President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have stressed to graduates of the US military academies that rampant rates of sexual assault could corrode the force.
On consecutive days, President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have told the next generation of military leaders that sexual assault is threatening the dignity and effectiveness of the force.
Though the war in Afghanistan continues, the Obama administration has, in many ways, already begun to turn the Pentagon toward a new set of challenges. Mr. Obama's address to the National Defense University Thursday spoke to the strategic parts of that shift – from stricter rules for drone strikes to new rules for the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.
But the president's speech the next day to graduates of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., stressed that stamping out an epidemic of sexual assault within the military must also be a primary goal. Secretary Hagel made the same point Saturday in a speech to graduates at the US Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
But what can be done?
There is ample evidence to suggest that no solution will be easy or quick. A survey released earlier this month suggests that 26,000 people in the military were sexually assaulted in the previous year – a rate of 70 a day. Moreover, only 3,400 incidents were reported, suggesting a widespread lack of confidence in the military justice system on the issue.
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