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Home > UNS > 130612-01



95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) has stand down event

By 95th Civil Affairs Brigade PAO

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, June 12, 2013) – The scene could be played out like this.  The four Soldiers were taking a smoke break, telling jokes and laughing about the obstacle course they had just finished. As two female Soldiers walked by, one of the Soldiers shouted out to them, "Hey girl, you sure have a fine booty." Another Soldier agreed, adding other comments that bordered on sexual connotations of the derogatory type.

It is unfortunate, but events like this happen in the military on a daily basis. The guys taking a smoke break probably thought nothing of what they were saying. They probably believed something in their male makeup gave them the right to make comments about the female Soldiers.

In a May 16, 2013, memo, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army, stated, Our Army is the most experienced and capable fighting force the world has ever known. Our Soldiers have repeatedly met the extraordinary challenges facing our Nation, but unfortunately  today we face a dangerous adversary threatening the cohesiveness, effectiveness and trust of our force — sexual assault and harassment. Such crimes violate everything our Army stands for, and are counter to our Army values and will not be tolerated.

 On May 24, 2013, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, issued a memorandum detailing the Army's plan to implement a department-wide Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention and Response, also known as SHARP, stand-down.  

In response to that plan, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade leadership ordered a stand down day. On June 5, 2013 more than 300 Soldiers from the brigade and subordinate battalions took part in the SHARP program.

"For today's purpose, I have combined sexual harassment and sexual assault as unwanted sexual attention.  It comes in many forms, but all forms are unwanted. It is uncomfortable, inappropriate to the person receiving it and it is unprofessional," said Maria Rizzotto, the Brigade's Victim Advocate.

According to the SHARP program, approximately 1/3 of all reported sexual assaults within the Army are preceded by sexual harassment. 

"The SHARP program is a continuing process, not just a one-time event," said Rizzotto. "We are actually in Phase III and moving into IV of the program, a training plan that was started several in 2008." 

A video resembling reality role playing was shown and demonstrated examples of many of the ways sexual harassment is prevalent in the Army.

After the video, Rizzotto discussed the program and introduced more than 30 members of the brigade SHARP Care team. The team included Military Family Life Counselors, Behavioral Health, Brigade Chaplains, Sexual Assault Care Coordinator WAMC, Family Advocacy (dealing with domestic violence and child abuse), in addition to the legal investigative team, Ft. Bragg CID Special Victims Unit, local Special Victims Unit, USASOC Victim Witness Liaison, and Brigade Legal attended.

The SHARP program is not limited to Fort Bragg and Pope Field.  The off post members of the team included the Fayetteville Special Victims Unit and Fayetteville Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County.

The discussions lead to examples of inappropriate touching and suggestive conversation. Rizzotto role played with a Soldier in the audience demonstrating types of physical harassment.

"You have the right to say no to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. You don’t have to be  nice or polite about it. Say 'NO' or 'STOP,' say it loud. Say it clear, and follow through using some of the SHARP self-defense techniques that you were taught at the SHARP defense class," Rizzotto said. "If you see somebody else getting harassed, step in and say 'no.' It is the best way to stop the spiraling effect of harassment to prevention. You can be the voice for the brigade."

The 95th Civil Affairs Brigade's SHARP program, initiated through the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and the Brigade Victim Advocate, is in the forefront of the response and prevention.

SHARP as a program reinforces and identifies the support teams and resources available to any person who has become a victim in a sexual incident, either past or present. By reinforcing these resources and support teams, perhaps victims will seek the care that is needed to increase the soldier's morale, welfare, and trust in the unit, Rizzotto said. This, in turn, increases unit readiness with a positive command climate.

Our profession is built upon a foundation of trust. Sexual harassment and assault betrays that trust and has a corrosive effect on good order, discipline and unit readiness, Odierno said.

The 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) and regional battalions, 91st, 92nd, 96th, 97th and 98th, organizes, trains, equips, and deploys teams worldwide to conduct civil affairs operations.

The 95th is recruiting Soldiers from within the U.S. Army for Active Duty Service in Civil Affairs. For more information about the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade go to Civil Affairs Recruiting at