Pentagon Tries to Rein In Nude-Photo Fallout
Task force is being formed after images of female Marines are shared.
The Pentagon on Friday sought to contain damage from an expanding controversy over allegations that active members of the military have shared nude photos of female Marines, as the investigation expanded to all military branches. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the actions “unacceptable,” while Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, said he is putting together a special task force to examine the allegations. A Pentagon spokesman said all branches of the military are trying to determine how widespread the problem might be. But the Pentagon’s actions have failed to stop people from sharing graphic images of female service members: Photos removed from a controversial Facebook page began popping up on other Internet sites, including one based outside the U.S. that could be difficult to shut down, according to U.S. officials and military veterans. “Lack of respect for the dignity and humanity of fellow members of the Department of Defense is unacceptable and counter to unit cohesion,” Mr. Mattis said. “We will not excuse or tolerate such behavior if we are to uphold our values and maintain our ability to defeat the enemy on the battlefield.” While some veterans praised Pentagon leadership for taking steps to address the problem, they questioned their commitment to fixing a problem that has plagued the military for years. “It’s definitely not something that was taken seriously,” said Erin Kirk-Cuomo, a Marine combat veteran who has co-founded Not in My Marine Corps, a group focusing on bringing stories of harassment and abuse to light. Ms. Kirk-Cuomo said in an interview that she first raised concerns a decade ago about fellow Marines sharing nude images but was told that the problem was too big to tackle. The latest controversy came to light last weekend when a military-news website, the War Horse, reported that the closed Facebook group Marines United had shared hundreds of nude photos of female Marines with its 30,000 members. The group was quickly shut down as the Pentagon launched an investigation. “There is no honor in denigrating a fellow Marine in any way, shape or form,” Gen. Neller said at the Pentagon on Friday.
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