Taking the Hill with Patrick Murphy   |  January 26, 2014

Opposing views on fighting military assault

Retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs and retired Navy Captain Lory Manning share their own views how to target sexual assault in the military.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we just heard from senator kirsten gillibrand on the difficult issue facing the military sexual assaults . joining me to talk about this critical issue is retired army colonel jack jacobs , msnbc military analyst. and retired navy captain lori manning, who served in the navy for over 22 years and is currently senior fellow at the service women's action network, otherwise known as s.w.a.n. colonel jack, you disagree with senator gillibrand . tell us why.

>> well, there's no doubt about the fact that sexual assault is a terrible problem inside the military. it seems to be growing. even though you take away the increased reporting, it's not reported enough, clearly. it's corrosive. it's poisonous. and a particularly difficult time for the military establishment when we are withdrawing from combat areas. there are lots of threats to our national security . our national security is being shouldered by a very small number of brave men and women. we can't have this. this needs to be fixed. the question is how to fix it, not whether or not we have the problem. there's something i was taught when i was a young soldier, the principles of war. there are nine of them. we used to be taught. one of the more significant ones is the principle of the unity of command. there needs to be one command in the chain of command . and when you split up the chain of command , you make it difficult, if not impossible to command. i've seen this in the military and it doesn't work. i've seen it in the civilian establishment after i retired. it doesn't work. if you give somebody the responsible for making something happen in his organization, you have to give him the authority to make it happen. you can't split the two. and when you do wh, what you're telling is commander is the following -- i'm taking the authority to deal with this away from you, which means you don't have to deal with it. wrong. i don't want to take the responsibility for dealing with it away from commanders. i want to heap the responsibility on them. we need to make them do the right thing. if you really want to know -- let me go back a second. what was the proximate cause to do something about it? surely, the increase in sexual assault inside the military, certainly the reporting of it. if you had to pick one thing, i think it was an air force . three-star commander. who vacated a conviction for sexual assault --

>> yeah, you're right. let's go to the navy perspective. do you agree with colonel jack?

>> i don't. i agree that sexual assault is a scourge that has got to be stopped, but i support senator gillibrand 's bill, and i have been a commander and i understand what it's like to have those responsibilities. and the system as it is with the commander making decisions about felony crimes is broken. as a commander, i would have everything i need to maintain good order and discipline in my command under senator gillibrand 's legislation. i don't have the training, however, to deal with felony crimes. and all this legislation does is remove felonies only. felonies aren't discipline problems, they're crimes. and puts them in the hands of trained legal lawyer military people . it strengthens the military justice system that way, it doesn't weaken it, and it lets me ascommander focus on my job of preventing sexual assaults and other disciplinary problems.

>> one of the ways you prevent it is give the commander enough authority to make sure it doesn't happen. the commander also has lawyers to help him with this. you make an example of those commanders who do not do what they're supposed to do. i guarantee you people's attention will be seized and sexual assault will be reduced dramatically.

>> captain manning, why won't that work?

>> well, it's system that's been in place for 200 years now and it's not working. it doesn't work because the people, both the accused and the victims feel they are not getting justice.

>> colonel jack, it's a perception issue within the ranks, that they think there's this inherent conflict and that's why they're hesitant a lot of times. will that be communicated down to that troop level, the privates and specialists within the military?

>> you bet it will. listen, anything within the military unit that happens or fails to happen is the result of emphasis by the commander. if the commanders -- not just one commander, but all the commanders up the chain of command , including the president of united states --

>> the commander in chief.

>> that's right. there's plenty of blame to go all the way up the chain of command if everybody in the chain of command emphasizes it, trust me you'll be able to get it done without withdrawing authority from a commander.

>> well, there's no doubt that we're going to be tracking this issue. it is completely important that we do what we can to make sure it's being addressed. thank you, colonel jack jacobs and captain lory manning.

>> you're welcome.

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