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A “wooden prop depicting male organ.” An “unused condom with instructions for use.” A “female mannequin torso.” A “WWII poster about (STDs).”
Those are just a few of the more outlandish things turned up by a Corps-wide inspection of workplaces and common areas conducted last year, the results of which were released as a part of a Pentagon report last week.
The inspections are part of an initiative ordered by the secretary of the Navy, which also included inspections of Navy facilities. In the Marine Corps alone, they turned up 375 violations of a policy banning “materials that create a degrading, hostile or offensive work environment,” according to results in the recently published FY13 Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military.
While a hostile work environment is no laughing matter, the outlandish and ridiculous nature of some of the contraband found and removed from offices and common areas are sure to raise some eyebrows.
They weren’t all of a sexual nature, and certainly some were to be expected. Items included magazines and swimsuit calendars, pictures, comic strips, messages and hand-drawn cartoons on dry erase boards and posters in offices throughout commands across the Marine Corps from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to Okinawa, Japan.
It is unclear what other items may have been found as many descriptions were general or vague, reading “pictures with unprofessional comments,” “unprofessional helmet graphic” or simply “unprofessional items,” for example.
The commandant of the Marine Corps and chief of naval operations were directed to “perform a comprehensive visual inspection of all DON workplaces” to find such material, according to an All Navy message published June 13.
That included even the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, with all inspections to have been completed by June 28 and reported by July 12, last year.
The inspections are a small facet of the Defense Department’s overarching plan to quash sexual harassment and assault, which the Marine Corps has attacked with tenacity and the commandant has condemned, saying there is no place in the service for anyone who commits unwanted sexual contact. In all, 236 of the 403 units included in the findings reported no violations. But 167 did, with many having multiple violations.
While most units reporting violations had between one and four, a few reported a dozen or more. Some of the higher numbers were to be expected at larger commands with more facilities and personnel. The top five with the most violations include:
■ Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, with 51 violations, including “Playboy bunny silhouettes on static display” and a “poster with ethnically insensitive comment.”
■ Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia, with 21 violations, which were mostly magazines and one screen saver.
■ School of Infantry-West at Camp Pendleton, California, with 20 violations, including a pinup calendar and inappropriate magazines.
■ Marine Air Logistics Squadron 36 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, with 20 violations, including an offensive coffee mug, an offensive computer desktop background, and an unprofessional poster.
■ 10th Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, with 20 “unprofessional items.”
Others with about a dozen violations included School of Infantry-East at Camp Lejeune and 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25 and CLR 27.
During the visual inspections, only line-of-sight areas were scrutinized.
“For purposes of this specific inspection, DoN commanders, commanding officers, officers-in-charge, and civilian directors will not inspect assigned government laptop or desktop computers (with the exception of visible screen savers), assigned individual barracks room/living quarters, assigned desk drawers, assigned cabinet drawers, clothing (e.g., coats), purses, brief cases, backpacks, private automobiles and personal electronic devices (e.g., iPads, iPhones, etc.),” reads the ALNAV message that announced the inspections.
Any time offensive materials were found in offices and common areas, they were to be removed immediately by the Marine or civilian employee who possessed the materials. If they were not present, then the supervisor conducting the inspection was to remove them.
There appeared little wiggle room for materials that were on the fence.
“If there is doubt as to whether material is degrading or offensive, the individual conducting the inspection shall remove the material from the workplace to ensure a professional work environment,” according to the message.
None of the violations in the results of the inspections included in the DoD report seemed to rise to the level of criminal violations. In cases where contraband including child pornography, illegal drugs and paraphernalia, unauthorized weapons, or stolen property were found, cases were to be referred to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
The 2013 inspection will not be the only one. The requirement is an ongoing one that will be incorporated into regular command inspections.