Just like with Japan I do like riding trains in Korea to get around and yes there are plenty of things other nations could learn from Korea’s rail system:
Korea’s experience in building and operating its own bullet trains offers a model case for other countries to study, Vice Transport Minister Yeo Hyung-koo said in Germany.
“Countries well understand that investing in high-speed trains will contribute to their future growth. But they face challenges in earning widespread consensus from stakeholder groups,” he said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.
“Korea, which has already undergone similar experiences over the past decade, could offer tips for them to learn.”
Yeo was attending the 2013 International Transport Forum that ended its three-day run on Friday in Leipzig, Germany. He introduced Korea’s experience in investing in high-speed rail during a closed ministers’ roundtable meeting Wednesday.
Even though trains used to be key transport means until the 1960s in Korea, their popularity has declined since the 1970s as the government sought rapid economic growth by building highways and nurturing the automotive industry.
The nation’s railway, however, started gaining recognition since the early 2000s with the introduction of the high-speed train KTX in 2004. Then in 2010, Korea became the fourth nation to build its own bullet train, the KTX-Sancheon.
More recently, researchers have been carrying out test-runs for the faster and bigger successor, HEMU-430. If its operation starts from 2015 as planned, it would cover the 450-kilometer stretch between Seoul and Busan in 90 minutes.
“Now the number of travelers using the KTX, which celebrates its ninth anniversary this year, has increased from 70,000 per day in the early days of introduction to the current 140,000,” he said. “Koreans seem to really appreciate value for time.” [Korea Herald]
You can read the rest at the link, but for any high-speed rail to be effective it first has to be fast enough to be some what comparable to an airplane. Also it needs to connect to a larger mass transit system so when people arrive in a city they can get around to their final destination. There is plenty of other things that makes Korean high-speed rail a pleasant travel experience, but our proposed high-speed rail in the US pretty much does the opposite.
— 코리아헤럴드 Korea Herald (@TheKoreaHerald) May 24, 2013
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s special envoy Choe Ryong-hae (third from R), vice marshal of the North Korean army, holds talks with Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of China’s Communist Party, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 23, 2013. The official (North) Korean Central News Agency released the photo on May 24, without providing further details. (No sales outside of South Korea) (Yonhap)
Any guesses on why this case involving military sexual assault is not making national headlines?:
A military judge Thursday sentenced a female Marine convicted of “attempted adultery” and lying to investigators to a letter of reprimand and the loss of $3,000 in pay.
Lt. Col. Leon Francis could have sentenced her to a year in the brig and a bad-conduct discharge.
Francis, after a three-day court-martial at Camp Pendleton in California, ruled that she was guilty of “attempted adultery” with another staff sergeant — “a man not her husband.”
Under military law, adultery is a crime if it undermines “good order and discipline” or brings “discredit upon the armed forces.”
Testimony showed that the two staff sergeants, who worked together at Camp Pendleton, went to a motel in Temecula after an afternoon of heavy drinking.
The woman is not being named because she reported the incident as a sexual assault, which was not directly addressed in the verdict.
The woman’s husband, a Marine chief warrant officer, complained to authorities that his wife had committed adultery.
Once Marine authorities decided to send the case to a court-martial, the woman alleged that she had been too drunk to consent to sex. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read the rest at the link, but she claimed a sexual assault only after her husband notified her command about her adultery. Considering how the rate of baseless sexual assault cases is growing faster than the rate of sexual assaults overall this is nothing new. However, she still has a sexual assault case pending against the other NCO because remember if women in the military drink they are suddenly no longer responsible for their actions. So though this woman lied about the affair she could still get the other NCO convicted for sexual assault. The male NCO has a pretty good defense though considering the female NCO called him repeatedly to try and cover for her:
Testimony indicated that the incident was initially to be dealt with through the non-judicial punishment system, where a Marine faces a senior officer and takes responsibility for his or her actions, with punishment limited to possible loss of pay and a demotion.
But investigators then reported to prosecutors that the defendant had lied to them about never seeing her alleged sex partner after March 2. In truth, they said, she had tried repeatedly to convince him that “we need to get our stories straight.”
When those facts were found out, a decision was made to take the case to a formal court martial, prosecutors said. The incident had come to the attention of authorities when the Marine’s husband, a warrant officer, filed a complaint alleging adultery.
The lead prosecutor, Maj. Doug Hatch, told Francis that “when painted into a corner she pulled out the ultimate trump card by claiming sexual assault.” [Stars & Stripes]
This is the environment that the special interests and politicians have created in the military now where someone backed in the corner can claim sexual assault. If she had not contacted the NCO to cover for her she would have faced no charges for lying and the special interests would be championing her. How many servicemembers have been convicted in situations similar to this. Just think if this male NCO is convicted these politicians are trying to pass legislation that would make him get an automatic bad conduct discharge and register as a sex offender.
For anyone that did not know, USFK does face some special circumstances in regards to sexual assault:
SEOUL – Failed leadership, easy access to alcohol and mixed messages about questionable off-post establishments have rendered the Army’s sexual assault prevention programs in South Korea largely ineffective, according to a military study.
Stars and Stripes obtained a copy of a 28-page draft report produced by a sexual assault task force formed in spring 2011 to study the problem. For nearly two years, Eighth Army officials have refused repeated requests from Stars and Stripes for the report, instead providing a one-page summary this month.
The draft report documented the Army’s inability to respond to what it described as “special circumstances” in South Korea that might contribute to sexual assaults, including widespread underage drinking. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read much more, but the challenges that USFK has in particular the 2nd Infantry Division is that there are so many people living in the barracks and then combine that with heavy drinking and it is a perfect environment for sexual assaults. Based on my own personal past experience in 2ID I would estimate that 90+% of the sexual assaults were in the barracks and involved alcohol.
