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Below is a transcript of the hearing:
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome. We'll call the committee -- the military personnel subcommittee to order. And this hearing today is about an update on the implementation of recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military and the establishment of the Office of Special Trial Counsel.
We are delighted that you are all here. This is a very important hearing because in fact we are doing a benchmark review of the work of the DOD as it implements these particular recommendations. As you all know, the Independent Review Commission released the report in July of 2021. So it's important that we closely monitor implementation of those recommendations.
Also, last year's Defense Authorization Act included historic military justice reforms, so we need to ensure that the implementation of those provisions is closely aligned with the IRC's recommendations. The implementation of the 82 IRC recommendations is urgently needed because the situation is increasingly dire.
The crisis of military sexual assault and harassment continues unabated. The FY 2021 Department of Defense annual report on sexual assault in the military delivered catastrophic news. Over 8 percent of active duty women and about 1.5 percent of active duty men indicated experiencing some form of unwanted sexual contact.
For women, this is the highest prevalence rate reported -- the highest prevalence rate reported since the annual study was instituted. And the news doesn't get better. In 2021, the survey results also found that 29 percent of servicewomen experienced sexual harassment. 29 percent. A 5 percent point increase.
And men and women alike experienced greater workplace hostility compared with findings in 2018. There have been plenty of studies that have indicated that sexual harassment begets sexual assault. Servicemembers' sexual assault reports increased by 13 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, yet the overall rate of those who experienced sexual assault and came forward to report has decreased.
So it's really the perfect storm, the worst of the worst because you have numbers going up and you have reporting going down. Finally and alarmingly, the dat -- the data also shows that trust in the military to protect the privacy of victims, ensure safety, and treat victims with dignity and respect is also going down.
It's vital for the department and services to implement and execute the IRC's recommendations expeditiously for the readiness of our force and the safety and wellbeing of our service members. It's essential for our military leaders to address the culture of harassment and mistrust, to teach our service members they cannot only trust their leaders enough to follow them into harm's way, but to also protect them from danger within the ranks.
Sexual assault and harassment in our military is a readiness issue. It makes our force less lethal. It makes recruiting a challenge. It makes young men and women scared to serve. In fact, a July 22 -- a July 2022 memo from the Army showed that the propensity to serve has gone down 9 percent. And the reasons include 34 percent do not like the lifestyle and 28 percent fear the issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
We cannot protect and defend the United States when we are protecting and defending our own service members from the enemy. We cannot ask our children to serve when their parents can't be sure their commands won't protect them from abuse. You know, I've spent the last ten years battling this cancer. And with the most recent report, I know we still have a long way to go, but I also know the department is working hard to implement new prevention strategies and a completely new and independent military justice system to eradicate this scourge is in the process of being stood up. I feel confident that if the Department of Defense keeps their foot on the pedal and Congress doesn't turn a blind eye, this is the beginning of the end for those who wish to harm their brothers and sisters in arms.
I will not be sitting as Chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee come next year, but I implore my colleagues to regularly provide oversight on the implementation of the IRC's recommendations. I will still be watching and I will still be speaking out. I will make sure the voices of our service members are heard and heard loudly.
I'd like to hear from the first panel the status of the IRC's recommendations and implementation. What has been completed so far? What is going well? What challenges you're facing? What are your timelines for full implementation? What resources do you need to get this right -- what resources you need to get this right for our service members?
For the second panel, I'd like to hear how your military departments plan to execute DOD's IRC implementation plan and what progress your services have made in implementing military justice reform. What are your timelines? What resources do you need? Additionally, how are you going to increase trust in your military leaders?
What cultural changes do you intend to make so that the military really is a place that treats all members with dignity and respect? Before I introduce our first panel, I'd like to offer the Ranking Member, Congressman Gallagher, an opportunity to make opening remarks.
I thank the Chairwoman and I share your concerns about, let's say the sense of urgency or lack thereof at times in -- in addressing these challenges facing -- facing service members, their leaders, and our -- our military. The IRC was created by the Biden administration to evaluate the handling of sexual assault, harassment, and victim support in the military.
And some of the commission's recommendations, I think, are worthwhile, but others I find problematic. The department has used the IRC to legitimize a wave of new regulations with minimal involvement from the legislative branch. DOD's own press releases and testimony highlight that IRC recommendations quote, "have or are being implemented wherever possible", unquote.
Unfortunately, that implementation has come with minimal planning, arbitrary goals, and little regard to staffing requirements. For example, I was troubled to learn that the department has plans to hire nearly 2,000 so-called prevention workforce staffers over seven years while there's still no coherent plan for a new prevention program.
Now the impetus behind these new hires is as was explained to us concerning new sexual assault prevalence data. And indeed it's very concerning. Recent DOD survey -- survey data shows that the prevalence of unwanted sexual contact has increased from 6.2 percent to 8.4 percent. Moreover, it indicates that over 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported.
The same data also show that service member trust in the military justice system has plummeted in the last two years after being stable for a decade. As the Chairman pointed out, there was nearly 30 percent -- a nearly 30 percent drop in key metrics centering around leadership, privacy, trust, and military justice.
That's -- that's a big alarm bell, I think, for -- for all of us. And I'm concerned, however, that we've torn down rather than built up the role of leaders at the ground level in supporting and embracing victims or in -- or in being leaders at all in a meaningful sense. We need policies that give victims and leaders clarity, but funneling victims of trauma into a, let's say, cold or clinical or overly bureaucratic program that's divorced from leadership may not always be the best answer.
And it's my belief that leaders on the ground are best positioned to rebuild the sense of trust, security, and privacy. This committee needs to know if those leaders are empowered to act or encouraged to take a hands off approach to helping victims. And I think that driving -- there may be -- this may be driving the perception that leaders aren't involved or don't care.
I'm also concerned that burn -- that burnout among professionals who support victims is also on the rise. And apparently, much of this burnout was driven by COVID restrictions that prevented, for example, in-person victim services. So hopefully some of that pressure will -- will ease now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted, but DOD is now pressing ahead with a massive military justice and prevention workforce hiring plan.
And again, in my -- in my opinion, we don't have a clear plan delivered by DOD for what these new hires intend to accomplish, how the roles of uniformed personnel will change, and how these changes will impact military career paths. So the standard response that we've heard from the administration of more bodies, more PowerPoints, more offices, quite frankly, does not fill me with confidence.
But I hope to learn today that the department has a coherent plan for responding to these trends. And I thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and I yield back.
I thank the Ranking Member. Let me just add though that one of the most significant changes is taking these cases out of the chain of command and creating special trial councils so that our service members will have the confidence in knowing that they're going to go to an independent source for both investigations and evaluations as to whether or not action should move forward for a court martial.
So I don't think for a moment we should somehow suggest that that is not valuable. The other thing that's really important to point out is the reason why we have professionals now who are going to be focused on prevention is that before it was a collateral responsibility. So it wasn't taken seriously, they weren't necessarily professionals, they weren't even interested in doing the job.
Some of the SARCs were even found guilty of sexual assault and sexual harassment. So professionalizing this universe I think is very important. With that, I welcome our first panel, the Honorable Gilbert Cisneros, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense. He is no stranger to us since he used to sit with us. We welcome him here today.
GILBERT R. CISNEROS JR.:
Chairwoman Speier, Ranking Member Gallagher, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the status of DOD's implementation of recommendations approved by Secretary Austin from the 2021 Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, also known as the IRC. Madam Chair, as I know you are departing Congress at the end of this term, I want to begin by taking the opportunity to thank you for your extraordinary public service and your dedication to our armed services.
Your legislative accomplishments, passion, and constant dedication to work with the Department has made us better and improved lives of countless service -- servicemembers. So thank you. Most importantly you have stood up for those who have often most in need -- or most need of allies and support. Your exceptional advocacy will be forever appreciated by service members now and many years into the future.
Indeed, the historic and unprecedented nature of the reforms we are discussing today, which lay a foundation for progress that will outlast each of us, are in no small -- no small part because of your leadership. Since day one on the job, Secretary Austin has made addressing sexual assault a top priority.
In September of 2021, he signed the Implementation Roadmap Memorandum that directed a comprehensive approach to implementing the IRC recommendations across four tiers. These tiers represent the Department's efforts to implement necessary enhancements to infrastructure, apply best in practice strategies, expand our endear programs and practices, and expand programs and policies outside of the DOD's purview.
To ensure expedient, methodical, and standardized implementation of the IRC reforms, OSD has worked closely with the services to provide guidance and oversight mechanisms to ensure implementation stays on track. These mechanisms include the IRC Outcome Metrics Evaluation Report, which provides a framework for tracking implementation and effectiveness and regular progress reviews through senior leadership forums that include membership from across OSD and the services.
The level of oversight is a significant departure from previous reforms efforts in this area. And not only are we making progress, we're building the infrastructure needed to make real lasting change and rebuild trust with our service members. To this end, we are implementing a brand new specialized and dedicated prevention workforce, which at full operating capacity will include over 2,000 personnel stationed around the world.
The Department has worked to create a targeted recruitment plan to support the services in their hiring efforts and I established a dedicated direct hiring authority, which I signed out last week to more quickly identify and onboard these prevention workforce professionals. We are also working closely with the military service to professionalize the department's victim response workforce, which includes ensuring we have the capacity to focus on victims, ensuring in -- independence of our response workforce by placing it outside of the chain of command and standing up our Training Center of Excellence to standardize skills based training across the services.
Another significant undertaking at the department is Military Justice Reform through the implementation of the Office of Special Trial Counsel, which I know you will hear about in greater detail from the next panel. This effort to ensure independent expertise and prosecutorial decisions and is essential to the restoring trust and to hold perpetrators of sexual assault accountable.
