Leader/Commander Responsibilities

What can I do to help prevent sexual assault in my unit/ workplace?

Commanders have a responsibility to establish a command climate in which safety is promoted, and Civilian leaders and supervisors are expected to encourage a safe workplace, where discrimination, including sexual harassment, is discouraged.

Sexual assault is a unit readiness and safety risk

Sexual assault is a crime and is incompatible with Army Values and the Warrior Ethos. Sexual assault directly and negatively impacts readiness across the force. Take the following actions to help reduce the risk of sexual assault in your unit or workplace:

Educate and train your Soldiers and employees on sexual assault prevention

  • Educate Soldiers and Army Civilian employees about the definition of sexual assault, the Army policy regarding sexual assault, and prevention and intervention measures they can take to reduce sexual harassment and sexual assault.
  • Participate in refresher training on sexual assault prevention.
  • Consider the risk of sexual assault, and provide informed safety briefings during high-risk periods, such as holidays and deployments.

Monitor the command/office climate to ensure that it is supportive of victims

  • Ensure Soldiers and Army Civilian employees feel comfortable reporting sexual assault. You can do this by communicating your intention to protect victims of sexual assault and by making it clear that you will follow Army policy in encouraging full investigation of all allegations of sexual assault.
  • Communicate to Soldiers and Army Civilian employees that you and the chain of command will provide caring assistance to victims of sexual assault.
  • Make sure Soldiers and Army Civilian employees know that the chain of command will ensure appropriate accountability.
  • Continually assess the command/office climate regarding the risk of sexual assault.
  • Demonstrate, through your words and actions that sexual assault is unacceptable and is incompatible with Army Values, the Civilian Creed, and the Warrior Ethos.
  • Demonstrate your willingness to address incidents of sexual assault and to intervene to stop sexual harassment and sexual assault. Ensure all Soldiers feel free to contact the Equal Opportunity Branch if they believe they have been discriminated against or treated unfairly due to race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. Ensure all Civilian employees feel free to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Office if they feel they have been discriminated against because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, or if they have experienced reprisal in an employment matter.

Reducing the risk of acquaintance rape in your unit

"Acquaintance rape" refers to those rapes that occur between two or more persons who are acquainted with each other.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), about two-thirds of sexual assault victims in the United States knew their assailants. To help prevent acquaintance rape:

  • Educate Soldiers and Army Civilian employees about how serial offenders use alcohol and other drugs to facilitate sexual assault.
  • Educate Soldiers and Army Civilians about how serial offenders identify and "groom" victims.
  • Educate Soldiers and Army Civilian employees on how their alertness and defenses can be impaired by the use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Encourage assertiveness and communication in dating and other intimate situations.
  • Educate Soldiers and Army Civilian employees about the dangers of drugs used to facilitate rape.

Deployed unit risk reduction considerations

Be especially prepared and alert in deployed environments. Deployed environments can present special risks for Army personnel:

  • Sleeping areas (tents, RLBs, bunkers, and other facilities) may be less secure in deployed environments.
  • Encourage Soldiers to report any unauthorized persons in sleeping areas.
  • Implement security measures around sleeping areas, latrines, and other areas where Soldiers may be isolated, especially at night.
  • Many non-Army personnel are present in deployed unit and working areas. Encourage Soldiers and Civilians to be alert and aware of their surroundings and report anything suspicious.
  • Different cultures may treat females differently from how they are treated in the U.S. Encourage Soldiers and Civilians to be assertive and clearly state if they feel uncomfortable with how someone is treating them. Encourage them to report any inappropriate behavior to you immediately.
  • Encourage Soldiers and Civilians to travel in groups when possible to minimize the potential of being isolated.

What are my responsibilities when a sexual assault occurs in my unit?

Army leaders play a key role in the response to sexual assault in the Army. These leaders include commanders, leaders, supervisors, law enforcement personnel, legal and social services, and healthcare personnel. If you are in a position of authority:

  • Enforce the Army policy on sexual assault, and make sure subordinates enforce it, too.
  • Treat each incident seriously and follow the proper guidelines.
  • Avoid blaming the victim based on past history. Do not assume that the victim instigated the incident. Some persons who have performance issues or a promiscuous reputation are targeted by serial offenders because these victims are perceived to lack credibility.
  • Encourage victims to report the incident to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or Victim Advocate (VA).
  • Respect SARC, VA, and healthcare provider confidentiality. Make sure Soldiers are aware of the confidentiality available to them in reporting sexual assaults to these persons. Consult your servicing judge advocate regarding these communications so that you do not infringe on confidential communications.
  • Inform each party of the Victim's Rights under AR 27-10.
  • Report allegations to law enforcement for a thorough investigation.
  • Keep all information confidential and disclose information only to those who have an official need to know - it's the right of the accuser and the accused.
  • Notify the chaplain if the victim wants pastoral counseling or assistance.
  • Ensure that the needs of the victim's Family are considered.
  • Make sure victims are aware of the military and Civilian resources that are available to them under the Victim and Witness Assistance Program (VWAP).
  • Encourage the victim to get a medical examination, even if the incident occurred prior to the past 72 hours. It is important for the victim to seek medical attention to assess possible injury, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.

Your first priority: Care for the victim

A commander, you have a responsibility to ensure that victims of sexual assault receive sensitive, timely care and support and are not re-victimized as a result of reporting the incident. You have a range of command options available to help you fulfill your responsibility to protect sexual assault victims. As a commander, you should seek the assistance of your servicing judge advocate.

  • In order to protect sexual assault victims, you have the option of geographically separating the victim and the alleged offender. Commanders should determine whether the victim wants to be transferred to another unit.
  • Victims who file an unrestricted report have the option of requesting an expedited transfer or reassignment. Guidelines for expedited transfer/reassignment requests and decisions are found at Army Directive 2011-19 and DODI 6495.02.
  • By considering the victim's preferences and all relevant facts and circumstances of the case, commanders can avoid subjecting the victim to the "double victimization" that is sometimes perceived when a victim is transferred from the unit.
  • Military Protective Orders (MPOs), DD Form 2873, referred to as "no contact orders," are also an effective tool for commanders to maintain the safety of the victim.

Some Army sexual assault victims report being hesitant to report assaults when they feel they will open themselves up for disciplinary action for related offenses, such as drug or alcohol use, that are related to the assault. As a commander, you have the option to delay action on any victim misconduct related to an assault until after the investigation and prosecution for the assault is complete.

The brigade's sexual assault review board (SARB) is required to meet each month. Victims' commanders are required to attend these meetings. SARBs can assist commanders in assessing whether the victim is in danger and can allocate an emergency response team to address these risks. Additionally, SARBs monitor the timeliness and responsiveness of support and the investigative process.

Your reporting and other responsibilities

Unit commanders must implement and support the Army's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program.

Commanders must:

  • Conduct climate assessments--within 30 days of assuming command, then at 90 days, at six months, and annually thereafter.
  • Report all disciplinary action taken against Soldiers involved in an assault by using form DA Form 4833, Commander's Report of Disciplinary or Administrative Action.
  • Report incidents of sexual assault to the Criminal Investigation Command, known as "CID", per AR 195-1.
  • Support participation by Soldiers and Army Civilians in sexual assault prevention and awareness training.
  • Continually assess the command climate through various methods (e.g., focus groups, surveys, talking with Soldiers).