investigate and prosecute, but what percentage of cases don’t result in any discipline, where you know the perpetrator was military?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Sure, we do have that. It’s not on the slide. It is detailed in the report.

MR. GALBREATH: So the answer is, is that military commanders looked at 2,149 military offenders this year.

Q: You mean last year?

MR. GALBREATH: Excuse me, FY 13.


MR. GALBREATH: Okay. Out of that, 1,569, or 73 percent, received some kind of disciplinary action, okay?

Q: (OFF-MIC) sexual assault suspects…


Q: You’re not lumping in harassment…

MR. GALBREATH: No, sexual assault suspects, no harassment. These are people that were alleged to have perpetrated a penetrating or non-penetrating offense as defined by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Twenty-seven percent of those or — did not go forward, because either the department didn’t have sufficient evidence or the victim declined to participate in the crime or the matter was beyond our statute of limitations. Okay?

Q: Thank you.

Q: Can I follow up?


Q: Yeah, hi. So maybe — this might be an oversimplification, but I’m just looking in to see if there’s a comparison here. The biggest number I see is that 50 percent increase in reports all together, right? So was there an equal — and whether they were convicted or not, was there a similar increase in the number of cases that went to courts martial? So you’ve got 50 percent increase in the number of reports. Are you seeing 50 percent more courts martial?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Do you know the percentage, Nate? You can just stand there– I don’t know what that — what that breakdown is, but there is a corresponding increase.

MR. GALBREATH: So keep in mind that our data reflects a bit of a time shift. When a report is made, and it’s an unrestricted report, it’s referred to the military criminal investigative organization for an independent investigation. That takes time.

So there’s a bit of a time lag between our reports that we receive and the action that is taken, because we have to gather evidence, interview witnesses and victims, and process the evidence in the crime lab.

So, yes, this year, that 2,149 of people that we reviewed this year, that compares to 1,714 people who were subjects that we looked at last year for disciplinary action. So, yes, that’s increased by a percent.

I won’t do your public math, but what I will tell you is…

Q: It’s not 50.

MR. GALBREATH: It’s not 50. But, again, just keep in mind that there is a lag, so we’re going to be looking for a similarly great number next year.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Yes, sir, in the back?

Q: When you talk about that number — and Craig mentioned it — the 2,149 service members that were identified as under legal jurisdiction and suspected of sexual assault, and you carry that through, I think the number of people actually convicted of the court martial is 370, maybe, and then the number that were convicted of a sexual offender qualifying crime was something like 197.

I guess this is for you, General Snow. Are you satisfied with those numbers as a proportion of the investigations that the system is allowed to get into? Do you feel like — I mean, setting aside the number of victims that step forward, do you feel like the cases that are carried through to the conclusion of significant disciplinary action, is that — is that working as well as you’d like?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: I think we have taken steps to address different aspects of the program. I mean, one of the things we talked about is the — is the training we’ve done for investigators to get them more sensitive, to the individuals that are actually conducting these investigations. I think there’s been corresponding — there’s been training for the prosecuters.

Each one of these crimes is very unique, and it’s tried based on the merits of that case. And so — I mean, I don’t know that — it’s not a question of whether I’m satisfied or not. What I would say is, the victims are getting their day in court, and the results are the results.

I think — so we’re doing the right things, I think, on the front end to get the victims the support that they need so they can make an informed decision. We’re doing the right thing to train the investigators and the prosecutors. But these things — these things play out in court in…


MR. GALBREATH: Our justice system has a very high bar.


MR. GALBREATH: It does. It’s beyond a reasonable doubt. And so in order for an attorney to take a case to court, they have to have a strong belief ethically that a crime has been committed and sufficient evidence to demonstrate that that occurred. And so as a result, because of our justice system, that’s how these cases play out, and that’s the way that they should be, because the department is invested in making sure that justice is balanced.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Sir, Tom?


MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Yeah, hi, Tom.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about the decision behind standardizing the sensitive position screening? As you know, the Army disqualified 588 soldiers, and you’re going to be expanding their criteria, as I understand it, to the other services. Do you expect that more troops are going to be disqualified from these positions?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: That possibility certainly exists. But I — what I would share with this is — and, Tom, I can share with you the actual directive that came out on this. What happened is, is there’s a requirement to do this. We actually did this for SARCs and victim advocates. Each of the services had a requirement to do this.

And, in fact, what we learned is each of them, they did it. They accomplished what the secretary asked them to do. But in the process of doing so, there were kind of best practices. And it prompted a conversation which I think is good. One of the benefits of having a program like this is — you heard the secretary say, well, we hold ourselves accountable. One of those things is, when the services are told to do something and screen this, and then they come back and we talk about it, what we identified is each of them went about it a little bit differently.

And so the secretary took all that and said, you know what, I think we can learn from this and take the best practices, if you will, and expand that. And that’s what his directive has done, is to identify those positions and actually go out and do further research. That’s what the directive says, to then come back with them and determine, how were we going to standardize? What are the actual positions? We’ve done that, but then what are the actual screening criteria associated with that? I don’t know if that answers your question.

