Saturday, September 29, 2012

Take responsibility to stop sexual assault

Panetta:Leaders Must Stand Against Sexual Assault
"Any sexual assault has no place in military."  
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2012 - Military leaders at all levels must take responsibility to stop sexual assault, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said.

In an interview with NBC's Natalie Morales that aired yesterday, the secretary said, "Any sexual assault has no place in the military."

He continued, "If we don't take steps to deal with it -- if we don't exercise better leadership to confront it -- it'll get worse. And that's why it's really important that we take the responsibility to ensure that it doesn't have a place in the military. I have men and women in the military who put their lives on the line ... to protect this country. Surely we owe it to them to be able to protect them."

Leaders know "that we have to do a better job at dealing with this," the secretary said. "Look, we've got 200,000 women who are in the military. We're trying to open up another 14,000 positions for women, to be able to fully participate."

Those women want to have a career in the military, and have earned the right, he said.

"They're putting their lives on the line," he said. "We've lost 150 during the wars ... 1,000 have been wounded. We owe them the respect, we owe them the honor, of being able to protect them."

The military stands for and defends the values of good order and discipline, he said, which means, "we've got to make sure that women are protected from any kind of assault."

The services have a clear superior-subordinate structure, Panetta noted.

"We can't go to war, we can't fight, we can't protect this country without a strong chain of command," he said. "But that chain of command means there have to be officers, there have to be [noncommissioned officers], there have got to be leaders who say, 'Wait a minute.'"

Leaders must exercise good order and discipline, and speak out against and act to stop certain behaviors, he said.

Panetta noted the department has taken steps to strengthen sexual assault prevention. For example, he said, department policy now allows a sexual assault victim to rapidly transfer from an assigned unit where the assault happened.

"Secondly, we've made clear that you can't just have a unit commander handle this kind of situation; it's got to be moved up to a senior commander ... who will exercise greater responsibility in bringing that [sexual assault perpetrator] to justice," he said.

Thirdly, he said, "We've got to improve the investigations ... have special victims units. And we're putting that in place."

Training is also critical, the secretary said. "We've got to do better training for both the recruits and the commanders," he added. "So that they're aware that this is a real problem."

What's happening in the military is also a societal problem, Panetta said. "We see alcohol playing a role in these areas. We see ... the abuse, the disrespect that's involved -- and the fact is, rape is rape. And it has to be dealt with in a serious manner, and sometimes that's downplayed in the society."

All of those factors lead to "a situation where you can have this kind of power game," he said. "Where people are put into vulnerable positions, and it all plays out. It plays out in society, and it plays out in the military."

He said the only way to prevent that abuse of power is to have strong leaders at every level who stand against it and say, "This has to stop."

Punishing offenders is also important, Panetta said.

"It's an outrage that we aren't prosecuting our people involved here," Panetta responded when Morales noted that 240 cases were prosecuted out of the more than 3,000 reported last year.

The secretary acknowledged assault prosecutions are "tough cases."

"But the fact is we can do this," he said. "We need to improve the investigations and ... we need to ensure that we have [military] prosecutors who are willing to bring these cases to court and make sure that these people don't get away."

The secretary said he opposes turning military sexual assault cases over to civilian courts. "We have a military justice system. We have to enforce good order and good standards," he said. "If somebody hits somebody, or somebody robs somebody, or somebody commits an act on a battlefield that's wrong, we've got to prosecute those people. We have a responsibility to do that. The same thing is true of sexual assault."

The "vast majority" of service members operate on a deep level of mutual trust, Panetta noted.

"Sexual assault can't be a part of that," he added. "We're the ones who have to make sure that doesn't happen."

The secretary said from the top reaches of the Defense Department down to the platoon and squad level, his message is that leaders must take responsibility.

"Frankly, part of this is also moving women into command positions," he added.

Panetta said he's confident the department can make progress against sexual assault.

