• via Youtube

    Frozen

    Why These Marines Are Hot for ‘Frozen’

    When a video of Marines singing along to a Disney song went viral, most viewers thought it was cute. It was really a lesson in how the military treats sex and violence.

    At first glance, it seems sweet: Young Marines in a barracks watching Disney’s blockbuster film, Frozen. Snuggled together on a couch, rippled shoulders touching, they bounce along, loudly singing the film’s hit song “Let It Go.” But then, as the song reaches its climax, the Marines explode. Arms go up in triumph, the bouncing turns to bucking, and the song’s final notes are overpowered by the aggressive sounds of the Marine Corps’ trademark war cry: “Ooh-rah!”

    Once the video was posted online, it immediately went viral. Viewers cheered on the “Adorable!” Marines in their moment of “true emotional liberation.” But they had missed the point entirely. Emotional liberation is not what’s going on in the video. It’s the sexy cartoon princess that has the Marines so worked up.

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  • Redux

    Buttercup

    The Women Who Died in the Wars

    A former Army journalist remembers a memorial service for “Butter-Cup,” a soldier killed in Iraq, and the untold sacrifices of female service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “Here, First Sergeant,” said a soldier of the 418th Transportation Company.
    “Here, First Sergeant,” said another soldier of the 418th Transportation Company.
    “Specialist Katrina Bell-Johnson,” said the First Sergeant.
    A suffocating silence filled the Sustainer Theater on LSA Anaconda in Iraq.
    “Specialist Katrina Bell-Johnson,” said the First Sergeant.
    The sound of weeping soldiers punctured the silence in the theater. 
    “Specialist Katrina Bell-Johnson,” said the First Sergeant.

    There was no response.

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  • No Peace

    Abused by Military Justice

    Over a year ago, a civilian woman accused her Marine ex-husband of beating and raping her. She’s still waiting for the incidents to be fully investigated.

    Three years after she separated from her husband, Bobbie Herron still suffers from his abuse. Last week she went in for another round of surgery, this time to fix the broken orbital socket and deviated septum he left her with after an attack in 2010.

    For over a year, Herron has been working through the military system, appealing for justice against the Marine ex-husband she says routinely raped and beat her. To Herron it has felt like “a marathon that I ran in quicksand, getting nowhere quickly.”

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  • Scott Olson/Getty, Scott Olson

    BREAKING BARRIERS

    Military Readies for Women in Combat

    Schedule plans to train women for the frontlines.

    As early as 2015, women could finally start preparing for combat roles in the military. New plans, already approved by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, lay out a timetable for female soldiers to begin training as Army Rangers and Navy SEALs and include possible changes to mental and physical standards—one for male soldiers, one for female—to qualify for certain front-line jobs. The initiative comes after the suggestion, made earlier this year, that the disparity caused by keeping women out of combat might have something to do with the military’s rampant sexual-assault problem.

    Read it at Associated Press
  • Win McNamee/Getty Images News (Win McNamee/Getty Images News)

    Ouch

    Military Botches Sex Assault Hearings

    Top brass "stunningly bad" at Armed Services Committee grilling.

    Senators on the Armed Services Committee grilled top military brass at a Tuesday hearing on sexual assault in the armed forces, but were left dissatisfied by many of the answers. After listening to an hour of questioning, Republican Senator Roy Blunt assessed the responses as “stunningly bad.” As The New York Times reported, the hearing followed weeks of reports of sexual violence in the military as well as a Pentagon survey estimating that there were 26,000 military victims of sexual assault last year, up from 19,000 in 2010. Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed their remorse, but resisted some of the reforms that senators have raised, including a proposal by New York Democrat Kirsten E. Gillibrand that would give military prosecutors, rather than commanders, the power to determine which sexual assault cases to try. At the hearing, Senator John McCain recalled meeting with a woman who asked whether he could give his “unqualified support” to her daughter’s plan to join the services. Because of the sexual assault crisis, he said, “I could not.”

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  • As Congress investigates the growing epidemic of sexual assaults within the military, the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, to demand answers from top uniformed leaders about whether a drastic overhaul of the military justice system is needed. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

    FIERCE RESISTANCE

    Military Sex Assault Crisis

    Testifying before the Armed Services Committee, military leaders resisted a call to change how victims of sexual assault report the attacks.

