On Feb. 8, the Department of Defense announced the release of DOD Instruction 1020.03, “Harassment Prevention and Response in the Armed Forces,” effective immediately.
The comprehensive policy for service members addresses harassment, including sexual harassment and harassment through social media.
The policy strengthens and reaffirms the department’s position that it does not tolerate any kind of harassment by any service member, either in person or online.
The new policy supersedes DOD’s past policies on sexual harassment for service members and provides new procedures for all types of harassment prevention and response. Through a department-wide oversight framework, this policy increases leadership commitment and accountability and provides additional resources and requirements to protect service members. Preventive measures in the policy are set in place to identify and address problematic behaviors early, in an effort to prevent these behaviors from escalating.
“Harassment is a part of a continuum of behaviors that have no place in our workforce. The policy issued today brings us one step closer to eliminating these behaviors from the Department of Defense. My focus on this is unwavering,” said Robert L. Wilkie, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
In accordance with this policy, each service secretary and DOD component head is required to provide an implementation plan outlining steps and milestones in order to comply with this instruction.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense will also realign under one office that will report directly to the undersecretary of personnel and readiness the organizations that oversee issues including sexual assault, harassment, discrimination, diversity and inclusion, drug demand reduction, and suicide prevention.
In collaboration with the service assistant secretaries of manpower and reserve affairs, the department will establish and convene the Defense Equal Opportunity Reform Group to assess and provide recommendations regarding the next steps to address the need for additional guidance.
The department’s policy strives to provide an atmosphere of dignity and respect and an environment free from discrimination, harassment and assault, to increase the readiness and lethality of the armed forces.
Members of the DOD community who have been affected by sexual assault can access 24/7 anonymous support through the DOD Safe Helpline at safehelpline.org, or by calling 877-995-5247.