US Forces Korea commander warns sexual assailants: ‘You are now the hunted’
Stars and Stripes April 18, 2023
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — The commander of U.S. troops in South Korea put would-be sexual assailants on notice during a speech earlier this month, in which he also said the U.S. military “must change the culture” surrounding sexual assault.
Army Gen. Paul LaCamera, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, spoke during an April 10 ceremony at Camp Humphreys marking Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in the Department of Defense.
“Sexual assault is fratricide,” he told an audience of service members, victim advocates and USO volunteers inside Paik Auditorium at USFK headquarters. “I can say it louder; I cannot say it any clearer.”
LeCamera also reaffirmed the military’s duty to prevent sexual assault and to support its victims.
“For the hunters out there, be on notice, you are now the hunted,” he said.
Sexual assault cases within the military rose by 13% in 2021 over the previous year, according to the DOD’s 2022 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. The department estimated in 2021 that 8.4% of women and 1.5% of men on active duty experienced “unwanted sexual contact.”
LaCamera, who also heads up U.N. Command and the Combined Forces Command, laid out five steps toward an increased awareness of sexual assault: taking care and protecting the rights of the victims, ensuring that bystanders get involved, changing the culture on sexual assault and having leaders lead.
"There is nothing more tragic than when leaders lose the trust of those who they lead,” he said. "It does not have to be this way.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made addressing sexual assault in the military a “top priority” and spurred “a time of unprecedented action, planning, and resourcing — all aimed at having lasting and enduring impacts towards restoring the confidence, safety, and respect of our men and women in uniform and our nation,” the 2022 DOD report states.
This year’s defense budget requested $940 million for sexual assault prevention and response programs and the hiring of roughly 2,000 civilians for training by 2027.
“Sexual assault and harassment in our military is a readiness issue. It makes our force less lethal,” Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, said during a House subcommittee hearing on military personnel in September. “It makes recruiting a challenge. It makes young men and women scared to serve.”