According to the article commanders have a hard time determining what is a sexual assault which likely goes back to drunk people having sex in the barracks and then the next morning dealing with the he said she said scenario. Commanders cannot ban sex in the barracks, but do have a legal work around. This is why there is often a command policy that say that doors need to be open when members of the opposite sex are visiting other people’s rooms. Leadership has to be ruthless in regards to enforcing this and make it an automatic Article 15 if someone is caught violating it. This is even easier now to monitor since there is close circuit cameras in many barracks now. However, this takes leadership spending a lot of time in the barracks to enforce such a policy. If people rely on just the CQ to report violators they are mostly not going to rat on their buddies. Leadership has to be the ones walking the halls and now reviewing video from the cameras. I once had a commander buddy of mine who got a call one weekend night because the 2ID assistant division commander walked through his barracks and caught a female in the room of an NCO. It wasn’t a good night for him when that happened.
If still a he said, she said scenario happens in my opinion commanders need to immediately contact CID to investigate it and soldiers need to know this is what is going to happen. It will further make them think twice about having sex in the barracks. I used to tell soldiers if they want to have sex go to a cheap hotel off post do not do it in the barracks. If a he said, she said sexual assault accusation happens at a hotel there are cameras there that can help determine what happened prior to entering a room. For example was the accuser stumbling drunk and being dragged by the accused into the room? This helps provide evidence of the assault.
As far as underage drinking this is very hard to stop and really the only way to catch it is by leadership knowing who is underage and walking the barracks at night. If they catch someone underage drinking then they need to be breathalyzed by someone qualified to do it. My battalion commander gave out automatic Field Grade Article 15′s for underage drinking. I saw some good soldiers go down in flames because of this, but once again commanders have to be ruthless in regards to enforcing this policy if they want to stop underage drinking in the barracks. As I have pointed out before though, I would not be surprised though at some point alcohol is not banned completely in the barracks due to the recent attention to sexual assaults.
However, there is a side effect, this will drive the underage drinkers from the barracks and they will drink off post away from the camp where incidents involving Koreans can happen. So in the court martial results I post you often read about trespassing and altercations with Koreans; I would not be surprised if many of these incidents involve underage drinkers. It will be even worse if drinking is totally banned in the barracks. So people need to realize there is going to be a trade off. However this can be mitigated if weekends are approached like how commanders set training schedules for the week. There needs to be things scheduled for soldiers to do on the weekends that gives alternatives to going off post and drinking. The KATUSAs are a great resource to help with this if leaders would use them.
A lot of what I have discussed involves leader involvement, but that is the other special circumstance in Korea, leaders are always turning over and you have to get new ones trained up. Likewise you get soldiers educated on what the standards are, but they to turn over quickly and a new guy comes in expecting to come to Korea and work hard and play hard. These new young soldiers are the ones that have to really be monitored and make sure they understand what the standards of conduct are. This is not something that can be done with a few hours of PowerPoint slides. This takes weeks of socialization and leader involvement, but if a unit has a big turn over in leadership than they haven’t been socialized yet either.
So this all goes back to the special circumstances in Korea that makes serving in Korea different from any where else. That is what I think the Army report was probably trying to get at though Stars & Stripes did not publish the entire report to get the full context of what was discussed. However, the Stars and Stripes due to their anti-juicy girl advocacy spin in the article, I think muddled the issue some. I believe for now the juicy bars are a separate issue from military sexual assaults. However, it is something that I think can become a future issue linked to the sexual assault issue if one of these politicians decides to attack USFK by making the claim that juicy bars promote a sexual assault culture and USFK leadership in complicit in allowing this happen.
So what does other people who have served in USFK units think is the best way to promote a barracks culture that does not create an environment for sexual assaults to happen?
The Japanese right wing continues to dig a hole for themselves with this latest incident:
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), whose coleader, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, has sparked global outrage for trying to justify Japan’s wartime sex slaves as well as his call that U.S. forces in Okinawa use the local sex industry, will expel a party lawmaker who claims Japan has “swarms” of South Korean prostitutes, officials said Friday.
The party member, Shingo Nishimura, a conservative Lower House lawmaker known for discriminatory remarks against women and foreigners, should also give up his Diet seat, said Nippon Ishin Secretary General Ichiro Matsui, who is also the Osaka governor. (Japan Times)
You can read the rest at the link but he should have just said Japan is swarming with prostitutes period.
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The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan provides another article that shows why claims from North Korean defectors need to be viewed with a skeptical eye until they can be corroborated:
SEOUL — Earlier this year, one of the most prominent North Korean defectors, Yoo Woo-sung, walked out of his apartment building here and found four South Korean government vehicles waiting for him.
Authorities hauled Yoo away and arrested him on charges of espionage. They had learned of his alleged crime, court documents show, thanks to testimony from his sister, who said Yoo had been sent on a mission by North Korea’s secret police to infiltrate the defector community and pass back information about the people he met.
Yoo, 32, is being held at a detention center on the outskirts of Seoul, his case a reminder of how this peninsula’s messy and sometimes covert conflict has left the South on edge, with people here unsure whom they can trust. (Washington Post)
You can read much more at the link.
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The Surion, Korea’s first indigenous helicopter, has been deployed after a six-year development phase, the Army said Wednesday.
Ten Korean Utility Helicopters (KUH-1), developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), jointly with European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) Eurocopter, have been deployed to the Army Aviation School in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province.
President Park Geun-hye, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and other guests including lawmakers from the National Defense Committee attended a ceremony to celebrate the deployment.
