Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Inspector Whisenhant, call your office

This week's Naval Enquirer (subscription required), has a write up on the Coast Guard Cadet Webster M. Smith's upcoming Article 32 hearing where he faces nine charges of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and 21 counts ranging from rape and sodomy to sexual assault, extortion and being absent without leave.

Low and behold, just what we need; Navy Midshipmen from Annapolis have made an appearance.
On the second day, four cadets and a Naval Academy midshipman, a friend of one of the victims, testified in an open hearing room.

Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class Kristin Strizki said her friend, identified as Cadet A, and Smith visited her in Annapolis in June 2005 and spent an evening drinking in an off-base house.

She described Smith as Cadet A’s “on-again, off-again boyfriend” and said her friend consumed beer and close to two bottles of wine June 4, 2005, before passing out.
On again, off-again? Well, that is one thing to call it. I think one of my LT has a story about Midshipman Metamucil. Back in college, we had a different description. Where is the female leadership at the USCGA and the USNA?
Strizki testified that Smith later suggested she take her friend to get a “morning-after” pill, emergency contraception. Cadet A, according to Strizki, said she didn’t remember having sex with Smith.

“He said, ‘Oh, please, you wanted it,’” Strizki testified, according to The Associated Press. “That’s when she said, ‘There is no way in hell I would have wanted to have sex with you last night, even if I was sober.’”

Smith also is accused of sodomizing and fondling another cadet, known as Cadet B, on at least six occasions. In the military, sodomy is defined as “unnatural carnal copulation” and can include oral sex.

Smith is accused of committing sodomy and attempting to extort sex from Cadet C by threatening to report her for being drunk if she didn’t perform sex acts on him.

Other alleged victims, known only as cadets D, E, F and G, filed complaints ranging from indecent assault and unlawful entry.

The case is the first public sexual assault case at the Coast Guard Academy. Nearly 30 percent of the student body is female.
Remember the "No one will date us..." comments from a future "war fighter?" Well, all this brings me back to the story from a few months ago where a certain Navy LCDR decided that she had to pursue her own investigation because a LT said a naughty word? Is that really the best use of her time? As a female leader, what has she done to DIRECTLY ADDRESS the female Midshipmen on self-preservation and professional behavior? She seems to have no problem telling her male counterparts what to do with their mouth. Perhaps she should expend similar efforts telling her female and male Midshipmen what they shouldn't be doing with their other body parts. If you have to take it somewhere people, take it out in town.

I don't say this from a unknowing position. My junior officers are showing up with a regular habit of serial and parallel sexual interactions with their shipmates: junior, senior, in chain-of-command, and out. Most are smart to stay in the grey areas, but there is a lot on the down-low that is just ignored. How in the hell are they going to keep their Sailors in line, when they are setting such an example? Anyway, where do these female and male officers learn that this is acceptable behavior? Annapolis. That is where.

Additionally, I have yet to see a medical report. Oh, no - not what you think. I am talking about all the male Cadets and Midshipmen who are accused of these "assaults." Just as a data point, I have a sister who is nowhere near a member of the military, though she is a fighter. I know of more than one boy/man who decided to be a bit too aggressive and walked away from the encounter worse for the wear. That is civilian to civilian. We are talking about military peers.

These women are training to be warriors. If they are being sexually assaulted by their fellow Cadets and Midshipmen, somewhere someone should have been hurt. If not, why? What are we not teaching our leaders of tomorrow that my 'lil Mom had no trouble teaching my sisters? Rape is rape. Sexual assault is sexual assault. I am not sure we are defining our terms correctly.

If we have a system where those who we are training to break things and kill people passively allow themselves to be sexually violated - we have a huge leadership problem. If we have a leadership that is too afraid to have blunt conversations with their charges - we have a problem. If we have a climate where the norm is to get trashed on the weekends, sleep around with whoever is convenient, and then think if it was ok once they sober-up - or change our minds once we get caught in the act. We have a problem.

The problem is - we don't have a military training school. We just have an expensive college with free tuition, room and board where the students play dress-up. Executive summary. Post it.

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