5/17/2012 By Cpl. Damien Gutierrez , Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — In White Letter No. 2-12, Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, expressed his views on sexual assault incidents throughout the ranks and his goals to develop a service-level campaign plan.

Within the message, Amos stresses the importance of informing Marines, sailors and their families about preventing and reporting incidents of sexual assault.

“Sexual assault is an ugly mark on our proud reputation. It goes against everything we claim to be as United States Marines,” said Amos in the White Letter. “This crime is not only completely incompatible with our core values of honor, courage and commitment, it is an affront to the basic American principle we so bravely defend.”

Sexual assault is a crime defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by the use of force, physical threat, abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, non-consensual sodomy, indecent assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling), or attempts to commit these acts. Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender, spousal relationship, or ages of the victim.

“Last year, 2011, there were 333 reports of sexual assault,” said Amos. “These numbers represent only an initial glimpse of reality, as this crime is universally believed to be significantly underreported.”

Active-duty victims have two reporting options- restricted and unrestricted reporting. Under restricted reporting, you can make a report confidentially to a sexual assault response coordinator or chaplain. Restricted reporting allows a victim to obtain counseling and mental-health services without notifying law enforcement.

“Restricted reporting protects the victim’s identity and, except in the rarest of instances, assures confidentiality,” said Hollie Kelly, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

In unrestricted reporting, you may report to any command personnel, provost marshal, Naval Criminal Investigative Service employee, Sexual Assault Response Center, chaplain or health care provider, and then law enforcement will be notified.

“Unrestricted reporting informs the victim’s chain of command, affords maximum protection of the victim from his or her offender, and ensures a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the assault in order to hold offenders accountable for their criminal conduct,” said Kelly.

In order to give the Marine Corps a better perspective with the matter at hand, Amos put together a service-level operational planning team last month. The team’s goal was to look at the issue of sexual assault, make recommendations to fix the problems and develop a service-level campaign plan to address the issue head on.

“Our greatest weapon in the battle against sexual assault has been and will continue to be decisive and engaged leadership,” said Amos. “I expect commanding officers, officers-in-charge and senior enlisted to spare no effort in changing the prevailing conditions and attitudes that are allowing this crime to happen among our ranks.”

It is the commandant’s intent to publish a Corps-wide campaign plan within the next 30 days.

“The Marine Corps has not spent the last ten years defending our nation’s high principles abroad, only to permit this type of behavior within our ranks,” said Amos.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assault, there are many options to seek help from, counseling services located in Bldg. 1122 (760) 725-9051 or Bldg. 520512 (760) 763-6940, log onto Military OneSource at www.militaryonesource.com or call 800-342-9647, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office at www.usmc-mccs.org /sapro, National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE or call 911.