News: Grafenwoehr prepares leaders to combat sexual assault
Story by Capt. Cecilia Clark
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - In the Joint Multinational Training Command, or JMTC, footprint, one sexual assault case is tried every three weeks, according to Capt. Vincent Ongjoco, JMTC senior trial counsel.
Ongjoco explained the assault statistics during a Sexual Harassment/ Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, leadership brief in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
“Many commanders tell their soldiers only about the cases that happen in their unit,” said Ongjoco. He said that it is important that soldiers know that sexual assault cases are being tried and taken seriously throughout the community and recommended that commander’s inform their formations of the cases.
The SHARP leadership brief hosted leaders from more than 15 units throughout Bavaria to discuss the SHARP program and brainstorm tactics for strengthening it and reducing sexual assault. It followed a two-week training known as the SHARP Mobile Training Team, or MTT, that is designed to train future SHARP representatives at battalion and higher.
“The MTT is important because it arms commanders with qualified SHARP personnel to execute their programs,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeremie Ebens, JMTC victim advocate coordinator.
The JMTC hosted the two week MTT, which graduated 46 new SHARP representatives, both soldiers and civilians, from units throughout Europe and the Middle East.
“[We have] to make sure that the soldiers and folks in our formations know that it’s not acceptable,” said Lt. Col. Robert Fago, commander of the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. “And when soldiers know that, they realize that they can come forward and let you know if somebody’s doing the wrong thing.”
The SHARP MTT and leadership brief served as informal opening events for the Europe-wide SHARP stand-down that took place from June 18-21. During the stand-down, leaders encouraged open dialogue through small group discussions about sexual assault with subordinates.
The small group discussions allowed leaders to further build trust necessary to eliminate sexual assault.