The completion of the aircraft has made Korea the world’s 11th nation to locally develop a helicopter.
The Korean government launched a six-year, 1.3 trillion won ($1.17 billion) project in June 2006 to produce a twin-engine light utility helicopter to replace the aging fleet of U.S.-made UH-1Hs and 500MD light helicopters that have been in service for decades.
The first prototype of the Surion, which means “agile and flawless” in Korean, was delivered in August 2009 and successfully completed its maiden flight in March 2010 before entering full-scale production in 2012.
According to the Defense Acquisition and Procurement Agency (DAPA), the Surion underwent more than 2,000 test flights over 2,700 hours, without accident.
The aircraft also passed 50 cold-weather tests in Alaska between December and February to test its working in extreme conditions, such as being exposed to 40 degrees below zero Celsius over 12 hours.
The KUH-1, 15 meters long, 4.5 meters high and 2 meters wide, with a maximum takeoff weight of 8.7 tons, is able to carry two pilots, two crew members and nine armed troops or two pilots and some 2,300 kilograms of cargo.
The light utility helicopter has a top speed of 141 knots, or 261 kilometers per hour, and its twin engines enable the chopper to fly for over two hours and thirty minutes fully laden. Its range is some 440 kilometers.
It is also suitable for mountainous terrain, capable of vertical take-off at a speed of 150 meters per minute, hovering at the height of Baekdu Mountain at 2,744 meters.
Thanks to these features, the military expects the Surion to be used in a variety of roles including assault operations, search and rescue, cargo transportation and medical evacuation. It will be offered as a civilian version, as well.
“The Army has mainly used UH-1Hs since the helicopters were introduced in 1968. The deployment of the cutting-edge Surion will enable the ROK Army to innovatively increase its aviation operational capability and reduce difficulties of supplying parts from overseas,” Colonel Song Jae-geun said.
Korea plans to supply a total of 200 utility helicopters to the Army by 2022, while 40 Surion amphibious helicopter variants for the marines will be delivered by 2023 in efforts to enhance the marine’s ability to transport troops and equipment in the littoral environment.
Last month, Korea decided to import 36 Apache Guardians between 2016 and 2018 in order to counter any North Korean infiltration along the South’s coastline and to fly counter-penetration missions along the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.
President Park said South Korea and the United States will not provide any aid to North Korea as long as it continues to ratchet up tensions with iit provocations.
“When I visited the U.S., President Obama and I made it clear that we will sternly react to any provocations from the North but leave the door open for dialogue,” Park said during her speech at the ceremony.
“We are going to push for a trust process for coexistence if the North chooses a path to change. I once again strongly call for North Korea’s change.”
Bibimbap. Bulgogi. Tteokbokki. We’re not going to sugarcoat things; Korean cuisine can be just as confusing as attempting to correctly pronounce the name of a dish. Now, that’s no reason to spend every evening dining at Lotteria (Korea’s version of McDonalds, complete with a ramen burger); in fact, all the etiquette and ingredients and ceremony of a hearty Korean meal means diving in head-first and, yes, tasting the kimchi.
For first timers to Seoul or those who need a refresher, we recommend joining an O’ngo Dining Tour. Depending on your tastes (literally), O’ngo will take you out for Korean BBQ, to nibble from street stall to street stall in bustling Myeongdong, or—what we booked—down the alleys and into the local favorites around Anguk after dark. This one tour gave us the confidence (and pronunciation help) to continue devouring only Korean cuisine for the next 7 nights of our stay. Best idea ever, really.
Tours begin at 35,000 KRW ($35) per person, although the 3-hour Night Dining Tour goes for $88. As there were three of us, we ended up shelling out a lot of cash for one night on the town, but soon forgot because that money buys everything you consume in the evening, from specialty tofu dishes and turmeric-tinted rice wine to soju bombs (soju, Coca Cola and beer all chugged down at once).
The guides are Seoulites who these lead tours in their off hours from being university students or working 60 hours a week in an office. Being sleep-deprived but well fed is a South Korean way of life, one that’s all too easy to fall into even on the shortest Seoul stays.
Of O’ngo’s tours, we think you’ll like these two the most:
· Night Dining (88,000 KRW per person). You’ll make 4-5 stops and eat and drink at all, with special attention to Seoul foods (pun intended).
· Korean Fish Market (90,000 KRW per person). Skip Tsukiji in Tokyo and save your fish market first time for Seoul, where having lunch at Noryangjin or Garak Market is as simple as pointing at seafood still swimming and having it turned into ready-to-enjoy sashimi right in front of you.
NKorea’s completely avoidable misstep: PRC media starting to lump them in w/ Japan & Philippines as sea foes. mil.huanqiu.com/paper/2013-05/…
— Adam Cathcart (@adamcathcart) May 21, 2013
Psy performs at the “American Idol” finale at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday. /AP-Newsis
It took some time, but James Ferris the President of the Korean War Veterans Association has finally resigned due to pressure from KWVA membership because of stolen valor claims that have been confirmed. This Ain’t Hell has the update:
We first wrote about James Ferris on March 1st when we discovered some medals he was wearing which weren’t in his reocrds. We teamed up with Mark Weiner of the Syracuse Post-Standard when Mark wrote an article about Ferris, from Liverpool, NY, when he went to a ceremony at the White House. Mark was able to send a reporter to ferris house and confront him with his records. Oddly enough, before the reporter went to Ferris’ house, I’d told Mark about how some phonies said they were wearing their fathers’ medals to honor his service. Ferris told the reporter that he was wearing his brother’s medals to honor his service. Funny how the fakers have a discernible pattern. Anyway, Ferris offered to resign as the President of the Korean War Veterans Association and the Board refused to accept his resignation.
