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Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee - Markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014


Location: Washington, DC

Senator REED. Well, Mr. Chairman.

First, let me commend Senator Gillibrand for her extraordinary efforts in this regard. So many of our colleagues have dealt with this issue with intelligence and with passion, and I particularly want to recognize Senator McCaskill for her experience and bringing it to bear and in helping us, I think, move under the chairman's proposal to an approach that is going to be effective.

This is a plague, as the chairman indicated. It undermines fundamental trust, and without that trust, no military unit can function.

And I will second Senator McCain's observations because I commanded during the post-Vietnam era, and we had to deal with a serious set of issues. And ultimately it was about a chain of command being effective because our goal here is prevention, proactive prevention. That can only be accomplished by the chain of command. And that process entails every step and they have to be engaged. Induction of military personnel, training of military personnel, evaluation of military personnel, promotion of military personnel, inspecting constantly, and, yes, in cases where there have been violations of good order and discipline of the UCMJ charging those personnel and then, because they are involved in every phase, holding commanders responsible, accountable for everything they do or fail to do.

This accountability cannot be merely rhetorical, a zero policy, a zero tolerance. It has to be measured in a very simple metric. If a commander does not measure up, he or she is relieved of their command. That will, I think, provide the kind of proactive cultural change that Senator McCain referred to and is necessary.

I think the chairman's amendments reach this objective by making wise changes to procedure but ultimately making it clear to every level of command it is your job, no one else's. You have to make this work. Ultimately this translates into combat effectiveness, unit cohesion, unit loyalty, and the ultimate value I think that soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen have to have, and we have all alluded to it. They have to trust the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen on their right and left, and they certainly have to trust their commanders. And I think with this language, we can
move forward.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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