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tv   Natl Guard Officials Testify on Prosecuting Sexual Misconduct  CSPAN  February 2, 2022 4:40am-5:59am EST

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you're watching live coverage on c-span 3, watch live on
4:42 am or our app. >> and the air force national guard over guardsman in their varying statuses who commitment sexual harassment, assaulter or other acts. also services available who are victims of these egregious crimes. brigadier general walker will also discuss the office of complex investigations in their role in filling the gap for the state agitant generals when local law enforcement authorities and/or federal agencies are unwilling or unable to investigate. also looking forward to hearing from them, their response to the findings that the independent review committee, and how the national guard bureau intends to implement the irc's recommendations. the morale, readiness, and every aspect of service is poisoned each time a service member is sexually assaulted or sexually harassed in our military. the national guard is no
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different. guard personnel have fought in the wars in iraq and afghanistan, aided countless civilians in natural disaster and see providing essential healthcare and support to fight the current covid-19 pandemic. and they suffer from a convoluted and understaffed system of sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention programs. complex and cumbersome reporting processes and a lack of justice. the numbers are staggering yet the data is lacking. according to the dod 2019 annual report on sexual assault in the military, the number of reported sexual assaults in the guard jumped nationwide from 173 in 2009 to 607 in 2019. more than a 300% increase. beyond that, little data exists. i've been advocating for progress more than ten years. those numbers don't tell even a
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fraction of the story. individual stories of guard personnel caught in a web of confusing bureaucracy are harrowing, stories like the west virginia national guard officer, then lieutenant general teresa james raped in her hotel room by a superior officer, consistently disbelieved until the national guard bureau investigators finally found the perpetrator used intimidation and fear to sexually assault her resulting in nonconsensual intercourse. to make matters worse and to because she reported her superior officer for rape, the victim was given uncharacteristically low evaluation and retained in the guard for one year, instead of the standard two years. three years later, d.o.d. inspector general found the, quote, west virginia guard retaliated against her for
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reporting that she was raped, unquote. her perpetrator faced no charges and was allowed to go on to endanger other guardsmen. lieutenant colonel james waited years to be believed and then was medically discharged from the service for ptsd resulting from her sexual trauma. stories like this one are all too common across the national guard. extensive reporting by journalists uncovered problems with sexual assault and harassment in the national guard in many states, including florida, minnesota, pennsylvania, vermont, and wisconsin. many involving botched investigations and failure to report sex crimes to police. we are here today to pull back the curtain that has allowed this insidious rot that threatens our national security and countless lives to go unchecked. in the worst cases, made the threat even more dire. no longer can the national guard hide behind their unique status.
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to the national guard, the spotlight of congress is on you. take care of your soldiers, take care of your airman, stamp out sexual harassment and assault, stop the retaliation. we are watching. to all the soldiers and airmen of the national guard, we have not forgotten you. my pledge to all the survivors of military sexual violence, to those who reported and were ostracized, those who reported and faced retaliation and all those who are afraid toreport and may be suffering alone, we're on your team, and the national guard is on notice, sexual assault and harassment will not be tolerated. we pay your bills, we fund you. the game is over. ranking member gallagher, now recognized for opening remarks. >> thank you, madam chair,
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before i begin, i'd like to say i look forward to working with you through this upcoming nda cycle. last year was a whirl wind, but i hope we can continue to attack our military personnel challenges in a bipartisan fashion and want to thank the witnesses for joining us. i agree that sexual assault and harassment are a blight on our armed forces be it active reserve or guard, this hearing to coordinate with state and see bring some cases, now the national guard sits in a very interesting position which makes this a pleks issue, very few guard members in a federal service status and subject to the justice system at anytime unless activated under title 10 orders, doing civilian jobs and therefore subject to the same laws as anybody else, so the majority of guard members the legal distinctions don't cause issue but conduct of becoming a
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member of our armed forces does happen often outside of any federal jurisdiction and guard members live under 54 sets of state or territorial laws. now congress charged the national guard bureau and office of investigations with assisting in cases where law enforcement can't or won't address a guard-related crime and since 2012, oci helped fill the gap between state and local, law enforcement criminal investigations and the high standards we apply to our service members. these cases often deal with complex legal issues and oci worked very hard to find solutions over the last ten years. as always, there is more we can do to improve accountability and integrity in armed forces and i look forward to hearing from the witnesses on what tools could actually improve the handling of assault cases at oci and how the guard bureau can better provide guard prevention resources to the states.
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opportunity to question the witnesses, five minutes, respectfully ask the witnesses to summarize their testimony. after general hutchinson's remarks, opportunity to question the witnesses five minutes. respectfully ask the witnesses to summarize their testimony in five minutes, written comments and statements will be made part of the hearing record. let's begin and welcome our panel, general, daniel hawkinson, chief of national guard bureau and brigadier general charles walker, director of office of complex investigations. thank you both for being here today and we look forward to hearing from you. please, begin, general hawkinson. you may have to unmute yourself.
