Is DoD Report on Military Sexual Assaults Accurate?

It is no secret that the Department of Defense (DoD) has spent the last few years addressing issues with sexual assaults within the military. On May 5, the Defense Department released its annual report on this subject, stating that assaults were down. An earlier draft of the same report did not state that, and, in fact, offered higher numbers than being reported in the released report. This has some officials wondering if the DoD is trying to pull a fast one.

One official is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat (New York), who is suggesting that the department is deliberately downplaying the full story of sexual assaults. At issue is the number of service members who say they faced retaliation when they brought forward claims, or charges, of sexual assault. For its part, the department says it reduced the numbers because some service members may have thought they were being targeted when, in fact, they were being helped by service agencies or other remedies such as being transferred to another unit.

Senator Gillibrand is no stranger to tangling with the DoD over these types of issues. Just last month, she accused certain senior officials of intentionally misleading the Congress when they reported that non-military prosecutors failed to bring to court more than 90 assault cases.

Now, the Senator is accusing members within the Pentagon of not holding to account certain officials who are allowing these crimes to go unpunished, or even fairly reported. She also said that it is time for the White House and the Congress to take actions to prevent this from happening in the future.

AssaultIn its latest report, the DoD estimates about 20,000 military personnel did experience some form of a sexual assault, but only about 6,000 of these victims reported the crime. According to Gillibrand, these numbers suggest that 75 percent of sexual assault victims did not believe that the military justice system would help them, or protect them, if they reported the crime to military authorities.

According to the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, military authorities sought action against 1,437 offenders. Of this number, 926 were recommended for a court-martial; 303 of the offenders received some form of non-judicial punishments; 208 offenders were either discharged or received some form of adverse administrative actions.

For its part, the DoD says that victims may be misinterpreting attempts to help them as vengeful behavior or retaliatory behavior. In 2014, a survey estimated that over 60 percent of victims thought they had received various types of retaliation from their peers or commanders. This number was later reduced to 57 percent when officials said that some of the questions on the survey may have been misunderstood by respondents.

The newest report says that the retaliation numbers are now about 38 percent. While this number is less than 2014, it is still too high, according to Pentagon officials. The DoD is looking at ways of helping victims to report assaults, provide improved treatment when needed, and giving victims more information on what their options are in terms of remedy. Also, new guidelines will be created to better explain what types of social media activities are appropriate and which are not.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Robert Partain

Robert Partain has been a professional writer for over 25 years. He spent ten years on active duty in the Army working as a medic and training NCO. While he covers any topic associated with military life, he specializes in writing about legislation that can affect active duty service members and veterans. Robert currently lives in the small town of Arab, Alabama.
Robert Partain
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