Secretary Blames Leaders For Army Harassment Problems

MONDAY, SEPT. 15, 1997

Army Secretary Togo West said Sunday that military leaders must take the blame for the serious sexual harassment problems in the Army today. He promised a return to basics, with an emphasis on teaching dignity and respect for soldiers.

West, appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” was responding to a scathing report issued by the Army last week that acknowledged that sexual harassment and discrimination were prevalent throughout the service. The report also accused commanders of ignoring the problem.

The report, West said, “says that if there are problems here, and there clearly are, then they stem from leadership, and leadership will be the solution.”

“If there is a breakdown here in the specific cases, it is in leaders’ responsibilities for their soldiers,” he said.

As a means to combat the problem, “what we will do is go back to basics. We will go back to emphasizing traditional Army values, which are traditional American values. Dignity and respect for soldiers is not a new prescription.”

The study found that during the past year, 72 percent of women and 63 percent of men had experienced “sexist behavior,” and that 47 percent of women and 30 percent of men received “unwanted sexual attention.” Fifteen percent of the woman reported “sexual coercion.”

The report was ordered in the aftermath of the Army’s worst-ever sexual scandal at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center in Aberdeen, Md., where drill sergeants took advantage of young female recruits.

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