"This is an issue I, as secretary of defense, am committed to making sure we confront," he said.  
Take responsibility to stop sexual assault

Leon E. Panetta

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Author Broke Promise to Country, Panetta Says

The book reveals sensitive information
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2012 - Military personnel who take part in sensitive operations like the one that took out Osama bin Laden must stand by the promises they made to the United States, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said during an interview broadcast on "CBS This Morning" today.
"There's no question that the American people have a right to know about this operation. This is why the president spoke to the American people when that operation happened," Panetta said. "But people who are part of that operation, who commit themselves to the promise that they will not reveal the sensitive operations and not publish anything without bringing it to the Pentagon so that we can ensure that it doesn't reveal sensitive information, when they fail to do that we have got to make sure they stand by the promise they made to this country."
Two issues are involved, Panetta said. The first is that the book reveals sensitive information, he explained, and the larger issue is that the author deliberately chose not to have the book reviewed by the Pentagon before publication.
"I cannot, as secretary, send a signal to SEALs who conduct those operations, 'Oh, you can conduct those operations and then go out and write a book about it ... or sell your story,'" he said.
"How the hell can we run sensitive operations here that go after enemies if people are allowed to do that?" Panetta added.
Leon E. Panetta

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Young Paralympians

Air Force Veteran Shares Wisdom 
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

LONDON, Sept. 4, 2012 - The camaraderie of being part of a team is a draw to many athletes and can be traced to the origins of why many embarked on lengthy careers, staying the course even when things are not always going their way.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Former Air Force Staff Sgt. Mario Rodriguez, right, a member of the 2012 U.S. Paralympic fencing team, squares off with France's Ludov LeMoine at London's ExCel Centre during the Paralympic Games, Sept. 4, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

Mario Rodriguez, a member of the U.S. Paralympic fencing team and former Air Force staff sergeant, is one such athlete competing at the 2012 Paralympic Games here.

"I was a Russian translator for just under four years with the Air Force," he said. "I really loved the job. I liked serving my country, being at the forefront of things. And the other part of that was just basically being part of something bigger than myself. I think that's kind of how I ended up in sports, because [I enjoy] being part of a team, [building teams], and doing thing together to make things happen.
"Nobody's in this by themselves," he added. "It takes a community to do anything."
Rodriguez said he served his lone Air Force tour stationed on the Greek island of Crete. He elected to have his leg removed in 1992 after an untreatable tumor was discovered. It was then that he discovered wheelchair fencing and began his career.
During his bouts today -- in which he unsuccessfully faced competitors from Hungary, Hong Kong, France and Russia -- the Paralympian fencer said, he didn't feel quite as focused as he could be.
"I was trying to be in the right place at the right time," he said. "This is definitely a game of wits and speed. I definitely had the preparation. I guess I'm just getting a little bit old, to put it bluntly."
Rodriguez said he stepped away from the fencing in 2004, but later the appeal of coaching young, talented fencers brought him back.
"Between 2008 and now, I kind of got coached back into the [fencing] circuit," Rodriguez said. "Basically, what happened was we have a couple of younger athletes that really piqued my interest, and I wanted to see them do well."
Rodriguez noted that as he went to some of the same tournaments and had some success, such as taking the gold medal in Brazil's zonal championships, he built a rapport with the younger athletes.

"I was trying to give them a little extra fodder, and give them the benefit of my experience and knowledge," he said.
Hearing the national anthem at the championship was amazing, Rodriguez said, and also served to inspire him to return to the game.
"I wish I could do that here, but I don't think it's going to happen for me," he said. "It's great to be part of something bigger than myself."
Rodriguez said his goals for the Paralympic Games were to perform the best he could, be a good representative of the United States, and spend time with old athlete friends from other countries, noting that he enjoys sharing the experience with all of the athletes, volunteers and coaches.
Rodriguez also talked about his preparation for Paralympic competition and the advice he gives to younger competitors.
"I think before, the key to my success was overtraining," he said. "I've got to a point in my career where overtraining is definitely detrimental to my being able to stay on the mark. What I [would] tell anyone these days is the most important thing is being able to find a good, healthy sports regimen and not overdoing it."
The Paralympic fencer also said "it's a very, very fine edge to ride on when you're training for something like the Paralympics or any elite sport.
"You have to take care of yourself," he continued. "If you overdo it, then you can't do your personal best. You've got to stay in good physical shape, good mental shape, and just be consistent."
Rodriguez said he is his own worst critic when it comes to examining his own performances.
"I think, some of us, maybe more than others, are [tough on ourselves]," he said. "I tend to be self-critical, and I want to do better, and make my coach ... [and] teammates happy -- make myself happy."
At the end of the day, the Air Force veteran said, he's just happy to represent his country in the Paralympic Games.
"I feel like I've gotten a lot of support," Rodriguez said. "I looked out in the stands and saw several members of our team -- not just people in the fencing community, but from other sports as well. So that really pushed me to do the best I could."