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can you hear us, general? give a thumbs up if you can hear us. but we can't hear you, so. we'll move on to brigadier general charles walker and in the interim maybe you can get your technology figured out there. have someone on your staff help you. brigadier general walker. >> ranking member gallagher, distinguished members of the subcommittee, it's my pleasure to be here today and offer testimony with respect to the office of complex investigations brings to this as chair spear points out, it is a poison within our ranks. and the national guard in all levels is committed to eradicating sexual violence against all service members.
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today, we hope to testify about the unique, particular aspects of national guard service which at times may create gaps in our ability to handle criminal activity within our military service but also to reinforce the fact that these matters are being taken serious and the avenues that are available for military justice, and i'll use that not as the term of our military justice, but the fact that art's men and women were serving in a nonfederalized capacity are serving as citizen soldiers and airman, entitled to same protection as anyone in their community which is why local prosecution are our avenue for activity at the national guard. certainly, general hokinson's opening statement covers the gambit of activities and situations within the guard,
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subjects to this hearing and i hope he'll be on shortly so he can elaborate on those things. my scope is as director of the office of complex investigations which if this is the appropriate time, i can go into details about the office of complex investigation in the hopes general hokinson can come on board with regard to where the national guard is coming today on these issues, but has already been pointed out in ranking member gallagher's opening, the office of complex investigation and in 2012, it is a direct outgrowth of the last time congress was intimately involved with the military and issues of sexual assault. back in 2012, there were a number of cases in which military members had complained and rightfully so about the handling of the investigations and lack of results with
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prosecution pertaining to sexual assault cases. as result of that, d.o.d. guidance propagated which required that commanders no longer use their indigenous or organic resources to investigate sexual assaults and that all sexual assault validation would refer to military criminal investigative organizations such as the office of special investigations for the active duty airforce or cid, criminal investigation division for the army. but unlike those active and reserve components under title 10, guards men and women do not have access to that due to their subservence in nonfederalized status so to fill that gap we created the office of complex investigation which would help in instances where local law enforcement which is our first line of defense against sexual violence allegations is either
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unwilling or unable to investigate thoroughly those allegations. in those limited instances the office of complex investigations steps in and provides investigative tool for the 54 addtives general, these investigations include only sexual assault allegations but using the department of defense definition for sexual assault with broad and encompassing everything from a groping all the way towards a penetrative sexual assault. we, in the office of complex investigation are a centralized asset primarily based out of andrew's air force base, provide capacity which allows us to provide one, a consistent ability and a, an ability to provide a fair and balanced report to state additive general
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for action, that i point out, we are not a criminal investigative organization, we provide administrative investigations as a backstop so victims and the national guard will have an opportunity to address sexual violence against its members and to remove those within our ranks who may be perpetrators. in an administrative context. what we are not is a criminal context which, as you know, in a criminal setting, there's jailtime, potentially, there's sexual registries, and other controls that our society's deemed appropriate for these type of crimes. so oci is not the default for the national guard, merely the avenue we result to when logic enforcement is not able or willing under a variety of circumstances to adequately investigate those instances of sexual violence. at this time, i will end my
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statements in hopes, general can carry forward with his more broad opening statements which encompasses all aspects of what the national guard is doing with respect to eradicating sexual violence within our force. >> thank you, brigadier general. general hawkinson, are you live now? >> can you hear me now? >> we certainly can. please proceed. >> out standing. thank you. good afternoon, chair spears, ranking member gallagher, honorable members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting member walker and i before you today. in case you have not heard directly from me already, i want to be clear, there is no place for sexual assault or harassment in our nation's armed forces or anywhere else for that matter there is no act more heinous and violating the trust of a fellow
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service member, the members raise their right hand to follow the constitution and fight our nation's wars and serve our communities in times of crisis. there is strong leadership at every level and a work place free from the violence of assault and harassment. this is a serious problem and we recognize it as such. that is why the effort to achieve the national guard bureau, i met with our team, because despite all our efforts we didn't seem to be making a difference. as a result, i ordered a formation of a task force to impose national guard bureaus representatives in 54 state areas with washington dc to prevent sexual assault and suicide within our ranks. six months as a result of the task force examinations, identified 19 recommendations to improve our guardsmen's safety. these recommendations fall into
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six strategic areas -- leader education, growing a healthy culture, resource distribution and communication, partnerships, generalization of efforts and effective measurement. upon review of their recommendations i accepted all of them. taken together, they mean one thing above all, we need a greater focus on prevention to eliminate sexual assault and harassment in our formations. in addition, we are strongly engaged in the implementation of secretary austin's review commission recommendations, to help improve our prevention programs, through national guard's unique operating environment and continue to enhance victim care and support. it was evident from our task force that prevention starts with creating a cultural trust. our guardsmen and their families must have confidence in their chain of command, need to have confidence in victim efficacy and response services.
