Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee today made the following comments about continued disturbing revelations regarding sexual assault within the military:
"This week, Americans have been dismayed and outraged at new instances of the persistent and unacceptable problem of sexual assault in the military. I share their anger and their desire to bring this trend to an end. In many aspects of military life, our men and women in uniform are held to the highest possible standard. That standard must extend to how they treat each other, and the climate that senior commanders propagate within the services. The House Armed Services Committee has worked in a bi-partisan manner to implement reforms designed to combat sexual assault. Many members of the committee have put forward meritorious proposals for this year's defense authorization bill to carry those reforms forward. I know that initiatives to combat sexual assault will once again be a major component of the National Defense Authorization Act.
"However, legislation can only do so much. We can go a long way toward holding perpetrators accountable and ensuring victims receive justice, but those steps all happen after an assault has taken place. Commanders must take responsibility for the culture and climate of their units, a climate that appears, at a minimum, not to take this problem seriously. This week the Secretary of Defense and the President had stern words for sexual offenders in the military and the commanders who tolerate them. I believe that the time for stern words is coming to an end. The time for holding military commanders accountable is past due."