Pentagon soon will release report on most dangerous bases for sexual assaults

Pentagon soon will release report on most dangerous bases for sexual assaults

About 850 members of the military as well as civilians from the Fort Bragg and Fayetteville areas in North Carolina attended the 4th Annual Fort Bragg Special Victims Summit, a conference to address sexual assaults in the services on Aug. 29 at Fort Bragg. (Brenda Gutierrez/DoD)

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is preparing is release a report that shows which military bases have the highest risk factors for service members to be sexually assaulted.

The unprecedented compilation, based on 2014 data, was completed in May and covers more than 800 facilities. Its release has been delayed in part from the challenge of complex statistical analysis and concerns to ensure proper methodology and accuracy.

Additionally, commanders at each facilities were sent a breakout report for their base to prepare them for the expected public questions, Pentagon officials said.

Raw data already shows which bases have the highest number of sexual assaults for both males and females. However, the raw numbers do not provide the more specific probabilities for the assaults.

The Pentagon hired RAND Corp., a private and often-used nonprofit research organization, to determine locations with the most assaults and to project possible patterns. Those results are to be delivered around Sept. 20.

The Pentagon has been under congressional pressure to release the report since it was completed in the spring.

“Stopping sexual assaults on military bases is a priority for Senator Ernst,” Liz Bowman, a spokesperson for Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), said in an email to TMN. “The Defense Department has been regularly updating Senator Ernst on their efforts to release the full report, and she continues to work with them to bring transparency as an important step in addressing sexual assaults on military bases.”

RAND followed a metric of using scientific weighting to estimate prevalence rates that were representative of the entire active-duty population.

The new breakdowns should add critical efforts to reduce a surge in rapes and other assaults on male and females in the military, Pentagon officials said.

“DOD and the RAND Corporation have been working together to develop a new way to estimate the risk of sexual assault at military installations using survey data from 2014,” Major Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokesperson, told TMN. “This valuable analysis makes important strides toward better understanding the distribution of sexual assault risk across the military. We expect to release the report in September, and together, we will continue work toward our mutual goal of a military free from sexual assault.”

The military has struggled to address sexual assault in its ranks. For the year ending Sept. 30, 2017, the military recorded 6,769 reports of sexual assault, an increase of nearly 10 percent from 2016, when there were 6,172.

The need for the report stems from the fact that although a facility may have a higher number of reports, it does not mean there is an exact correlation to the risk being similarly high. One reason for that is incidents that occur elsewhere can be attributed to a home location.

The raw numbers also do not parse for per capita numbers — which would better indicate a likely risk factor.

Not surprising, the largest bases and posts with the largest numbers of personnel had the highest numbers of assaults in the raw data.

For example, previous Pentagon-released data for 2016 showed Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia received 270 reports of sexual assaults, down from 291 in 2015. Joint Base San Antonio in Texas received the second-highest number of reports in 2016 with 211, an increase from 198 in fiscal year 2015; 117 of those were on the Air Force area of the facility. The Army’s Fort Hood in Texas recorded 199 reports for its top assault numbers, and the Marine Corps leader was Camp Lejeune, with 169 reports.

Those leaders may shift in the soon-to-be released report.

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