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Navy leaders vow to crack down on ‘toxic’ behavior in nude-photo-sharing scandal

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift have released separate messages to sailors condemning the nude-photo-sharing allegations, saying they have degraded the Navy's ability to function as a fighting force.

NATHAN LAIRD/U.S. NAVY

By TYLER HLAVAC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 15, 2017

Navy officials vowed Tuesday to crack down on “toxic” behavior after signs that the Marine Corps nude-photo-sharing scandal has widened, with female sailors at dozens of commands targeted.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift released separate messages to sailors condemning the alleged posting of nude photos of servicewomen, saying the practice has degraded the Navy’s ability to function as a fighting force.

Swift said he considered such behavior an “insider threat,” echoing language used by Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller during recent congressional testimony on the Marines’ response to the scandal, in which servicemembers are suspected of sharing explicit photos of female co-workers on the private Facebook group Marines United.

“I take this very seriously,” Swift said in his statement. “We will investigate any allegations and take action to the fullest extent possible. I see behavior like this as an insider threat to our fleet’s ability to be an effective fighting force.”

Richardson's comments added that such behavior “makes us weaker, and cedes advantage to the enemy.”

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the matter.

The statements are likely in response to recent reports alleging that the Marines’ scandal has engulfed the other services.

One anonymous image-sharing message board cited in a Business Insider report has dedicated pages for posting photos of female servicemembers.

A screenshot from the site indicated that several major Navy commands were listed as potential targets for members looking for such photos, including those from the aircraft carriers USS Harry S. Truman and the USS Ronald Reagan.

Other commands targeted include Naval Base San Diego, Naval Station Norfolk, Naval Air Stations Oceana, North Island and Pensacola, the hospital ship USNS Mercy, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the U.S. Naval Academy, according to a Navy Times report.

The site also includes requests for photos from Army, Air Force, Marine and National Guard commands.

Richardson said such harassment is a crime that sailors should take more seriously, and that the Navy was not making progress combating the issue.

“Team, we have a problem and we need to solve it,” he said. “Really solve it — not put a Band-Aid on it, not whitewash over it, not look the other way. This is a challenge to all Navy leaders — particularly junior leaders. Own this problem. Solve it.”

hlavac.tyler@stripes.com
 

Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift released a message to sailors condemning the nude-photo-sharing allegations, saying they have degraded the Navy's ability to function as a fighting force.
MICHAEL SMITH/U.S. NAVY

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