NEWS | May 10, 2011

Secretary of the Navy, Vice Chief of Naval Operations address senior leaders, SARCs at summit

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christine Hannon, Navy Public Affairs Southeast - East

The secretary of the Navy and vice chief of naval operations addressed Navy and Marine Corps leaders and sexual assault response coordinators at the second annual Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention Summit in Orlando May 3.

Secretary Ray Mabus identified three areas of improvement that senior leadership throughout the service needed to address in order to break the back of sexual assault.

"Prevention, intervention and 'help seeking' behavior; those are the three things we have to stress," Mr. Mabus said. "We've got to improve our prevention. We've got to make sure people know they should, and need to, intervene. And we've got to strongly support our survivors and strengthen post-assault investigations."

Mr. Mabus went on to discuss the role and responsibility of leadership in the efforts of combating sexual assault. He stated that he would hold commanding officers accountable for their command's sexual assault prevention programs and demanded that they properly train their personnel.

The SECNAV concluded by stressing the necessity of ridding sexual assault from the Navy and Marine Corps.

"If we are to remain the greatest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known, we cannot allow this to continue," Mr. Mabus said. "If we are going to protect our shipmates, we cannot allow this to continue. If we are going to remain the Navy and Marine Corps people look up to, and should look up to, this cannot continue."

Sexual assault is a criminal offense, and is incompatible with the DoN's core values, Navy ethos and high standards of professionalism and personal discipline.

"Sexual assault is a crime, not just an unfortunate incident," said Adm.
Jonathan Greenert. "It hurts a Shipmate and affects the readiness of the entire unit. Ultimately, our challenge to eliminate sexual assaults will be resolved by leadership - at the unit level."

Admiral Greenert encouraged Navy senior leaders set goals for preventing sexual assault.

"We've made progress in the care and treatment of sexual assault victims,"
Admiral Greenert said. "Our focus should shift to prevention. Commands need to set measurable goals, track progress locally and treat sexual assault as an untoward incident at the unit level."

Many commanding officers in attendance will take what they have learned at the summit back to their respective commands to apply new leadership strategies.

"The biggest take-a-way for me, from this summit, is the power of bystander intervention," said Capt. Lou Cariello, 20th Seabee Readiness Group, Naval Construction Battalion Center, commanding officer.

"We're going to talk a lot more about the importance of figuring out how you go about having the courage to stand up and do what's right to prevent something bad from happening in the future," Captain Cariello said. "And to applaud people for doing things that are smart and courageous."

This year's summit focuses on sexual assault prevention and the impact of alcohol on sexual assaults.

The DoN Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office is responsible for oversight of the DoN's sexual assault policy. SAPRO works hand-in-hand with the services and the civilian community to develop and implement innovative prevention and response programs.