Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said for the first time on Tuesday that he will support the long-controversial reform of the military justice system to cancel the military commander’s decision to prosecute sexual assault cases. Support the removal of such sexual assaults and related crimes from the chain of command, and allow independent military lawyers to handle these incidents.
The Pentagon has long resisted this change, but Austin and other senior leaders are slowly admitting that the military has not made any progress in combating sexual assault and that some changes need to be made. Austin vowed to cooperate with Congress to make changes and said they would do so. Give the department “a real opportunity to finally end the scourge of sexual assault and harassment in the military.” I have been eagerly looking forward to your public support for change, which sends a strong signal to the military and provides the impetus for change.
The statement was issued the day before Austin testified before the House Armed Services Committee, and Congress has put increasing pressure to take concrete actions to address the issue of sexual assault.
However, the Austin Memorandum did not express any views on legislation that would make broader changes to the military justice system and require independent lawyers to deal with all serious crimes. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, has the support of 66 senators. The bill will enable independent prosecutors to deal with serious crimes that require more than one year in prison. But other major legislators and service leaders refused to include all major crimes, saying that controlling all crimes from the commander’s hands could damage military preparations, weaken command authority, and require more time and resources. So far, Austin has publicly stated. He is open to the reforms recommended by an independent review committee he appointed to review sexual assault and harassment in the military. The team stated that sexual assault, sexual misconduct, domestic violence, stalking, retaliation, child sexual assault, and improper distribution of photos should be removed from the chain of command. In the statement, Austin finally publicly expressed support for this change and said that these additional crimes should be included because there is a strong correlation between them and the prevalence of sexual assault.
According to a defense official, Austin has reservations about the broader changes outlined in the Gillibrand Act, similar to those expressed by his senior leaders. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. In recent weeks, the secretary and head of the military department stated in memos to Austin and letters to the Capitol that they are concerned about changes in sexual assault and expressed greater reservations about broader reforms to the Military justice system.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milli, stated that removing the commander from the prosecution decision “may be detrimental to preparation, mission completion, good order and discipline, fairness, solidarity, and the trust and loyalty between the commander and his leader. Impact. In a letter to Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, a senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Milly admitted that the military had not made enough progress in combating sexual assault. However, he has repeatedly stated that he is open to changes in sexual assault.
The independent review team issued a comprehensive set of recommendations to Austin on Monday to combat sexual assault in the military, including prevention, climate control, care, and victim support. Recommendations will be made to President Joe Biden in the next few days. But he also pointed out that these changes will require additional personnel, funding, and power. He said that priority will be given to those changes that can be made under existing powers. Other changes may take longer and require the help of Congress.