Reported U.S. military sexual assaults surged 46 percent this year, the Pentagon said, crediting the increase to "victim confidence in our response system."
The number of sexual-assault complaints within the ranks was 3,553 between January and September, up from 2,434 reports in the same period last year, the Pentagon said.
"We assess this as a sign of victim confidence in our response system," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson told USA Today.
A Defense Department slide highlighting the figures was less definitive. It said the increase in assault reports "may reflect a change in victim confidence in Department of Defense response systems."
All U.S. service branches reported increases in sexual assault reports, the Pentagon said. The service branches are the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.