Four of the six recruit division commanders involved in a June hazing incident at Great Lakes, Ill., received nonjudicial punishment, another pleaded guilty to multiple offenses as part of a plea deal, and the sixth was found guilty on multiple counts, including two assault charges. (Colin Kelly / Staff)
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In light of a number of high-profile hazing cases, the Navy has created a new office under the chief of naval personnel to track alleged incidents in the fleet.
This and other new changes are aimed squarely at accountability. Navy officials are hoping to better track, substantiate and evaluate reports, as well as develop a better prevention strategy. Details were released Feb. 20 in NAVADMIN 034/13.
Hazing is forbidden and guilty sailors could face nonjudicial punishment or worse. Hazing is defined as actions that are "cruel, abusive, humiliating, oppressive, demeaning or harmful." It can be "physical, verbal or psychological in nature."
Despite all efforts to date, hazing continues to occur. Many long-standing Navy "traditions," such as chief's initiation or ceremonies marking the crossing of the equator, have bordered on, and sometimes crossed, the Navy's line of acceptable behavior.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens recently took steps to eliminate even the perception of hazing from what was until recently called "chief's induction," saying the process of becoming chief needed to be a "professional rite of passage" and not a "fraternal" one.
Most recently, six recruit division commanders at Great Lakes, Ill., were punished for a June 28 hazing incident in which recruits were forced to exercise in their own urine and vomit.
The Navy Office of Hazing Prevention, already in operation, will work directory for the chief of naval personnel and will centrally track incidents in the service.
The new office will also be charged with issuing anti-hazing policy.
Commands were already required to investigate alleged hazing. They were also required to report "substantiated" incidents up the chain.
But the Navy did not have an official way to track numbers and details through a database. This office will establish such a record by adding it to an existing database that also tracks cases of discrimination and sexual harassment.
The recent message also clarifies that the equal opportunity program manager in a command is responsible for tracking cases.
Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, the chief of naval personnel, acknowledged in the NAVADMIN that "hazing may be indicative of larger command climate concerns."
The reporting will also create a historical record of incidents that will allow leaders to better analyze trends in the fleet, which, in turn, will make it easier to properly target future training and education efforts.