You can read much more at the link, but the board of the KWVA actually tried to keep him on despite the fact he was a phony. Only the outrage from the membership got him to resign. Considering the board was trying to cover for him, it makes me wonder if there are some more phonies in the KWVA leadership?
It looks like the North Koreans are sending a high regime official to let the Chinese know they have ended their recent provocation cycle now so the Chinese can let them use their banks again to launder money:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday dispatched a top military official to China as a special envoy, the country’s state media said.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army, had left Pyongyang for China. It did not elaborate on details of the visit or the itinerary other than saying he was being sent by Kim.
The dispatch comes as bilateral relations have cooled in recent months after the North ignored repeated calls from Beijing not to ratchet up tensions on the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)
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Here is an article I saw on Facebook that I thought was quite good in regards to how many veterans including those who have been wounded are getting kicked out of the military and often without benefits to shrink the force:
With no clear guidelines, Anderson said, he judges soldiers by their service.
“My job is to look at the pattern,” he said. “We all make mistakes, and soldiers in that population are a high-risk population. We don’t crucify them all for one offense. Two offenses? It depends. There is no set rule. I look at every case independently and say what is medical and what is the pattern of conduct up to that point.”
A review of recent Fort Carson cases shows, though, that soldiers are discharged for one offense.
In October, a sergeant named Dennis Tackett, who had been a handler of bomb-sniffing dogs in three tours in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, came before Anderson. Diagnosed with PTSD, with a history of suicide attempts and in the medical discharge process, the soldier with a clean record had punched a man in the face while drunk.
Anderson had the authority to let the sergeant medically retire but threw him out for misconduct.
“He said my PTSD didn’t make me drink,” Tackett said. “I made that decision.” [The Gazette]
A similar story was published in the Stars and Stripes two years ago, so this one is kind of an update to that one but still worth reading. Probably the biggest mistake though that The Gazette made with this article is the person they chose to profile. This is a real issue, but the main person they profiled, Kash Alvaro is likely a phony. According to members of his unit who have been leaving Facebook comments they say he is both exaggerating and lying about what happened during the deployment.
However, the real issue is whether veterans and especially wounded veterans like the guy mentioned in the above excerpt should be thrown out of the military with no benefits after one incident?
US: NYU researchers took bribes from Chinese groupasiancorrespondent.com/107939/us-nyu-…
— Asian Correspondent (@AsCorrespondent) May 21, 2013
Racing models pose at the Korea Scooter Race Championships 2013 in Seoul on Sunday. /Newsis
Via a reader tip comes news of another front being opened in the military sexual abuse issue, this one being an attempt to have the VA give out disability claims for sexual abuse with no evidence:
WASHINGTON – New government figures underscore the staggering long-term consequences of military sexual assaults: More than 85,000 veterans were treated last year for injuries or illness linked to the abuse, and 4,000 sought disability benefits.
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ accounting, released in response to inquiries from The Associated Press, shows a heavy financial and emotional cost that affects several generations of veterans and lasts long after a victim leaves the service. Sexual assault or repeated sexual harassment can trigger a variety of health problems, primarily post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. While women are more likely to be victims, men made up nearly 40 per cent of the patients the VA treated for conditions connected to what it calls “military sexual trauma.” [AP/Canadian Press]
Like what was done to get the 26,000 number I already debunked now more inflation is being done to get this 85,000 number. Notice that now sexual harassment was included as part of this number. So now even sexual harassment is being equated with serial rapists. What is even more troubling about this number is that any veteran can walk through the doors of the VA and claim they were sexually abused with no evidence and get free health care and add to this 85,000 number:
“It really is the case that a veteran can simply walk through the door, say they’ve had this experience, and we will get them hooked up with care. There’s no documentation required. They don’t need to have reported it at the time,” said Dr. Margret Bell, a member of the VA’s military sexual trauma team.
With no burden of proof of course a lot of phonies are going to be walking through the door for free care. Some of these people may legitimately been sexually abused, but was it from there spouses or other people long after they left the service and now see an opportunity for free care now? With an issue like this the VA is in a very tough spot, but there has to be a standard of some kind even if it a low one to be giving out free care.
Here is where the number will really blow up even more if this happens:
However, the hurdles are steeper for those who seek disability compensation — too steep for some veterans groups and lawmakers who support legislation designed to make it easier for veterans to get a monthly disability payment.
“Right now, the burden of proof is stacked against sexual trauma survivors,” said Anu Bhagwati, executive director of the Service Women’s Action Network. “Ninety per cent of 26,000 cases last year weren’t even reported. So where is that evidence supposed to come from?”
Notice how Baghwati made sure to throw out the bogus 26,000 number like she does in every interview that she does. Now she is using this inflated 85,000 number to justify giving disability pay with no evidence to people sexually abused. This is outrageous because now Baghwati is trying to get people who had their butt’s pinched against their will or were subject to inappropriate language in the work place to be considered disabled like someone who had their legs blown off. Disability for sexual trauma should be reserved for those who experienced rape not for sexual harassment that someone cannot even prove happened. The special interests though have their political allies pushing legislation through to make this happen though:
Even though the VA’s statistics indicate that a greater percentage of military sexual trauma victims are getting benefits, lawmakers believe more action is required.
“If half of them are being denied their claims, that’s still a lot of people, said Rep. Chellie Pingree. Pingree and Sen. Jon Tester are the lead sponsors of the legislation that would allow the veteran’s word to serve as sufficient proof that an assault occurred. The legislation is named after Moore, who spent years fighting for disability benefits.
