A newly-released report into sexual assault within the US armed forces shows hundreds of sexual assaults occurred at a small number of bases in just one year, and young, single, junior members are the most at risk.
The study, ordered by the Pentagon, showed six bases had me than 500 reports of sexual assault each over the year 2014 from both men and women.
Younger, less-educated, unmarried and junior ranking service members are considered more likely than their peers to be at risk of assault.
But the study says a service member’s risk of being sexually assaulted depends largely on their assignment to ‘a particular unit, command, and installation’.
A study into sexual assault within the armed forces uncovered hundreds of assaults took place at a small number of bases over the course of a year, and revealed young, single, junior personnel were most at risk of assault
Women stationed on a navy ship were considered to be one of the most at-risk groups for sexual assault.
‘Of the 15 highest-risk installations for Navy women, 13 are ships or clusters of ships, including eight of the ten aircraft carriers,’ the study read.
The make-up of a crew could also contribute to the likelihood of sexual assault.
‘An installation with large populations of younger, less-educated, unmarried, and more-junior-ranking service members would be expected to have a higher rate of sexual assaults than would the Pentagon, for instance, because these population characteristics are strongly correlated with sexual assault risk,’ the study said.
While the Army, Marine Corps and Navy all reported hundreds of incidents at individual bases over the course of 2014, the Air Force had significantly less reports of sexual assault occurring on one particular base.
The Ramstein Air Base in Germany had the highest level of reporting, with 76 assaults reported over 12 months.
The 119-page study was commissioned by the Pentagon, and should have been released years ago, but its results were contested, causing a lengthy delay.
At Fort Hood, 885 reports of sexual assault were made in 2014. The base is the one of the largest military bases in the world
Onboard the USS George Washington (pictured), 181 sexual assaults were reported in 12 months
An updated conclusion acknowledges the possibility its findings are now out of date and inaccurate, but says any major change would not have occurred so quickly.
‘Could it not be the case, for instance, that some of the installations with the highest total or installation-specific risk in FY 2014 are now among the safest environments for service members to work, perhaps because the command climate has changed or a cohort of predators has moved on,’ the study asked.
‘In some cases, this is certainly possible. But we suspect that the broad patterns we observe across installations and commands may reflect structural characteristics of risk that are not likely to change rapidly.’
In April, CNN reported 5,277 service members had reported sexual assault in 2017 – a 10 per cent increase on reports made the year before.
Service Woman’s Action Network CEO Linda Watts says while it is good service personnel are taking action and reporting any assault committed against them, the military was still unequipped to handle the situation.
Last year, only 281 people were convicted of sexual assault, despite the thousands of reports made.
‘An increase in reporting is only good if it leads to justice. It hasn’t,’ she said.
‘Despite the increase in reporting, actual convictions from sexual assault reports have decreased over the last three years.
‘The military is encouraging victims to come forward, and when they do, it hangs them out to dry.’
The Pentagon was considered one of the safest places to work, due to the demographic of its workforce