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The Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Program.
The Pentagon estimates that about 20,500 service members across the military branches about 13,000 women and 7,500 men were sexually assaulted in the 2018 fiscal year, based on data from an anonymous survey that’s compiled by the Department of Defense every two years. Kirby, May 2019 2nd para. An educated Army Community led by knowledgeable, informed leaders are essential to establishing an effective climate of prevention. Among the Army’s innovations in training, is its integration of sexual harassment and sexual assault training to address prevention at the earliest point in the continuum of harm. This approach is unique among the Services, but is designed to address behaviors before they escalate into more serious offenses. (The United States Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response program overview) Leaders must emphasize compliance on SHARP policies and training. It starts with a three key step process consisting of teach, coach, and mentor their soldiers on the seven Army values as a foundation and Warrior Ethos as building blocks. We need to ask ourselves is mandatory annual power point training on SHARP enough?
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Three Key Steps
Teach, the first step train to standard, soldiers morale and welfare depend on it. There are several places to find material utilize such as military one source website and along with army sharp online or simply look in (AR) 600-20 Army Command Policy. Another great source that units underutilize is the Army Chaplain. Always take advantage of opportunity training also known hip pocket training if time permits on the training schedule. Once you have established an effective training routine as a unit you can move to a coaching phase. This step is the largest step where you will gather the most feedback from peers and junior enlisted and you will be able to provide direction. While coaching, you will change the culture of your unit. You have to remember and apply the golden rule “treat others as you want to be treated.” “We need cultural change where every Service member is treated with dignity and respect, where allegations of inappropriate behavior are treated with seriousness, where victims’ privacy is protected, where bystanders are motivated to intervene, and where offenders know that they will be held accountable by strong and effective systems of justice.” (24th United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.) The top step and most important step is being mentor. A leader that can give guidance as well receive guidance from all levels seniors, peers and subordinates alike. Units enhance cohesion and readiness which fosters a strong family environment of brothers and sisters. Leaders demonstrate the true meaning of the quote you hear throughout you whole military career “lead by example.”
Summer of 2007, I had recently returned from a mobilization deployed to Afghanistan and went back to my role as sheriff’s deputy in a small town in eastern Kentucky. I walked into the Sheriff’s office and saw a sketch of a suspect wanted for questioning on a bulletin board for a suspected alleged rape. The victim’s first name was Jessica. She was a member of the Kentucky Army National Guard and had recently returned from Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advance Individual Training (AIT). In order to stay in top physical condition for the Army, she ran along the highway for long distances to improve her running. While out running, a male abducted and sexually assaulted her. She was able to fight off her attacker and escape. The first drill back during first formation the First Sergeant called off the soldier’s name with no response. After formation the Commander and First Sergeant was informed on the soldier’s status. The new soldier was not just AWOL. The unit attempted to make contact with her and was unsuccessful. The soldier never returned back to drill or returned any phones calls. Eventually the soldier was discharged under general conditions. I went to speak with a family member of the soldier to check on her welfare. I was informed she felt embarrassed that she was assaulted and ashamed that she was not able to fight her attacker off and she was experiencing post traumatic syndrome.
First recommendation to improve effectiveness in my unit’s sharp program would be to employ certified Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) and Victim Advocates (VAs) that are available 24/7 to help with reporting, support prevention, training, and awareness efforts. These professional warriors are capable of confronting the challenges and stress of a complex situation and providing proper care for a victim. In addition, these warriors address the readiness and resilience of individual soldiers. (SARCs) and (VAs) would be able to promote the message that sexual harassment and sexual assault have no place in the Army. Their message could be if you have been the victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault, you have a voice, you have rights, and we’re here to help.
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The second recommendation, the prevention of sexual harassment is a commander’s responsibility. “The EOA plays a pivotal role by assisting the commander with policy awareness, training, command climate assessments, complaints processing and overall advisory assistance concerning the prevention of sexual harassment.” (AR 600-20 chapter 7 Army Command Policy) Units must be held accountable and have consequences that display discipline. Every soldier is responsible to prevent sexual harassment while demanding a safe work place environment. Each soldier in the ranks would be able to not only spot forms of harassment, but they would be able to intervene and prevent an incident from occurring. The United States Army Noncommissioned Officer Creed states NCOs are the backbone of the Army. NCOs must spearhead and be a watchdog on the SHARP program. Furthermore, the NCO creed goes on to state my two basic responsibilities that will always be uppermost in my mind—accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers. George Washington once stated “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.” Another tool that helps with reasonability and discipline is conducting Army combative training. Combative training helps soldiers build confidence and skills if a solder finds their self in a situation to have to use self-defense on a would be attacker.
The Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Program. Warrior Ethos states “I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade.” Every soldier plays a vital role in SHARP and in doing so this will address readiness and resilience. SHARP is the number one training standard. Readiness of the force is of the utmost importance. one single case of sexual assault or harassment can cripple a unit. The overall SHARP mission is to enhance Army readiness through the prevention of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and associated retaliatory behaviors while providing comprehensive response capabilities. By integrating these recommendations into sexual harassment/ assault training, would definitely improve the effectiveness of the SHARP program.
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