WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate Armed Services Committee endorsed several steps to improve prosecution of military sexual assault on Wednesday during a rare open debate of its annual defense policy bill, but it killed a controversial proposal opposed by Pentagon leaders.
The panel, on a 17-9 vote, approved a plan by committee chairman Carl Levin that would continue to let military commanders decide whether to bring sexual assault cases to trial but would add levels of automatic review by more senior leaders.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate panel on Tuesday approved a controversial plan to improve the military’s handling of sexual assault cases, backing draft legislation that would let prosecutors, rather than a victim’s commander, decide if a sex offense should go to trial.
The proposal was one of a dozen sexual assault-related measures endorsed by the personnel panel of the Senate Armed Services Committee for inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual legislation that sets policy for the U.S. military.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Army is failing to deal with sexual assault in its ranks because too many soldiers in positions of authority do not think there is a problem, the Army chief of staff told a summit of leaders called to address the issue.
General Ray Odierno told a gathering of officials in the Army’s Sexual Harassment, Assault Response and Prevention program that when he travels to different bases and speaks to smaller units, he finds too many sergeants, lieutenants and captains who say they do not have a sex assault problem.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The commanding general of U.S. Army forces in Japan was suspended on Friday due to allegations he failed to properly investigate a sexual assault complaint, the Pentagon said.
The suspension came as the U.S. military seeks to crack down on the problem of sexual assault following a jump in reports of unwanted sexual contact in the services and a spate of embarrassing assault cases that have raised questions about the military’s ability to deal with the problem.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sexual assault is an “insider attack” that is lethal to the U.S. military’s culture of discipline and should have been eliminated years ago, the second-highest U.S. officer told a women’s military group on Thursday.
“We have worked hard on this but not hard enough,” said Admiral James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, comparing sexual assault to the insider attacks in which Afghan soldiers have turned their weapons on coalition forces.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO fleshed out plans on Wednesday for the smaller training and advisory mission it will leave in Afghanistan once it ends combat operations at the end of 2014, including which allies will take charge of the mission in each region of the country.
But the military alliance did not spell out how many troops would stay on, with several countries waiting for lead nation the United States to detail its commitment before making pledges of their own.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO is likely to wait until after this year’s fighting season in Afghanistan before deciding the size of the international military force that will remain behind after 2014 to train and assist Afghan troops, a U.S. general said on Tuesday.
Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, head of international forces in Afghanistan, said he expected NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels this week to further define the nature of the mission they want to perform in Afghanistan after 2014, when most foreign combat troops withdraw.
BRUSSELS, June 3 (Reuters) – NATO defence ministers
concerned about the growing presence of al Qaeda-linked rebels
in southern Libya will this week discuss the possibility of
training Libyan security forces, U.S. defence officials said on
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan requested the assistance at
a meeting last week with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen, who raised the issue with U.S. President Barack Obama
in Washington last Friday.
SINGAPORE, June 2 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel on Sunday toured the new combat ship at the leading edge
of the U.S. military’s pivot to Asia, a modest little vessel
whose development over the past decade has been beset by cost
overruns, mishaps and criticism.
Hagel spoke with the crew of the USS Freedom, the Navy’s
first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a class of shallow-draft
vessels built to patrol in coastal waters while tackling threats
like mines, quiet diesel-electric submarines and other systems
used to deny access to big warships.
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Senior Chinese military officials came ready to talk at a major regional security forum over the weekend, surprising delegates with a new sense of openness at a time when Beijing is making strident claims to territory across Asia’s seas.
No one expected any resolution of disputes over maritime boundaries, accusations of Chinese cyber-espionage, Beijing’s suspicions about the U.S. “pivot” to Asia or other prickly issues at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.