“We’re proud of the courage she displayed coming forward with these allegations.”

30+ years ago, when I served this nation, honor was an integral part of that service. Much has changed in the intervening years to rid the U.S. Military of some of it’s more archaic traditions.  I know first hand how hard it is to “rock the boat” and stand up to the injustices that abide in recruit training, military service, and the UCMJ system…

This young soldier epitomizes everything our military should represent. Drill Instructors are traditionally the godlike best each branch has to offer. By speaking up and speaking out like this she’s demonstrated not only courage, but honor, dignity, and righteousness when many others would have simply quit… I am not just proud of her, I am in awe.

Stars and Stripes

Multiple members of the training cadre at Fort Sill, Okla., were suspended this week after a soldier in training reported she was sexually assaulted at the base, said Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, commander of the base and the Fires Center of Excellence.

“This past Saturday, a soldier assigned to Fort Sill reported she was the victim of sexual assault, involving Fort Sill cadre members. This information was immediately reported to law enforcement,” Kamper said Thursday during a news conference.

Within hours, agents with Army Criminal Investigation Command, known as CID, began investigating the report and interviewing potential suspects and witnesses. Kamper declined to say exactly what day the soldier said the assault occurred, in what capacity the training personnel might have been involved or exactly how many personnel have been suspended because of the assault.

“What’s important is, we’ve taken immediate action. With a cadre member who has been named and possibly involved in this allegation, we’ve removed them from their normal duties, they’ve been suspended. They are working outside the training environment to protect the well-being of all the other soldiers,” he said.

“I heard the term ‘sex ring’ thrown around…”

The Intercept

The soldier, who was a trainee at the time of the alleged assaults, formally reported them on March 27. The alleged incidents at times involved groups of assailants, the military official said, and the woman’s report identified seven of the 22 members she said assaulted her. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive personnel matters.

“I heard the term ‘sex ring’ thrown around, which is not one you love to hear,” the official said, reflecting concerns that the assaults may have been coordinated.

Colonel Cathy Wilkinson, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army, denied investigators have obtained a video, but declined to answer follow-up questions. “Investigators do not have any such video,” Wilkinson said in a statement to The Intercept.

“On a personal level it is just heartbreaking.”

Task & Purpose

“We’re just heartbroken, just sad, sad that something like this happened,” Kamper said. “On a personal level it is just heartbreaking.”

The trainee has met with Fort Sill leadership and “is receiving updates from the chain of command,” said officials, who added that the Army was sending “additional specialized CID personnel” and attorneys to Fort Sill.

Chris Grey, a spokesman for Army CID, confirmed the allegations were under investigation and being taken “extremely seriously.” CID agents conducted interviews regarding the alleged assault on the day it was reported, according to Kamper, and then again on March 29 and “every day since.”

“What’s important is we’ve taken immediate action…”

Time

“At this early juncture and to protect the integrity of the investigation we cannot specify the number of suspects,” Army spokeswoman Colonel Cathy Wilkinson said in a statement. “We are committed to thoroughly investigating every allegation, which will require time to sort through all of the allegations and evidence.”

Major General Ken Kamper, commander of Fort Sill, told reporters on Thursday that the instructors were pulled from their assignments and precluded from interacting with trainees. “What’s important is we’ve taken immediate action with any cadre member that has been named and possibly involved in this allegation,” he said.

The woman has been provided counseling, legal assistance and medical services. Her name hasn’t been released and will remain protected throughout the process. “I personally met with this soldier,” Kamper said. “We’re proud of the courage she displayed coming forward with these allegations.”

Army investigators conducted initial interviews on March 27, the same day the trainee reported the assault, then carried out follow-up interviews two days later and have interviewed Army personnel every day since.

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