Searching for Cultural ChangeDeep in the Pentagon this January, representatives from the Air Force’s education programs—from basic training to ROTC—were trying to pinpoint how to make sure the newest members of the Air Force get the message that leadership actually wants to know if they have been hurt. Equally important would be notifying those preying on their fellow troops that they will be found and prosecuted with new tools that the force has not used in the past.“It’s not just ‘Don’t sexually assault people.’ This is a piece of respect—how do you weave that in? It’s about how you lead people, how you treat people,” said Brig. Gen. Eden J. Murrie, director of Air Force Services, leading the meeting. “That’s what we’re doing today. We’re looking at everything. Does it need to be radically changed? Do we just tweak it around the edges?”On dry erase boards and PowerPoint slides around the room were programs the Air Force was using in an effort to impart to the troops the unacceptability of assault. The meetings were designed to find how to best integrate anti-assault messages into education and training curricula. The existing programs run the spectrum from “Frank: The Undetected Rapist” to “Street Smarts: You Deserve To Be Here” to “Sex Offenders, Service Members, and You: Leadership Beyond the Obvious.” Conversation turned to “hunting season” at the Air Force Academy—“that’s the undergraduates’ name for it, not ours,” one of the academy representatives at the meeting chimed in—the time when underclassmen have completed their first year of schooling and are allowed to date. “That would offer a really good opportunity for conversation: ‘What do you think of that term?’ Let’s talk about maybe why we don’t want that in our culture anymore,” said Anne P. Munch, an attorney and sexual assault prevention consultant for the Pentagon. “And how does this idea coincide with the idea of being a wingman?” added another meeting attendee. The Air Force has been emphasizing the notion of bystander intervention, the idea that when a fellow airman is being harassed, a “wingman” should step in and stop it.“Or being a leader? You can’t be a ‘hunter’ on a base, either,” said Murrie. “How do you recognize the hunters that key in on new people on base?”
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