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?