Obama to meet with Joint Chiefs to address military sexual assaults

President Obama will meet Thursday with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to address the growing problem of military sexual assault.

“This afternoon the president will meet with Secretary Hagel, Chairman Dempsey and the service secretaries, service chiefs, and senior enlisted advisers to discuss sexual assault in the military,” a White House official confirmed to The Hill in a statement.

The conference comes just a day after Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, called sexual assaults in the military a "crisis."

"We're losing the confidence of the women who serve that we can solve this problem," Dempsey said during a flight Wednesday from Europe, according to the Pentagon's news service.

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Earlier this month the Pentagon released a report that found the number of estimated sexual assaults had increased by more than a third in 2012 to 26,000.

Dempsey said Wednesday he had ordered a review of why assaults may have spiked.

"I tasked those around me to help me understand what a decade-plus of conflict may have done to the force," he said. "Instinctively, I knew it had to have some effect."

"This is not to make excuses. We should be better than this. In fact, we have to be better than this."


Last week, senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen, the first lady’s chief of staff and director of the president's Council on Women and Girls, led a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers at the White House to discuss the problem. The meeting included a dozen lawmakers from both parties and chambers.

At a press conference earlier this month, Obama said the administration must "step up our game" to root out sexual assault in the military.

"Sexual assault is an outrage. It is a crime, and that’s true for society at large,” said Obama. “And if it happens inside our military, whoever is carrying it out is betraying the uniform that they’re wearing.”

This story was updated at 8:17 a.m.