Home News Senator Gillibrand rips into Neller, telling commanders to take responsibility

Senator Gillibrand rips into Neller, telling commanders to take responsibility


Senator Gillibrand speaks to Gen. Neller

General Neller, the military — the Marines have been aware of online vicitmization, online exploitation of other Marines since 2013, because there’s a letter here from Jackie Speier to Chuck Hagel and General Amos with screenshots, so there’s no mystery that this has been going on for a very long time. It was right in front of you and the command to do something about it since 2013.

We have countless victims who have come forward, and they’re not just being harassed online. Once their name, face, where they’re stationed is posted, do you think the harassment ends online? It doesn’t.

I spoke to a Marine yesterday, excuse me a civilian yesterday, who has continued to be harassed in her own community because her ex-boyfriend exploited her online.

So, I have to say, when you say to us– it’s got to be different — that rings hollow. I don’t know what you mean when you say that. Why does it have to be different? Because you all of a sudden feel that it has to be different? Who has been held accountable? … who has to be held responsible? Have you actually investigated and found guilty anybody?

If we can’t crack Facebook, how are we supposed to be able to confront Russian agression and cyber-hacking throughout our military? It is a serious problem when we have members of our military denigrating female Marines who will give their life to this country in the way they have, with no response from leadership.

I can tell you today, your answers today are unsatisfactory. They do not go far enough. And I would like to know what you intend to do to the commanders who are responsible for good order and discipline?

All of this behavior is in violation of Article 120 and Article 34 as so stated. They are violating the code of criminal justice. Why are commanders who have asked for all responsibility to deal with sexual assault and these behaviors for the five years this committee has been focused on this issue? You have demanded that you maintain control of all these issues, but where is the accountability for failure?

Who is being accountable for doing nothing since 2013? Who? Which Commander?

I am very concerned that this is part of a culture that is resulting in the high levels of sexual assault. We know from FY 14 SAPRO report that 60% of men and 58% of women who experienced sexual harassment or gender discrimination in the previous year throughout all the services, indicated that a supervisor or unit leader was one of the people engaged in the violations.

That is a problem with our command.

So, if you are dedicated to the fixing of the culture of Marines and all the services, what do you plan to do to hold commanders responsible who fail to get this done?

Neller and Gillibrand

Response from General Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps

Senator, I understand and I share your concern. If I were aware — I would expect that any Commander was aware of someone who reported an allegation of anything, but particularly something as serious as sexual assault, and the Chain of Command didn’t do anything, that Chain of Command would be held accountable.

I don’t have any statistics for you on that. I can tell you that of all those individuals who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault, what’s happend to individuals where the charges ended up with some sort of processs and adjusdication.

But those are just numbers, as you clearly and rightfully state, this is a problem with our culture. And… I’m still in the process — I don’t have a good answer for you. I’m not going to sit here and duck around this thing. I’m not. I’m responsible. I’m the commandant. I own this.

You’ve heard it before. But we’re going to have to — you have heard it before — but we’re going to have to change how we see oursleves and how we do — how we treat each other. That’s a lame answer, but ma’am, that is the best I can tell you right now.

We’ve got to change. That is on me.

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