(VitalNews.org) – The US Coast Guard has promised to tackle the “permissive environment” in which sexual harassment and abuse has led to “too many” members feeling unsafe within its ranks, according to a damning report published on Wednesday, December 6. The internal review was ordered by Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan in response to criticism over the Coast Guard’s handling of multiple claims of abuse and misconduct.
These claims had been investigated over the course of six years as part of “Operation Fouled Anchor” which uncovered more than 60 substantiated claims of rape, assault, and harassment. Critics have argued that the US Coast Guard failed to disclose the results of the investigation widely enough, and that they did not take enough action in response to its findings. The latest internal review echoes this concern, recommending several changes be made in order to prevent future assault and misconduct from taking place. These changes include making it easier to report alleged incidents and installing more secure locks on the doors of Academy bedrooms.
Fagan has spoken of her aims to work with the recommendations of the report in order to make widespread reforms to the Coast Guard, which under her direction has issued a document clarifying some of the actions that will be taken following the report. There will be additional training which aims to identify and prevent unwanted behavior, the creation of a reporting policy that will not penalize complainants for issues such as being intoxicated at the time of the alleged incident, and further scrutiny of the “Summer Swab” program. The “Summer Swab” training program is currently run by upperclassmen of the Academy, and the document advises that measures will need to be taken in order to improve its overall conduct, although these have not yet been agreed upon.
Despite promises to improve the future of the US Coast Guard, the service still faces criticism from many, including several members of Congress who have expressed their dismay that the report does not seek to hold anybody accountable for the abuse and misconduct described within. Sen. Chris Murphy (D – Ct.) is one such lawmaker. He acknowledged that the report has a “modest plan” for improvements but said that a report means very little until concrete steps have been taken.
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