Obama gives military deadline on sexual assaults

Dec. 20, 2013 at 4:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- President Obama said Friday he expects the U.S. military to make substantial progress in curbing sexual assaults in the next year.

In a statement, the president said he has ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to report back to him by Dec. 1, 2014.

"If I do not see the kind of progress I expect, then we will consider additional reforms that may be required to eliminate this crime from our military ranks and protect our brave service members who stand guard for us every day at home and around the world," Obama said.

The defense funding bill that received final legislative approval Thursday from the Senate includes a number of steps aimed at protecting victims of sexual assault and making the crime easier to prosecute. Victims will be allowed to transfer out of their units and commanders barred from

reversing court-martial convictions.

The bill did not include a more controversial proposal backed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that would have reduced the role of commanding officers in deciding whether to bring charges in sexual assault cases.

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