President Barack Obama gave top military officials one year to “make substantial improvements with respect to sexual assault prevention and response, including to the military justice system,” in a statement released Friday.
The president directed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey to report to him about the military’s progress by Dec. 1, 2014.
“If I do not see the kind of progress I expect, then we will consider additional reforms that may be required to eliminate this crime from our military ranks and protect our brave service members who stand guard for us every day at home and around the world,” Obama said.
Sexual assault in the military has divided the Senate this year, including Senate Democrats, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) leading a faction that would remove sexual assault investigations from the regular chain of command. Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) have sought other reforms that maintained the chain of command.