The FY '21 annual report on sexual assault shows what our prior activities in the IRC on sexual assault in the military have already documented. Sexual assault and sexual harassment remain persistent and corrosive problems in our force. While the numbers are deeply disappointing, they largely reflect the climate [ph] before the department began implementation of this historic reform.
The findings of this report reinforce the urgent need to continue this unprecedented actions the Department is undertaking to address sexual assault in our military. The Department has clearly heard from our servicemembers that action and change are desperately needed and the Department is answering that call.
Getting this right requires we move our [ph] expeditiously as possible to implement change while also ensuring we do not rush to failure. If we improperly rush now, we will not be able to pick up the pieces and establish trust with our service members again. Progress thus far has been made possible with constructive leadership emphasis, your continued engagement on the issue, deliberate programmatic and procedural changes, and resource investments.
Chairwoman Speier. We all recognize there is no one size fits all solution to solve the problem of sexual assault and sexual harassment, but we have the resolve to effectively [ph] positive and lasting change. As Secretary of Defense Austin has stated on more than one occasion, we have a true opportunity to lead and we will.
Again, I want to express my gratitude to you and this committee for the leadership and support as we partner together on this critical issue. Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.
Thank you, Undersecretary. I will now recognize myself for five minutes to ask questions. Let me start with the independent investigations of sexual harassment. Can you provide us an update on the department's efforts in this regard?
Ma'am, thank you for that question. This is the -- the independent investigation is something that was part of the FY '22 NDAA that that be in there. We are making progress on that. We are providing guidance to the services. We expect to have a policy in place very soon, but, you know we are on track to meet the timeline that was sent out in the -- in the FD -- or the FY '22 NDAA to meet that process.
So there will be independent investigations? It won't be done under the chain of command by someone assigned within the unit to provide that investigation who is not skilled to do so?
Yes, ma'am. You know, what we did is we took it a step further. The IRC recommendation was that we provide an independent investigator. What we've done is we've stated that we will provide an independent trained investigator to do these independent investigations. But right now, as I've said, we are laying out the guidance for the services.
You can ask the service as well. They're making progress on this as well. But what we'll do, we are in -- in place to meet the timelines that were set forth in the '22 NDAA.
Thank you. I noticed that Ms. Guillen is in the audience today. We all remember that her sister, Vanessa Guillen, was a victim of sexual harassment and then subsequently murdered and dismembered. What progress has been made in adding sexual harassment reports to the catch a serial offender program?
Thank you, ma'am. You know, that was a recommendation of the IRC as well and it's something that we're working on. In regard to that, you know, we've run across privacy and policy concerns of implementation in that. So what we are going to do is we are going to study this, we are actually going to commission a study to look at this and how we can implement this into the -- the catch data frame --frame base or database, I'm sorry, is -- at the same time trying to take care of those privacy and policy concerns that are out there.
But it is something we are working on and we're working to implement.
You know, maybe for the record you can clarify what the privacy concerns are because the catch a serial offender program already exists for sexual assault victims. And so you do so voluntarily. So -- and it is kept private except for those that are able to look at it. So maybe you can do that later and just report to us subsequently.
So you're going to be training 2,000 prevention specialists. As the new workforce is trained, where are you going to assign them first?
Chairwoman Speier, are, you know, thank you for that question. The prevention workforce is an integral part of what we're going to do and what we need to do in order to gain trust with our service members. This is something that we haven't done before is to have a professional workforce that's going to be dedicated to training not only our service members, but working with the chain of command.
One of the things that we continually hear from our -- from the chain of command is they want to do the right thing, but they don't have the tools. This is going to help provide them with the tools in order to do that. So our emphasis is what we've been able to do is we know those high risk installations.
They are our first priority. Those are the ones where as we build this workforce, we want to make sure that they have the workforce in place first. But as we continue to build the workforce, we'll make sure that it gets throughout the military and that we have a prevention workforce that will be throughout the -- throughout our global force.
So you've already identified the high risk facilities. Can you make that available to the committee as well?
We can provide that to you, ma'am.
Thank you. Command climate. Let me just end with that issue. We spend a lot of money, a lot of time on command climate surveys. They provide a wealth of information about what's going right and what's going wrong. I want to know what progress is being made in implementing the recommendations in terms of creating what they call pulse surveys, which are short and can be actually rolled out very quickly.
What corrective action plans and how we're going to measure the climate at the unit level?
Thank you, ma'am, for that question. You're right -- right on. The command climate surveys are very important. It's a tool that that we are reworking right now. The pulse surveys are going to be part of that survey as well as you kind of build this. Our plan going forward is to kind of really use the command climate surveys, use the -- the pulse surveys, and have the prevention workforce use this data to kind of implement plans, you know, at the local levels there.
So it's not really that we're doing everything at a national kind of one general way to kind of do everything, but they can construct things and kind of really build the curriculum and how they're training personnel based on the local research and data that they're getting from the command climate survey.
So when will they be operational? When will you be actually rolling them out?
Well, ma'am, we're in the process of building this right now. I think right now, it's something that we're building right now. We're working on it. We hope to have the, again, the instruction policy this fall as to how to go forward with that and carry it out.
Policy, but not the actual surveys.
Ma'am, we're -- we're doing command climate surveys right now. We've always done those, but to how to kind of restructure them and to kind of rebuild them and kind of make them so that we can use them. And that really the prevention -- new prevention workforce can use them, we're in the -- in the process of changing those right now so that we can come up with this new format and that should be ready this fall.
Ok. Thank you. Ranking Gallagher, you're recognized for five minutes.
Thank you. So the most recent report that we both referenced on sexual assault in the military showed this alarming decline in trust in DOD systems and leadership. Well, I guess at the most general level, I would love your thoughts on what we can do to arrest that decline and also in particular how you will empower our uniformed leaders at the ground level to rebuild this trust.
You know, thank you for that question there, Mr. Gallagher. I think you're right on there. We need to build trust in our servicemembers again. That is something that was clearly stated in the -- the report that came out that we are losing that trust and it's something that we need to do is to work to rebuild it. That starts with leadership and it's going to start with leadership from the top.
As I stated earlier, Secretary Austin has kind of from the beginning when he first came into office that he, you know, instituted the IRC. He recommended that we implement all 82 recommendations. We've been in meetings where the service secretaries, the chiefs of the services, the chairman of the joint chief have all -- are all on board with this.
And they agree that we need to do this for -- to take care of our service members. And really as the Chairwoman said as well, it is a readiness issue that we need to make sure that we are implementing. As I've also stated, things as I've traveled around and is other members of our leadership team traveled around from what they're hearing from the -- those commanders that are on the ground is they want to do the right thing, but they always haven't had the tools to do that.
The IRC, the Prevention Workforce is that tool that's going to enable them to do that. And this is why it's so important because they're not only going to work with our service members, but they're also going to work with the commanders that are on the ground that are leading the troops to ensure that they have the tools necessary to -- to create a positive environment that's going to respect and make sure that every service member is treated with dignity there at the -- on the ground.
I mentioned burnout among those who care for victims and the fact that it's increased during the pandemic. We now have the data to prove it. What do you think we can do to address the looming retention issues in these positions?
Well, I think the -- the burnout issue is definitely, you know, we overwork I think a lot of our service members when we assign them these collateral duties. And as the Chairwoman had said, you know, a lot of time, this is a duty that somebody is tasked with to do, they're given it to as -- while they're carrying out their regular duties as well.
What we see is the tool, the kind of fixes is again the prevention workforce. By professionalizing and creating a professional workforce that's going to be able to work on this problem, that's going to be dedicated to doing prevention. And then later on, we're going to establish the response workforce by having these dedicated workforces there, that's going to relieve the burnout because people aren't going to be doing multiple tasks.
They're not going to be doing this as well as having to do this collateral duty as well. It'll be a professional workplace, you know, in existence that is there to do the training, to work with victims, and -- and it'll be in place there to kind of help and should help relieve some of the burnout.
So the 2,000 new professionals in this space, that's still where -- we have to go out and find those people and hire them, right?
We are working with -- the services are working to hire them right now. Yes, sir.
Do we have any sort of timeline as to it?
Well, you know, we don't have an exact timeline. It is in our tier one as to what we want to do where hopefully we can make an impact coming up. We're hiring some this year. We're looking to make -- really make an impact in FY '23. The thing that will help us achieve that is to ensure that we have the funding in order to do that.
You know, an appropriations bill, the funding in the CR that will help us build the infrastructure, help us, you know, build the professional workforce that we need, that'll help us achieve that goal and be able to get it done sooner, sir.
And that's for prevention, right? That's a prevention --
As opposed to the response?
Well, the response workforce will come later too, but again, the resources to kind of build the infrastructure and build the workforce that we need, we're going to continue to need those and to get those on time. That'll enable us to kind of continue our work and get this done sooner.
I think what I'm wrestling with is, you know, for we're taking a lot of this out of the local units, out of the chain of command and into -- into a different bureaucracy. Ok. But leaders in those units still have a responsibility to create a healthy culture and environment every single day. So we just don't want them to be able to sort of, you know, put it on autopilot or say, well, that's someone else's responsibility.
And that's what my comments were intended to convey.
No, I -- you know, I agree with you. The commanding officer is always responsible for the climate in their chain of command. And really who are, you know, they're responsible for the climate of their command. That's not going to change. But you know, as I stated earlier, when we were talking to commanders, what we're hearing is they need tools that are going to help them better, you know, to -- to provide the training that's necessary, to make sure that they know what's -- what's needed.
And creating that prevention workforce is that's going to be there to work with the commanders, be able to work with our service members. That's what we're giving them through the IRC implementation.
My time is expired.
Gentleman yields back. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for five minutes. Mr. Kim.
Yes. Thank you, Chairwoman. Good to see you, Undersecretary. I wanted to just kind of just get a deeper sense of just the architecture of what you're talking about. You know, for instance, you were talking about the prevention workforce, you know, the Chairwoman was asking about the, you know, the poll surveys.
