While Congress and the Department of Defense discuss how to address the ongoing scourge of sexual assault and harassment in the military, a study of the army released Friday found that the age, experience and location of soldiers were strongly correlated with both crimes.
In particular, women at Fort Hood – where an Army specialist was killed by another soldier last year – are at far higher risk of sexual assault than the average woman in the Army at this Texas base than the average woman in the Army, according to the new study conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center, a federally funded research group.
Using gender and workplace data, the researchers found that the overall risk of sexual assault for Army women at Fort Hood was 8.4 percent in 2018, compared to a 5.8 percent risk for all women in the Army.
The researchers also found that younger age was associated with an increased risk of sexual assault for both men and women, as was a low level of education and rank. Fort Hood and Fort Bliss – another Texas facility with above average attack rates – have large numbers of junior junior soldiers. In addition, prolonged engagements in counterterrorism missions resulted in a higher risk of sexual assault and harassment for both men and women.
The new results suggest that “there are site-specific concerns that require targeted interventions in climate and culture and that require additional research to understand,” Dr. Jenna Newman, a social science advisor to the center and an Army project leader for the study, said in a press release.
Sexual harassment is more common than sexual assault in the army, the authors found, but the risk of sexual harassment is strongly correlated with the risk of sexual assault, as other research suggests.
A bill sponsored by New York Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand would exclude military commanders from their role in prosecuting military personnel for sexual assault, which, according to their Senate supporters, would increase law enforcement and deterrence. At the same time a body appointed by the Minister of Defense was established Lloyd J. Austin III made a similar recommendation and should publish its final results in the coming weeks.