Metro-East News

Roger That: Research study finds two in five women in the military suffer some type of sexual trauma

Belleville News-Democrat reporter Mike Fitzgerald.
Belleville News-Democrat reporter Mike Fitzgerald. News-Democrat

In the U.S. military, women may be nearly 10 times more likely than men to experience sexual assault or harassment, a study of recent veterans suggests, according to Reuters.

Researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs surveyed more than 20,000 men and women who served during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 41 percent of women and 4 percent of men reported suffering some form of sexual harassment during their time in the military.

One in five U.S. women and one in 71 men report being raped at some point in their lifetime, and among both genders, about one in 20 people experience other forms of sexual coercion and unwanted sexual advances, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The Air Force could field its first female special operators by 2018 after a months-long review of physical standards required for its 4,000 special ops members, according to Stars and Stripes.

The military services have until the end of this month to petition Defense Secretary Ash Carter for an exception to allowing women into ground combat roles. By Jan. 1, all of the military’s jobs, including special operations, will be open to women unless Carter grants an exception.

“My best bet is, if the secretary of defense opens up the career field in January, two-plus years from then we’ll see Air Force women in (special operations) career fields,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, a top Air Force personnel official.

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The U.S. Marines are also considering the role of women in their combat units. Marine infantry and special operations specialties will soon open to women, if the head of the Navy Department gets his way, according to DefenseOne.

As deadlines loom on decisions about whether to allow women into front-line combat jobs, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus called for opening all billets to female troops who can meet the rigorous standards.

Marine officials will soon offer their recommendations, but Mabus, the civilian secretary who leads the Navy Department — including the Marine Corps — made clear that he must sign off on the decision to seek any exemptions to opening all jobs to women, and he hasn’t had a change of heart.

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The drone strike that killed ISIS’ most notorious online recruiter in Syria last week was part of a stepped-up effort by the CIA and U.S. Special Operations forces to target and eliminate senior members of the terror group, according to a published report.

The Washington Post, citing U.S. officials, reported Tuesday that the collaborative effort has been responsible for “several” recent strikes against senior ISIS operatives deemed “high-value targets.” The program’s most notable success has been the death of Junaid Hussain, a British-born computer hacker who used social media in an effort to inspire homegrown jihadists to commit terror attacks.

The reported program is independent of airstrikes carried out in Syria by a U.S.-led coalition, which has the aim of dislodging ISIS from the swath of territory it captured in Iraq and Syria last year. A recent U.S. intelligence assessment concluded that conventional airstrikes had done little to affect ISIS’ manpower or territorial footprint.

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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