By Dan Lamothe – Staff writer
Posted : Monday Dec 28, 2009 7:19:04 EST
With reported sex assaults in the Marine Corps up 40 percent since 2007, top service officials have ordered a crackdown to stop all forms of crude and inappropriate behavior, and Marines of every rank will be enlisted to help. The push will include new training for all Marines beginning early in 2010, but it will go far beyond that, said Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent, the service’s top enlisted adviser. Marines of all ranks will be told to think twice before sharing off-color jokes and engaging in crude behavior that experts say can help foster an environment ripe for sexual harassment and assaults to occur. No new disciplinary system will be put in place, but criminal charges and nonjudicial punishments will be pursued aggressively. “Zero tolerance on sexual assault is the message,” Kent said. “You could look at a room of 100 female Marines, and you would see that most of them have been sexually assaulted in one way, shape or form, and we can’t tolerate that.” The crackdown has support at the highest levels of the service, with Commandant Gen. James Conway, Assistant Commandant Gen. James Amos and Kent all speaking on the issue at a conference for senior enlisted Marines held Dec. 15-16 in Washington.