You talked about the curriculum. I'm just trying to figure out how do I explain to folks in my district that, you know, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, how do I explain to them, you know, what they can expect to change, what resources they will be able to have? I'm trying to get a sense of what they should be expecting.
And I'm having a hard time understanding with the, you know, prevention workforce. It sounds like you're building that up, the idea that you will have people then embedded at these different establishments that they can turn to to be able to engage with. But can you explain just this a little bit more greater detail?
Thank you for that question, Congressman. And hopefully my -- my statement here will help me clarify and really kind of be able for you to answer the questions of your constituents. But, you know, what we're doing is being done on a scale that's never been done before. You know, we've assigned people task as a collateral duty in order to do this.
Like, hey, you're going to do the training on sexual assault and harassment. Hey, you're going to be the victim's advocate if somebody has, you know, a need or they need to see somebody. Our goal is to professionalize that workforce. It's going to be a civilian workforce. They're going to -- the prevention workforce to do the training.
And it's not just on sexual assault, you know, sexual harassment, they're going to cover child abuse, they're going to cover suicide prevention, cover other subjects as well. And they will be there to do the training, to work with the servicemembers, to help guide them. And they're going to use that data from the surveys that we're doing, whether it be the pulse survey or the command climate survey to kind of create, you know, based on the information and data that you're getting to really, you know, manipulate and kind of conform the instruction that they're going to do based on the research that they have.
You know, and the same thing with our response workforce when that eventually gets built. These are going to be individuals dedicated to work and to take care of individuals, to take care of victims when they're needed. You know, by creating this professional workforce, it's going to enable them to kind of be dedicated to the tasks that they have, the job that they have, unlike today where it is a collateral duty for a lot of individuals that they have to do this, right, outside of their main core, you know, job that there.
So the idea is that they will be a point person or your team at, for instance, this joint base that then will be working on establishing the training curriculum and so forth for the entirety of all of the service members and the community there at the base. Is that about right?
It is. It'll be a team of individuals. You know, we're going to have people there, you know, at the installation level, at the command levels, you know, people working with -- at the unit levels that will go and we'll do this training and make sure that, you know, everybody understands what's expected of them, that our service members, you know, expect to be treated with respect and dignity.
They're going to, you know, basically teach them right from wrong and what needs to be done and really how we can treat each other and make sure that we're taking care of our team members.
What feedback are you getting from the different services in terms of the implementation of this? And I'm curious, you know, we'll be hearing from them as well, but I'm just kind of curious from -- from your position, your perch, what are the major challenges that you've been hearing from them in terms of how this will be implemented?
You know, I will say the services have been on board with this. You know, when we put out the -- the POM [ph] requirements, they met those requirements. They're working hard. We meet, you know, they're working hard to make sure that we get this plan implemented. You know, I meet with the undersecretaries on a regular basis where this is a topic that we discuss.
Again, I mentioned a reference to a meeting that the Secretary had with the service secretaries as well as the service chiefs on this. And so it's receiving all the attention from the top level down and they're working hard to implement it. Again, I think if the services have concerns and, you know, you would be better address, you know, that question to them --
You raised -- you raised some [inaudible] challenges when it comes to, you know, in terms of manpower, for instance, you know, to have personnel, you know, what are the -- what are the -- I'm sure there's their funding challenge, what are the main challenges --
And I, you know, Mr. Kim, I think you're right on there. Right. And that's what I was getting ready to say is I think if, you know, I don't want to speak for them. But I -- if you know what I'm hearing from them is to make sure that we have the resources, that we have the funding to implement the plan and build the infrastructure and hire the workforce that we need and that they're expecting to do, and to have it done on a timely manner.
You know, if, you know, last month -- or I'm sorry, last month -- last year or last fiscal year, we didn't get appropriations for this until six months into the fiscal year. You know, if that's going to happen again then, you know, that's going to set us back.
Ok. Thank you. I yield back.
Gentleman yields back. The gentlewoman from Texas, Ms. Escobar, is recognized for five minutes.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and so wonderful to see you, Mr. Cisneros. Thanks for the time that you're taking today and thanks for the ongoing dialogue that -- that we are having on a number of issues. And I want to raise something that I have raised with you and that I have been in conversations with the Chairwoman about.
I want to make sure that the subcommittee is -- is -- I want to make sure that the subcommittee also is aware, but for the subcommittee's purposes, I wanted to share with you a story from Fort Bliss. There was a -- a service member, Christian Alvarado, a -- an Army private first class, who was accused of sexual assault.
And during questioning, he acknowledged that he had had sex with another service member when she was severely intoxicated and could not -- obviously that was sexual assault. Despite that admission, he was not detained on pretrial confinement, and he then went on to sexually assault another person. And pretrial confinement is obviously in the military different from the way that it exists in civilian life.
And under other circumstances in civilian life, someone would have access to bail. And so they -- they would be able to post bond and get out even though they were under pretrial detention. But in the military, it is essentially taking away someone's liberty completely without access to bond. So it's a -- it is a serious decision to make.
However, it does seem to me that this is something that we need to explore a little bit further. I personally would like to do a deep dive on what happened at Fort Bliss, why this individual, Mr. Alvarado, was not placed in pretrial confinement. I would like for leaders at the Pentagon to take a deep dive on that as well and to take a look at whether we need to change policy, whether this needs to be part of a larger -- or an additional package of reforms that we might have to legislate on. But Mr. Cisneros, you and I talked about this.
I'm wondering if you have any thoughts that you can share with me or the committee on this?
Congresswoman, you know, one of my goals and one of the things that I'm striving for in this position, right, is to ensure that we're taking care of our service members, that we're taking care of their families. It's very important to me, as I know it is to you and the other members of this committee, to ensure that they're treated with dignity and respect.
and that, you know, those that are serving their country should be able to -- to serve without, you know, the risk or any, you know, thought of sexual harassment or sexual assault or any type of harassment. And so we want to ensure that we are taking care of that, our service members, and that we are doing right by them and that we are protecting them.
And I can guarantee you that I will be working on that to ensure that we do that. As regards -- in regard to how we can change and make differences there, I think those are questions that are better answered by the Judge Advocate Generals of the services as to what we can do as in really pertaining to the, you know, the case that you mentioned, as to why that individual wasn't held in pretrial confinement.
But we can take that for the record and really kind of bring that up to the Judge Advocate Generals and really kind of see what they can do and what options they may have to kind of really address this issue going forward. But I can guarantee you that -- that taking care of our servicemembers, taking our care of our families is a top priority of the Department of Defense, and we want to ensure that we can do what we can to make sure that that happens.
I appreciate that, Mr. Cisneros, and really would love to further engage on, you know, whether what, you know, what -- what reform could and should look like going forward. So thank you so much. Madam Chair, I yield back.
The gentlewoman yields back. The gentlewoman from Pennsylvania, Ms. Houlahan, is recognized for five minutes.
Thank you, Madam Chair. And I also want to recognize that this may be your last chairing of this hearing. I hope that we will do this again in December, but if we for whatever reason don't, I just wanted to express my appreciation and gratitude for the work that you've done and the path that you've blazed for all of us. You will definitely be missed.
And I hope that we will continue on in your -- in your -- in your model of leadership. I also very much appreciate the chance to see you, Mr. Cisneros, again on the other side, so to speak. My questions have to do with the prevention workforce and response -- response workforce. And I'm trying to put my hat on as an operator and also as a -- as a veteran and trying to figure out how to build out a workforce that hasn't been done before.
And you guys are effectively doing that across all of the services. And in trying to think that through, some of the data that that you all have shared is that 30 -- 32 percent of women and 31 percent of men do not report due to lack of trust. And so I guess we theoretically have some idea of the magnitude of the size of the problem that we're talking about in assault.
And you also mentioned that these folks will be doing suicide prevention and all sorts of other services as well. How did you scale the size of the workforce that you think you need? How did you determine that number? How will we at various points -- pressure points, checkpoints be testing to see if that workforce is either right sized, oversized, or undersized so that we might realize that we have over clubbed or under clubbed?
And what kind of metrics are we using to understand the efficacy of these groups? Or is this something that we're building on the fly? I know that I've asked a lot of questions. My next and last question is, this is in a unique issue where our many large organizations, mostly for profit organizations, in this country and in the globe that are doing this kind of reckoning and adjustment as well.
Are we tapping into our civilian counterparts to understand what best practices are there?
Thank you for that question. And again, you know, taking care of our service members and making sure that they are treated with respect and dignity is our top priority. And creating this prevention workforce and helping us get left of the problem I think is a step in that direction that it's really going to help us build trust with our, you know, with them so that we can gain back trust.
And this is not something where we can -- we can't fail at this. We must lead at this. And that's really what we're doing at the Department of Defense and the Secretary, again, has really kind of done this since day one going out forward and kind of implementing the IRC. We need to go in and do something about this problem.
You know, we are looking at research based solutions to do this. This is -- we are not -- this is not something that we just kind of thought up, are just going with the IRC recommendations, but, you know, we are working, using research to inform the decisions that we make and really how we're building the workforce.
Both looking at information that's been provided by the -- the Center for Disease Control, the CDC, as well as also kind of looking at what's being done out there in the private sector as to how we can do this. But how we kind of decided at this number and what was the right number was we actually told the services that they need to go out and they need to do manpower studies to kind of see, you know, what would be the right number that they would need at every installation to make sure that we're able to serve every command.
You know, the other thing that we're doing around this that we've never done before is that we've included the National Guard in the Reserves as well. You know, the National Guard is a big part of this. And we are also ensuring that they are going to have a prevention workforce which has never been done before.
And you mentioned that you had sort of already identified certain, and you mentioned this when we met as well, certain places that you're going to start with, given that you're going to have a runway onto insights, you know, early on. Will there be, you know, check backs and reevaluations that are ongoing?
I would assume so.
