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Military sexual assault program review ordered by Sec. Austin

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Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin vowed throughout his affirmation hearings to instantly deal with sexual assault and harassment within the ranks.

Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin, in his first directive since taking workplace, has given his senior leaders two weeks to ship him stories on sexual assault prevention applications within the navy, and an evaluation of what has labored and what hasn’t.

Austin’s memo, which went out Saturday, fulfills a dedication he made to senators final week throughout affirmation hearings. He had vowed to instantly deal with the issues of sexual assault and harassment within the ranks.

“It is a management situation,” Austin mentioned in his two-page memo. “We’ll lead.”

Senator after senator demanded to know what Austin deliberate to do about the issue, which protection and navy leaders have grappled with for years. Stories of sexual assaults have steadily gone up since 2006, based on division stories, together with a 13% soar in 2018 and a 3% enhance in 2019. The 2020 information shouldn’t be but obtainable.

The 2018 enhance fueled congressional anger over the problem, and lawmakers have repeatedly known as for motion, together with adjustments within the Code of Navy Justice.

“You do agree that we will’t hold doing the identical factor that we’ve been doing for the previous decade?” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., mentioned throughout Austin’s affirmation listening to. “Do I’ve your dedication to be relentless on this situation till we will finish the scourge of sexual violence within the navy?”

Austin agreed, telling senators, “This begins with me and you’ll rely on me getting after this on Day One.”

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Technically, the directive got here on Day Two. Austin arrived on the Pentagon on Friday shortly after midday, however he spent his first hours as protection chief in conferences with key leaders as he started the transition to his new job. He was within the Pentagon once more Saturday, making calls to protection counterparts all over the world, and he signed the memo.

In his listening to and within the memo, Austin acknowledged that the navy has lengthy struggled with the issue, however should do higher.

The directive requires every chief to submit a abstract of the sexual assault and harassment measures they’ve taken within the final yr that present promise, and an evaluation of people who did not. And he requested for related information for the previous decade, together with efforts to assist victims.

“Embrace in your report the consideration of novel approaches to any of those areas,” he mentioned, including that “we should not be afraid to get inventive.”

And Austin mentioned he plans to host a gathering on the matter with senior leaders within the coming days.

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Nate Galbreath, the appearing director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Workplace, mentioned final April that he was cautiously optimistic that the decrease enhance in 2019 recommended a pattern in declining assaults. However he mentioned it’s too tough to inform as a result of sexual assaults are vastly under-reported.

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Galbreath and navy service leaders have repeatedly rolled out new applications through the years, together with elevated schooling and coaching and efforts to encourage service members to intervene once they see a nasty scenario. Final yr officers introduced a brand new transfer to root out serial offenders.

Many victims don’t file felony stories, which implies investigators can’t pursue these alleged attackers. Below the brand new system, victims who don’t need to file a public felony report are inspired to confidentially present particulars about their alleged attacker in order that investigators can see if they’ve been concerned in different crimes.

Galbreath and others even have contended that, at the least early on, the rise in stories was a great register that it confirmed that victims had been extra keen to come back ahead, suggesting they had been getting extra assured within the justice system.

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