You know who I feel really bad for? The veterans that suffer from agent orange exposure from there time serving in South Korea who often comment on this site about their struggles to get their disability claims approved by the VA. These guys are suffering from cancer and other ailments, but due to the fact that they cannot prove they were exposed to agent orange in South Korea they are left to suffer with no benefits. Maybe these veterans should just claim they were sexually abused in Korea instead and get benefits that way? If people think that the VA is backlogged with claims now just wait until this happens because this is basically free money being given out to every servicemember who is willing to claim they experienced some kind of sexual abuse, real or not since there is no standard for proof.
So what does everyone else think? Should the VA just hand out disability money with no proof for people claiming sexual abuse?
It will be interesting to see whether or not this gets passed because there is probably a lot of Korean lawmakers involved in this activity that would have to vote for it:
SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) — An opposition lawmaker on Tuesday called for banning sex as a tool for gaining professional favors, saying it should be punished in the same way as prostitution.
Rep. You Seung-hee of the main opposition Democratic Party said she has submitted a revision bill of a related law to the National Assembly, calling for up to three years in prison or up to 30 million won (US$26,915) in fines for receiving or arranging sexual services in return for business favors.
The bill targets public officials and influence peddlers.
“Using sex as a form of hospitality has recently become a serious problem in the public sector, but it’s difficult to punish it under bribery laws because there needs to be proof that it was in return for favors,” You said.
The current law against prostitution does not cover providing sex for favors, she added.
The move comes amid an ongoing police investigation into allegations that a number of high-profile figures, including former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui, received sexual services from about a dozen women hired by a local construction contractor in return for business favors. [Yonhap]
How the Special Interests Are Sensationalizing the Military Sexual Assault Issue and I Have the Facts To Prove It
The topic of military sexual assaults has been a hot topic in the media lately driven by the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) report that was mandated by Congress. Some of the information from the report has been demagogued by special interests and their political allies to advance their agendas against the military. I will let others speculate on what their political agendas are, but I can clearly show that they are inaccurately portraying the results from the report. You can read the full report here. What is even more troubling to me is that I expect special interests and politicians to be demagogues, but the media is so poor now a days they do not even bother to read reports like this to determine what the special interests and politicians are saying is even true. They just mindlessly report what they are told without doing any critical fact checking. Because of all the sensational claims in the media I decided to go ahead and read the report for myself.So Was There Really 26,000 Sexual Assault In the Military Last Year?
One of the most widely spread sensationalist claims is that the military had 26,000 sexual assaults last year according to an anonymous survey of US servicemembers. The media has been reporting that 108,000 US servicemembers were surveyed. What they do not tell you is that the survey only had a 24% response rate which meant only 22,792 servicemembers filled out a survey. Since the survey was not mandatory to fill out, an argument could be made that the results would be skewed because people who had sexual assaults committed against them would be more motivated to fill out the survey compared to those who did not. So if the Pentagon was serious about getting an accurate number why wasn’t this survey mandatory to fill out by all personnel attending sexual assault prevention training?
Another important fact to point out is that most of the media has been inaccurately labeling the results as ‘sexual assaults’ when the survey was for ‘unwanted sexual contact’ which they abbreviate as USC. Here is how the report defines USC:
USC involves intentional sexual contact that was against a person’s will or occurred when the person did not or could not consent. The term describes completed and attempted oral, anal, and vaginal penetration with any body part or object, and the unwanted touching of genitalia and other sexually related areas of the body. [Page 12]
This is a big difference because this definition can be interpreted to mean that someone hitting on another person who unwantedly puts their hand on the other person’s thigh, waist, or butt is lumped in with serial rapists. By this definition I have been sexually assaulted in the past by women who touched my butt or thigh in a bar. Should something like this be used to inflate the statistics for a very serious crime like rape or molestation? That is exactly what is going on and leaving civilians that do not know any better to think that 26,000 servicemembers were raped or molested last year when a large portion of the USC is from unwanted touching. On Page 14 of the survey results it shows that 42% of the female respondents and 85% of males listed touching or unspecified as the USC committed against them. So clearly broadening the definition of sexual assault has inflated the statistics for this survey.
The media has also been real good at sensationalizing how the 26,000 number is up from 19,000 in 2010. However, what they will not tell you is that this number is down significantly from 2006:
The WGRA is designed so that the results accurately represent the Active Duty force. The design allows the Department to use weighted counts of survey respondents and Military Service end strength on record with DMDC to roughly estimate the number of victims of sexual assault in the years for which data is available. Estimates derived from the rates of USC in the 2012 WGRA suggest that there may have been approximately 26,000 Service members who experienced some form of USC in the year prior to being surveyed. This estimate suggests that there may have been approximately 7,000 more Service members who experienced some kind of USC in 2012 than in 2010, but also suggests that there may have been approximately 11,000 fewer Service members who experienced some form of USC in 2012 than there were in 2006. [Page 12]
So all those sensational headlines that people are reading today in the media could easily have said “Military Sexual Assaults Decline by 30% in the Past 6 Years”. Good luck getting anyone in the media to print that though because the sensationalist headlines of today draw viewers to their networks which reporting this issue with proper context would not do. This is just further evidence that news today is just ‘infotainment’ not really meant to inform people.
The big jump in numbers also should cause people to question why is there such a huge jump in numbers up and down in the past 6 years? I have already provided a possible partial answer to this by the expanded definition of unwanted sexual contact used in the survey. Another partial reason could be how the surveys were administered. Were people in each year asked the same questions? The biggest reason though could be the fact that the military grew in size substantially between 2006-2012. In response to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the military grew by nearly 100,000 troops during that time period. The active duty military in 2005 had a total end strength 1,378,014. In 2011 the active duty end strength was 1,468364 servicemembers. With an increase in force size like that is it any wonder why there was more incidents reported in this survey in 2012? With the expected force reductions coming up in the next few years this number should naturally go down just because statistically there is less people in the military to have a USC committed against them. This is all important context that I have seen no one in the media provide in regards to the 26,000 number. If the people in the media sensationalizing this number actually read the report and actually followed military issues they would quickly come to this realization like I did.
