"We must demonstrate respect for all service members, build trust, and remove the cancer of sexual misconduct from our ranks," said Secretary of Defense James Mattis in an Aug. 13 memorandum to all military personnel.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley has directly linked that effort to readiness, describing the importance of building trust, unit cohesion, and maintaining good order and discipline, said Col. Chris Engen, commandant of the U.S. Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Academy. These elements, and treating everyone with dignity and respect, are central to the prevention of sexual violence in formations.
To build on that momentum, the Army is continuing its focus on five lines of effort, said Engen. They are: prevention, advocacy, assessment, investigation and accountability.
While all five are important, Engen said the prevention aspect is receiving increased focus.
When people think of prevention, they often think of bystander intervention, he said.
While bystander intervention is an important aspect of prevention, there are other actions and behaviors intended to stop incidents before they happen, such as fostering a healthy organizational climate and instilling a strong culture based upon the Army Ethic and Army Values, he said.
The SHARP Program Office will release a prevention strategy document in the coming months that will complement the just-released learning strategy, Engen added.
The learning strategy Engen referred to was published June 22 and is titled: "Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Learning Strategy: Leader Development, Education and Training."
This document, published by the SHARP Academy, outlines a comprehensive approach to SHARP education, training, and leader development. Imparting knowledge and developing skills are essential to driving change through prevention-enabling actions and behaviors, he said.
Engen said SHARP professionals such as sexual assault response coordinators, victim advocates, program managers and trainers, as well as Army leaders, will benefit most from the learning strategy.
The document includes general learning outcomes for Soldiers at all levels, which is "meant to illustrate the progression and goals of SHARP learning through intended learning outcomes over one's career," he said. For instance, all Soldiers completing Initial Military Training learn the Army Values and gain a fundamental understanding of the SHARP program.
Education for mid-grade leaders will focus on their role in influencing unit climate and upholding good order and discipline, the document states. Intermediate-grade leaders, including field grade officers and senior NCOs, will receive learning content enabling them to ensure organizational programs, policies and procedures align with and support SHARP objectives. And learning activities for the most senior officers, NCOs and civilians will help prepare them to fulfill SHARP command responsibilities, such as evaluating SHARP efforts within their organization and planning courses of action to build on those efforts.
The document is meant to support and enable the training and education responsibilities of leaders, Engen said. "The Learning Strategy provides the framework and required outcomes, but commanders and SHARP professionals still have some latitude to tailor execution to meet the unique needs of their organizations."
What the document does provide are core learning objectives that can be used across professional military education and to meet unit training and self-development objectives, he said.
An armor branch officer, Engen said he is "honored to be a part of the SHARP Academy and to have the opportunity to help make an impact and facilitate continued change."
He added that he hopes this document will contribute to that effort.