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Improving the U.S. Military’s Understanding of Unstable Environments Vulnerable to Violent Extremist Groups: Insights from Social Science

Improving the U.S. Military’s Understanding of Unstable Environments Vulnerable to Violent Extremist Groups: Insights from Social Science
Source: RAND Corporation

Over the previous decade, operations associated with irregular warfare have placed large demands on U.S. ground forces and have led to development of new Army and Joint doctrine. This report helps analysts identify and assess key factors that create and perpetuate environments susceptible to insurgency, terrorism, and other extremist violence and instability to inform military decisions on allocation of analytic and security assistance resources. The report focuses in particular on sources of understanding about these environments from the fields of sociology and cultural anthropology. RAND researchers surveyed existing sociological and anthropological theories and schools of thought and identified 12 key factors that give rise to and sustain unstable environments. The research found a relatively high degree of consensus among experts regarding the salience of these factors. The factors are interrelated and mutually dependent in complex ways. The report proposes a series of qualitative and quantitative metrics for each of the 12 factors and uses them in an analytic construct for assessing countries and regions based on their susceptibility to unstable environments.

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Sexual Assault Reports Drop at Service Academies

Sexual Assault Reports Drop at Service Academies
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Reports of sexual assault decreased in two of the three military academies in academic year 2012-13, officials of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office said today.

The statistics came from DOD’s Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies, which is being delivered to Congress today.

During the academic year, a total of 70 reports were made at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy or the U.S. Air Force Academy, officials said. The number of sexual assaults reported declined at West Point and Colorado Springs, but rose at Annapolis.

A report of sexual assault means at least one military victim or subject, said Air Force Col. Alan Metzler, an official with the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office.

Of the 70 reports, 53 came from cadets and midshipmen for events they experienced in military service. “We are getting reports from victims for events prior to their military service or prior to entering the service academies,” Metzler said.

The report provides an assessment of the effectiveness of the service academies’ policies and training to prevent sexual violence. The assessment found the academies were compliant with their policies regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault during the academic year, which ran from June 2012 to May 2013.

“What we found was the academies instituted a lot of new initiatives to enhance training, improve awareness of sexual harassment and assault and to promote a safe environment for all cadets and midshipmen,” Metzler said.

The report includes information from focus groups of midshipmen and cadets. “They told us – and we’re pleased by this – that reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment would be taken seriously by academy leaders, and they would be dealt with appropriately,” the colonel said. “That’s the good news.”

Still, cadets and midshipmen also identified some peer pressure barriers to reporting these crimes, he said.

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PEW: How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities

How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

Americans strongly value the role of public libraries in their communities, both for providing access to materials and resources and for promoting literacy and improving the overall quality of life. Most Americans say they have only had positive experiences at public libraries, and value a range of library resources and services.

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