I think it is also useful to compare this number to civilian rates of USC. Colleges where young students are piled on top of each other in the dorms and drink a lot of alcohol is I think the closest civilian environment that is similar to living in military barracks. Here is an excerpt from the report that discusses sexual assault on college campuses:
For the estimated 673,000 U.S. civilian college-aged women who experienced nonconsensual vaginal, oral, or anal penetration, only about 77,395 (11.5 percent) indicated they reported it to the police.69 The definition of sexual assault used in this college sample refers to penetrating crimes only. Consequently, it captures fewer crimes than the DoD definition of sexual assault, which encompasses both penetrating and non-penetrating sexual offenses, and attempts to commit these offenses. (Page 53)
So how much higher would the college number be if touching someone’s thigh was defined as unwanted sexual contact like it was in the Pentagon survey? I can guarantee there would be a extremely huge number that would come out of such a survey. So why aren’t the politicians demanding that the Secretary of Education conduct such a survey and demand special laws and courts for people who commit sexual assault on college campuses?Was There Really 3,374 Reported Sexual Assaults In the Military Last Year?
The other number being widely trumpeted by the special interests, politicians, and the media is how reports for sexual assaults increased in FY2012 to 3,374 from 3,192 in FY2011.
In FY12, there were 3,374 reports of sexual assault involving Service members. These reports involved one or more Service members as either the victim or subject (alleged perpetrator) of an investigation. The 3,374 reports involved a range of crimes prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), from abusive sexual contact to rape. This represents a 6 percent increase over the 3,192 reports of sexual assault received in FY11, thus providing the Department greater opportunities to provide victim care and to ensure appropriate offender accountability. The 3,374 reports involved 2,949 Service member victims. [Page 3]
The first thing I want to remind people is that this number is based on reports and not convictions. As I will show later on in this posting many of these reports were found to be baseless. The way this number is being reported in the media is leaving viewers with the impression that this is the number of sexual assaults committed last year in the military which I will show is not true. From reading the report there was in fact 2,949 reports made that had servicemember victims and not all these victims had a servicemember who victimized them. To add further context to this number only 62% of the reports are a servicemember on servicemember sexual assault as much of the media reporting is leading people to believe the 3,374 number represents:
Each year, the majority of sexual assault reports received by the MCIOs involve the
victimization of Service members by other Service members. In FY12, 1,590 of the
2,558 Unrestricted Reports (62 percent) involved allegations of Service member-on-
Service member sexual assault. (Page 60)
I will provide more context that will further reduce this number as I continue with this posting. First though I want to point out that the special interests have been claiming that the so called increase shows that the military’s efforts to combat the sexual assault problem is ineffective and thus justifies all the measures that they want to implement on the military. It is important to realize that this stance goes completely against one of the stated goals of the report which is to increase reporting:
Increase the Climate of Victim Confidence Associated with Reporting: The goal of this priority is to increase the number of victims who make a report of sexual assault. The Department strives to increase sexual assault reporting by improving Service members’ confidence in the military justice process, creating a positive commandclimate, enhancing education and training about reporting options, and reducing stigma and other barriers that deter reporting.
If increased reporting of sexual assaults is considered a negative metric by the politicians then military leaders are left with a no win situation because if the number goes down these same critics will claim the assaults are being under-reported. Considering the increased training and focus the US military has had on sexual assaults it only makes since that the number would increase. The best evidence of this which no one in the media will tell you is that of the 3,374 reports in FY12 that 2,558 of them were unrestricted reports which means they went to military authorities for action. Of those reports 20% of them came from incidents that happened between FY08-FY11:
Under the Department’s SAPR policy, there is no time limit as to when someone can report a sexual assault to a SARC or MCIO. Consequently, in any given year, the Department may not only receive reports about incidents that occurred during the current year, but also incidents that occurred in previous years. (Page 55)
The Military Services received 2,558 Unrestricted Reports involving Service members as either victims or subjects, a 5 percent increase from FY11 (Exhibit 1, Point B, and Exhibit 2). Of these 2,558 Unrestricted Reports, 80 percent were about incidents that occurred in FY12, 19 percent were about incidents that occurred from FY08 to FY11, and less than 1 percent were about incidents occurring in FY07 and prior. (Page 58)
This can be interpreted to mean that the increased training is causing servicemembers to report crimes that happened in the past which they were hesitant to report before. It also shows that the statistics for 2012 are being inflated by including incidents that happened in prior years. So the 6% increase from FY11 could be explained by increased training causing servicemembers who had crimes committed against them in prior years coming forward now. So instead of the special interests and politicians welcoming the fact more people are coming forward from prior years to report crimes, they instead demagogue the 6% increase to bash the military and advance their political agendas.
There has also been an active effort by Congress to expand the definition of what a sexual assault is which further inflates the statistics they are currently going around and using to bash the military with:
For incidents that occurred prior to the changes made to the UCMJ on October 1, 2007, the term “sexual assault” referred to the crimes of rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault, and attempts to commit these acts. For incidents that occurred between October 1, 2007 and June 27, 2012, the term “sexual assault” referred to the crimes of rape, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, abusive sexual contact, wrongful sexual contact, nonconsensual sodomy, and attempts to commit these acts.
