Defense Secretary summons British Army Board of Directors amid series of scandals

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Defense Secretary Ben Wallace called senior generals to a rare special meeting of the Army’s board in London on Monday morning amid growing discontent over the service’s response to a series of scandals .

Allies of the minister said he became enraged after a series of intimidation and harassment scandals, as well as allegations that a Kenyan woman was killed in 2012 by a British soldier whose identity is known to many. colleagues.

The Defense Ministry said the hour-long meeting in Whitehall had been “full and frank” and recent events had “brought to light important issues which require all of our people to play their part in resolving.” He added: “The British Army is as good as the people who serve in it. “

Insiders said the tone of the meeting – which was attended by two, three and four-star ministers and generals – was largely constructive, and that senior officers in attendance had agreed with Wallace to address what the ministry of Defense called it “fundamental and cultural problems” affecting the military.

No specific action was cited, however, and the post-meeting statement also said the military would make “exciting new plans for its structure and future deployments” later this month.

Two-thirds of women in the armed forces have been victims of bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination during careers, a parliamentary report concluded this summer, also warning that the military “does not protect” female recruits.

He cited reports of gang rape, sex for promotion, and trophies or contests to “pack women” in the camp. Some women said they were bullied for refusing sexual advances or seeing friends attacked by groups of men, but were too afraid to report it.

As of September, new recruits to the army must participate in training on sexual consent provided by the Royal Military Police. But this requirement does not apply to existing soldiers, added defense sources.

On Monday evening, Sir Mark Carleton Smith, the chief of the service, also announced that the military would organize an independent audit of the culture of the army to “strengthen the best and eliminate the worst” as well as to ensure better training and a better pastoral support.

The military’s reputation deteriorated further last month after a press investigation into the unsolved murder in 2012 of Agnes Wanjiru, 21, a Kenyan hairstylist who turned to sex work to support herself. to the needs of his family.

The young woman was found dead in a septic tank near a British army based in the East African country, where she may have been dumped during her lifetime, after being last seen walking out from a hotel bar accompanied by a soldier in uniform.

A soldier confessed to his murder to colleagues, and his identity has been an open secret within the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment for years. But an investigation was only reopened by Kenyan and British military police last week.

Emma Norton, director of the Center for Military Justice, said the Defense Department must go further in addressing intimidation and harassment and allow civilian authorities to deal with all allegations of rape and assault sexual abuse, as well as to set up a central complaints handling team independent of each armed service to deal with serious cases of harassment. “They know what to do, but they just don’t get along and don’t do it,” she said.

The meeting also heard ministerial complaints about lingering noise and vibration issues with the next-generation Ajax Armored Fighting Vehicle, which the Defense Ministry is expected to start taking delivery of this summer, but which has now been indefinitely delayed in because of accusations that his problems were underestimated.

Further allegations of misconduct will be released to the High Court on Tuesday, regarding the murder of four members of an Afghan family in 2011 during a nighttime SAS raid. The deaths, described in an internal email as “the last massacre!” Are among the 33 suspicious killings involving special forces in Afghanistan in 2011.

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