Yes. You know, I think, you know, we're building this, but not everything is set in stone. Right. I think it would -- wouldn't be right by us or done the right way if we said, hey, this is the way it's done and this is the way we're going to do it. We need to take back and look to see what's working, what we can improve.
I think that's part of our process -- it is part of our process as to how we plan to move forward to ensure that we are correcting ourselves as we move along. I mean as you said like, around, you know, maybe we do need a higher number, maybe doesn't need to be as high.
Yeah. And I hope to have the conversations later on and see the successors later on to be able to ask the same questions again and see what the answers are. With my remaining time. I know that labor is going to be a huge issue. The civilian economy has very low, unemployment rate. What are you doing? I guess I've run out of time largely, but I would like to know for the record maybe what you're doing to entice people to take this responsible job rather than some other similar responsible job?
And I yield back.
The gentleman can answer the question.
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. You know, we're doing several things. As I stated, you know, I just signed our direct hire authority that we're going to use direct hire authority to go out and allow the services to hire the personnel into these fields. We're working with colleges, universities, Georgia State for example has been a university that we've worked with -- been working with to create an internship program and build a pipeline as to see how we can bring people in from colleges into this workforce.
And so it, you know, as you said there are challenges, you know, with the economy being -- doing as well as it is, with unemployment being as low as it is. But you know, we have to get out there after this. We're going to do this. You know, we want to show people that the Department of Defense can be an employer of choice.
That's something we're working for. And this is a totally different issue, but it's something we are working to strive there to show that we can be that employee of choice for individuals that want to come and serve their country. That doesn't always have to be in uniform, there are other ways to do that.
Thank you. The gentlewoman yields back. The gentlewoman from California, Ms. Jacobs, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Well, thank you, Madam Chairwoman, for all of your leadership on this important issue. And I'm told we will have one more hearing. So I'm not going to give my final goodbyes just yet. But Mr. Cisneros, good to see you. One of the IRC recommendations is to allow survivors flexibility to take nonchargeable time off for seeking services or time for recovery from sexual assault.
Will the DOD allow service members this critical time off to help recover?
Ma'am, you know, definitely I think any time we have. again, sexual assault is -- it's a behavior that's unacceptable in our US military. The victims that have to suffer through this is not something that we are -- that we want and we need to change this behavior. And that is the big focus that we're doing.
But in instances -- in instances where, you know, any individual has been assaulted or they need time off, you know, by going to the medical, we want them to go to the MTFs, we want them to be treated, we want them to be seen by a physician so that they can get that time off and ensure that they're getting treated, you know, properly and have the proper time off in order for them to -- to recover.
Thank you. And I wanted to ask you, I, as you know, represent San Diego. So we've got a lot of family members and folks who serve in the Marine Corps. And I have to answer to their parents about how they're doing. And unfortunately, the Marine Corps has the worst sexual assault and sexual harassment rates in the DOD with 13.4 percent, or 2,204 women service members who reported their incident to DOD. In your assessment, why do they have the worst record?
Is it a command issue, a climate issue, culture, or leadership? And what are you doing to fix it so that I don't have to keep answering these questions from my constituents. And, you know, the Marine Corps has unfortunately long had the highest rates of reported harassment. So this isn't a new problem.
You know, Representative Jacobs, we don't want you to have to keep answering those questions. You know -- you know, every individual that sends their child a way to serve their country should be expected that that child is going to be treated with respect and dignity, that they're going to be taken care of, that they're going to be safe.
I mean, obviously there are risks, you know, to a professional military career, but sexual assault, sexual harassment should not be one of those. And it's going to take, you know, again, it's going to take leadership at the top. And we have the leadership at the top that is dedicated to making this change.
We are trying to, you know, implement -- this is a cultural change for us. And it's I think not just in the Marine Corps, but through all the services that we need to institute a cultural change and let people know that this type of behavior, it's not acceptable. And it won't be tolerated anymore. And that is really what we are working to do. And again, we are creating this prevention workforce to give our commanders on the ground the tools that they need so that they can work with their servicemembers and let them know and give them the proper training that, you know, that they need and give the commanders the proper training as well to see how they deal with these issues.
And so we are working towards that. We are working to change the culture. It is a big part of what we're doing. We do not take this mission lightly. We know this is about protecting our servicemembers. It's about taking care of them. And again, you know, one, you know, I've had the opportunity to kind of travel around and visit different installations, and talking to -- to different service members out there.
You know, there's -- there's one individual that I remember just saying just one case of sexual assault in a -- in a command can just disrupt the whole command. And it's really coercive in the command and really what it can do and how interrupted -- and interrupt their readiness. And so these are things that we're trying to overcome and we're going to work towards that to ensure that we do it. But -- but we want to, you know, I don't want you to have to have those conversations with parents anymore.
Well, thank you. And I look forward to working with you on that. And one last quick question on the -- the National Guard. I know you talked about it briefly, but last January we did a hearing on the jurisdiction investigation and prosecution of sexual assault in the National Guard. And one of the recommendations in the IRC is that the National Guard bureau should develop Army, National Guard, and Air National Guard prevention strategies aligned with the DOD Prevention Plan of Action.
What steps have you taken to carry out this recommendation?
No, and that is happening. The National Guard has been a big part of this. They have -- are creating -- they're out hiring a prevention workforce as well. You know, they have challenges because it is, you know, it's different in every state and there's National Guard installations all over the place, and things vary from state to state, but they are very much a part of this.
They are very much going to be part of the prevention workforce, will make sure that we have a prevention workforce that reserves -- that services the various National Guard installations around the country. So -- and they've been very aggressive on this and they've been excited about this, that they've had the opportunity to go in to address these issues.
Thank you. I yield back.
Gentlewoman yields back. Could you provide to the committee the specific states which have copied the UCMJ in their state constitution or laws, statutes I guess, and those that have not?
We can -- we can take that back for the record.
Yes. If you would just do that, it would be important for us to know moving forward. Thank you. Finally, Ms. Garcia is recognized for five minutes.
Thank you Madam Chair. And Mr. Undersecretary, good to see you again. And here we are again, I still remember when you and I had lunch with the Secretary of the Army at the time. When we together with members of lulock [ph] and others went to speak with him about the case that brought all of this to my attention into later the -- the national attention, Vanessa Guillen's case.
And I know you were concerned there and I know you still are because as you said earlier, you don't want to have parents have to worry about these issues again?. So my questions today really will be about specifically the implementation of the special counsel regulations. So first of all, are you handling that out of DOD? And I apologize, I missed your opening remarks.
I've got like -- I've got a markup in Judiciary and a hearing in FSC and this hearing here. So I'm dividing my time in threes this afternoon. So here's the third speaking at this hearing. What exactly end [ph] direction [ph] are you giving them or are you taking charge of the whole thing? Or are you expecting each individual service to do their own thing?
Representative Garcia, good to see you again. And thank you for all your hard work. And I know you've been an advocate, you know, even though you don't serve on this committee, but I know you -- this has been an issue that's been very important to you. And I do remember meeting with the Secretary of the Army and really, you know, sitting there with you and kind of hearing, you know, the things that needed to change back then.
Right. That we need to go and how we need to make a difference. And we're working here to do that now and to make sure that we can change it. And so that we don't --
Can you tell us specifically what you are doing? Because I just, you know, it's very troubling because, you know, people see and do what others do. And we're seeing of course that the military academies have this problem and now we're beginning to see it and they've gotten a complaint or two from local high school ROTCs. So we've got to take care of the problem because it's trickling down.
So the leadership begins with you and the Secretary of Defense. So what are you all doing to make sure the -- what timeline are you following?
So the Special Trial Counsel -- so my responsibility is to ensure and to track to make sure that these changes are being -- are taking place. The Office of General Counsel is the one who's working with the services on the implementation of the Special Trial Counsel to implement that and to make sure that they are working to bring that up. The services I know are implementing these plans.
They're coming up with the -- the, you know, what they're going to do there. They're working to identify the individuals that'll be kind of directing those offices. And so they are the ones that are working there that are doing the day to day work.
So each branch is doing their own thing. What is their deadline that's presented through you or through the Secretary of Defense?
Well, it's a, you know, this is a -- it is a tier one priority, right. So we are working to get it done now. There's not a specific deadline that it has to be done by this time. But again, ensuring that we have the resources in order to build this up so that they can set up this infrastructure, so they can set up these office will enable them to get it done sooner.
Well, do you feel like you've provided enough resources, people, power, money, facilities, training, education?
I think that that's all going to be part of it. And, you know, we've had again a lot of those resources came late this year. It kind of put us behind the power curve. The sooner we can get those resources going into the next fiscal year will enable us to kind of stay on pace. But again, setting up the Special Trial Council, ensuring that that gets done is important to the Department of Defense to ensure and we know that is a big part of the IRC recommendations and what we are doing here.
Well, I'm just concerned that things aren't moving fast enough because again, I mean my colleague from El Paso just mentioned another case and it doesn't, you know, there was a minute there that I was encouraged, but I'm beginning to lose that encouragement because I keep hearing of more cases. So I would strongly urge you to make sure that all the branches have the resources that the people power the -- the -- the facilities, the training, the education and the skill set, and to get it done and get it done as quickly as possible.
Ma'am, you know that is our intention is to provide them with the resources that they need, that they're going to have to get these set up. Where you can help us out in Congress here is to ensure that we have those -- those resources to do that.
And I think you could help out by giving them a deadline. Everybody always needs to know what the deadline is. But thank you, Mr. Undersecretary. And Madam Chair, I know you've recognized my constituent, Mayra Guillen, who was here, and I just also want to say hello to her and let her know that we're still pushing forward, that we're working until we get it done.
Thank you and I yield back.
Gentlewoman yields back. If there is no further question of our Undersecretary, we will thank him for his participation today, thank him for his leadership, and look forward to working with you in the future.
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Appreciate it.
