WASHINGTON – Eliminating sexual
assault in the U.S. military is one of the Department of Defense’s highest
priorities. The department welcomes President Barack Obama’s continued leadership
on this issue and shares his commitment to doing what it takes to solve this problem,
said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in a statement issued Dec. 20.
Hagel’s statement reads as follows:
“Eliminating sexual assault
in the military is one of the DoD’s highest priorities. We welcome President
Obama’s continued leadership on this issue, and we share his commitment to
doing whatever it takes to solve this problem.
“All of us at DoD have a
responsibility for the health and well-being of our people, and, as I have made
clear to DoD’s senior leaders, our success d e p e n d s on a dynamic and responsive
approach to all issues that affect our men and women, particularly sexual assault.
We must continually strive to improve our prevention and response programs.
Hagel said DoD will
continue to build upon the progress made during the past year.
“In April, I called on
Congress to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and I’m pleased that
this and other measures we recommended have been included in the 2014 National
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),” he said. “They provide much-needed
authorities that will help strengthen our sexual assault prevention and
response efforts, and we are committed to implementing them effectively and
These measures will
complement other initiatives he has directed throughout this year, Hagel said,
including strengthening commander accountability, command climate, victim advocacy
and safety, as well as enhancing victim support and pretrial investigations,
strengthening oversight and making prevention and response efforts more
consistent across the military services.
Many of these directives
are included in the NDAA, Hagel said, adding that for months, he has been
meeting weekly with the department’s senior leadership to personally review
prevention and response efforts, as well as progress, and to ensure all
initiatives are being implemented to the fullest extent.
“I will continue these
weekly meetings,” Hagel said. “As I and all the leaders of this institution have
said, sexual assault is a stain on the honor of millions of military men and
women, a threat to the discipline and the cohesion of our force, and we will
not allow this to stand.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey also issued a statement regarding the
progress DoD is making on eliminating sexual harassment and assault and
“The Joint Chiefs began working on the issue of sexual
harassment and on the crime of sexual assault two years ago, and we’ve been
making steady progress,” Dempsey said.