Army, Navy and Marine Corps Sexual Harassment, Bullying, Hazing Response Under Investigation by Pentagon Watchdog

August 15, 2023
Sgt. 1st Class William Rastellini discusses Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention (SHARP) during a training session at Fort Carson, Colorado.

The Defense Department’s inspector general has launched reviews of the Navy and Marine Corps’ sexual harassment complaint process, as well as the Army’s handling of harassment prevention and response to determine whether the services are effectively managing their efforts to protect service members.

While it is unclear why the Pentagon’s top watchdog is looking into the Department of the Navy’s sexual harassment complaint and response process, the department rolled out guidance in June that provided service members a range of support programs if they are sexually harassed, to include crisis intervention and support services.

A memo sent July 12 to the service department — which includes both the Navy and Marine Corps — from Theresa Hull, deputy inspector general for diversity and inclusion and extremism in the military, said the IG investigation aims to determine whether the services have effectively managed their respective sexual harassment programs and complied with federal and DoD guidance on the subject.

In fiscal 2022, the military services, including the National Guard Bureau, received 3,201 complaints of sexual harassment from members, 1,053 of which were substantiated. Although the Defense Department’s annual report on sexual harassment did not break these complaints down by service, at least 5% of the Navy’s 501 unrestricted reports of sexual assault that year included allegations of sexual harassment.

The Navy and Marine Corps IG review will involve the offices of the under secretary for readiness, diversity, equity and inclusion; the chief of naval operations; and the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for manpower and reserve affairs, as well as additional commands, according to the memo.

Meanwhile, the Army audit will take aim at the service’s response to a variety of abuse and harassment, seeking to “determine the effectiveness of the Army’s actions to prevent and respond to … sexual harassment, bullying, and hazing, in accordance with Federal and DoD policies,” according to a letter sent to the Army on July 12, also by Hull.

The Army review follows an internal audit that found the service has published multiple studies about “harmful behaviours,” such as harassment, bullying, abuse and suicide but has not taken any “actionable” steps to prevent such behaviors. The Project for Government Oversight, POGO, obtained a copy of the January report through the Freedom of Information Act and published details of it in May.

The audit found that, among 47 research reports conducted by the service on abuse from Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2022, only five offered “actionable recommendations.” And out of the 10 recommendations provided in those reports, the Army offices that were responsible “hadn’t taken action to implement any of them.”

In response to that criticism, Army officials concurred with the findings, saying they would create an office that would oversee and coordinate research on those behaviors.

The Army DoD IG review will include the offices of the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, and the commands at Fort Cavazos, Texas, and Fort Liberty, North Carolina, according to the memo.

Fort Cavazos was the target of the Army’s massive response to command climate issues in the service in 2020, following the disappearance and murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, whose complaints of sexual harassment were ignored by leadership.

Fort Liberty is the largest Army post by population, with more than 43,000 active-duty service members.

The Department of the Air Force, which includes the Space Force, is not included in either of the two reviews, according to the DoD Office of Inspector General.

“While the Air Force is not included in the two reviews currently ongoing, we may consider reviewing the Air Force’s sexual harassment policies in future DoD OIG oversight work,” Hull said in an email to

— Patricia Kime can be reached at Follow her on Twitter and Threads @patriciakime


Please rate this CIBA article

0 / 5 Number Of Votes: 0


Latest News Articles