What’s wrong with the military?

Sexual assaults and nuclear weapons cast a long shadow

Topics: Robert Reich, Military, Sexual assault, Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Military, Rape,

What's wrong with the military? The Pentagon (Credit: via Wikipedia)
This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.

After years of repeated reports of sexual assaults — and years of promises to prevent them, and then years of studies and commissions to find the best way of doing so — a Defense Department study released Tuesday estimates that some 26,000 people in the military were sexually assaulted in the last fiscal year, up from about 19,000 the year before.

Moreover, it turns out the Air Force lieutenant colonel in charge of preventing sexual assault has been arrested for  … sexual assault. According to the police report, a drunken Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski allegedly approached a woman in a parking lot in Arlington, Va. Sunday night, and grabbed her breasts and buttocks.

Why has it been so difficult for the Air Force or the Defense Department to remedy this problem?

Speaking of which, the Air Force has just removed from duty seventeen launch officers at the Minot nuclear missile base in North Dakota — one of three bases responsible for controlling, and, if necessary, launching, strategic nuclear missiles — for violating weapons safety rules. The base commander characterized their negligence as “rot.

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One officer was found to have intentionally broken a safety rule that could have compromised the secret codes enabling missiles to be launched.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley points to the removal of the seventeen as evidence that the Air Force has strengthened its oversight of the nuclear force. And he explains that members of the launch crew are usually relatively junior officers with limited service experience.

Reassuring?

Further steps will be taken to prevent one of our missiles from accidentally causing a nuclear holocaust. But I hope the Air Force does a better job remedying this problem than it’s done preventing sexual assaults.

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His new movie "Inequality for All" is in Theaters. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

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