More Army Instructors Suspended

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FORT LEONARD WOOD, Missouri: The Army announced it has suspended 12 drill instructors over the last six weeks at Fort Leonard Wood as part of its continuing probe into sexual harassment and sexual abuse charges. That brings to 28 the total number of suspensions at one of the army's largest basic training facilities, where hundreds of instructors are stationed. TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson notes that the report is a sign that the Army is now enforcing sexual harassment regs to the letter. "I think, compared to a year ago, the whole military is a little more on tenterhooks. They want to be able to say they have crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's when this issue is revisited before Congress." Sexual harassment in the Army came to national attention last November, when evidence arose of a series of abuses in one company at the Army's ordnance school at Aberdeen, Maryland. Thompson notes that the harassment problem in that instance was more alarming, since it seems to have involved the complicity of a company commander and ignorance of the problem several levels above that. Says Thompson: "At Fort Wood, it seems to be a horizontal problem, not a vertical one. Their approach seems to be 'throw the rotten apples out of the barrel before they infect the other apples.' " Thompson adds that commanders at Fort Leonard Wood had begun taking action to protect female recruits before the Aberdeen incident broke, but are now bearing down more firmly. "Female recruits presenting allegations of sexual harassment are now given a more attentive hearing," Thompson says, "and that's to the greater good."