7 sex assaults reported in Marine combat unit with women
The Marine Corps is trying to downplay evidence its efforts to integrate women into ground-combat units is running up against a major obstacle: an upswing in alleged cases of sexual assault.
Seven sexual assaults were reported in the Marine Corps’ Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, or GCE-ITF, which constitutes a higher rate than other military populations.
The unit existed for research purposes October through July 2014.
Military officials still claim, however, there is “no basis to assume” the numbers “will change the overall rate [7.9 percent of women per year] of these activities in the Marine Corps,” the Washington Post reported Thursday.
The alleged incidents, part of 103-page report dated Aug. 27 by several officials at Quantico, Virginia, were included in a more extensive analysis of how women fared in the experiment.
Researchers Ellen Haring, a professor, and Reserve Army Col. Megan MacKenzie (both advocates of full integration) provided the newspaper with the documentation.
“This behavior – whether on duty, on liberty or online – is not in keeping with our core values and is detrimental to victims and to unit cohesion and readiness,” Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Chris Devine told the newspaper. “Without violating the confidentiality of our Marines, it’s impossible to tell if the sexual assaults they experienced occurred at the ITF, while on liberty or leave, or at a prior unit. Because of the anonymous reporting, these cases of sexual assaults could have occurred [as a member of the integrated task force] and could have occurred prior to joining.”
Six of the seven alleged incidents of sexual misconduct were reported anonymously. Marines reported the alleged incidents at Twentynine Palms Air Ground Combat Center in San Bernardino County, California, a Marine told the paper on condition of anonymity.