    It was a battle on the Hill Tuesday as top military leaders agreed on the need to do more to prevent sexual assaults—but fiercely resisted calls from U.S. senators on the Armed Services Committee to remove the handling of such cases from the chain of command.

    “I urge that military commanders remain central to the legal process. The commander’s ability to preserve good order and discipline remains essential to accomplishing any change within our profession,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the committee. “Reducing command responsibility could adversely affect the ability of the commander to enforce professional standards and, ultimately, to accomplish the mission.”

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  • Scott Olson

    ENOUGH

    Military Sex Assault Staff To Recertify

    Orders the recertification of military sexual assault prevention staff.

    In response to growing outrage on Capitol Hill and in the White House over the ongoing problem of sexual assaults in the military—including new figures showing a jump in the estimates of unreported sexual assaults, as well as the arrest of a Colonel overseeing the Air Force's sexual assault prevention program, on charges of sexual battery—Defense Secretary ordered all U.S military sexual assault prevention personnel to get recertified. Earlier in the day, the Air Force's top general said that sexual assaults in his branch of service were largely due to a lack of respect for women and typically happened after alcohol abuse.

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  • Female Marine recruits prepare to fire on the rifle range during boot camp February 25, 2013. About six percent of enlisted Marines are female. (Scott Olson/Getty)

    Armed Forces

    Cracking Down on Military Rapes

    Legislators renew their push for civilian oversight of military-sexual-assault cases.

    According to the U.S. military, there are 19,000 rapes and sexual assaults each year in the armed forces—most of them unreported—with hardly any cases ending in convictions or even in prosecution. According to the Department of Defense’s own data, 85 percent of victims do not report the crime, mostly out of fear that no one will believe them, or that they’ll suffer retaliation (as many victims say they endure after they report assaults.) As Protect Our Defenders, a human-rights organization dedicated to survivors of military sexual assault, has stated, most cases aren’t prosecuted because of fear of retaliation, and only 2,500 victims reported attacks in 2011. (The numbers for last year will be out at the end of this month.) 

    Now, U.S. legislators are renewing the push to change those dismal statistics. On Wednesday, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California), Rep. Walter Jones (R-North Caroliana), and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) held a press conference to reintroduce bipartisan legislation—backed by 83 co-sponsors—for the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (STOP), which would create an independent office for reporting, investigating, and adjudicating military-sexual-assault cases outside of the normal chain of command. Their goal is to reform the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) by involving civilian oversight.

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  • A female Airman trainee glances right while in ranks during morning exercises for the Air Force 37th training wing at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 1998. (LM Otero/AP)

    Service, Not Subservience

    Sexual Violence in the Ranks

    With women now serving in combat roles, it’s high time the military does more to ensure they don’t live in fear of sexual abuse, writes Eryn Sepp.

    I have a confession to make. I used to belong to a group that has killed and maimed thousands of women since I joined in 2004. Within this same organization, numerous sexual assaults on its own women occur year after year, often unchecked and unreported. I turned a blind eye. I tried to convince myself I wasn’t involved. I even blamed the victims—anything to keep from becoming one of them.

    I wasn’t in a gang. I wasn’t brainwashed in some fundamentalist cult. Nor was I one of the hundreds of thousands of women forced into prostitution every year by human traffickers. I was a sergeant in the United States military.

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  • Specialist Kelli Roberts hugs her husband David Roberts, seven-year-old daughter Kaylenn and three-year-old Cayden upon return from a yearlong combat tour in Iraq at March Air Reserve Base on August 11, 2009 near Moreno Valley, California. (David McNew/Getty)

    WOMEN IN COMBAT

    Bravery and Beauty

    Lauren Ashburn on the challenges to femininity posed by the Pentagon’s decision to allow women in combat roles.

    Nine cans of hairspray. Check. Perfume, makeup, curling iron—check, check, and check.

    The list of toiletries may read like a typical woman’s packing list, but it’s also what’s needed to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq if you are one of the 300,000 women who have served our country abroad. After all, a lot of Aqua Net is needed to comply with those military regs requiring long hair in a bun no higher than three inches. Seems military-issued rucksacks may start smelling more like Chanel than like dirty socks now that the Pentagon has opened up the playing field to officially allow women to fight, lifting a ban on women serving in the frontline combat and opening up more than 200,000 positions.

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