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Immediate Release

Secretary of Defense Statement on the FY23 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military

On my first full day as Secretary of Defense, I made countering sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military a top priority. These scourges have no place in the U.S. military. We will continue to insist on cohesion, trust, dignity, and security for every member of the force.

Over the past three years, the Department has taken unprecedented steps to tackle this problem. This includes swift and rigorous implementation of the approved recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, as well as the establishment of the Offices of Special Trial Counsel.

Today the Department of Defense released our Fiscal Year 2023 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. Its findings demonstrate that the Department is making progress to prevent sexual assault and harassment in the military. This is the first time that the Department has seen a decrease in the prevalence of sexual assault in more than eight years.

These early findings are encouraging, and I am grateful for the leadership of many across the Department who have committed the time and made the investments to produce these promising results. However, we have far more work to do.

Last week, I convened the Deputy Secretary, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Service Secretaries, and the Service Chiefs to discuss this report’s findings. I made clear that we’re making significant progress but we must double down on our efforts to end sexual assault and sexual harassment. This remains a key readiness issue across the joint force.

The only acceptable number of instances of sexual assault or sexual harassment in the U.S. military is zero. We owe it to all our Service members to get this right.