Alright. We'll now take a short recess to switch out our second panel. My understanding is that the second set of votes will be called between 3:45 and 4:15. So we're hoping for 4:15 so that we can hear from our second panel. Thank you. We welcome our second panel, the honorable Gabe Camarillo, Undersecretary of the Army, Department of the Army.
The Honorable Erik Raven, Undersecretary of the Navy, Department of the Navy, and the Honorable Gina Ortiz Jones, Undersecretary of the Air Force, Department of the Air Force. Thank you all for joining us. We will begin with you, Mr. Camarillo, with your opening remarks.
Thank you, Chairwoman Speier, Ranking Member Gallagher, distinguished members of this committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before this subcommittee representing the Army. The Army's number one priority is its people: our soldiers, civilians, retirees, veterans, and their families. Our focus remains on taking care of our people, treating them with dignity and respect and promoting a culture where everyone can serve and trust those who can serve with them.
Army leadership was concerned by the results in the FY '21 annual report on sexual assault in the military, which revealed a significant increase in the prevalence of sexual assault alongside a decline in trust in the military system to deal with those problems. Put simply, despite many years of prior effort to address this challenge, we are not where we want to be. This is why the Army has fundamentally changed its approach.
Since the murder of Specialist Vanessa Guillen and the release of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee report, we have taken unprecedented steps to make systemic and lasting changes to the way that we prevent harmful behaviors. Fort Hood serves as a line of demarcation for the Army. Our efforts have shifted from a narrow FERC [ph] focus on response to these crimes and compliance with related policies to a more balanced approach rooted in prevention, building positive command climates, and in detecting and acting on warning signs before damaging acts occur.
Since the release of the Fort Hood report, the Army has made significant changes on the way that it counters harmful behaviors. We've innovated our sexual assault and harassment training to focus on experience based scenarios. We've also doubled down on our battalion and brigade level commander selection process; that's allowed us to select leaders better suited to building positive command climates.
And these changes coincide with Secretary Austin's decision to create, at the direction of the President, the Independent Review Commission on sexual assault in the military. So the Army is well-positioned to continue driving change. We're focused on preventing violent acts, to include sexual assault, by rapidly and effectively implementing the recommendations of the IRC and the Fort Hood Independent report.
The Army has already implemented 63 of the 70 Fort Hood recommendations and four of the six priority IRC recommendations assigned to the Army, including ensuring that survivors can access the help they need, no matter who they ask. We are implementing fundamental changes to our response system that directly address the lost confidence of survivors of these crimes.
The Army has established its Office of Special Trial Counsel reporting directly to the Secretary of the Army, which will prosecute sexual assault and several other violent offenses. And we're continuing to ask hard questions about our own performance and hold ourselves accountable for getting this right.
As the Army's designated lead for IRC implementation, I receive weekly updates on our progress checking to ensure that our implementation efforts are effective and on time. And in addition, I would note that the Army has developed other initiatives that we believe will help address harmful behaviors. This April, we launched a multidisciplinary sexual harassment and assault fusion directorate pilot at seven locations in the Army.
When one of our soldiers, civilians, retirees, veterans, or family members need help, they can go to one location and get assistance at that same location on the installation. We've also set up the people first center at Fort Hood, a centralized training facility that develops units into cohesive teams. I visited this facility last July and was impressed by the progress that it's making in delivering effective training based on real world scenarios.
And this approach supports our efforts to prevent harmful behaviors of all manners and types in the Army. Secretary of the Army, Christine Wormuth, and I are both immensely grateful to the Congress and this committee for its sustained focus on sexual assault in the military. Though years of leadership have struggled to address this pernicious problem, the good news is that with your help, we have an unmatched opportunity for progress.
To take advantage of it, we will need help to continue putting in hard work. We can't afford to fail our soldiers and civilians in this area, and getting this problem right and driving lasting change in the way that we prevent and respond to sexual assault will safeguard soldiers physical safety, increase our military readiness, build trust, and ensure that every Army team member is treated with dignity and respect.
The Army has made a serious commitment to change, but we are not done yet. You have my commitment that Army leaders will keep pushing until the job is done. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
Thank you, Mr. Camarillo. Next, Mr. Raven.
ERIK K. RAVEN:
Good afternoon, Chairwoman Speier, Ranking Member Gallagher, and distinguished members of the subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the ongoing efforts by the Department of the Navy to implement the recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, the IRC, and the offices of the Special Trial Counsel.
On behalf of Navy Secretary Del Toro and the senior civilian and military leadership of the Navy and Marine Corps, I want to thank this committee for its leadership in reforming the military justice system in FY '22 NDAA. This was a critical step in addressing military sexual assaults that continue among our ranks.
I was saddened to read the findings of the annual report on sexual assault in the military for fiscal year 2021. The crimes of sexual assault and sexual harassment unfortunately remain persistent. These crimes erode unit cohesion, the glue that holds together successful teams, in their most difficult hours.
More importantly, sailors and Marines, their teammates and their families suffer emotional, psychological, and physical injuries because of these crimes. We owe it to our service members to use the data from the annual report as well as the good work that the committee and others have done to make informed decisions on how to prevent sexual violence and harassment within our department.
I want to assure you that Secretary Del Toro, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps are laser focused on this matter. Prevention remains our number one priority. Consequently, Secretary Del Toro has prioritized and expedited IRC recommendations to train and develop leaders to deter violence and set conditions for healthy personal and professional relationships.
This fosters command climates that do not tolerate destructive behaviors, that strengthen the dignity of military service, and increase our warfighting readiness. After the FY '22 NDAA became law, Secretary Del Toro established the DON Implementation Advisory Panel, or IAP. The IAP brings together key senior leaders from across the DON to implement the recommendations of the IRC and the NDAA reforms.
The IAP is driving action to streamline implementation work, allowing the Department of the Navy to move out ahead of schedule on numerous efforts. This includes initial operating capability of the Office of the Special Trial Counsel and establishing policy -- policies to empower victims and survivors to come forward and receive the -- the support that they need.
We have also made substantial progress in standing up a dedicated workforce to prevent harmful behaviors and professionalizing the sexual response -- sexual assault response workforce to best support survivor recovery. Our prevention specialists are our leaders who will call attention to problems with culture and climate before it is too late.
Hiring these specialists is our top priority. To that end, I asked for Congressional support for passing on time budgets to keep hiring efforts on -- on pace for new programs. Within the DON, we fully recognize that preventing and effectively addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment requires systemic changes to climate and culture.
We will not lose sight of this. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and I look forward to answering your questions.
Ms. Ortiz Jones you're recognized for five minutes.
GINA ORTIZ JONES:
Good afternoon, Chair Speier, Ranking Member Gallagher, distinguished members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I submitted testimony for the record on behalf of the Department of the Air Force so I will keep my opening remarks brief to allow ample time for your questions.
The Department of the Air Force is committed to supporting our service members and their families and removing every barrier to service. We will continue to strive to ensure that anyone who is eligible, ready, and willing to support and defend the Constitution has the opportunity to serve to their full potential.
While there have been important policy changes due in part to the leadership of the members of this subcommittee, we have frankly not made enough progress in preventing or reducing sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military. The bottom line is we have more work to do. Our airmen, guardians, and their families are our greatest competitive advantage.
We do not have time or talent to lose. Sexual assault and sexual harassment undermine our force lethality, operational readiness, and mission success. They also effect command climate, erode unit cohesion, and undermine good order and discipline. To successfully fulfill our mission to protect and defend our nation, addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault must be a top priority, and it is for Secretary Kendall and I. This is a war fighting issue, a readiness issue, and a leadership issue.
The Department of Defense annual report on sexual assault in the military for fiscal year 2021 showed that the Department of the Air Force estimated prevalence of sexual assault behaviors increased as did the total number of restricted and unrestricted reports. At the same time, we know we have more work to do as the overall Department of the Air Force reporting rate among airmen who experience sexual assault decreased by 10 percent compared to fiscal year 2018 data.
We are determined to make significant measurable progress to close the gap between the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault and the number of reports. This is fundamentally about trust in the process and we are committed to providing comprehensive support and response services for sexual harassment and sexual assault victims.
As members of this subcommittee are aware, the IRC on sexual assault made recommendations related to accountability, prevention, climate and culture, and victim care and support. This year, the Department of the Air Force continued implementing the recommendations of the IRC, including the establishment of the Office of Special Trial Counsel to oversee the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault and other victim based offenses.
The OSTC is independent from the command reporting structure and reports directly to the Secretary of the Air Force. Additionally, the Department of the Air Force recently updated its discharge criteria for those who are found to have committed a sexual assault. The discharge criteria are more stringent and objective.
Sexual assault is incompatible with military service in our core values and these revised criteria better reflect that. In 2015, the Department of the Air Force established a dedicated prevention workforce and policy which served as a model for some of the IRC's recommendations. This dedicated prevention workforce will lead develop, plan, evaluate, and coordinate integrated primary prevention across the Department of the Air Force.
When combined with 103 new positions authorized and funded for 2022, we anticipate having onboarded 227 full time dedicated prevention professionals by the end of 2023. The Department of the Air Force is also addressing attitudes and beliefs that lead to a harmful environment by designing actions that increase protections for our airmen and guardians.
By empowering and equipping leaders at all levels, these initiatives will increase critical intervention skills and promote a positive unit culture that is rooted in treating fellow service members with dignity and respect as well as enforcing accountability when those basic tenets are violated. The Department of the Air Force response programs include increasing our SAPR workforce of professional full time advocates and phasing out the reliance on collateral duty victim services personnel.
These programs additionally will expand restricted and unrestricted reporting processes and ensure trauma informed victim advocacy, mental health, and health care. To that end, I directed the Department of the Air Force to initiate a six month integrated response pilot program based on a recommendation of the IRC to co-locate these services.
