Pentagon Official Underscores ‘Zero’ Bullying

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2011 — A senior Pen­ta­gon offi­cial today under­scored the military’s “zero tol­er­ance” against bul­ly­ing and haz­ing in light of charges brought against eight sol­diers.

Speak­ing at a Pen­ta­gon news brief­ing, Navy Capt. John Kir­by offered con­do­lences to the fam­i­ly of Army Pvt. Dan­ny Chen, who was found dead in Octo­ber from an appar­ent self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound in Afghanistan where he was deployed. The Army today charged eight sol­diers in Chen’s unit with being involved in his death, although offi­cials won’t say how.

“Our thoughts and prayers cer­tain­ly go out to the fam­i­ly here,” said Kir­by, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for media oper­a­tions. “This is a trag­ic, trag­ic inci­dent.”

Kir­by declined to dis­cuss the Chen case, but under­scored that bul­ly­ing and haz­ing are nev­er tol­er­at­ed by ser­vice mem­bers.

“Any sin­gle case of haz­ing or inap­pro­pri­ate con­duct to a fel­low sol­dier, air­man, Marine, sailor [or] Coast Guards­man is inap­pro­pri­ate and not accept­able,” he said. “Zero is the right num­ber.

“We treat each oth­er with dig­ni­ty and respect — that’s what this uni­form requires,” he added. “When we don’t, there’s a jus­tice sys­tem in place to deal with it. And that’s what we’re see­ing here in the case of Pri­vate Chen.”

Kir­by said haz­ing is not tol­er­at­ed in the mil­i­tary and “if it’s found and it’s proven — it’s dealt with.”

“This is some­thing incul­cat­ed in our cul­ture from the moment you join the ser­vice,” he not­ed. “From the moment you raise your right hand through all your basic train­ing and your first tours of duty, these notions are bred into you in the mil­i­tary.

“We treat each oth­er with respect and dig­ni­ty or we go home — that’s it,” Kir­by said point­ed­ly. “The tol­er­ance is absolute­ly zero and the sys­tem itself, because it works and works well, is in fact, a deter­rent to future behav­ior.”

Kir­by not­ed there are still “mis­cre­ants” who want to defy mil­i­tary reg­u­la­tions, and reit­er­at­ed “when it’s found [and] proven, it’s dealt with.”

Kir­by also cit­ed “train­ing mech­a­nisms” in place through­out all the ser­vices designed to help curb these types of inci­dents.

“Whether you’re an offi­cer or enlist­ed, this is some­thing bred into you when you come into the ser­vice,” he said.

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, you’re nev­er going to be 100 per­cent per­fect in this,” Kir­by said. “And there’s going to be those few who want to flaunt what the uni­form stands for and what the reg­u­la­tions require … when that hap­pens they’re going to be dealt with.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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