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Levin Defends Military Chain of Command Amid Sexual-Assault Concerns

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

“The young folks that are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22, or 23,” said Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. “Gee whiz, the level, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.”

The military has been taking some new steps to address the problem.

Over the next 90 days, the military is assessing units for “command climate,” refreshing training for people who work on sexual-assault prevention and response, and improving the treatment of victims, Dempsey said.

He also acknowledged that there is “merit” in some of the proposals offered by lawmakers, including prohibiting anyone convicted of sexual assault from joining the military, requiring anyone convicted of sexual assault while in the military to be discharged and requiring commanders to promptly report sex offenses to the next officer in the chain of command.

But Dempsey was more hesitant about other proposed changes, including establishing special victims counsel for handling these crimes. Dempsey said he is “trying to work through the resource implications” of creating those counsels but agreed that the military needs to do more for victims.

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