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they need to have confidence in the offices that investigate sexual assault, and they need to have confidence that offenders will be held accountable. we have to earn that confidence by establishing and maintaining a culture of trust in every state, territory in d.c. and at every level of leadership. we are taking action on building that cultural trust and preventing sexual assault and harassment within our ranks, working on way to see stage with better guidance and resources and analyzing data that focuses on risk factors so we can directly affect those risk factors. in addition to the sexual assault and suicide task force, i also made changes to our office of complex investigations or oci. these changes included moving oci from under our general counsel office and making it a separate, stand-alone directive. i also placed a general officer in charge, as we often do in the
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national guard, we are leveraging general walker's civilian experience as a federal judge. in addition, we work together with our aggitant's general to increase number of oci investigators by 65%, substantially reduce case back log and help survivors get results. also working with the agitant general to hire integrator's as resources become available. having a specially trained force focused on addressing this issue helps demonstrate our commitment to eliminating sexual assault and harassment in the national guard. we are also improving prevention training for guard members and leaders at every level in our organization. in addition to better training, also finding ways to hold leaders accountable for the culture they create and oversee.
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we know the work of preventing sexual assault and harassment is a challenging process but it is of the upmost importance. we create a safe environment where soldiers can focus on their jobs which improves readiness and with it, our ability to fight. our commit to preventing sexual assault and harassment in the national guard is fundamental to taking care of our soldiers, airman and their families and is a requirement with the national guard to keep this promise to be always ready, always there. members of the subcommittee, thank you for your time, i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, general. let me start off by asking you, general hokinson. what part of the independent review commissions recommendations have you not
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implemented. >> chair speier, we have not implemented any at this time, working closely with the air force and army looking at implementation guidance, what is needed to implement each of those. when you look at over 80 recommendations of our analysis so far, over 50 apply directly to the national guard and many of those do require resources that we currently don't have to implement so working to implement the guidance with our services of both army and airforce, identify those resources so we can implement them as soon as possible. >> so let me ask you this -- is there any process by which you are informed when a sexual harassment or sexual assault case complaint has been filed within the state national guard? >> yes, ma'am. so if you look at our directors of the army guard, army national
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guard, they are required to be notified within 24 hours of a case. and if i can really just take a step back, look at what the unit commander's responsibility is, so they have to be notified within the first 24 hours of a sexual assault within their organization and they immediately link that individual up with an advocate to ensure they get the care and help they need. >> all right, let me ask you this. lieutenant colonel james, who was raped by her superior in west virginia guard, she of retaliated against, inspector general able to determine that she ended up leaving after one year and she had post traumatic stress disorder. according to the ig report, her assailant was never charged and continued to serve.
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do you know who this person is, and is he still serving? >> no, chair, i do not know that but i can meet with our staff and make sure we get a full accounting from the state of west virginia. >> all right. so you're going to report back to the committee about the status of the perpetrator and what, what happened? >> yes, chair, absolutely. >> let me ask brigadier general. do you have -- you've seen an increase in the number of cases that have come to your attention recently. do you have enough staff to respond to those cases? >> thank you, chair speier, again, it's every year seems to be a moving target on the number
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of cases. obviously, with the renewed and enhanced ability to actually intake cases, we've seen a jump in cases, particularly this fiscal year. we're running, definitely ahead of what we had historically in any year already. we do have enough staff to investigate these cases. >> how many staff members do you have? >> we have 29 dedicated investigators that are either resident at joint base andrews or residing within, in their home states as remote investigators, all of whom we pair in teams of two to go out and investigate any allegation we receive from an active general. >> how many cases did you have filed last year? >> last year, i believe we had a total of 140, 145 cases, that
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oci or that we opened as oci investigations. >> do you track the serial offenders? >> we absolutely do. we track all perpetrators within our data base so if we get indications from any new cases of any repeat offenders, we're able to identify those and report back to the states and then do further analytics on why, in fact, someone would be a serial offender given our current system which allows us to investigate sexual assaults at least administratively so we are tracking statistically -- >> please provide the committee with that, how many serial predators you have? >> absolutely. >> all right. my understanding is, through news reports, that the guard has under taken a number of changes to address this handling of incidents of sexual assault, including better training, increased transparency and more
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emphasis on prevention. among the changes to better support local units, train people and hold leaders accountable, office of complex investigation was reorganized. however, a basic internet search for information on oci provides no publicly available information about the office, its purposes, and how to contact oci officials. so how does oci ensure that members of the national guard, including those involved in, or conducting investigations, are aware of the office's existence? >> well, chair speier, the absence general, and that's what triggers an office of complex investigation -- >> no, we want to make sure the victims know that there is somewhere to go and there's no place that they can google on the internet to find out about your office. >> well, again, our office is
