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NEWS | Jan. 15, 2015

Zero Tolerance for Sexual Assault

Combating sexual assault has long been a priority for military leaders worldwide.

 United States Forces Korea’s top enlisted leader has vowed to do everything possible to eliminate sexual assault.

“We make it clear in our leadership seminars, General Scaparrotti and I that sexual assault and harassment will not be tolerated within U.S. forces Korea and that our goal is zero tolerance with sexual assault and sexual harassment” said Command Sergeant Major John Troxell, United States Forces Korea Command Sergeant Major.

That seminar is a series of meetings hosted by Sgt.Maj. Troxell and General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and United States Forces Korea. The top officer and enlisted man in South Korea visit unit leadership around the peninsula. They’ve already visited Special Operations Command Korea, the Naval forces, and units within 8th U.S. Army. Troxell said they plan on visiting 7th Air Force and the Marines next.

“We get a group of leaders, generally E-7 and above in a room and we talk about feedback from the sensing sessions and what general expectations are from General Scaparrotti and the command,” said Troxell, “we allow feedback from some of the leaders in the audience. So it’s a dialogue that we have so that we continue to stress the communication aspect of this, the education of it, and the leader engagement in this.”

The command team doesn’t meet exclusively with senior leaders, however.

“General Scaparrotti and I conducted a series of sensing sessions with service members from all the components from several demographics in terms of rank, gender, and leadership and everything to get a feel for where we were in understanding sexual assault and sexual harassment and how to prevent it,” said Troxell, “on the positive side, many of the service members felt that their units are getting better at responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment. Between 80 to 90 percent of respondents during these sensing sessions stated that.”

Statistics show sexual assault numbers for U.S. forces decreased from the previous year. Other numbers in the report show other positive trends.

“Reporting has gone up, which is a good sign. That tells me that service members are more confident with the system, they’re more confident with leadership,” said Troxell.

Troxell said he learned most of the junior-enlisted service members trusted their unit-level command and senior enlisted advisor. He said the biggest issue those service members had was the potential for gossip at the squad and platoon levels.

“That’s what they’re concerned about in terms of privacy. So, there’s a training aspect of this,” Troxell said, “That’s where mid-range noncommissioned officers, we have to continue to target them and educate them on how to handle an instance of sexual assault.”

“Our job is to provide purpose, motivation and direction to the young men and women…the young enlisted in our formations,” Troxell said in regards to the role of non-commissioned officers, “we’re there to safeguard them, provide an environment where they can live safely and secure in a clean environment, and also that they have an environment where they can grow and develop as a soldier, sailor, airman, and marine.”

The numbers have shown that the USFK command’s approach is working. However, Troxell and the rest of the command are not going to stop their fight against sexual assault.

“With engaged leadership at our units…we can eliminate it”

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