Overnight Defense

Overnight Defense: Pentagon releases report detailing sexual assault risk | Sailors face highest risk of assault across military | Trump signs ‘minibus’ spending bill that covers VA

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THE TOPLINE: The Pentagon released a long-delayed study Friday that break down sexual assault risk by military installation.

The report found that both male and female Navy sailors serving aboard ships had the highest risk of sexual assault across the military.

The Pentagon-commissioned RAND Corp. study looked at sexual assault data from fiscal year 2014, including survey answers from 170,000 active-duty troops, in order to rank military installations by risk of sexual assault.

{mosads}”While there are no ships among the lowest-risk installations for women in the Navy, ships dominate the highest-risk installations. Of the 15 highest-risk installations for Navy women, 13 are ships or clusters of ships, including eight of the ten aircraft carriers,” the report said. “All but one of Navy men’s highest-risk installations are ships or clusters of ships, including five aircraft carriers.”

The caveats: Friday’s release comes after USA Today reported in July that the report was being delayed amid a dispute between the Pentagon and RAND over its methodology.

The report released Friday lists two pages of “caveats and limitations,” including that because the data is from 2014, it may not reflect current risks.

Another caveat is sexual assaults were linked to specific bases because that is where the service member was assigned, not because the assault happened there. In other words, the assault may have happened while the service member was on leave or temporarily serving somewhere else.

In the Navy: For the Navy’s highest-ranking installations, RAND estimated that 10 percent of all women experienced a sexual assault at each over a one-year period. More than 15 percent of all women were assaulted at two of them, the report added.

For Navy men, on one ship alone, RAND estimated that nearly one in every 25 men was sexually assaulted in fiscal 2014. The report does not name the ship.

More than 2.5 percent of men were assaulted on all of the ships in the highest-risk list, the report added.

More data: Meanwhile, in the Air Force, sexual assault risk for women was on average lower than for women in other services, according to the report.

“Nevertheless, the highest-risk Air Force installation presents a one-year risk of 5.2 percent,” the report said.

The lowest-risk installations in each of the services were largely those in the Washington, D.C., area, medical centers and small bases that the report aggregated into postal areas, according to the report.

In addition to risk, the report also includes an estimated number of assaults in fiscal 2014 for the 10 highest-ranking installations for each service. Fort Hood in the Army had the most, with 885 assaults.

Congressional reaction: Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he wants to hear more from the Pentagon about how it will use the findings.

“One instance of sexual assault is too many and I expect the department to continue its vigilant efforts to minimize risk, support victims and hold perpetrators of sexual assault accountable,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to hearing from the department about how it plans to use this report to improve their evaluation, prevention, response and enforcement efforts at installations and commands across the Armed Services.”

Advocate reaction: Retired Col. Don Christensen, the former chief prosecutor of the Air Force and president of Protect Our Defenders, knocked the Pentagon for not releasing the report sooner.

“By failing to release the report in a timely fashion, military brass appeared more concerned with massaging the data to look better than actually reducing sexual assaults,” he said in a statement. “Knowing that the Marines and Army have multiple installations where over 500 soldiers and Marines are sexually assaulted in a single year is jaw dropping. It is unbelievable the Pentagon would not immediately make this data available to the men and women serving on those installations and the citizens in the local communities next to those bases.”

Retired Navy Capt. Lory Manning, director of government relations at the Service Women’s Action Network, said the Navy needs to address the increased risk to its members.

“The Navy needs to acknowledge that ships require extra effort to prevent sexual assault and to deal with its aftermath,” Manning said in a statement. “This should be an item for the leadership of every ship to pay close and continual attention to. Senior Navy leaders should use this data when they make command selection decisions moving forward. Navy commanders who commanded highly problematic ships should not be promoted or given even greater responsibilities.”


TRUMP SIGNS BILL THAT FUNDS VETERANS AFFAIRS: President Trump on Friday signed the first fiscal year 2019 appropriations minibus into law at a ceremony in Las Vegas.

The first of three FY-19 minibus appropriations packages, the legislation includes funding bills for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water Development, and the legislative branch.

“We’re fighting to make sure that you get the care you so richly earned. Today’s legislation is one more promise that the Trump administration is keeping and we’ve done a lot of promises and we’ve kept them all,” Trump said at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System.

“With this funding bill we’ve increased the VA’s budget to the largest ever. We are delivering the resources needed to fully implement crucial VA reforms … and to deliver for our great veterans just the way I said I would constantly on the campaign trail. You back me and I back you.”

What’s in the bill: About $97.1 billion will now go to the VA and fund military construction, $44.6 billion will go to support Energy Department programs and infrastructure projects and $4.8 billion to maintain operations and security of the U.S. Capitol, Congress, and support agencies.

The Senate passed the legislation earlier this month in a 92 to 5 vote, and the House passed the conference report shortly after the Senate with a vote of 377 to 20.



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