Story at a glance:
- General Mark Milley says he is open to the idea of independent investigations looking into sexual assaults.
- Miley’s junior enlisted force changed his opinion on investigations.
- Out of 20,000 alleged victims, one-third was willing to file a report.
As more sexual assault cases within the military persist, the top U.S. general, General Mark Milley, says he is dropping his opposition to a proposal for independent review in handling cases.
The Military Times reported that Milley is willing to consider a proposal to have outside investigators make decisions in dealing with alleged sexual assault, sexual harassment and, potentially, certain hate crimes.
“We’ve been at it for years, and we haven’t effectively moved the needle,” Milley said. “We have to. We must.”
The push for an independent judge to advocate for survivors was discussed last month, with some panelists suggesting that there should be a Chief Special Victim Prosecutor for crimes led by civilians. The Pentagon has historically resisted that idea.
“I was adamantly opposed to that for years,” Milley said, “but I haven’t seen the needle move” — referring to a failure to reduce the number of reported sexual assaults.
The motivation behind Milley's change of heart was the indication that his junior enlisted force was cynical about how fair the evaluation process was, and thus, finding it difficult to carry out orders confidently.
“That’s really bad for our military if that’s true, and survey and the evidence indicate it is true,” he said. “That’s a really bad situation if the enlisted force — the junior enlisted force — lacks confidence in their chain of command to be able to effectively deal with the issue of sexual assault.”
Military officials have long struggled to find prevention, treatment and prosecution efforts. Critics have accused commanding officers of being reluctant to press charges against their troops.
The Defense Department conducted anonymous surveys in 2018, and more than 20,000 service members have said they were sexually assaulted, but only a third filled out a formal complaint.
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