By Rick Rogers, DefenseTracker.com
July 3, 2012 (San Diego)--The scourge of sexual assaults in the military seemingly cannot be stopped.
With the military unable or unwilling to protect our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, it’s time women refuse to join the military and to disband the farcical Uniformed Code of Military Justice – an inadequate and unequal court system more interested in protecting the military than dispensing justice.
Cut off from it fastest growing pool of recruits – women – we’d find out exactly how fast our military leaders could correct this national embarrassment.
As reported recently by the North County Times, 64 sexual assaults were reported at Camp Pendleton and 333 in the Marine Corps last fiscal year.
Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, in a Corps-wide message laid part of the blame at the feet of commanding officers.
"In far too many cases ... poor command climates due to unengaged leadership are eroding the trust necessary for victims to safely report these crimes," Amos said.
Sexual assaults are up across the military in recent years. The Defense Department recorded nearly 3,200 cases last fiscal year.
The Pentagon estimates another 16,000 assaults went unreported. In more than 80 percent of the cases, the perpetrators were fellow service members.
Unfortunately, there are good reasons for victims not to come forward.
Just 20 percent of sexual assault cases went to court-martial in 2010, and that half of those resulted in acquittals.
Nearly 70 percent of substantiated, “actionable” cases did not go to trial because of lower-level command discretion.
As with most disasters, no one single cause has created the toxic atmosphere where women are now in more danger behind a base gate than walking down a city street.
* Heavy drinking is not strongly enough discouraged. In most sexual assault cases, alcohol plays a large role.
* The military granted too many waivers and allowed too many criminals and sexual predators into the ranks.
* Bolstering that premise, Navy studies found that up to 15 percent of men attempted rape or have raped someone before enlisting — twice the percentage of their civilian peers.
* Little incentive for commanders to prosecute criminals. To do so just makes them look bad.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta knows this and proposed in April to transfer sex crime cases to independent offices within each branch.
Too little, too late.
Time to girlcott the military until further notice.
Rick Rogers has covered defense and veterans issues for nearly 30 years. He hosts Front & Center: Military Talk Radio Sundays, 11 to noon, Pacific Time, on KCBQ AM 1170 (www.kcbq.com). Podcasts at www.DefenseTracker.com. Contact him at (760) 445-3882 or Rick.Rogers@defensetracker.com