US Senate Considers
Changes to Curb Sexual Assault in Military
June 04, 2013
Congress is questioning top U.S. commanders in a hearing aimed at
changing the decades-old military justice system to stem sexual assault
in the military.
Top U.S. military commander General Martin Dempsey and the chief officer
of each branch of the military are testifying before the Senate Armed
Some senators have proposed removing military commanders from the
process of deciding whether serious crimes, including sexual misconduct
cases, go to trial. Instead, the decision would rest with seasoned trial
counsels who hold the rank of colonel or higher.
The military has expressed concern that taking some authority from
commanders would make it hard for them to maintain order and discipline.
we consider further reforms, the role of the commander should remain
central. Our goal should be to hold commanders more accountable, not
render them less able to help us correct the crisis," said Dempsey.
A study released by the Pentagon in May estimated that as many as 26,000
military members endured unwanted sexual contact in the military last
Committee chairman Senator Carl Levin said at the start of the hearing
that "discipline is the heart of the military culture, and trust is its
soul." He said accountability for sexual assault in the military "rests
at the top," but addressing the problem requires action by all.