This is a question that is being said not only around Fort Benning, but also around the Army. I would like to try to dispel some of these questions and possibly answer some others.
The bottom line is for Sexual Harassment or Discrimination, you must still go to your Unit or Installation Equal Opportunity Advisor. For Sexual Assault, you still must go through the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.
The Sexual Harassment/ Assault Response Program is not a functioning program until July at the earliest. The Army is currently in the process of training the force on the new program and getting qualified SHARP personnel at Direct Reporting Unit levels, which for most soldiers is the brigade level and below. This is important to the program because if you do not have the support at the lowest level possible, your new program will not get off the ground. To get SHARP off the ground, you must have the leader buy-in, which is the Senior Leader Training for all brigade commanders, CSMs and civilian-equivalent personnel. Now that all the leaders are on board, you need Soldiers to understand the I.A.M. Strong campaign and how it applies to the SHARP method of dealing with Sexual Harassment and Assault.
Let us be honest, this is not a new approach, what the SHARP classes are asking you to do is use your Army values and make the on-the-spot corrections that have been required and expected out of noncommissioned officer and officers from the beginning.
Now that Soldiers have the knowledge, we need to reinforce it through online training, which can be a possible annual requirement when the program begins. Now that everyone knows about thee program, we need Soldiers with the extra special training to actually run the program as an additional duty and/or full time.
This is where Mobile Training Teams have been coming to our post and teaching soldiers on SHARP. These soldiers are coming back to our units with an additional duty of SHARP specialist.
So, what are these Soldiers currently doing in our force? How are they helping our Mission Readiness?
There is a simple answer. Currently under the SAPR Program is a Unit Victim Advocate. This is the function your SHARP specialist is currently holding. Additionally, units should require their SHARP specialist to track the unit training requirements on SHARP and report to their higher echelon SHARP specialist. These SHARP specialists are still only working and functioning under the SAPR program for Sexual Assaults.
What about Sexual Harassment? Where does that fall into the current Army programs?
It still is in the Equal Opportunity Program, where is has been for the past 40 years. If you are being sexually harassed or witness sexual harassment, then it is still your responsibility to attempt to correct it at the lowest level possible. Again, on-the-spot corrections — but if this direct course of action does not work, then go to your chain of command.
The chain of command can resolve these issues at the lowest level. The Equal Opportunity Program is the commanders program. He or she is responsible for the climate in their command and are responsible to correct any actions within their command that affect the mission or unit readiness.
When a Soldier feels the chain of command cannot correct these actions, the EOA is available to address problems with.
The EOA has access to commanders at all levels in order to assist them with courses of action to correct any and all behaviors of Sexual Harassment or Discrimination.
The SHARP program is projected to begin in July, but until then report all Sexual Assaults to the SARC at 706-545-1234 and report all incidents of Sexual Harassment and/or Discrimination through your brigade EOA or the MCoE Equal Opportunity Office or Hotline at 706-545-3206.