A scandal involving predatory behavior among active and veteran Marines has widened to include all branches of the military.
Paul Szoldra from Business Insider broke the story yesterday of a website called AnonIB, where service members from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard were sharing nude photos and other media of women in the military, a majority of it non-consensual.
While the Marine Corps has scrambled to respond to the fallout from Marines United, to include a direct address to Marines from General Robert Neller and Sergeant Major Ronald Green, the Department of Defense as a whole will now need to pivot to address the widespread issue.
The site included threads that purportedly had cadets from West Point, the Army’s prestigious academy for officers that has produced graduates like Patton, Eisenhower, and MacArthur, sharing and seeking out photos of their female classmates.
Spokesmen from the military branches have indicated that this behavior is inconsistent with military values, and that discipline will be meted out for those who are found to have violated them.
The military is of course no stranger to sexual harassment and sexual assault issues. The “Tailhook Scandal” in the early 90’s brought sweeping changes to the Department of Defense as a whole after it was found that Navy and Marine Corps officers had administered or condoned egregious behavior that involved sexually harassing and assaulting female service members at the 35th Annual Tailhook Association Symposium in Las Vegas.
Since then, the military has struggled to adequately address the issue of sexual harassment and assault. Jack Murphy’s investigation into crimes committed against male members of a platoon in the 101st by a male non-commissioned officer highlighted that even when the victims of sexual assault are men, appropriate actions to resolve what is clearly a systemic issue are slow to materialize.
Many have responded to the current Marines United scandal through social media and right here on SOFREP with disgust, anger, or seemingly resigned nonchalance. While the scandal is shocking, few in the military are actually surprised something like this was going on.
In what should be painfully obvious to all Americans, the fundamental issue is not individuals or even small groups of service members conducting illicit behavior online and in the shadows. There are deep-rooted problems with how the military treats women, which is a product of the society in which we live and serve. The investigations should be conducted, and punishment should come to those who are found guilty of criminal conduct. But investigations and punishments will not fix a culture in the military and society in general that enables predatory behavior. Having tough, but honest conversations will go a long way towards getting us where we should be, but tough statements about coming down hard on offenders is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
Image courtesy of Reuters