July 2 (Bloomberg) -- The Navy is turning to professional actors to help teach the fleet to be on guard against sexual-assault crimes.
A new two-hour training course on sexual assault prevention includes a 40-minute video filmed on a ship that depicts situations of improper conduct.
“We used actors and actresses to give it a real feel,” said Rear Admiral Martha Herb, the deputy of Navy Personnel Command, in a conference call with reporters today. “It looks at decisions the people on the ship have to make to determine whether they need to intervene.”
The number of reported sexual assaults in the military increased by 1 percent is fiscal 2011 over the previous year, according to a Pentagon report released in April. There were 3,192 reports of sexual assault involving service members as either victims or subjects, the report found.
“This is a focused effort by the entire force to eliminate this crime from our ranks,” Herb said.
The Air Force said last week it is investigating 12 male military training instructors for alleged sexual misconduct with female cadets. Herb said the Navy’s new training effort had no connection to the Air Force probe.
All Navy leaders -- those with ranks of E-7 and above -- with receive the new training by the end of September, said Captain Scott Seeberger, who heads a Navy task force on sexual-assault prevention and joined Herb in the conference call. The rest of the fleet will be trained by the end of the year, he said.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in April announced plans to create a “special victims unit” in each military service branch to help curb sexual assaults. Trained investigators, prosecutors and other personnel would collect evidence and assist victims of assault.
Panetta also issued a directive to ensure the most serious assault offenses, such as rape and forcible sodomy, will be elevated to a higher level of command. Those cases will be handled at a minimum by an officer at the colonel or Navy captain level, according to a Pentagon statement.
There were 237,401 women serving in the U.S. military in 2011, making up about 14.5 percent of the force, according to Pentagon figures.
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