For incidents that occur on or after June 28, 2012, the term “sexual assault” refers to the crimes of rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, abusive sexual contact, nonconsensual sodomy, and attempts to commit these acts. (Page 55-56)
Notice how abusive sexual contact was added to the definition of sexual assault so people who grab someone’s butt is now equated with serial rapists. Considering the expansion of the definition to include such a broad amount of crimes why should anyone be surprised the number of sexual assaults reported has increased? The politicians have basically passed laws to ensure an increase in numbers and then bash the Pentagon when they did rise. This expansion in the definition accounted for in FY2012 a 35% increase in sexual assaults reported:
ROK Drop readers may remember that these politicians attempts to expand the definition of sexual assault actually led to the false convictions of a number of servicemembers that were eventually released on appeal by the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces because of how their Constitutional rights were violated by the new laws. That is why Congress had the modify the law again in 2012 because it was originally un-Constitutional.
Here is another way the sexual assault number is inflated by including people from outside the military who commit sexual assaults:
Unrestricted and Restricted Reports capture sexual assaults committed by and against Service members. However, people outside of the U.S. Armed Forces sometimes commit sexual assault against a Service member or can be sexually assaulted by a Service member. Information describing these victims and subjects is also included in the following statistics. (Page 54)
Even people accused of sexual assault that happened prior to them joining the military are included in the statistics to further inflate them: Reports are also sometimes made for sexual assaults that occurred prior to a Service member’s enlistment or commissioning. When this occurs, the Department provides care and services to the victim, but may not be able to punish the offender if he or she is not subject to military law. (Page 55)
So clearly the statistics are being inflated and then used to push political agendas. So what is the real statistics in regards to sexual assaults in the military? Well I had to get deep into the report to determine this, but it is actually all in there for people willing to actually read the report instead of listening to biased special interest groups.
At the end of FY12, the Military Services reported dispositions for 2,661 of the 3,288 military and civilian subjects receiving or waiting for a disposition for the allegations against them at the close of FY12.12 Investigations determined that 947 of the 2,661 subjects were either outside the legal authority of the Department or a military criminal investigative agency determined the allegations were unfounded (false or baseless). 13
The remaining 1,714 subjects investigated for sexual assault were presented to military
commanders for consideration of disciplinary action. Of the 1,714 military subjects,
commanders could not take action against 509 due to evidentiary problems. Eighty-one
of the 1,714 military subjects received no disciplinary action because commanders
determined the criminal allegations were unfounded (false or baseless). Commanders
had sufficient evidence to take disciplinary action against 1,124 of the 1,714 military
subjects. Of the 1,124 subjects, sexual assault charges were substantiated for 880
subjects for whom it was determined a sexual assault offense warranted discipline. For
the remaining 244 subjects, evidence supported command action for other misconduct
discovered during the sexual assault investigation (such as making a false official
statement, adultery, underage drinking, or other crimes under the UCMJ), but not a
sexual assault charge.
So out of that 3,374 report number that is often used in the media it gets reduced all the way down to 880 people that it was determined should be court martialed for a sexual assault crime. Remember this a sexual assault using the expanded definition. So how many of these 880 actually committed a sexual assault using the old definition? I could not determine that number from the report because the crimes the 880 people were convicted of were not broken down into separate categories which I found odd. Based on the majority of unrestricted reports being touching incidents I would not be surprised if the majority convicted were for touching crimes. So how were these 880 punished? Well the report did have a chart that showed the punishment these servicemembers received:
Most of them, 594 went through a court martial while the rest as the above chart shows went through non-judicial punishment or administrative action. Here is how the results of the court martials played out for the 302 of the 594 who were tried in 2012:
Of the 302 subjects whose cases proceeded to trial, 238 (79%) were convicted. Conviction by courts-martial may result in a combination of punishments. Consequently, convicted Service members could be adjudged one or more of the punishments listed. However, in most cases, they received at least four kinds of punishment: confinement, a reduction in rank, a fine or forfeiture of pay, and a punitive discharge (bad conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge). Service policy in FY12 directed or strongly recommended mandatory processing for administrative separation for those convicted Service members not receiving a punitive discharge. FY13 NDAA now requires mandatory administrative separation processing for all Service members convicted of a sexual assault offense. [Page 73]
So from that 3,374 number we now down to 238 convicted in a court martial in 2012. You will sometimes hear the special interests demagogue this number as well by inferring that a whole bunch of servicemembers are getting away with rape. However, as this posting shows not everyone is punished by a court martial, some of the cases get tried the following year, and a large number are baseless cases or acquittals. This is all context that the special interests will not provide. Something else to keep in mind that the above excerpt shows is that anyone convicted of a sexual assault is now automatically discharged. So how many soldiers with multiple deployments and suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will now receive automatic discharges after getting drunk and inappropriately touching someone and thus lose all their medical benefits? I am not saying these soldiers should not be held responsible for what they did, but should they be out on the street with a bad conduct discharge with no health care benefits for touching someone inappropriately?The Growth in False Sexual Assault Accusations
Something that everyone in the media except the Washington Times has missed is that for the 880 servicemembers that were convicted for sexual assault related crimes, there was 363 unfounded or baseless sexual assault accusations.
False complaints of sexual abuse in the military are rising at a faster rate than overall reports of sexual assault, a trend that could harm combat readiness, analysts say.
Virtually all media attention on a Pentagon report last week focused on an increase in service members’ claims of sexual abuse in an anonymous survey, but unmentioned were statistics showing that a significant percentage of such actually investigated cases were baseless.
From 2009 to 2012, the number of sexual abuse reports rose from 3,244 to 3,374 — a 4 percent increase. During the same period, the number of what the Pentagon calls “unfounded allegations” based on completed investigations of those reports rose from 331 to 444 — a 35 percent increase.
