Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, issued the following statement in response to the release of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military and biannual survey on sexual harassment and assault that has been delayed since 2018 due to COVID.
“After 10 years, Congress has seen enough to demand greater accountability as it relates to sexual assault and sexual harassment in our military. The disturbing and marked increase in both sexual assault incidents and prevalence military wide by 35 percent for servicewomen—and more than doubling for servicemen—and the equally troubling plummet in trust and confidence among our servicemembers for the Defense Department to rectify these injustices only raises more red flags. The adjustment in how the data is gathered appears to confirm what survivors and advocates been saying for years: the reality is far more grim than the report numbers have suggested. The decline in the reporting rate also suggests trust and faith in the military is on the wrong trajectory. I look forward to chairing a hearing in the coming weeks to get more answers,” Chair Speier said. “These reports also underscore the critical need for the sweeping and historic reforms that we enacted in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act—including moving cases of sexual assault and murder from the chain of command—to be immediately implemented. The 20 percent increase in sexual harassment incidents shows why this year’s NDAA must include my provision to move sexual harassment cases out of the chain of command and under the jurisdiction of the new, independent special trial counsels.
“The Independent Review Commission that Defense Secretary Austin set up and that has made over 80 recommendations, many of which mirror reforms I’ve long fought for, is more important than ever. The timely hiring of these independent, trained investigators and special prosecutors not only will help us get to the problem of this insidious scourge, it will also help restore confidence in the system and serve as a strong measure of the military’s commitment to the radical change that must take place to ensure the safety of all servicemembers.” Chair Speier added. “Even then, our work is not done. The watchful eye of Congress is needed to ensure that military leadership is held to account and any additional changes deemed necessary to address this national embarrassment and crisis are made. If we fail to do so, we risk further erosion of the confidence of our troops and further undermining of DoD’s struggling recruitment and retention efforts.”
A copy of the annual report can be found here.