House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement after a briefing today with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley on the ongoing investigations into sexual misconduct at Lackland Air Force Base:
"We want to thank Secretary Donely for providing today's briefing. We are deeply concerned about what has happened -- and what the investigations may yet reveal- at Lackland Air Force Base. We expect the Air Force to be open and transparent with the results of its investigations. Today's briefing is a good step in that direction, but this committee expects to be fully informed as this issue evolves.
We understand that today's briefing generated concerns because it was not open to the public. We want to be very clear, we are committed to making sure that sexual offenders are prosecuted and victim's rights are protected. In sensitive cases such as these, open hearings can jeopardize ongoing prosecutions and investigations. This is another step in our long-standing oversight of this issue. It is by no means the final step."
We will continue to follow this important issue very closely. All allegations should be investigated, and individuals involved in inappropriate or criminal behavior should be with dealt properly. We will utilize our oversight responsibilities to ensure our service members are protected and necessary procedures are installed to help prevent future abuses."
The committee has been actively involved in efforts to prevent sexual assault, assist victims, and prosecute perpetrators over the past several years. This year, the committee included several provisions to further refine the Services' and the Department of Defense's efforts on sexual assault. We stand committed to working with the Department to eliminate sexual assault among those serving in our Armed Forces."
Recent Actions To Stop Sexual Assault In The Military
This spring the House Armed Services Committee included many bi-partisan reforms in the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act aimed at stopping sexual assault in the military, including:
Creating special victim teams for the investigation, prosecution and victim support in connection with sexual assault as well as child abuse and domestic violence.
Requirement for commanders to conduct annual organizational climate assessments which include matters relating to sexual assault.
Establish that the disposition authority for sexual assault offenses would be no lower than the special court martial convening authority at the rank of either Colonel or in the case of the Navy, Captain.
Curriculum within each military department to provide sexual assault prevention and response training and education during pre-command and command courses.
Establish a record on the disposition of sexual assault cases to be retained for 20 years.