This pilot aims to improve the response to and outcomes for personnel who experienced harm and violence such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, stalking, and cyber harassment. Further implemented challenges -- excuse me, changes to improve survivor support include flexibility to take nonchargeable time off for sexual assault victims, expanded victim service options, including advocacy for military sexual harassment survivors and victims counsel support in post-trial period, restricted reporting, and maximized survivor preferences and expedited transfers.
The Department of the Air Force is resolute in our responsibility to ensure our airmen and guardians live and work in an environment safe from sexual harassment and assault. We are leaning forward to shrink the gap between reporting and prevalence by implementing the IRC recommendations to include establishing the OSTC. We are strengthening accountability at all levels and enhancing prevention efforts.
We must remember what is at stake, the safety and well-being of our airmen, guardians, and their families, as well as the trust of the American people. Combating this continuum of harm is paramount to our ability to deliver air and space power. Our ability to remain competitive as an employer of choice requires that we prioritize and resource what is most important, our people.
Continued Congressional support and advocacy will help us achieve that end. Madam Chair, if I may also echo the thanks for your decades of leadership on this issue, efforts that have moved the needle in many ways and frankly have helped to keep this topic at the forefront. So my personal thanks for your -- for your leadership.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify you -- testify before you today and for your continued oversight for the implementation of the IRC recommendations on sexual assault. And I look forward to your questions.
Thank you. I recognize myself for five minutes. Let me start off by just going across the table and find out where we are on the numbers. How many Special Trial Councils have been certified and are in place, Mr. Camarillo?
Chairwoman Speier, my current numbers for the certified Special Trial Councils are 29 in the Army.
Ok. Mr. Raven.
Thank you. There are approximately 40 litigation professionals in the Navy and approximately 12 in the Marine Corps, which are on the job, not in the Office of Special Trial Counsel today, they are actually performing the position [ph] within the JAG and SJAA --
Ok. So you have not yet selected any as Special Trial Counsel?
We have a core of about -- it's roughly about a dozen split between the Navy and Marine Corps. And again, they are the initial capability, but we have these positions [ph] ongoing today within the JAG and SJAA, and are we are preparing for those transfer upon the timeline that we can brief you on.
And in the Air Force?
Madam Chair, the Department of the Air Force has 19 Special Trial Councils. Those folks were certified in June. That certification process was informed by Department of Justice expertise. We also know that as important to that is, is making sure that our investigators have the expertise. So we actually also had two individuals from the Office of Special Investigations participate in that training.
And we will be full operational capability with a complement of 32 Special Trial Councils by December of 2023.
Ok. Ms. Ortiz Jones indicated that there are 227 prevention officers that you will have in place by the end of 2023, correct?
Yes, Madam Chair.
Mr. Raven, in the Navy and Marines, how many will be trained and ready to move out?
Yeah. We are in the process of hiring 82 during this fiscal year. So by the -- by the end of this fiscal year, we expect to have them roughly half on board. There was a problem with the continuing resolution, our pace of hiring that. But our goal is to have at least 225 by fiscal year '24.
Ok? But 83 by the end of 2023?
It'll be more by the end of 2023 because we expect to hire additional professionals in the year 2023. But I don't have that number right on hand.
Chairwoman Speier, similar to the Navy, by FY '22 and going into '23, we expect the first wave of hiring to be 81 professionals that are focused primarily at six locations within the Army. And I'll have to take for the record the number of -- we expect to arrive at by the end of FY '23.
These are special trial counsel or --
These are prevention workforce.
Prevention workforce. Ok. So starting with Undersecretary Ortiz Jones. The prevention workforce. What do you believe is the highest priorities for this new prevention function? What installations will receive the prevention workforce first? And how will we know if it's working? Same question for all of you.
Madam Chair, the -- the prevention workforce as I -- as I mentioned my opening comments, we've had this in place since 2015. And so we really, you know, appreciate the work that has been done over the years to ensure that we are where we are. The pri -- we will move -- so let me just be clear, every major installation currently has one prevention specialist there.
Now we will move to four. I'll have to follow up with you to give you the exact order of those. But our priority, given who we understand to be the preponderance of the victims, will be those that have, for example, a large, young, junior enlisted population to ensure -- to ensure that we are best supporting those -- those large populations.
In terms of how well we know -- how well we know if it's -- if it's working, one of the efforts that we have that I mentioned in my opening comments is the direction of the integrated response co-location effort. And this is an effort to, again, based on what the IRC recommendations, how can we minimize the -- the traumatization of -- of victims.
How can we also ensure that our response providers are supported and -- and have the resources that they need. Madam Secretary -- Madam Chair, that'll be complete, the pilot, in about six months and we'll have a better idea, I think based on that, in terms of where we might be able to improve on things that we are less familiar with, for example on grooming and stalking, and how we can ensure that we are adequately incorporating that into our prevention efforts.
I'm impressed that you're doing that pilot program. I think the Air Force has shown itself to be the most innovative so far and actually the farthest along in this process. Undersecretary Raven. Same questions.
Thank you, ma'am. Our priority for the prevention workforce is really relieving the strain on numerous members of both the Navy and Marine Corps who are conducting these as collateral duties. And so being able to have a dedicated prevention workforce relieves that strain and also up skills the workforce to be able to understand the -- the challenges that are being faced.
In terms of where are they going. We can provide for the record a lay down of where these individuals will -- will be headed. The priority will be on fleet concentration areas, so think Norfolk, San Diego, Hawaii, where so many of our forces are co-located. And as to how -- how will we judge the effectiveness of this workforce.
I think it's going to be a combination of measuring what impact they have in those fleet concentration areas at the bases. We need to do more in collecting data to have an ongoing assessment process so that we know what is making an impact and where we need to focus our attention.
Right. Undersecretary Camarillo, your highest priorities?
Highest priorities. Ma'am, first relate to five installations. They are Fort Hood, Fort Sill, Schofield Barracks, Camp Humphreys, and Fort Riley. These areas were selected in addition to kind of our headquarters function in the Army, primarily based on several factors. The size of the installation and the missions they're in, recent risk factors that were identified by our DOC's [ph] climate surveys and a good blend of units where we feel that it will help us or enable us to show how the prevention workforce can be best integrated into the program set.
Like the Air Force, following the Fort Hood Independent Review Commission, we had initiated back then also a fusion directorate pilot at many of our installations to provide single stop shopping for anybody who needs care across the installation. As we all know, it's very difficult for a potential victim to have to look for it across a very diverse installation.
And metrics for success for me are primarily as we implement and bring the prevention workforce on board is how are we tailoring our programs more effectively to drill -- to deal with the specific issues and climate factors that are relevant at those specific installations. And hopefully that's what we hope to see coming out of the prevention workforce.
Alright. Thank you. I exceeded my time. So feel free to take another two minutes and 42 seconds. Mr. Gallagher is recognized for five minutes or seven minutes. [laughter]
I appreciate the reciprocity. That's very nice. As we talked about a bit on panel one, we have a major issue now with perceived lack of trust in leadership and in military justice. So I just would ask similar to what I asked Mr. Cisneros, what are each of your services doing to focused on building -- rebuilding that trust in leadership?
Particularly in the sense of kind of directly engaging leaders with service members, junior -- junior enlisted members, in particular. And maybe we'll just start Air Force and go that way.
Representative Gallagher, thank you for the question. I think we -- we know the importance of -- of climate and culture and ensuring that we've got the right protective factors in place. And a lot of this is tied to understanding of kind of unit cohesion, right, just kind of basic connectedness. And so one of the things that we started doing, this is really General Brown and Chief Master Sergeant Bass.
It's called Airman's Time, right. And this is really just setting aside time, talking to your folks. I mean I think, you know, listening to your comments earlier, what we don't want anyone to think is that because there are these response services and prevention work force things outside of the unit that leaders are not somehow responsible for the climate within their units.
That's absolutely not the case. And so, you know, ensuring that our leaders, our front line supervisors understand that they're still responsible for the climate in their organizations and ensuring that that connectedness is -- is tied to good order and discipline. Those are the things that we are continuing to reinforce and are looking for additional ways to do so.
Ranking Member, thank you for the question. Trust is important not only for addressing the issues that this hearing's about today, but for the core of military readiness. Each service member needs to have trust in their chain of command to make life or death decisions, but also respond to crises when they occur.
What we are doing about trust is putting together not only tools, but an education campaign that goes from the lowest levels of training all the way up to senior levels to make sure that commanders and all service members as they advance through their career understand the importance of trust in building those relationships with their units.
Just a couple of examples of what we are doing specifically on this. We have put together a commander's playbook so that as commanders are faced with difficult issues, they have something to refer to, to understand what options are open to them, to increase their sensitivity to -- to issues as they come to their attention.
Another specific example is that the commandant revised the commandant's combined commander ship course professional military education system, and this is really focused on selected commanders and sergeant majors. So -- so a lot of those service members who are in that day to day command position to make sure that they have a better understanding of what trust and what right looks like when it comes to when it comes to leadership.
Thank you. Mr. Camarillo.
Ranking Member Gallagher, three items that I would mention in response to your question. The first is policy. One of the things we've done to restore trust is to ensure that our policy is aligned to promote reporting by our victims. Two, in particular, I would note that are related to the IRC. The first is the Army policy to ensure that it's safe to report crimes of all types.
And what that means are collateral minor offenses will not be used against the victim when it would otherwise be a barrier to encouraging them to come forward with reports. Similarly, we've implemented the policy to ensure that there's no wrong door. If a victim were to report a crime to a family advocacy center or mithlic [ph] or anywhere else on the installation, we want to make sure that we connect them to the right care.
Secondly, I would note that the Army since Fort Hood has instituted cohesion assessment teams. These are specifically designed teams run out of Tradoc [ph] that we deploy to different installations to help commanders at the brigade and below level to assess the cohesion of what their individual organizations include.
