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New Pentagon Chief Addressing Sexual Assault in Military

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin asks for data, calls sexual assault in military 'a leadership issue.'
Posted at 12:53 PM, Jan 24, 2021

New U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is addressing sexual assault and harassment in his first directive since taking office. 

He's given his senior leaders two weeks to send him reports on sexual assault prevention programs in the military, as well as an assessment of what has worked and what hasn't. Austin also asked for relevant data for the past decade, including efforts to support victims.

The memo, which went out Saturday, fulfills Austin's commitment he made to senators last week during confirmation hearings.

Reports of sexual assaults in the military have steadily gone up since 2006, according to department reports, including a 13% jump in 2018 and a 3% increase in 2019.

Austin called the sexual assault problem "a leadership issue" ... telling military brass, quote, "we will lead."

Additional reporting by Lolita C. Baldor of The Associated Press.