Following news of rising sexual assaults in the military and allegations against sexual assault prevention officers, Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, vowed to press military leaders, Congress and Colorado's military community to take decisive action to eliminate sexual assaults committed by military personnel. Udall will work with his colleagues on the committee to put forward solutions to help the military hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable while protecting survivors from retaliation and harassment.
"As a father, a Coloradan and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am angered by the failure to stem the tide of sexual assaults in the military. The good order and discipline of our armed forces and the safety of our troops is being threatened from within. We need to make clear that there will be zero tolerance for these horrific crimes and the people who commit them -- just as we should in civilian society," Udall said. "I will work with my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee to ensure that this year's National Defense Authorization Act takes bold and productive action to solve this problem. Senators from both sides of the aisle have been collaborating on a number of proposals to address the issue. We need policies that preserve cohesion and morale by ensuring that military survivors of sexual assault are confident they will be protected by their chains of command and that their perpetrators will be effectively prosecuted."
Udall will co-sponsor a number of bills to address the problem, while also pushing for provisions to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act. He will co-sponsor a bipartisan bill from Senators Patty Murray and Kelly Ayotte that establishes a special military counsel to provide legal advice and assistance for any military sexual assault victim who requests it; require cases to be automatically referred to the first general or admiral in the chain of command to ensure greater oversight; and allows cases to be shifted outside the immediate chain of command if conflicts of interest arise.
Udall also will co-sponsor a bill from Senators Claire McCaskill and Amy Klobuchar to require a comprehensive review of and formal minimum levels for the training, qualifications and experience of Department of Defense personnel responsible for sexual assault prevention and response. In last year's National Defense Authorization Act, Udall supported the establishment of a panel of experts that will provide recommendations for reducing the numbers of sexual assault from the military.