So we help them determine where they have blind spots within the organization and how they might work quickly based on best practices to address those gaps. And then finally our leader selection. So the way that we have instituted changes since Fort Hood has been focused on our command selection programs looking at brigade and battalion commanders, primarily looking at a 360 evaluation that also focuses on how effective these leaders can be in leading organizations that promote cultural change of the type that we want to see as part of this.
Thank you. I know technically I have two more minutes, but Chairman Smith has so trained me not to go past the five minutes that like -- like Pavlov's dog, I fear I would get a shock if I did. [laughter] So I will -- I will -- I will yield back.
The gentleman yields back. See -- the gentlewoman from Texas, Ms. Escobar, is recognized for five minutes.
Thank you, Madam Chair. Many thanks to all three of you for your incredible service and your leadership, especially during a time of reform and change and real -- and really truly innovation. So thank you all. And of course a special thank you to El Pasoan, Mr. Camarillo, who the community is so proud of. And I'm so grateful for your visit to Fort Bliss recently to the community.
And it was really incredible opportunity for us to be able to highlight the opportunities and the challenges that we have at Fort Bliss. Given that recent visit, I have to tell you, I was -- not given that recent visit, but given a report from last year that identified Fort Bliss as one of the top five installations where women were at risk for sexual assault.
I was surprised that Fort Bliss is not on that list of the military installations on your top five list. And I'm wondering is the report outdated at this point? Is the information outdated? What are the factors that you took into consideration that made it so that Fort Bliss was not on your list?
First of all, Congresswoman Escobar, thank you so much for your leadership on this issue. Certainly, we want to make a full court press in terms of hiring the prevention workforce across all of our Army installations. And we have a robust plan to do that over the next couple of years. And certainly the focus on these installations was not intended to be exclusive in any way of any one set of concerns at the exclusion of others.
We'll continue to develop the job requisitions, the hiring plans, exactly how these folks are going to work at every installation to include Fort Bliss. The idea was that we will be able to prove out how this works at some of these initial installations and will learn to be able to adjust how these prevention workforce specialists are employed at other gaining installations as we go. I think, as you heard Undersecretary Cisneros testify, we're learning as we're going through the implementation of this process and we'll continue to do that here.
But certainly, we continue to move forward very, very expeditiously on hiring the workforce that it would be in place at all of these installations to include Fort Bliss.
Ok. I hope so. Thank you so much. I appreciate that. And this is a question for all three of you. You know, obviously the -- the implementation is based on Fort Hood, the findings there, the recommendations from the report, but I'm wondering how informed some of the either training or some of the processes are by other victims of sexual assault.
Is that something that you all are doing? Interviewing or meeting with or are learning from prior victims to sort of broaden the approach and the perspective? Because every situation is so different and this is really our opportunity to get it right. And I completely understand, you know, Mr. Cisneros had shared with me they're trying to not rush the implementation because -- because the desire is to get it right.
And I think in order to get it right, those other voices really need to be a part of it. So I'm curious as to whether you all have thought about that. Is that appropriate? Is that something that, that could be considered and happy to yield to whoever would like to go first. Ms. Ortiz Jones.
Representative Escobar --
Wonderful to see you as well.
Thank you. Absolutely. One of the other data points in addition to the IRC for the Department of the Air Force in particular is the Interpersonal Violence Report that was published last summer. And that really provided us some great insights. In particular, one of the real impetus for -- for this co-location as well was for me, Representative Escobar, the disconnect in how victims thought those services -- how well those services were provided versus how commanders thought that there was a -- there was a about a 30 point gap in that understanding.
And so it was really important to your point about bringing in those folks that -- that have gone through this process, that needed that help, and unfortunately felt like we fell short of what we should have provided. So as we are standing up and going through this -- this pilot, we are absolutely including the voices, the experiences of those that have -- that have unfortunately been victims and survivors to help us understand how we can do this better, make sure we're not making any assumptions.
And in particular, this is, you know, these -- these co-location pilots again are across the continuum, right? So it's not just sexual assault, sexual harassment, but also domestic violence. And so they're also, to the extent we can understand other pieces of this, right, financial abuse. Did this start with the way with stalking and grooming, right.
How can we understand the full continuum of this to ensure that our prevention efforts are response efforts are as well informed as they can be.
Ok. I'm out of time, but Mr. Raven, Mr. Camarillo, if you all wouldn't mind for the record letting me know how victims are informing the process. Thank you. I yield back, Madam Chair.
Gentlewoman yields back. The gentlewoman from Pennsylvania, Ms. Houlahan, is recognized for five minutes.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you guys for all being here. And it's lovely to see so many friendly faces, familiar faces. It seems as though the buzzword of both of these hearings and testimonies has been trust. Mr. Camarillo, you spoke a great deal about it, as did Undersecretary Cisneros, as well as being the largest barrier right now.
We spoke last -- last hearing that 32 percent of women and estimated 31 percent of men don't report some sort of harassment due to a lack of trust in their command or in the structure or a response that their command would have. Mr. Camarillo, one of the things you said that really stunned me, let me make sure I find it in your opening statement, was part of the way you're addressing this is finding leaders that are better suited for a positive command and climate.
What the heck is that? What -- why aren't we already finding leaders that are better suited for a positive command? What have we innovated on to allow for that to happen?
Thank you, Congresswoman for the question. So what I was referencing in my opening statement was our command selection program by -- and this was really in response to the Fort Hood Independent Review Commission's report. One of the things that we found was part of building positive command climates at scale at different installations and within our units requires us making sure that we build and identify leaders who are tuned to the issues that are going to build those positive command climates.
So our selection process has changed in the last couple of years. What we have done is we have taken over 3,000 lieutenant colonels and colonels as part of this program, and we have looked at them in a 360 evaluation to determine how much empathy would they have for issues and situations that would arise within their formations in which a victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment would want to come forward.
How do you measure empathy in that particular case? And are you also looking at captains and majors as well?
Yes, ma'am. Our plan is to very much expand this to other levels as well. We initially started with the battalion and brigade command leaders just in order to be able to show how this would work. And it's had tremendous amount of success so far. We certainly intend to scale this out to other parts of the Army moving forward.
And I know I don't have very much time, but I am interested in how you measure empathy because that seems to be a challenge. And if -- if you have the answer in a half -- a half a minute, that'd be great. But I have other questions and happy to take that for the record if --
I can take that on the record and provide you --
What it is that you're modifying and how this is any different than -- than it ever has been. We are always looking for quality leadership and we're always looking for people who can empathize. And so I'm just intrigued to understand that in this -- in this day and age. From it -- Mr. Ortiz Jones, you mentioned an Air Force is better and Air Force does lead the way?
You mentioned the six month pilot program that you are starting, you're talking about. How will you staff it? Where will it be? And how will you make sure that it's not perceived as being outboard and not kind of embedded in whatever organizations it's -- it's set to serve?
Well, thank you for the question. And this was -- was really -- and I've been very clear with the team about what this is about, right. This is not about bureaucracy. This is about supporting victims. How do we help people minimize the number of times they have to tell their story. To your point, what are the metrics that we are going to look at to ensure that this is moving the way that we wanted to. So some of the things that we are looking at, for example, does the co-location as a result of that, are we seeing a decrease in time, for example, from the time an incident happens to when it's reported?
Right. Are we seeing an increased synergy collaboration between these response providers? To the extent again we get a better, more complete picture of what has happened in this situation. In terms of staffing, many of these officers already were on the base, and so we have identified space where we could co-locate and we are working through and identifying frankly some of the IT challenges.
And I may actually come back and provide some additional also request as we identify some MILON [ph] to make sure that these are safe and welcoming and environments that are conducive to this type of work. But the -- the intent has always been, hey, how -- what -- what do you need to do this better, how can we ensure our victims feel supported, and how can we ensure that this co-location effort is -- is gathering the data that will help us not only provide the -- the -- the support better, but also inform our follow on education efforts certainly for our commanders and other -- and other elements.
And with the last half minute of my time, this came up in the last hearing as well, this Concept of nonchargeable time off, how do you execute on something like that? It came up most recently with you Ms. Ortiz Jones. What is the thought process there?
Well, the thought process is that somebody should not have to take personal leave in these situations. And so again to the point that we want folks to feel supported and they can get the care that they need. This is something that we wanted to communicate very clearly about, you know, having the time and the space and the level of privacy to -- to do what is needed.
Thank you. I yield back. My time has expired.
Gentlewoman yields back. The gentlewoman from California, Ms. Jacobs, is recognized for five minutes.
Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you for being here. Ms. Jones, I want to start with you. Good to see you, and also want to reiterate the comments of the Chairwoman, it really does appear the Air Force has gone further than any other service at tackling this problem in an innovative way. And, you know, I wanted to ask if you can explain the Air Force's actions and progress, specifically the four lines of effort with the 24 initiatives focused on culture change, training, education, operations, and resourcing.
It's good to see you as well, Representative Jacobs. So this is, you know, we are on -- on track and -- and really leaning forward to ensure that we meet certainly the tier one objectives as soon as possible, certainly by 2027. But when we think about those factors that are contributed to the type of environment where, you know, sexual assault, sexual harassment is eradicated, it does come back to climate and culture.
Many of the things that are frankly not only in this space, right, but how do we ensure that folks feel welcome, can serve to their full potential, and are treated with dignity and respect. So some of those elements right now, we're taking a hard look at how might we better incorporate some of this into our professional military education at all levels.
This is not a separate thing, right. This is just part of being a good leader and an -- a -- frankly a good service member. How are we looking at ensuring that we're also ensuring we've got the appropriate, for example, investigative services to ensure that the OST is -- is well supported. So I can provide a more full -- I know in the interest of time, I can provide a more fulsome list for the record.
But I wanted to touch upon just a couple of those things, but this is again has the highest attention and priority of Secretary Kendall and I.
