Sexual Assaults and Nuclear Missiles: What’s the Matter With the Military?

After years of repeated reports of sexual assaults — and years of promises to prevent them, and then years of studies and commissions to find the best way of doing so — a Defense Department study released Tuesday estimates that some 26,000 people in the military were sexually assaulted in the last fiscal year, up from about 19,000 the year before.

Moreover, it turns out the Air Force lieutenant colonel in charge of preventing sexual assault has been arrested for  … sexual assault. According to the police report, a drunken Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski allegedly approached a woman in a parking lot in Arlington, Va. Sunday night, and grabbed her breasts and buttocks.

Why has it been so difficult for the Air Force or the Defense Department to remedy this problem?

Speaking of which, the Air Force has just removed from duty seventeen launch officers at the Minot nuclear missile base in North Dakota — one of three bases responsible for controlling, and, if necessary, launching, strategic nuclear missiles — for violating weapons safety rules. The base commander characterized their negligence as “rot.

One officer was found to have intentionally broken a safety rule that could have compromised the secret codes enabling missiles to be launched.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley points to the removal of the seventeen as evidence that the Air Force has strengthened its oversight of the nuclear force. And he explains that members of the launch crew are usually relatively junior officers with limited service experience.

Reassuring?

Further steps will be taken to prevent one of our missiles from accidentally causing a nuclear holocaust. But I hope the Air Force does a better job remedying this problem than it’s done preventing sexual assaults.

About Robert Reich 547 Articles

Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, as an assistant to the solicitor general in the Ford administration and as head of the Federal Trade Commission's policy planning staff during the Carter administration.

He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine. His weekly commentaries on public radio’s "Marketplace" are heard by nearly five million people.

In 2003, Mr. Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclev Havel Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought. In 2005, his play, Public Exposure, broke box office records at its world premiere on Cape Cod.

Mr. Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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