Q: Well, did you find — did the Army find that there was a particular sort of position, a recruiter, for example, that the other services weren’t looking at that, that there were problems in those ranks that needed to be examined?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: You know, I would — I would actually ask you — and defer to the Army to answer that specific question. There was a breakout. I mean, we — we specifically were looking at — at SARC and victim advocates. They, in fact, expanded it to recruiters and trainers. So that possibility does exist, but I’ll leave it to the Army to kind of walk you through their numbers.

Let’s go — I’m sorry. I’m not going to say you. I’m going to say you, because I didn’t pick you.

Q: General, Stephanie (OFF-MIC) what can you tell us about the accused or the offenders? Do you have any data on, like, who they are generally, their rank, by service? Is it more — I mean, obviously, the Army is the biggest branch, but are these higher-ranking guys or service members, men and women, who are being accused? Are they lower? Their age? Any data on who they are?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: I’m going to actually defer to Dr. Galbreath on that. I think the age demographic is pretty consistent.

MR. GALBREATH: It’s very consistent. The vast majority of our offenders are somewhere between the rank of E-1 and E-9. And — but I would tell you that that’s — you know, when we capture things by rank-banding, it’s not quite as precise. So if we take a look at our ages, the vast majority of our offenders are between the ages of 18 and 35. And so…

Q: And what does that — what does that say to you?



MR. GALBREATH: I mean, not the whole military. It’s the lower age ranges in the — in the department. Clearly, this is very consistent with what we see in the civilian community, as well, that our victims tend to be E-1 to E-4, between the ages of 18 and 25. Our offenders tend to be a little bit older and a little bit higher in rank, but, you know, most of them are peer or near-peer crimes that occur.

So these are people that work with each other every day. You know, the numbers that we see that were announced by the White House this last week are very similar to what we see in the military, as far as who — the demographics of the crime. These are — you know, 90 percent of the people, the offenders, work with the victim in the military. These are not strangers. These are people that they know, that they work with every day, and they trust. And that’s why this — it makes this crime such a horrible one.

Q: Jamie Crawford with CNN. I was just curious if you could expand a little more on what you attribute the erosion of the underreported number to. Is it an environment where victims feel more comfortable coming forward? Is it expansion of tools? Just what — what do you attribute that to?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: I can do that. I’ll tell you, I think there’s two things that we can attribute — I mean, one, that this was clear direction from the secretary to address this particular issue. So there’s two things. One, I’d attribute it to the senior leader emphasis.

And by that, senior leader emphasis, we’re talking about ultimately something that’s got to get all the way down, okay? But it starts at the top, and so that senior leader emphasis and focus and then getting that and driving that throughout the department I think is one thing.

The second thing is, we have done a number of things to enhance victim confidence, whether it’s legal representation — I mean, literally, I can get with you offline and give you a laundry list, but the culmination of those two things, the senior leader focus and the number of things that enhance victim confidence we think are responsible. This is not an accident that there’s a 50 percent increase in reporting. Do you want to amplify that?

MR. GALBREATH: Sir, I would agree with that. I’ve been with SAPRO since 2007 in one form or another. I was the first military deputy of the — director of the office.

And what I would offer to you is, what has changed on the horizon is that senior leader focus. We talk to everyone in the department on this issue now. The secretary of defense, the deputy — the acting deputy secretary of defense, and other — and all four — all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are all fully engaged on this, like they never have been before. And we really do believe that this is — people have heard their message and are coming forward as a result of that.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: If I could add — just say one more thing to that, Jamie. You know, one of the things I try and do is get out and circulate to spend time with each of the services. Obviously, I’ve grown up predominantly in the Army, but this has given me an opportunity to go out and spend time with each of the services.

I’ve had the opportunity to do that, and I’ll tell you, I see a level of dialogue and a conversation about this particular crime that, quite frankly, I did not see as recent as when I was last in command, okay? And so I think the environment has changed. I think leaders are really working very, very hard and coming to grips. I think it’s attributed to the effort to train them better, okay. Some of this is not intuitive, and so they’ve — each of the services have gone after this to make sure that their leaders are trained, so it’s a combination of those, but it’s not by accident.

Next question, please?

Q: (OFF-MIC) McClatchy Newspapers. Senator McCaskill of Missouri is out with a statement. Her response to this report is pretty similar to the Pentagon’s response, which is that it reflects a greater trust, greater confidence from victims. She’s also claiming that, even though Congress has not passed her law, the Senate has passed it, the House has not passed it, that the Pentagon has already — is already implementing the provisions or some of the provisions of her law. Is that true? And can you talk about whether you’ve worked with her and her staff and have consulted with her and her staff?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: I shall take that one. And what I would say is, one, we really admire the passion and the partnership we’ve had with Congress on this particular issue. As to the specific of the pending legislation, we’re not going to talk about the pending legislation. Okay.

