Reported sexual assaults have skyrocketed at Fort Carson since 2013, an increase commanders say is driven by soldiers becoming more willing to report attacks.
The number of reported assaults more than doubled from 43 in 2013 to 114 in 2016, a Pentagon report released Friday morning says.
Smaller increases were reported at Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases, according to the first-of-its-kind report. Peterson had 15 reported sexual assaults in 2013 and 21 last year. Schriever went from 14 in 2013 to 15 last year.
At Fort Carson, Col. Miles Brown, the post’s chief of staff, said leaders meet on a regular basis to examine assaults and look for ways to stop them.
“We don’t want to admire the problem, we want to fix it,” Brown said.
The Department of Defense previously released base-by-base sexual assault counts for its military academies, but other installations were included in servicewide counts.
“The information released today shows, installation by installation, where service members are getting assistance with their sexual assault reports,” the Pentagon said in a news release.
“The release today lists the number of reports alleging sexual assault that are being handled by Sexual Assault Response Coordinators at military installations worldwide.”
Fort Carson’s large number of assaults leads local military bases, but that’s not a surprise. The post, with nearly 25,000 soldiers, is as large as the Pikes Peak region’s four other military bases combined.
Fort Carson’s sexual assault reports peaked in 2015 with 125 before falling to 114 last year. While Fort Carson’s numbers are the highest in the region, they are far from the highest in the nation, or even the Army.
Fort Hood in Texas had 262 reported sexual assaults in 2015 and 199 reports last year.
The Norfolk, Va., naval station had 270 reported sexual assaults last year and the submarine base at Kings Bay, Ga., also recorded 270 reported assaults.
The San Antonio military complex that includes Lackland Air Force Base and Fort Sam Houston had 211 reports last year, including 117 involving airmen.
The Defense Department says that while the report ties assaults to bases, the actual incidents may have taken place elsewhere.
“One of the features of the department’s reporting program is that service members can report allegations of sexual assault at any time and at any place,” said Dr. Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “As a result, the number of reports listed for an installation doesn’t necessarily mean that the alleged incident occurred there.”
For stand-alone Air Force bases, the Air Force Academy reported the highest number of sexual assaults in 2016, with 44. The Naval Academy reported 24 sexual assaults and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., reported nine.
An Air Force Academy spokesman said the school is working to help victims and prevent rapes.
“First off, taking care of each other is part of who we are and we go to great lengths to provide a culture rooted in the core principles of human dignity and respect – our priority is caring for victims and preventing future assaults,” Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said.
At Fort Carson, Brown said the number of reported sexual assaults covers a wide variety of incidents, many of which have little connection to the post.
“We have cases we are tracking now that might have happened 15 or 20 years ago.”
Still, every Fort Carson case is treated the same, with victims getting counseling and medical support while police and prosecutors work to bring perpetrators to justice, he said.
The post is unhappy with the number of incidents on the report but glad they were reported, Brown said, noting that victims are confident they will be well-treated.
“I think the confidence comes from the fact it is a commander’s program,” he said. “We lead our way through this every day and every month.” Battalion and brigade commanders regularly analyze cases to determine how rapes could have been stopped.
When a rape is reported, the incident goes right to the top.
“Within hours, the commanding general is informed of the facts we know and the way ahead,” Brown said.
Maj. Gen. Randy George, who took command in August, takes a stern view of sexual assault, which he says tears at the Army’s fabric.
“It’s fratricide, plain and simple, and that’s why commanders have to minimize that risk,” Brown said.
Ultimately, he said, Fort Carson is determined to stop predatory behavior.
“Our goal is elimination of sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Brown said.