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not the primary focus. if a crime has been committed and a sexual assault allegation, the first line of contact is with local law enforcement, and that's one of those nuances. the office of complex investigations does not get involved into local law enforcement as either declined or unable to investigate. then, the determination of whether oci investigation is appropriate is done with a request from the aggitant general which we coordinate with the state and then open a case with investigation. >> did you investigate lieutenant colonel james' complaint? >> no, we did not. >> why not? >> based on the timing, i'm not sure that the office was available at that time as a resource, so i can verify that, but obviously i'm unaware at this time, specifically, if her
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case was investigated by our office based on the fact that i've read some in the press about her situation, the timing of her case may have been outside the oci window which that would have been an avenue for her, and again, we would only do an administrative investigation. no matter when that case was filed, it would have been subject to a local criminal investigation and a prosecution outside of military channels. so i can get all the background information on that and report back on all those details. >> great, thank you, my time expired substantially. mr. gallagher you're recognized for an additional 2 minutes. >> it's fine. general hokanson, what is the day-to-day reality of your communication and cooperation with the tags of agitants general on these issues, do you think most of them understand these cases. >> i would say all of our
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aggitants generals understand this across the formation, you look at my communications with them since i become chief, i have a call with them every signingal week where we discuss any issues across the organization and previously, some of us refer to training of our personnel and address that way to our personnel branch and training so at that point, every single week with the aggitants general, then three times a year we all get together as a group, though virtually the last couple of times and with our senior leader conference which our staff gets updates and part of that usually includes sexual assault and harassment programs, then in addition to that, throughout the year, i go to specific regions so we can meet in a smaller group and have conversations about legal issues they're facing and anytime it's something like that, we make
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sure we got representatives to address any sexual assault or harassment issues and lastly, on a daily basis, national guard bureau staff and both director of army guard are in constant communication with the 54 states territories in dc and specifically, when i tell aggitants general, i respond by email or phone call within 24 hour when they reach out to me, to make sure there is no delay in any support or concerns they may have in any way we can provide support. >> thank you, as i recall your testimony, sir, the biggest theme or takeaway i have from it is this emphasis on prevention, how prevention is key. based on your experience with the issues, what lines of effort for prevention do you think are most promising? where do you think would be smart for us to invest more in terms of prevention activities.
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>> i think one of the best ways is make sure we have the resources, the trained personnel at the right level to really train and work with our leadership at every level from lowest to highest level and part of that is making sure our training actually has an impact where we're not just talking to people but it's interactive and meet the content of what that education is intended to do. and frankly, it's not just making sure we follow the rules but teaching others that respect is both ways. we have to have, basically, an environment where we treat forces with dignity and respect and it's got to be safe and we have to encourage anyone that's there, whether in chain of command or not, and we call that bistandard intervention. everyone needs to be aware of what sexual assault and harassment is and we want to encourage everyone to take action if they see this occurring at any time.
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>> i appreciate that, sir, related question for brigadier general walker. now that we have a decade of experience with oci, what are your resource constraints? do you feel you have enough investigators to meet the demand from states right now? >> thank you, and really the resource issue has ironically taken care of itself to some extent in the recent amendments to the ndaa which, historically, oci operated with members who are on what in essence is temporary duty at oci, which we're limited in the number of years in which they could serve outside of their states. we would just gather relief from that in that we can now have members up to five years and were able to map as policy now within the guard bureau, waiting on service direction within that and that would go a long way to
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us keeping our trained investigators. the more trained an investigator is, the higher volume of cases they can investigate so it's obviously advantageous to keep them there longer. in addition to that, one of the things general hokanson has also done is now we have civilian resources so hired four full time civilian investigators and plan to hire several more such that we will have that on what i call the backbone of experience investigators that will be the continuity within our organization to either train new people or provide that leadership base that we need as people rotate in and out for their tours at oci with the military side. so from a resource perspective, in the last year that joe hokanson has been on board, we've made great strides in ensuring this is an enduring mission that's sustainable without absolutely relying on merely volunteers from the
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fields who are here for a limited period of time. so as i sit here today with the case load that we have, we can meet the investigative burden that we have, however, that again is a moving target depending on the number of cases we get, if there were to be some significant change in the volume. as of today, oci's meeting the demand based on the personnel. >> well, my time's expired but it's good to note what sounds like sort of cautious optimism that you're moving in the right direction, because i think in the february 2017 doj report, in the 2018 guard report to congress and then 2018 jail report on oci, timeliness came out as an issue, the timeliness of the investigations wasn't where we needed it to be so i think we're interested in making sure of the resources you need to do the investigations in a timely manner, with that i yield back. >> gentlemen yields back,
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gentlewoman from pennsylvania recognized five minutes. >> thank you so much for the opportunity to talk to both of you today, i will be following up on the questions about timeliness general hokanson my questions follow up on the conversations you and i had yesterday and appreciate the chance to have spoken to you yesterday to go over some very serious concerns i had with on going investigations with sexual harassment allegations, as you know at horsham international guard base, horsham is in my colleague madeline dean's district. after receiving out pouring of rightful concern from my constituents, this case plagued by repeated delays as we talked about in our conversations and incomplete reporting and leading many, unfortunately, to conclude it's simply being slowrolled to