Q: Have you consulted at all with Senator McCaskill and her staff? Has she been involved?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: I wouldn’t say consulted. But one of the things that we do do — and work very hard to do — is make sure that — that we’re — they are informed and that they understand. As a matter of fact, this morning, my deputy was over on the Hill talking to them about this report. So not so much consulting, but in terms of informing them and giving — and sharing our thoughts.

And the other thing is, I do think this is interesting. This partnership is very, very powerful. The secretary has been very clear on this in terms of, there’s a number of things that have started up as initiatives within the department to address some aspect of our program. Many of those have been codified in law. So we’re — it’s going to take all of us working on this particular issue to address it. And we appreciate the partnership.


Q: (OFF-MIC) your deputy was on the Hill consulting with them. Were you talking about Senator McCaskill?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Not consulting. This is not — we’ve got a responsibility to inform them about this. This is — brief them on the results of the report.

Q: Them being all?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Them being all, not specific to Senator McCaskill. I think that — I suspect, if she was not there herself, a member of her team was. So the one more question. Yes?

Q: Hi, Jon Harper with Stars and Stripes. Regarding your alcohol policy review, can you talk about some specific steps you’re considering taking? Are you going to try to restrict service members’ access to alcohol? Are you going to crack down on alcohol-related offenses, like intoxication, drunk driving, those kinds of things? And also, would it be possible to get a breakdown of the accused perpetrators in terms of the percentage of officers versus enlisted? And actually, can you — do you know that off the top of your head?



Yeah, I — well, I will tell you — I will refer you for the actual percentages to the report itself. It’s in the section, the demographic section, that will give you a drill-down of exactly what the percentages are. But the vast majority of our accused offenders are enlisted. And I — and less than a quarter, I believe, are officers, far less than a quarter. But please go to the report and get the actual — the actual data.

And one of the things — you know, I’m glad you asked that question about alcohol, because what you suggested are really the traditional ways of trying to approach this problem is — and look at the problems associated with individual use. This last October, the prevention team and I spent a lot of time with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And we asked them, what we can do different? What else is out there? What can we do?

And they referred to us for two very promising practices. And you can Google these yourself and — and look at them and see what you think. But bottom line is that, in the state of California, they have what’s called responsible beverage service. And this is training providers to understand how people consume alcohol, what its effects are on the body, and how to maybe be — serve people in a way that diminishes those impacts — those effects on the body so that they don’t get intoxicated as quickly.

For example, whenever someone serves a drink, they also provide a menu to someone to maybe eat something to slow the absorption of alcohol into the system. The — those are just examples.

Also, you look at times associated with when you sell things. Do you really need to sell someone five fifths of bourbon at 2 o’clock in the morning? Probably not. But at the — but, again, the communities that use these approaches — actually, we looked at some of the outcome data that was shared with the CDC, and they have seen some decrease in — in violent crime associated with these policies.

And the last one, the second place that we’ve looked at is the state of Arizona. It’s called safer bars initiative. And you can look at that yourself, but, again, it’s kind of the ideas of what do we do to make these environments where people consume alcohol more safe and make the risk of sexual assault and other violent crime less likely?

Q: Can I have one more numbers question, actually?

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Can I just — one other comment. As to the actual — you know, I’ll share the directive with you — but each of these, there’s a suspense associated with that directive where the services actually come back and brief the secretary and share their findings. So as to whether or not what revisions and the specificity of the revisions, I mean, each of the services are committed to looking at this. I mean, again, this was done very collaboratively. As to what changes will actually be made, that’s yet to be determined.

Okay, I…

Q: (OFF-MICE) report, I apologize. The 76 percent who — who were convicted of at least one charge, do you have any numbers of how many of those actually did jail time?

MR. GALBREATH: Yes, as a matter of fact. If you give me two seconds…

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: While he’s doing that, if I could just make this point — and I — it is very difficult. I could show you the volume of this report, okay, and part of our effort to transparency, so what I — I would really encourage you to spend some time, because some of those questions in the breakdown are numbers — we consciously didn’t want to take you down there [in this briefing], because I can lose you in the percentage numbers, but they are all detailed in there, okay? So I encourage you to do that. Go ahead.

MR. GALBREATH: So 73 percent of subjects convicted at court martial this year received confinement. But I would also offer to you that it depends on the crime that is prosecuted. And what we saw is, is that for the more serious crimes, for the penetrating crimes, we saw a vast majority getting jail time, as high as 94 percent. So that’s — the average over all the different kinds of crimes kind of waters it down a little bit. When you look at the actual crimes that are the most serious, they were getting jail time at a very high rate.

MAJ. GEN. SNOW: Okay. Thank you very much for your attention.

Related Material:

 Department of Defense Issues New Initiatives to Eliminate Sexual Assault, Updates Prevention Strategy and Releases 2013 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military

Source: defense.gov


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