Secretary of the Army fully focused on SHARP

| April 25, 2018 | 0 Comments

Joe Lacdan
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — Shortly after Dr. Mark Esper was sworn in as the 23rd Secretary of the Army in November, he said he had one pressing priority in mind during his first days in office: Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP.

Dr. Mark T. Esper testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Nov. 2, 2017, as part of his confirmation hearing. On Nov. 15, 2017, Esper was confirmed by a vote in the Senate, 89-6, to become the 23rd secretary of the Army. (Photo by U.S. Senate)

Dr. Mark T. Esper testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Nov. 2, 2017, as part of his confirmation hearing to become the 23rd Secretary of the Army. (Photo by U.S. Senate)

That week, Esper’s staff took him for a short drive to the SHARP headquarters in Crystal City. There he met with SHARP representatives for an hour to discuss the state of the Army’s prevention efforts.

“I was quite encouraged by what I heard on one hand, but discouraged in the fact that we still have (sexual assault) occurring in our ranks,” Esper said during the annual Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month kick-off ceremony at the Pentagon, earlier this month.

“This is an issue of great importance to me, not just because I have a mother and sisters, but because I have a wife and daughter. I know, particularly, what young women go through when it comes to the challenge of sexual harassment, assault and retaliation.”

Sexual assault and harassment is not desired in our Army. (U.S. Army poster)

Sexual assault and harassment are not desired in our Army. (U.S. Army poster)

As Army leaders lauded the efforts of SHARP professionals, they continued to stress the importance of sexual assault prevention. Since 2014, SHARP reported a 36 percent decrease in the prevalence of sexual assaults for males and a 6 percent decrease for women. A greater emphasis on implementing awareness in training has helped, but sexual assault prevention is a continuing battle in the service.

“Those crimes have no place in our Army,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey said. “We are highly regarded in the eyes of the American public. We haven’t always been regarded as such, and it takes constant work to maintain that reputation with the American people.”

Esper said he was encouraged by the impact of the “Not In My Squad” program launched in 2015 to charge Army leaders at the foundational level to instill discipline. Army leaders said the program has helped instill sexual assault awareness and prevention.

“We cannot afford to lose Soldiers by something as mindless and as evil and as preventable as this should be,” Esper said. “(Sexual assault) in my mind is a readiness issue as much as it is a rightness issue.”

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Category: Leadership, News, Take a Stand!

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