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the point where demands for accountability disappear. so i know you share my commitment to eradicating sexual harassment and assault from the national guard, sir, and i just want to hear your commitment that you'll look into the horsham investigation and make sure there is proper oversight and the investigation itself is concluded without further and undue delay, sirrer. >> yes, congresswoman, and i will reach out directly to the acting general for pennsylvania to get the most current information and get that to your staff immediately. time is always of the essence. >> i very much appreciate it because as you know, memories fade and people change place and see they're no longer available for, where people ask questions of them. and sir, once the investigation is concluded, would you also please commit to me that you would review the report of investigation as well? >> yes, ma'am, absolutely. >> thank you, and my next question is also related and it's for general walker as well. i was very interested in your
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opening statement and your testimony. you spoke quite extensively about the purpose of oci and the origins of oci. so to the extent that you're able to share, i'd like to understand a little bit more about oci's process for initiating an investigation, because again, in august of 2020, representative dean sent a request to oci to have them look into the complaints of horsham and oci responded and said that after reviewing the request, had determined that the most appropriate avenue for the investigation was the pennsylvania national guard, even though there were very high ranking officers within the pennsylvania guard who were named in many of these complaints. so the denial from oci didn't really offer us much detail and i was hoping you might be able to offer any insights as to why oci declined to take up the horsham case. >> thank you, congresswoman, again, oci has a very limited
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portfolio. we deal with sexual assault cases only. the information i know, and of course i was not there, i did not read the initial request, but as best i can tell, it would be a request that would not be within our ability to investigate because we only do sexual assault. the allegations at horsham were more the harassment type, and just to back up a little bit to your question about oci and how we intake and kind of the process that is involved, we, as i said, we only deal with sexual assault. if there are other issues going on, and often times there are other areas of misconduct happening, the states often run concurrent investigation with oci investigations. we are limited to just the sexual assault aspect, if there are other aspects such as harassment, that goes into the process, already established, that starts within the states.
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and so, i think there was some confusion initially. oci is very limited. at that time, oci was about to be broken off into a separate directorate and one of the things credited with were comprehensive assessments such as what happened in wisconsin you might be aware of. >> sir, if it's okay, if i may interrupt because i have little time and anticipated that might be what was the qualifier there. you mentioned in your remarks that oci is not a criminal, but rather investigative group and mentioned it was only responsible for sexual assault rather than harassment, but interestingly enough, every time we've been talking about the issues of this hearing, we talk about assault and harassment together so it seems as though there is really a gap in coverage that's going on possibly in oci's mandate, and i'm wondering whether or not it might make sense to investigate
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whether we should be broadening the purview of oci so there is also that sexual assault and harassment because it seems all of our training is encompassing all of that, all of the case work tends to be encompassing of all of that and seems there may be a gap in coverage there. >> well, congresswoman, it's not a gap in coverage. historically, harassment and assault in the military gone down two tracks, harassment wasn't always criminal offense where assault was, title 10, is under going changes which will make harassment probably a criminal act as well. so the national guard -- >> actually, chairwoman's time expired. >> i apologize and i yield back, my time expired and look forward to continuing this conversation with you, thank you so much for the time. >> so brigadier general, just for your advocatation, it was in
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the ndaa, it is now an offense under the ucmj sexual harassment. the gentlemen from texas now recognized for five minutes, mr. jackson. >> thank you chair woman speier, i believe this is the first hearing in the subcommittee since chair woman announced retirement, congratulations to chair woman speier for her dedication to the subcommittee and wish her the best in next endeavor. here for discussion on sexual response to assault in the military, the security improvement act was signed into law last month as part of the fy 22 ndaa, not necessarily isolated incidents, if not addressed, they can lead to other serious and sometimes deadly outcomes sometimes start with a service member going
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missing. service member safety and security act will help address this issue by requiring military installations to review policy and see procedures for reporting service members missing, includes partnering with local and federal law enforcement to promote information sharing to ensure all persons and organizations on a military installation are accounted for. general hokanson, one way i want to work with you is to implement some of these best practices for information sharing with local and federal law enforcement for the national guard. the ndaa required a report from the department on the flexibility, or in the feesability, excuse me, of implementing this legislation with regards to facilities of the national guard. general hokanson, what are your thoughts on implementing this type of legislation with respect to the national guard and when do you expect this subcommittee will receive this report? >> i strongly support that, anytime, even though we see them on weekend or annual training or additional training periods,
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anytime we don't have accountability for any of them, it is a significant concern for us. so anything that we can do to have resources available to track down or find out, really, the health and wellfair of these individuals as quickly as possible is something we absolutely support. >> thank you, sir, i hope we see the report on that in the near future. i look forward to working with you on this and with that i yield back. >> gentlemen yields back, gentle gentlewoman from texas ms. escobar has five minutes. >> thank you, madam chair, panelists, i want to give you perspective on the questions i'll be asking. i am the proud representative for fort bliss, texas, here in congress. and i am also the proud representative of the safe and secure community of el paso right on the u.s. and mexico border.
