Inspectors across the Navy and Marine Corps are walking through workspaces, galleys, berthing spaces and even the heads, looking for anything that might be deemed “offensive” and inappropriate.
The inspections are mandated by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, intended to defeat a culture too accepting of sexual assault and harassment. There is no question that materials that depict others as anything other than peers and professionals do not belong in the workplace.
However, Navy and Marine Corps leaders should take some lessons learned from the Air Force’s experience in cleaning up the workplace. The Air Force found more than 32,000 items deemed offensive. The inspectors had to make some judgment calls, no doubt, but some went overboard.
For example, some overzealous inspectors seized newspapers and fitness magazines with somewhat revealing images that were part of legitimate news reports or feature stories. Airmen criticized the service for going too far, and rightfully so.
It’s up to local commands to conduct these inspections, with leaders down to the rank of gunny doing the walk-through.
They should take note of the Air Force’s missteps.
Unfortunately, top leaders have provided little help in what is and isn’t “offensive.” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus actually asked for DoD clarification, but got none.
Navy and Marine Corps leaders, though, will be fine if they just step back and exercise more common sense than some of their Air Force comrades did.