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Dempsey: DoD Will Be ‘Relentless’ in Combating Sexual Assault

Dec. 4, 2014 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News
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The military has made progress in combating sexual assault in the ranks, but there is still much work to do and the highest ranking military officer promised to be “relentless” in eradicating the problem.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during today’s Facebook Town Hall that the latest report on sexual assault in the military shows the services are making a difference and are headed in the right direction.

Still, he said, “the mission is far from complete.”

The report shows Defense Department efforts are having an impact. “First, we had to drive the number of incidents down. We did,” he said. “There were fewer cases of sexual assaults or unwanted sexual contact in fiscal 2014 than in 2012.”

The military went from 26,000 to about 19,000 incidents. “But that’s still 19,000 too many,” Dempsey said.

The military also had to create an environment where more victims came forward to make reports. “Here, the signs are also good,” the general said. “The percentage of victims reporting these crimes went up substantially. This is an indicator that victims have increasing confidence that our military takes this crime seriously and will respond appropriately.”

An independent firm reported that DoD showed progress in 10 of 12 metrics. “One area where I remain concerned about is that the report indicates that victims may perceive some retaliation from their peers,” Dempsey said. “We must continue to change our culture to one that protects our people and supports them for coming forward.”

In the past, the chairman called sexual assault “an insider threat,” and just like an insider threat in combat, it “is unacceptable and there is still much work to do.”