Well, thank you. Mr. Raven, I want to turn to you. As you know, I represent San Diego so have a lot of my constituents who have loved ones, family members who themselves serve in the Navy and the Marine Corps. And unfortunately, the Marine Corps long has had the worst sexual assault and sexual harassment rates in DOD. 13.4 percent or 2,204 women servicemembers who reported their rape incidents to the DOD. And this came up in the last panel as well.
But I wanted to ask you, what do you attribute this to? And is this a command, climate, culture, leadership issue? And then what are you doing for both the Marines and the Navy to select and develop and evaluate the right leaders for command positions? And -- and why hasn't the Navy pursued implementing a command assessment program like the Army and other services have?
Thank you for those questions. And let me take them in -- in backwards order. First of all, in terms of growing leadership, this begins the moment you enter boot camp, that we need to instill as part of the regular training curriculum from -- from boot camp all the way to the highest levels of professional military education that team building, building trust and respect is part of military readiness and is part of tackling these issues that we have before us today.
So that is happening at all levels. In terms of what we expect on leaders, this is not solely about picking the right leaders for the right jobs. This is -- this is about looking at the whole institution of the Navy and Marine Corps from the bottom up and the top down to make sure that at every level of responsibility, leaders have the right understanding of the issues, they understand the tools that are available to them, and they also know what right looks like so they can evaluate their command, whether they're heading a division on a ship or in command of a major shore facility.
We need to make sure that each level of command has the -- has the tools to be able to tackle these issues before it becomes a crisis. In terms of -- in terms of the Marine Corps and the Navy, the numbers are very disappointing. It is the exact reason why this is a top priority for our leadership of tackling these issues in a -- in a aggressive way.
We are working on the policies from no wrong door to cyber harassment to safe to report to make sure that we are setting the tone from the very top that these behaviors are absolutely unacceptable -- unacceptable and we're also looking after those who -- who have suffered these injustices. One example there for the victims legal counsel that provides assistance to victims of these crimes, one -- one thing I am proud to say that it is working, the responses from those who have to resort to these -- these services tend to be overwhelmingly favorable.
So we believe that we can tackle these issues in a smart way. We just need to get it instilled through the whole institution of both the Navy and Marine Corps.
Got it. Well, I hope you'll also take some best practices from some of the other services and I look forward to working with you on this so I have to stop talking to family members in my district who are very concerned about the safety of their loved ones, not only when they're deployed abroad, but actually when they're at their bases in San Diego.
So thank you.
The gentlewoman yields back. The gentlewoman from Texas, Ms. Garcia, is recognized for five minutes.
Thank you, Madam Chair and thank you for the witnesses for being here today. And I apologize I missed your opening remarks, but I've got three hearings going on at the same time. So I'm trying to bounce around the hall all afternoon. But I wanted to get just to the bottom line for each of you to respond to the same question.
Do you feel like you've got the resources, the staff, the training, the -- the -- the -- the facilities to fully implement this program? And what is your timeline? When will it be fully implemented? All three of you? Same question. We can start with Mr. Camarillo.
Thank you. Congresswoman. I think for FY '22, certainly we're grateful for the resources that Congress has provided. And we look forward to and require additional resources in '23 and beyond to be able to do things like --
But are you getting what you need from DOD?
From DOD we are getting what we need. What I think we need to continue to have is a long term sustained focus to do the culture changes required. It's going to take determined leadership at every level in the Department of Defense to get success over time.
Ok. What -- what is your deadline? When do you -- when will you fully implement the program?
The full IRC recommendations will take several years. And I'll have to get back to you for the record as far as what is our timeline for the very last one. But it will take multiple years to fully implement all of the recommendations directed by the IRC, but we are working very closely with the Office of Secretary of Defense to ensure that our implementation timelines match the analysis and preparatory work that they're doing.
Alright. Mr. -- Mr. -- is it Raven?
Yes. Thank you very much for that question. In terms of resources for fiscal year '22, we are in a good position. Looking forward, we are taking this on ourselves. We expect to budget for those costs and find those people that are needed to carry out these reforms and serve -- to serve our service members who need this help.
So my -- my expectation is that when we present future budgets to you, we want to have these costs fully covered. Now there may be things that we learn during the process and we will be open with communication where we learn of additional needs and we'll be transparent about that. But our expectation is that we are charged with carrying the water for making these reforms and we commit to do that.
In terms of implementation, there are a variety of different policy changes that are being -- being made. Perhaps the -- the most significant one is the -- the stand up and full operational capability of the Office of Special Trial Counsel. We will meet the legislative required deadline of December 2023. As we look across the IRC and the other NDAA mandates, we are looking to see where things can be expedited.
For example, Secretary Del Toro has selected five priority areas where we're pulling forward the implementation deadline compared to what is expected. And in the interest of time, I'll be happy to provide those for the record.
But you're on track to -- to complete it.
December 2023. And same for you, sir.
Alright. Ms. Jones.
Representative Garcia, we are also on a track and I want to echo my colleague's expression of thanks for the support of this body, not only for your attention, but also the way in which you've also helped us resource this so that we can adequately implement the recommendations. Similarly, 2023 is when we will have full operational capability for the -- the Office of the Special Trial Counsel.
And as mentioned, the -- we've got the six month pilot for the integrated response co-location pilot and six months into that, we will have a better understanding of -- if there may be additional resources that would be helpful to -- to ensure as we expand that that we can do so adequately as we also look to -- look where we might be able to incorporate aspects of this, for example, into professional -- professional military education and so forth.
There may be also additional resources that would help us do that as expeditiously as possible. So I appreciate the -- the attention in that regard.
I know you all have talked about some of the trust worthiness and the -- the culture and the -- the climate issues. But is there any other barriers it would -- would that are in the way to -- to make sure that this program is fully implemented but also succeeds that we should be aware of? and that same question for the three of you.
We got 45 seconds, so 15 seconds each.
Ma'am, I would say we understand what we must do and we have a plan to get there, but we are going to learn things along the way. And what I can promise to you is that we will be transparent as we learn of barriers, we will communicate them to you as well as trying to tackle them on our own.
And I'll just piggyback on my colleague's comments. One such example is the direct hiring authority that the Department of Defense just provided to all the services. Those are the types of removals of barrier that has been very, very helpful. And we'll continue to work with OSD to make sure we identify those.
Mr. Ortiz Jones.
Representative Garcia, this is a leadership issue, right. We're going to go as fast as we possibly can, making sure that people are very clear about where -- where as Secretary Kendall I -- and I are on this issue. This is not periphery to what we do. This is core to what we do, not only for the men and women that are serving today, but also the ones -- airmen and guardians of the future.
Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Gentlewoman yields back. Have -- let me thank you for your service, for taking on this most important reform within the military. When you have men and women who are reluctant to even consider coming into the military because of sexual assault and sexual harassment that is going to affect recruitment, it clearly impacts retention, and it will have an effect on readiness as well.
So we have to fix this. Think of this committee as your greatest advocates. We want you to succeed. We want to make sure that every service member no longer fears the enemy within. So do not be timid if there are things that have to be fixed. We want this reform to be the best it can possibly be, and to do so may take some pilots that work or don't work.
We understand that, but we want to get this right. I hope that as we move forward that we'll recognize the importance of making some of these benefits uniform across the services. The amount of leave that one should be able to receive after they've been a victim of sexual assault should be the same across every service.
The issue of revenge porn has come to my attention as one in which some of the services have chosen, rather than to put someone through a court martial, even though it is a crime in the UCMJ, that they have decided to administratively separate them and give them a general discharge. No one should get a general discharge by being the person that's committed the crime of revenge porn.
No one should be able to, you know, have the benefits of the VA system, the health system, who has so defiled another person that they have put photographs, nude photographs of them without their consent onto the web that stay there forever. So as you become aware of some of these decisions that are being made by, I guess the T JAGs [ph] from time to time, when you see something that doesn't look right, that isn't right, I hope that you will address it without having these victims come to us and then us having to take action, you know, through the NDAA. And then in terms of the climate surveys.
I can't impress upon you enough the importance of every person within the chain of command reviewing them. That's the -- the way we find out that there's problems. What happened at Fort Hood was readily noticeable if you looked at those climate surveys. But no one was. No one was looking at them above the chain of command -- up the chain of command.
So the climate surveys are critical. These new pulse surveys are going to be great opportunities to get instant notification of where there are issues and problems. So this will be the last hearing we have on this topic. It's one that you know that I have been passionate about during my time in Congress, but I could not have done this work without the outstanding leadership of members of my staff.
Starting with the now departed chief of staff Josh Connelly, with Brian Collins, and Christine Seibert, who is in the room, and my former fellow Chuck Johnson who is there as well, to Hannah Kaufman for her work and diligence as well. So I thank you all for what you have done, but more importantly what you will do. And with that the committee stands adjourned.
List of Panel Members and Witnesses
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CALIF.), CHAIRWOMAN
REP. ANDY KIM (D-N.J.)
REP. CHRISSY HOULAHAN (D-PA.)
REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TEXAS)
REP. SARA JACOBS (D-CALIF.)
REP. MARILYN STRICKLAND (D-WASH.)
REP. MARC VEASEY (D-TEXAS)
REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WASH.) EX-OFFICIO
REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WIS.), RANKING MEMBER
REP. STEPHANIE BICE (R-OKLA.)
REP. LISA MCCLAIN (R-MICH.)
REP. RONNY JACKSON (R-TEXAS)
REP. JERRY CARL (R-ALA.)
REP. PATRICK FALLON (R-TEXAS)
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-ALA.), EX-OFFICIO
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE UNDER SECRETARY GILBERT R. CISNEROS
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE UNDER SECRETARY GINA ORTIZ JONES
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY UNDER SECRETARY GABE CAMARILLO
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY UNDER SECRETARY ERIK K. RAVEN
21 September 2022
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