NGAUS Washington Report
Retired Col. Patricia O’Connell, the NGAUS director of contracts, finance and human resources, met last week with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., to discuss legislation addressing sexual assault in the military.
She was one of six women who retired at that pay grade invited by the senator, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to the discussion held in his Capitol Hill office.
“I commend him for that,” O’Connell said. “He was looking for our perspective, our opinions.”
All of the services, including the Coast Guard, were represented. O’Connell spent 32 years in the National Guard, mostly in Minnesota.
Levin was seeking input on legislation he introduced recently that would require a commander at the O-6 level who decides not to prosecute a sexual assault case to report that decision to the next highest level of command.
Sexual assault in the military has become a hot topic. Recent legislation designed to take the decision to prosecute such cases completely out of a commander’s hands does not have sufficient backing. Levin’s legislation is considered an alternative to that, but O’Connell said she told the lawmaker she didn’t agree with him.
“I told him I think it should go outside the chain of command,” she said. “I was in the minority.”
O’Connell said the senator was serious in his desire to hear from the six women.
“I was impressed at what a good listener he is,” she said. “He wanted to know what our thoughts were.”