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this is the first hearing we've been able to have with the national guard since some really alarming reports have been made public and i know our subcommittee's focus for the hearing today is around sexual assault, sexual harassment and i'm very proud of the work that we have done under the chairwoman's leadership to place and prioritize the safety and welfare of our service members, really making it paramount for this committee, and it is with that same perspective in mind that i'd like to ask our national guard leadership some questions about this, because i know we are all committed to the readiness of our service members. there have been some deeply alarming reports coming out of texas. we have a deployment of texas national guard through an
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operation called operation lone star headed by greg abbott, i'm looking at reports of deplorable living conditions, suicides, lack of full pay, et cetera. and it is my hope that this subcommittee and our committee as a whole approaches these issues in the same bipartisan manner that we have approached sexual harassment and sexual assault. with that, general hokanson, i'd like to ask you a couple questions just to clarify. can you please describe the relationship the bureau and the national guards of each state have and in what ways does that relationship hinder the bureau's ability to exercise full oversight investigations and prosecutions? >> congresswoman, when we look at our relationship, so we work very closely with all of the 54 and communicates as i mentioned before, on a very regular basis
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to make sure they are compliant with all of the service requirements, both within the army and air force. and when there's a gap, we try to fill that through national guard bureau instruction and also policies so we look at the state almost as subordinate, well, commanders of their national guard responsible for them. and what we do is stay in constant communication to help identify any issues or concerns they have and see if we can help them address those. in addition, because we work with all 54, if we see best practices in one state, we try to share those across the entire organization so that we can make the organization better and learn from others as we go forward. but ultimately, we work with them to make sure that they are compliant with everything that needs to be done with respect to the services and then we assist them in any way that we can on a on a daily basis. >> thank you so much. the national guard troops deployed on governor greg
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abbott's operation lone star are operating under state active duty status. while those reports of what is known are really deeply a ie alarming i'm concerned what about is known, including concerns about conditions that might further sexual harassment and sexual assault as sell. are there mechanisms that the bureau can use to conduct investigation, over sight and prosecutions of these missions when our service members have been subjected to really alarming and shocking conditions such as those under operation lone star. >> when we hear reports like that, we take every single one seriously. we reach out to the leadership within that state to ask if they need help with anything or where they are finding shortcomings. we always try to do everything
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we can to support them. specifically to that, i would like to hand it over to genre, some impications on what they can do to help. >> thank you. this is one of those issues where i think the national guard, we have to be very specific in obviously the status of each member is important in how and when the national guard intervenes and at what level. that is the threshold issue that we run into every time there's an issue with guards men and how and what the bureau can do. with respect to sexual assault and sexual harassment, we are constantly looking to inform the states and inform leadership on those things that are specifically triggering the environment which make sexual assaults most likely to happen. through analytics and basic
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information that we're gleaning from our reports, we're actively passing that information onto the general such that when we deploy, if that's a trigger, we can address those situations where leadership can remove those things from the environment so we can hopefully reduce and mitigate those factors that contribute to sexual assault. every time we have an incident now, we're taking great pains to pull data and to analyze them facts so we can replicate best practices across the 54 particularly in situations that are common to us such as deployments. >> the gentlewoman's time has expired. can you wrap up your comments, please? >> general, my office will circle back to you. i want to sound the alarm and to our panelists and to my colleagues. it's my hope we 9 of this is in the same bipartisan spirit that we have worked in the past in our
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subcommittee. thank you so much. i yield back. >> gentlewoman's time has expired. the gentlewoman from michigan is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. i want to thank y'all for being here today as a member of the committee who has a national base in their district. it really saddens me that sexual assault is all too common in our national guard. i want to assure all of you and to all of my colleagues on this committee that i'm committed to rooting out this problem. general, while i'm dedicated to ensuring it provides a safe and secure for victims to come forward which is critical so we can catch and prosecute the perpetrators of sexual violence.
