Supporters of the overhaul, which would remove sexual assault prosecutions from military commanders, say sexual assault remains a pervasive problem within the military and that previous attempts to address the problem without changing the chain of command have failed. have not borne fruit.
“In no measurable measure, things are not improving,” said Gillibrand.
This is one of the reasons why some lawmakers previously reluctant to support reforms have started to warm to the idea.
“We are not seeing a decrease in sexual assault. We don’t see the climate of leadership changing, ”said Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), herself a sexual assault survivor who appeared alongside Gillibrand.
Ernst, a military veteran with a daughter at West Point, said she had been “very torn” but the documented culture of rampant violence, misconduct and sexual harassment at Fort Hood was a tipping point for her. The senator has now joined forces with Gillibrand to defend the bill.
“We have to get to the heart of this matter, and that simple gesture will be to remove the prosecution – this decision-making authority – from the hands of this commander. [and] put it with a specialized attorney.
Gillibrand also said that several U.S. allies have instituted similar processes to adjudicate cases within their own armies.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has also prioritized tackling sexual assault and harassment within the ranks and tasked a commission to make recommendations on the matter.