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RAND survey replaces military sexual assault tracking efforts

How do you gauge issues of concern -- especially illegal sex-related activities -- in the military?

The survey method has been the central instrument for tracking such matters in the armed forces for the past several years. The United States Department of Defense has been questioning servicemembers about sexual assault via survey since 2006, with military members being additionally queried every other year since that inaugural research effort.

That is no longer good enough, from the perspective of various politicians on Capitol Hill, who pushed for -- and got -- new authorship of the survey, replacing the DOD effort with research that will now be conducted under the auspices of RAND.

The RAND Corp. is a gobal think tank and research center that is funded by the federal government and private sources and devoted to military-related matters. The congressional members pushing for its role in the so-called “Military Workplace Study” believe that its survey will mark a fresh and independent effort into what is these days an unquestionably high-profile issue across all military branches.

The RAND survey is conducted online and advertised as being completely confidential. This year it is soliciting the views of about 580,000 active-duty and reserve members of the armed forces. That number encompasses all active-duty female servicemembers, along with a select sample of their male counterparts.

The results will unquestionably add to the knowledge that the military and civilian leaders need regarding sex crimes in the military.

As always, both victims of such crimes and servicemembers accused of them are entitled to an unfettered investigation and just outcome in a court-martial or other proceeding.

Source: Stars and Stripes, "Military workplace survey to gauge sexual assault, harassment," author uncited, Aug. 19, 2014

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