Hagel Announces More Initiatives to Stop Sexual Assault

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday announced a set of initiatives to bolster the Pentagon’s ability to thwart sexual assault in the US military’s ranks. Armed with such measures, Hagel said the goal is “ultimately eliminating” such crimes. Among the actions, Service Chiefs will develop methods to hold “all military commanders accountable for establishing command climates of dignity and respect in incorporating sexual assault prevention and victim care principles in their commands,” he said during a May 7 Pentagon briefing. The Defense Department’s acting general counsel will also develop a method to incorporate the rights afforded victims under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act into military justice practice, said Hagel. Also, by July 1, commanders will conduct “comprehensive and regular visual inspections” of all Defense Department workplaces, including the military academies, “to ensure that our facilities promote an environment of dignity and respect for all members,” he said. Hagel also directed the services to align their efforts with a just-issued revised sexual assault prevention and response strategic plan (full document; caution, large-sized file.) Also on Tuesday, DOD issued its annual report on sexual assault, and the Air Force leadership took multiple questions on sexual assault during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill. See the Plague of Sexual Assaults, for our full coverage. (Hagel-Patton transcript)