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the recommendations seem to be heavily focused on prevention rather than any for sexual processing or investigation of potential crimes. there is a very important piece, prevention yes is critical and is extremely important but we also have to have an actual process for investigation. can you explain to me how the process for both the victim and the accused will navigate through the irc's proposed systems? >> obviously, the default is immediately it goes to local law enforcement to determine whether they will prosecute. once that is determined, if
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state and local law enforcement, it stays with them. if they do not take the case, that's where we provide an additional avenue for those individuals to pursue to administrative needs through oci. when i look at the victim, the person that is -- i'll take it from the role of the commander is to make sure they report this immediately, within 24 hours and get a victim advocate for the victim. from there, the commander has various tools at his or her disposal. a couple of those has to do with expedited transfer. a member out of that organization. they can do a civilian or military protective order.
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we're very clear that every one is given due process. i'd like to hand it oaf to general walker. >> again, the national guard without military critical organizations to initiate a criminal investigation, we immediately refer that to local law enforcement. after the local law enforcement investigation is complete, and if it is appropriate, we will conduct an administrative investigation. i think it's important oftentimes we see in the media and other accounts where people are not happy with the results of an administrative investigation because we have very limited remedies for criminal activities. we can discharge a member but there's no incarceration, there's no registry as a sex
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offender. there's none of the other tools. >> can i back up for one second? >> yes. >> is there a show -- when you turn it over to the local law enforcement agencies, there's a -- i'm trying to think of the word and it's escaing me. there's a for cause hear, correct? >> it depends on the jurisdiction. the process, again, is for unlike under a uniform process, each jurisdiction will term how that investigation and ultimate prosecution of that case, if it makes it there will happen.
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>> it would follow the normal prosecution as a normal civilian would because you're taking it out -- >> right. >> thank you, sir. i have one second. i appreciate your time. i yield back. >> gentlewoman yield back. yes woman from california is recognized. >> thank you to the witnesses for being here. i was pretty alarmed that you had not implemented one of the recommendations that the report highlighted. in light of that, i wanted to follow up on another report, a 2017 report. that report recommended the chief of the national guard bureau investigation to look at the timeliness of sexual assaults involving members of the army national guard and the resources needed to improve the
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timeliness of investigations. has such a deliberate investigation happened and what has been done to improve the speed of oci investigations. it seems this is broader issue that's plagued oci for some time. >> when i became the chief in the late 2020, one of the first things i did was download general counsel and this goes back to my opening statement. we seem to put a lot of time and effort in this but it never seems to move the needle in a positive direction. i said we have backlog. we need to address the backlog.
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i was able to i crease the number of investigators by 60%. that allowed us to get at this backlog. it's really unacceptable for extended time line. to show how important it is is to create a stand alone force. they could travel quicker to these locations.
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>> thank you, sir. really i think general has hit the essence. attention to the problem is what general hoganson has brought to the office of complex investigations. i want us to think about the national guard and what we're doing. we got a force that's 75 to 80% our time. we're a time investigative capability. we also depend on the victim's counsel, the defense and the state to have witnesses available when we do an investigation. we're limited to drill periods which happen once a month. for national guard, three days is 45 days equivalent.
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we may not have control over individuals that we need to question until we show up for drill and one of the factors that we'll never be able to fully address is how long it takes some instances to start an investigation. those resources either victims counsel or defense counsel are limited as well. it's incredible what our investigators do. then we're in pandemic and covid, airline issues. it's a complicated process.
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we're doing everything we can to remove those barriers through cross functional communication. we're seeing dramatic decreases in the timeliness but we'll never be as fast as we want to be just by nature of the national guard. >> i appreciate that. it brings up an important point that i don't believe national guard service members get the same level of care as active duty service members in part because of the limitations of immediate transfer. just want to make sure we're giving them the care they deserve and i yield back. >> gentlewoman yields back. i see mr. fallon is somewhere. >> yes, ma'am. >> you're next on the agenda if your inclined to ask questions. >> thank you so much. i'm very gracious of you. i appreciate it.
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my question for general, how do we file state code of military justice with the ucmj? >> they are made changes as quickly as those come. we really rely on our oci as they go out to investigate. really look at state code of military justice and how it applies. we go back to the administrative investigation. there are some states that utilize that as being the start but not all states are like that. we really rely on chuck and his team when they go to state to do an investigation. make sure they are aware of that state specific code so they know what the leadership options that
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they have once they receive the results of that investigation. >> are there any discrepancies? >> i'm in the sure i can answer that because of the rate of some of these change. if we have concern and as mentioned if an article comes up, we try and reach out to that state immediately and see if there's anything we can do to help, any resources you need or guidance that you're lacking. to make sure we're doing the right thing. >> general, i have another question.
