We have expanded our military to include minorities and women and homosexuals over the course of the years. But in that time we have not kept an updated justice system that works for all of the members of the military. Professional retaliation is a real threat, bad performance reviews, collusion between officers to cause harm, assignment to the least popular and most loathsome bases. There are many ways that commanders have complete control over their soldiers lives and futures.
The military is supposed to be about rules, fairness, responsibility, duty, honor, and respect. Our current military justice system does not foster these ideals, it allows for personal retribution, clannish sexism and unspoken laws of silence. There were 3,300 reported rapes last year in the US Armed Forces. It is suspected that the actual number of rapes was closer to 26,000. This is an astounding differential in reports and crimes.
The current system of having to report your rape to you immediate commander makes for an atmosphere of terror for the victims. What if you commander was the rapist? What of the destruction of the unit cohesion with accusations, and counter accusations? What of the camaraderie built up over time and its influence on the commanders decisions? What of the reflections on the commanders for allowing these things to happen in their own units? Who will the commander tell? How quickly will everyone find out? What if the rapist is spreading tales about the victim being lose and easy? Many other questions could be asked.
Commanders should not have the ability to determine the validity of claims over the men they serve with. AT best their judgement is clouded, at worst they will protect friends and allies for personal gain or protection. It is time to remove this power from commanders and place it into the hands of parties removed from those involved who can judge with a less biased eye.