Hagel Drafts Military Sexual Assault Policies

Chuck Hagel
Chuck Hagel

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has drafted a series of new policies to stem sexual assault in the military, internal documents indicate.

An internal memo reveals six executive actions meant to address the problem of sexual assault in the military, Politco reported. The policies could be sent to Capitol Hill as soon as this week.

The policies include a rule requiring consistency across all branches of the military on what constitutes an inappropriate relationship between trainers and trainees and recruiters and recruits, a policy regarding the transfer or reassignment of those accused of sexual assault and a mandate requiring judge advocates to serve as investigating officers in preliminary hearings.

Another policy would expand legal advice to victims throughout the military justice process. That service already exists in the Air Force, Politico reported.

Hagel is also considering a policy that would allow victims to weigh in during the post-trial phase of military courts martial, Politico said.

Adm. James Winnefield, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said one of the policies would fast-track "unrestricted" victim reports in which the victim is identified as opposed to those who remain anonymous.

"At first glance, this seems like another positive development," said John LaBombard, a spokesman for Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "It doesn't detract from the urgency we feel in enacting the historic reforms approved by the Armed Services Committee, but it's another sign that the Defense Department is now treating this problem with the seriousness that we expect, and that survivors deserve."

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