In 2012, there were 2,661 completed investigations, meaning that the 444 false complaints accounted for about 17 percent of all closed cases last year. False reports accounted for about 13 percent of closed cases in 2009. (……)
“Unsubstantiated accusations remain a significant problem, but the SAPRO is doing nothing about it,” Mrs. Donnelly said. “I went through both volumes and found no evidence of concern about the significant 17 percent of ‘unfounded accusations.’ Something should be done to reduce the numbers of false accusations, the first step being an admission that the problem exists.” [Washington Times]
Here is how the unfounded allegations were depicted in the Pentagon’s report:
Unfounded Allegations of Sexual Assault
The goals of a criminal investigation are to determine who has been victimized, what
offenses have been committed, and who may be held accountable. When the
allegations in an Unrestricted Report are investigated, one possible outcome is that the
evidence discovered by the investigation demonstrates that the accused person did not
commit the offense. When this occurs, the allegations are determined to be unfounded,
meaning false or baseless (Exhibit 9, Point K, and Exhibit 10, Point V). Allegations
may be unfounded either by the MCIO that investigates the crime or by the military
commander reviewing the investigation’s available evidence in determining whether
disciplinary action is warranted. Exhibit 16 shows that while there has been some
variation in who has determined whether allegations were unfounded, there has been a
small rise (4 percent) in the overall percentage of subjects with unfounded allegations
since FY09. (Page 79)
This is all the Pentagon says about false accusations out of all the pages in their report. This is 17% of the people investigated for sexual assault being found to be falsely accused and is on a 4% rise since FY09. This is a fact that is very significant and should be looked into. It would be interesting to know how many of these 363 people were prosecuted for lodging false reports? I doubt very few of them were. This number is actually higher because of the cases that went to court martial 307 more were dropped for lack of evidence. How many of these cases were false allegations as well? Also there was 244 servicemembers who were not convicted of sexual assault during their court martial, but were convicted of other crimes. Though what they were convicted of was not specified, usually adultery is what they are convicted of. However, how many of these servicemembers were falsely accused as well? This is all adds up to a huge number that no one other than the Washington Times is willing to talk about. This creates concern for many in the military who do not want to be falsely accused of a sexual assault because they fear the system is stacked against them and politicians want to make it even more stacked. As the US Court of Appeals overturning of rape convictions has shown servicemembers have every reason to fear the system is stacked against them. Additionally lawyers are coming out and saying the current environment created by the politicians is in fact unlawful as well.Is the Pentagon Under Prosecuting Sexual Assault Crimes?
Another complaint from the special interests and politicians is that commanders protect criminals from prosecution. McClatchey reporters long ago had already debunked this claim and yet this myth persists. This latest Pentagon report shows that increasingly commanders are pursuing court martials for sexual assault cases instead of using Article 15 non-judicial punishment:
This chart just further proves McClatchey’s prior reporting that the military is in fact over prosecuting for sexual assault cases compared to other crimes. So anyone that claims that all these commanders in the military are covering up sexual assaults is not telling the truth because the facts show the military is in fact over-prosecuting people for the crime.sWho Is Committing Sexual Assaults?
The report shows that the vast majority of victims investigated are female, under the age of 25, and junior enlisted:
The report also shows the vast majority of the accused suspects are young, junior enlisted servicemembers. Considering the vast majority of servicemembers are in this demographic and often live in close quarters in the barracks, these statistics should not be too surprising. This goes against the narrative that many of the special interests have been claiming that superiors are preying on subordinates. This does happen as the Lackland AFB case shows, but this is in fact the exception to what is largely a junior enlisted problem in the military.Conclusion
As this posting clearly shows the issue of military sexual assault is much more complex than what the special interests and their political allies are leading the public to believe. Like I said before demagoguery should be expected from special interests and politicians, but the media should be the fact checkers to ensure the public is accurately informed on the issue. Unfortunately in this case much of the media has done no fact checking and instead have just become advocates for the special interests. That is why I recommend everyone concerned about this issue read the full report first before drawing conclusions.
Before one of the special interests accuses me of being “soft on rape” or advancing a “war on women” let me state that I have no tolerance for any sexual assault and believe that all accusations should be thoroughly investigated and wrong doers punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, (I know this may be a radical idea) I believe people accused of sexual assault should be presumed innocent until proven guilty; not the other way around. Also they should have every expectation of receiving a fair trial.
This is something the special interests and the politicians want to deny servicemembers accused of sexual assault which the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces proved they already tried to do. They apparently would rather the 363 people who had baseless reports lodged against them and the other 307 who had charges dropped due to lack of evidence be thrown in jail like the servicemembers who were released by the US Court of Appeals. Witch hunts to advance political agendas is not what the US military legal system should be used for. Unfortunately that is what some people are trying to do and in the process are causing the American public to think the military is filled with a bunch of rapists that uncaring commanders are largely letting these criminals go unpunished. I hope this posting at least starts a conversation to counter these claims because as I have shown the problem is much more nuanced than what the special interests claim. This means the solution to the problem needs to be more nuanced than what the special interests are recommending as well.
So what is the solution? I will type up what I think needs to be done in a future posting, but in the meantime I would like to hear what commenters think should be done to counter sexual assaults in the military?
Family members of the victims of a 1980 democracy movement sing “March for the Beloved,” a song symbolizing the movement, on May 17, 2013, in Gwangju. The southwestern city is where protests began on May 18, 1980, against the regime of Chun Doo-hwan, a general who seized power through a coup, and hundreds were killed and wounded by the military quelling the demonstrations. Requests by the family members to have the song sung by all attendees at this year’s anniversary ceremony was rejected by the government. (Yonhap)