Sexual misconduct scandal serious for military, defense secretary says

The sexual misconduct crisis at the top of the U.S. military is seriously affecting recruitment, said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, at an official meeting with Australia’s defense minister on Saturday.

“We’re making tough decisions about what we’re going to do,” Mattis said. “That’s good for people on the ground as well,” he added.

Mattis said the sexual misconduct prevention effort in the military has “not been sufficient.”

“I don’t know how much more we can do,” he said.

Australian defense minister Marise Payne, meanwhile, said she wants Australia’s military “to be as welcoming and inclusive as possible.”

“And that in particular applies to those serving as family members with young children,” she said, adding that Australia’s military must “be and be seen to be a place where all are welcome.”

Payne and Mattis discussed issues of military engagement in defense talks during an annual security dialogue this week, and also the crisis of repeated sexual assaults of female servicewomen at the upper echelons of the American military.

Mattis said in an interview after the meeting that sexual misconduct is a “setback” for recruiting, and “all these things together has a real impact on morale.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne discussed security issues during annual talks in Canberra.

His comments on the military gender issue in the U.S. come after the Pentagon announced this week that 14 veterans have been expelled from the U.S. military since Oct. 1 as a result of sexual misconduct allegations. The group reported 13 prior expulsions in a monthlong period ending Oct. 1.

That’s a sign that the national military service scandal is weighing on efforts to recruit and retain staff and enlisted personnel, especially now with critical battles against the Islamic State and a highly ambitious policy to complete a drawdown from Afghanistan and the conflict in Syria that could lead to another Iraq War.

The Pentagon is on track to meet the goal of bringing 100,000 more men and women into the military in the next six years. To do that, officials will have to lure and educate a new generation of recruits and also how to keep them once they come in.

“But we have not been sufficient in terms of sexual assault prevention efforts and that has not been sufficient,” Mattis said.

Those efforts “have not been sufficient,” he said.

The scandal involving senior ranks, particularly among women, has been referred to by military leaders as a “pervasive problem” that remains in the armed forces.

Leave a Comment