• June 23, 2021
 To combat sexual assault and harassment, Ft. Bliss delivers on ‘Ironclad’ promises

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Reese, Civil Liaison AWOL Apprehension Section (CLAAS) NCOIC creates a military protective order (MPO) at Fort Bliss. The Fort Bliss Military Police Station ordered the reorganization of its system to streamline the input of MPOs into the National Crime Information Center database following the announcement of Operation Ironclad. This new system will expedite military and civilian law enforcement availability of MPO information and ensure protection on- and off-post for all survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment. This is one of over 40 specific tasks designed to improve or replace current systems on Fort Bliss, 18 of which have already been completed. | U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Brown-Bell

To combat sexual assault and harassment, Ft. Bliss delivers on ‘Ironclad’ promises

FORT BLISS – Maj. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, senior commander, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, gathered every battalion command team and higher in a conference room on Fort Bliss last month.

At the inaugural Ironclad Summit, he told those assembled that eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment was his top priority. Referencing 19 reported sexual assaults over the previous 30 days, he directed that this destructive behavior must stop.

But Fort Bliss leaders have not simply “talked the talk.” Initiatives put in place as part of Operation Ironclad are swiftly being accomplished. Processing rates of sexual assault and sexual harassment, already one of the quickest among Army installations, will become more rapid as well.

The creation of a second court room will more expeditiously process alleged cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment, as well as provide survivors the justice they deserve.

Command teams across the installation also meet monthly to discuss the current status of sexual assault and sexual harassment cases during the Victim Review Board. Previously titled the “Sexual Assault Review Board”, this shift in naming brings attention to Fort Bliss’s focus on providing service and caring for the victim rather than the act.

The Fort Bliss Directorate of Emergency Services was also told to reevaluate its military protective orders (MPOs) processing and enforcement system.

Within a month of being tasked, these objectives have been met.

A second courtroom, while temporary until the permanent space is established in late July, has been set up across the street from its predecessor. Judges need only travel a short distance to hear cases and issue verdicts in a variety of legal matters affecting the installation. Having a second courtroom on the installation provides the expectation of timely closure to possibly traumatic situations and allows Fort Bliss to leverage all available assets towards that effort.

The Military Police Station has also reorganized its process for MPO creation and implementation. A specialized task force has been created to work solely with commanders and law enforcement entities to provide guidance and swift upload of MPOs into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.

“Commanders were absolutely correct to take care of their folks immediately by creating the MPO, but without us receiving it, we couldn’t make sure that local law enforcement, on- or off-post, could actually do anything with it. If they don’t have it, they can’t enforce it,” explained Investigator (INV) Jeremy Reese, Civil Liaison AWOL Apprehension Section (CLAAS) NCOIC.

This change in organization means that NCIC technicians physically work with command teams to ensure accuracy in submissions of MPOs. Fort Bliss military police are educating leaders while taking care of survivors, which will create lasting change across the installation.

“We can make sure Fort Bliss, El Paso, and all national law enforcement agencies are aware now, which means we can protect everyone named on an MPO,” said Investigator Kenneth Nixon, CLAAS Investigator.

Military Police Investigators use the rank of INV to remain impartial and provide a sense of comfort to those involved in investigations. Investigators wear plain-clothes to reduce risk of interference with their duties.

These are simply two of the many updates to Fort Bliss facilities and processes that are in progress. Caring for the people of Fort Bliss, military and civilian alike, remain Bernabe’s number one priority. A dedicated working group continues to meet at least twice weekly, briefing senior leadership of progress on over 40 specific tasks designed to improve or replace current systems, 18 of which have already been completed since last December.

The newest Operation Ironclad program, named “The Forge,” is a “Shark Tank”-inspired event aimed at soliciting creative solutions to complex problems from anyone on the installation. Submissions are currently open through May 4, with five finalists being selected to present their ideas to a panel of Fort Bliss senior leaders May 11. These solutions will then be implemented as part of Operation Ironclad.

As always, however, Bernabe encourages all with suggestions for improvements, questions that have gone unanswered, and/or concerns about the installation to contact him directly via the Commanding General Hotline at 915-744-2010. All messages are sent to Bernabe and included in Operation Ironclad working group discussions.

Author: Staff Sgt. Nicholas Brown-Bell – 1st Armored Division

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