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i think your leadership is helping drastically. we want to ensure that the guard troops aren't treated as second class soldiers. that's why i supported the equity and hazardous pay for national guard troops. another question real quickly, the sharp program, as you know, is an annual requirement for the national guard soldiers. with so few drill weekends, how do we ensure this is a subsequent event instead of more checking the box. >> thank you for that question. a lot of the questioning is focused on title ten. what we have been trying to do is look at ways and one of the
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proposals is to create our own course at the national guard to be taught at our professional education center and some of our regional training institutions. they want to really tailor that training so that it's universal for army and air guard. really addresses the unique title 32 characteristics of the environment that we operate in. >> give some examples of maybe some best practices from some states addressing the sexual assault problem. >> yes, congressman. when i look at recent assistance visit we gave to the state of wisconsin and so this was a result issues identified there a
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few years ago. we set up a road map to get to the point where they had really arded all of those. really looking at risk assessment of any time alcohol is at a unit function. one of our pro -- proposals is to share that as well. provide input and identify
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things they may see to cause the risk factors. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. to follow up, the wisconsin national guard had 33 sexual assault cases. those cases were chosen not to be undertaken by the local district attorney. no action was taken and investigation found the victims didn't get any resources and wisconsin has not updated its state military law as it was expected to do. now, u.s. government provides $26 billion a year to national
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guards across this country. $26 billion. my understanding is your thought is one of encouraging, subtly hoping they will do the right thing but outside of giving them money we don't have any hook to get them to do what they should do. in the case of wisconsin where they haven't changed their military code when they were required to do so, some very current were not pursued and oci has this kind of bizarre function and there's not accountability. what should we do?
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at what point do we say you need to follow the ucmj or you won't get the money? >> in this case when you look at wisconsin and the accusations that were made and the governor is a leadership changes and these were identified within the organizations and we provided an assistant team, assistance team for wisconsin to really take a look at every aspect -- >> excuse me. i'm asking you a very specific question. do you have any power? >> i think i have the authorities i need to work with the states and make sure they follow the service guidance.
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>> if they don't, it's up to the governor but for the germless who brought these cases to the public, i don't think anything would be done. i want us to ensure our national guard service members have the same protections under the law. if -- they become federalized in time of war or when needed. i really think that we have more work to do here. let me ask you about the use of alcohol. i guess there's no prohibition of using alcohol on those exercise weekends, is that right? >> not during training. these are after hours. >> all right. how do you ensure that each
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state is properly investigating sexual harassment and sexual assault? >> they would actually not be able to do the investigation. commanders are permitted from using their resources to do that. they are reliant on the law enforcement to do those investigations. as we mentioned before, if the law enforcement decides not to do that then oci, the administrative avenue that we have to help support the states to do those investigations. >> if the tag does not refer it, it doesn't get investigated, is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. >> there's a huge problem here.
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a tag who has a number of sexual assault cases that occur under their command become low to report them or seek assistance of oci for fear it might reflect poorly on them and sometimes they are the assaulter. i've got concerns. it's $26 billion we dole out to those states and we have no authority to protect those national guard service members if the state chooses not too. i now yield to mr. gallagher. he has further questions. >> i have no further questions.
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>> miss escobar. >> i'd like to circle back with general walker because general hoganson ask that general walker respond to what legal options the national guard bureau would have and the cases the chair has outlined as an example. if there's a governor who continues to ignore the health, safety and welfare of the national guard, specifically, and has not rectified the situation and i'm talking about lots of different egregious offenses that we have seen in texas, what are -- to general walker -- what are the legal options available to the
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national guard bureau? >> congresswoman, let me start by addressing what happens when a sexual assault is reported. >> general walker, let me interrupt you. my apologies. i'm not talking about sexual assault, sexual assault harassment in particular. this is a much more general question. >> congresswoman, to address that general question, we definitely see the scope of why we're here today. i can tell you that in order for the national guard to exert control oaf the state in a non-federalized status is an ongoing issue of debate and as you've seen in other areas that are going on right now, it's a subject of actual litigation as to what the national guards authorities are. the reality is that we work with
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the states where ever we can to address issues when they are brought to our attention. the intent always is to comply with the service directives and work with national guard bureau in the role of assistance in order to meet the requirements. the actual legalities of what we can do are well above my scope here. i can tell you the issues when they are brought to attention we sit down as i've seen when i was on the other side, guard bureau, general hoganson and staff work with states to find solutions to these hard problems. everything we address starts
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with an impartial investigation to my standpoint and we're bringing it back downtown to sexual assault. we provide that information to states be p they take it an they use it in order to make the service. i know we have problems. i know there are issues. >> thank you, general walker. i have one last question for you before my time expires. is the office of complex i vest -- investigations aware of the conditions of our guards at our southern border? >> that would totally be beyond our scope. we only come into play when an
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active general requests investigation. we don't actively seek information outside of that role of investigating specific cases. >> okay. thank you. i yield back. >> are there any questions? i see none. we thank you for your time and attention today. there are a number of requests we have made. we look forward to receiving your answers in due time. thank you. committee is adjourned.
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