Pentagon Press Secretary George Little provided the following readout:
“Today Secretary Hagel attended the first in-person meeting of the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel, which the Department of Defense has established in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. Secretary Hagel had previously spoken to the panel members by teleconference.
“The panel will conduct an independent review and assessment of the systems used to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crimes involving sexual assault and related offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It will develop recommendations to improve the effectiveness of those systems.
“During the administrative portion of the meeting, the Secretary thanked the panel members for bringing their expertise to bear in helping the Department of Defense address one of its most pressing challenges. Secretary Hagel made clear that his goal is to eradicate the crime of sexual assault from the military, and that he is open to all their ideas on how to accomplish this objective. He believes the panel's findings and recommendations will play a critical role in ensuring that the department, working closely with Congress, makes well-informed decisions to improve sexual assault response and prevention -- considering all the options on the table.
“The Secretary asked the panel to work deliberately and carefully, based on thorough research and analysis, but also emphasized the importance of acting quickly. He pledged the department's full support for the panel's efforts.
“In addition to today's meeting, Secretary Hagel continues to hold regular weekly meetings of the top civilian and military leadership of the department focused solely on sexual assault prevention and response efforts.”