The U.S. Army has removed almost 600 soldiers from counseling and other positions following a sexual assault review, a spokesperson said.
After sifting through the records of some 20,000 soldiers, the service decided to remove 588 of them, or about 3 percent, due to infractions that ranged from sexual assault to child abuse to drunken driving, as first reported by Tom Vanden Brook, a reporter for USA Today.
A spokesman for the Army confirmed the figures to Military.com. Col. David Patterson, a spokesman at the Pentagon, said 79 of the 588 soldiers are pending separation from the Army and the others “could face further actions from there commands."
"We will continue working to better ensure we select the very best people for these posts, and that the chain of command knows what is expected of them, and how important this work is to the Army," Patterson said in a statement to Military.com.
The Army was the first service to require behavioral health screenings for sexual assault counselors and to propose incentives for those who serve in such jobs -- like other military fields and occupations, Patterson said.
"The Army continues to ensure that those in positions of personal trust have the right tools, skills and background needed to carry out their Duties effectively," he said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the military-wide review last year after a Pentagon study found that troops reported rising incidents of unwanted sexual contact, according to USA Today.
The Army suspended 55 soldiers last summer, then reviewed additional records and disqualified a total of 588 soldiers, according to the article. The Navy removed three out of 5,125 recruiters investigated and two out of 4,739 counselors analyzed, it stated. The Air Force and Marine Corps didn't suspend any of members as a result of the reviews, it stated.
-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org