Related Sites:
U.S. Paralympics
Special Report: Military Paralympians


Status of Fast Track Courts

The Government has discontinued the scheme of central assistance to States for Fast Track Courts (FTCs) since 1.4.2011. However, several States have continued Fast Track Courts from their own resources. Giving this information in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Shri Salman Khurshid, Minister of Law & Justice, said that in the judgement given by the Supreme Court on 19.04.2012 in Transfer Case (Civil) No. 22 of 2001- Brij Mohan Lal and Others versus Union of India and Others, the Supreme Court has directed that States shall continue Fast Track Courts Scheme only if this is made a permanent feature. They (States) are at a liberty, however, to decide whether to continue the Scheme or not. Fifteen State Governments have conveyed their decision in regard to continuation or otherwise of the FTCs.(PIB)    04-September-2012 19:08 IST 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

An operation in the Zharay district of Afghanistan

Combined Force Arrests Suspected Taliban Explosives Dealer
Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2012 - An Afghan special operations unit, supported by coalition troops, arrested a suspected Taliban explosives dealer during an operation in the Zharay district of Afghanistan's Kandahar province today, military officials reported.

The detained explosives dealer is believed to be responsible for
coordinating the purchase and transfer of explosives and other bomb-making equipment for Taliban insurgents throughout the region, officials said.

Prior to his arrest, the suspect had acquired several components for building homemade bombs, officials said.

The Afghan special operations unit also detained three other suspected insurgents and seized more than 40 pounds of illegal narcotics as a result of this operation.

In another Afghanistan operation today, a combined force arrested a suspected Taliban IED expert, detained several other suspects and seized military uniforms, firearms and explosives in the Khugyani district of Nangarhar province. The arrested IED expert is believed to be a leading figure in the movement and provision of explosives for attacks against coalition and Afghan security forces throughout eastern Nangarhar province.

Also today, Afghan and coalition forces confirmed the death of Shabeer, a Haqqani network leader, following a Sept. 2 precision airstrike in the Pul-e Alam district of Logar province. Shabeer was believed to have been coordinating a high-profile attack using vehicle-borne bombs and other weapons. A post-strike assessment determined no civilian property was damaged and no civilians were harmed.

In operations yesterday:

-- A combined force detained several suspects and seized Afghan army uniforms, an assault rifle and IED components during a search for a Haqqani leader in the Sayyid Karam district of Paktia province.

-- A combined force detained several suspects and seized a firearm during a search for a Taliban leader in the Ghazni district of Ghazni province.

-- A combined force killed two armed insurgents in Logar's Pul-e Alam district.

In Sept. 2 operations:

-- In the Reg-e Khan Neshin district of Helmand province, International Security Assistance Force troops found and destroyed 1,190 pounds of wet and dry opium and detained four people.

-- During a search for a Taliban leader in the Baraki Barak district of Logar province, a combined force killed multiple insurgents and seized an 82 mm recoilless rifle.

-- A coalition airstrike killed multiple armed insurgents during an operation in Logar's Pul-e Alam district.

Also on Sept. 2, Afghan and coalition forces confirmed the Aug. 30 arrest of a Taliban insurgent in the Hisarak district of Nangarhar province. The insurgent is accused of using his status as a member of the Afghan National Police to conduct a May attack that killed two coalition service members. Prior to his capture, officials said, he was attempting to join the Afghan army.

In Sept. 1 operations:

-- A combined force killed an insurgent, detained numerous suspects and destroyed an explosives and weapons cache during a search for a Haqqani leader in the Sayyid Karam district of Paktia province.

-- In the Wali Muhammad Shahid Khugyani district of Ghazni province, a combined force detained several suspects during a search for a Taliban leader.

-- A combined force detained numerous suspects during a search for a Taliban bomb maker in the Washer district of Helmand province.

Related Sites:

NATO International Security Assistance Force