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July 5, 2013

Fort Irwin stands down for SHARP training

Gustavo Bahena, Public Affairs Office NTC and Fort Irwin
Public Affairs Office NTC and Fort Irwin

The National Training Center and Fort Irwin took part in a stand down to participate in Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training, June 7.

Soldiers and civilian employees of this High Desert military installation spent that Friday gathered in small groups to receive briefings from Soldiers versed in the SHARP program. Groups also dialogued amongst each other and with unit commanders. Major units and organizations include the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 916th Support Brigade, Operations Group, United States Army Medical Department Activity, U.S. Army Dental Clinic Command, Fort Irwin U.S. Army Garrison and the NTC Headquarters.

The SHARP program exists so the Army can prevent sexual harassment and sexual assaults before they occur; the goal is to eliminate sexual harassment and sexual assaults by creating a climate that respects the dignity of every member of the Army Family.

Army installations world-wide conducted stand downs in June after Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh issued a memorandum detailing the requirement.

The Army’s Web site, www.sexualassault.army.mil, states: sexual assault is a crime defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy (oral or anal sex), indecent assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling), or attempts to commit these acts.

Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender or spousal relationship or age of victim. “Consent” will not be deemed or construed to mean the failure by the victim to offer physical resistance. Consent is not given when a person uses force, threat of force, or coercion or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, or unconscious.

The SHARP training conducted during the stand down provided information about the reporting options available to victims of a sexual assault. Unrestricted reporting allows a Soldier, and an adult dependent who is sexually assaulted to seek medical treatment/Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE), counseling, and an official investigation of his/her allegation through current reporting channels (e.g., the chain of command or law enforcement). Victims may also file an unrestricted report with the SARC/SHARP Specialist or VA/SHARP Specialist. Restricted reporting allows a Soldier, and adult dependent who is a victim of sexual assault, on a confidential basis, to disclose the details of his/her assault to specifically identified individuals (e.g., the SARC, VA, or healthcare provider) and receive medical treatment/SAFE and counseling, as well as legal counsel without triggering the official investigative process. On Fort Irwin, the 24-hour hotline for reporting is (760) 401-3074.

The cornerstone of the Army’s prevention strategy is the “I. A. M. Strong” campaign. The letters I, A, and M stand for Intervene – Act – Motivate. The I. A.M. Strong campaign features Soldiers as influential role models and provides peer-to-peer messages outlining the Army’s intent for all its members to personally take action in the effort to protect our communities.

The prevention strategy and campaign includes educating and training Soldiers to ensure they understand their moral responsibility to intervene in stopping sexual assault and sexual harassment. A critical aspect of the prevention campaign is the engagement of non-commissioned officers across the Army. The involvement of NCO’s at all levels from corporal to sergeant major is necessary for the Army to achieve aggressive green-tab action and strike at the nerve of every Soldier, so that Soldiers intercede when they observe actions or behaviors that could lead to a sexual assault. The Army expects NCO’s to train their Soldiers to act in accordance with the Army Values and the Warrior Ethos, and in their daily interactions, identify, and correct inappropriate and demeaning behaviors that could be precursors to sexual assault.

The strategy also makes essential the establishing of an environment that drives sexual assault and sexual harassment from our Army. The Army’s ultimate goal is to sustain and refine the effort to protect its Soldiers, while collaborating with civilian organizations and local community leaders to mutually share lessons learned and best practices.




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