Washington, D.C. — Just weeks after the Pentagon released a report outlining a significant increase of sexual assault cases in the military, Barack Obama and Congress alike are looking for ways to remove what they call a “scourge” upon the nation’s Armed Forces.
“[W]e must acknowledge that even here, even in our military, we’ve seen how the misconduct of some can have effects that ripple far and wide,” Obama declared Friday as he spoke to graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy. “Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threatening the trust and discipline that makes our military strong.”
The Department of Defense report noted that a variety of types of sexual misconduct plague the military, from groping to rape. In 2012, 26,000 cases of sexual harassment took place, up 37 percent from 19,000 in 2011. Only 3,000 incidents were reported.
“The number of reports of sexual assaults among military personnel have actually increased by 129 percent since 2004,” Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness advised WND.
“Sexual assault is a despicable crime and one of the most serious challenges facing this department,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters following the release of the report. “It’s a threat to the safety and the welfare of our people and to the health, reputation and trust of this institution.”
He appeared at West Point Academy in New York on Saturday to speak to graduates. During the course of his speech, Hagel decried sexual misconduct among the nation’s troops, and called for a swift end to inappropriate behavior.
“You will need to not just deal with these debilitating, insidious and destructive forces, but rather you must be the generation of leaders that stop it,” he said. “Sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal of sacred oaths and sacred trusts.”
Two weeks ago, West Point Sergeant First Class Michael McClendon was charged with four counts of misconduct, including indecent acts, when he was allegedly discovered to be secretly videotaping female cadets in the shower.
However, problems have also been found within the very department that is meant to fight sexual harassment. Lieutentant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, the branch chief for the military’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, was recently arrested and charged with sexual battery after being accused of groping a woman in a Virginia parking lot.
As a result of the report and these recent allegations, members of Congress are calling for legislation that will curb sexual abuse in the nation’s Armed Forces. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has proposed a bill that will require those found guilty of rape or sexual assault to be either dishonorably discharged or dismissed.
The House Armed Services Committee has also been working on toughening up military regulations. Republican Representative Michael Turner of Ohio said that the Defense Department is not doing enough to stop sexual assault and harassment.
“I think the leadership of the military is confused,” Turner opined. “They believe as long as they have programs where they say sexual assault is wrong that they’ve done enough. No. They have to support the victim, and they have to support vigorous prosecution.”
Democratic Representative Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts has been working with Turner on the draft language for the bill. McCaskill, who teamed up with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, is stated to have used some of the same proposals in her presentation this past week.