- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2013

President Obama said Friday he is giving the Pentagon one more chance to address the problem of sexual assault in the ranks of the military.

Mr. Obama ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “to continue their efforts to make substantial improvements with respect to sexual assault prevention and response, including to the military justice system.”

They are to report back to the president on Dec. 1, 2014.

But the president’s statement made clear he is not satisfied with the military’s efforts to date.

“If I do not see the kind of progress I expect, then we will consider additional reforms that may be required to eliminate this crime from our military ranks and protect our brave service members who stand guard for us every day at home and around the world,” Mr. Obama said.

The Senate approved a comprehensive defense bill Thursday night that includes provisions for cracking down on perpetrators of sexual assault and rape. Lawmakers in the House and Senate of both parties united

to change the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with Senate women leading the fight.

The Pentagon estimates that 26,000 members of the military may have been sexually assaulted last year. The legislation would strip military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions and require a civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case.