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Regarding the Dec. 4 article on military rape prosecutions (“The push to prosecute: Politics of military rape cases often trumps evidence, critics say”): There can be no denying that false allegations do exist. However, these allegations are far outweighed by the victims of assault who are unwilling to come forward because they do not want their chain of command involved. Studies show that 1 in 5 female veterans have experienced some form of sexual assault (note that this is not necessarily rape). We must ask ourselves: Why aren’t more people coming forward?

Rape is a deeply intimate, deeply personal crime. If the military truly wants to help assault victims, it will give them the time and space they need to heal. This includes supporting a true policy of restricted reporting. The system we have now is a “gotcha” system where if the victim tells certain people (such as a friend), she loses her right to restricted reporting. Plus, if she gets counseling she has to report it on her security clearance questionnaire.

So the victim is forced to chose between keeping it inside and protecting her privacy or going forward and having well-meaning, but intrusive, [policies] push her toward prosecution. Studies show that one of the most damaging things about rape and sexual assault is the loss of control. If your chain of command gets involved, you lose control of any further decisions to prosecute.

Prosecution isn’t always the right answer. The military is a results- and statistics-driven culture; the only result of the system we have now is that a commander points to his prosecution percentage and says, “See, I’m doing something.”

The result is miscarriages of justice such as those written about in the article, as well as victims who refuse to come forward because they don’t want their assault to become public knowledge.

Monica Petersen

Raleigh, N.C.

Not all Intrepids the same

It seems a little history lesson might be in order for Stars and Stripes copy editors.

“Repatriation of 1804 crew stalls” (article, Dec. 3), about the effort to bring back the remains of sailors of the original USS Intrepid, buried in Libya since the days of the Barbary pirates, mentions “the 13 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier.”

Having also read the original story in The Washington Post, I can only guess [someone], trying to adapt the angle of the story, inserted “aircraft carrier” into the paragraph, somehow confusing the French-built ketch launched in 1798 with the aircraft carrier that served the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1974, and which is now a floating museum in New York.

Even someone with limited knowledge of history should recognize that aircraft carriers didn’t exist in 1804, let alone aircraft themselves.

Capt. Christopher “Kit” Larsen

Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

No aircraft flying in 1804

Whilst reading the Nov. 3 Stars and Stripes, I read the story about the repatriation of American sailors buried in Tripoli, Libya (“Repatriation of 1804 crew stalls”). I just thought I would like to congratulate the U.S. on inventing the aircraft carrier in 1804.

I must admit the idea of an aircraft carrier sailing around the Mediterranean a century before the first airplane flight raised a wry smile over breakfast.

British Army Maj. Dave Hall



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