Lloyd Austin confirms that the military is open to changing how it handles sexual assault reports.
According to the Associated Press, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he is open to modifying the way the military handles sexual assault.
“We must not be hesitant to attempt new ideas, to change our views so that we can really and totally address the plague of sexual assault in our force,” Austin said in remarks before the House Appropriations defense subcommittee on Thursday.
“Obviously, what we’ve been doing isn’t working. The number of sexual assaults continues to be too high, and public trust in our system remains low.”
Military authorities have admitted that sexual assault is a serious problem, but prosecutions outside the chain of command have never been pursued. They claimed it would obstruct commanders’ capacity to lead and would not reduce the number of assaults.
See the list below for more Associated Press reporting.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, is the main lawmaker on the topic, with bipartisan, filibuster-proof backing for a measure that would remove prosecution decisions for grave offenses such as sexual assault, rape, and murder from the chain of command. The bill is mired in a procedural battle in the Senate, which supporters perceive as an attempt to block it and weaken its text.
The Pentagon appears to have decided on a new strategy. Austin, who has underlined the importance of the matter since his nomination was confirmed in January, is examining the opinions of military service commanders, which he has received in recent days from some or all of them.
Austin alluded to prior military reluctance to transferring sexual assault prosecution decisions out of the chain of command in remarks to the House Appropriations defense subcommittee on Thursday.
Frank Kendall, the Biden administration’s choice for Air Force secretary, has stated that he is open to a fresh approach.
Kendall praised Gillibrand’s efforts at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, saying, “Change is required, and hopefully we can move ahead.” He went on to say that he feels the problem of sexual assault is caused by defects in military culture and leadership, and that he’s not sure how extensively her suggested increases in prosecution authority should be applied.
“This is a generational transformation that is long overdue,” Gillibrand said on the Senate floor Tuesday as she sought the requisite unanimous permission to bring her bill to a vote.
Tensions on this topic are reflected. This is a condensed version of the information.