The U.S. Defense Department on Thursday unveiled steps to combat sexual assaults in the armed forces by increasing protection for victims, beefing up oversight of investigations, and making responses to such crimes more consistent across the military.
"Sexual assault is a stain on the honor of our men and women who honorably serve our country, as well as a threat to the discipline and the cohesion of our force. It must be stamped out," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement.
Hagel said he would continue to meet weekly with senior Pentagon leaders to review the broad effort to eliminate a problem that has plagued the military for decades.
The Pentagon reported in May that there had been a 37 percent increase in cases of unwanted sexual contact in the military from 2011 to 2012, with 26,000 people reporting everything from groping to rape, up from 19,000 a year earlier.