Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

What a good senior NCO does: Move around, keep an ear open, turn over rocks

One of the things a good senior leader does is move around his or her unit. Don’t wait for bad news to come to you. Often, it won’t be allowed to. The new issue of Army Times has a good piece by Michelle Tan about a predatory drill sergeant who in one 10 day period ...

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One of the things a good senior leader does is move around his or her unit. Don't wait for bad news to come to you. Often, it won't be allowed to.

The new issue of Army Times has a good piece by Michelle Tan about a predatory drill sergeant who in one 10 day period earlier this year had various forms of sex with one female recruit, oral sex with another, a groping and kissing session with a third, and indecent language with some others.

The first woman to complain was a 20-year-old victim who found the chain of command unresponsive. She went to one drill sergeant, who told her, "You don't want to open that can of worms, Private. . . . That's my battle buddy's career you're trying to fuck up." Her first sergeant didn't believe her. The company commander said he would launch an inquiry, which, she said, led nowhere, and wasn't reported to superiors. The woman said that other trainees who had been assaulted were afraid to come forward, especially after they saw how the drill sergeants ganged up on her and accused her of lacking integrity.

One of the things a good senior leader does is move around his or her unit. Don’t wait for bad news to come to you. Often, it won’t be allowed to.

The new issue of Army Times has a good piece by Michelle Tan about a predatory drill sergeant who in one 10 day period earlier this year had various forms of sex with one female recruit, oral sex with another, a groping and kissing session with a third, and indecent language with some others.

The first woman to complain was a 20-year-old victim who found the chain of command unresponsive. She went to one drill sergeant, who told her, "You don’t want to open that can of worms, Private. . . . That’s my battle buddy’s career you’re trying to fuck up." Her first sergeant didn’t believe her. The company commander said he would launch an inquiry, which, she said, led nowhere, and wasn’t reported to superiors. The woman said that other trainees who had been assaulted were afraid to come forward, especially after they saw how the drill sergeants ganged up on her and accused her of lacking integrity.

Then she ran into the battalion command sergeant major as he was moving around the unit. He listened to her, then called a meeting of all the females in the company. It lasted about 90 minutes. "That’s when the others came forward," the woman said.

The abusive drill sergeant, Luis Corral, has been found guilty. He was busted to private, sentenced to five years in the brig, and will get a bad conduct discharge when he gets out. Then he must register as a sex offender. 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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