Military sex assault reports jump by 50 percent
Defense officials beat back efforts to more drastically revamp the military justice system that would take authority away from commanders and allow victims of rape and sexual assault to go outside the chain of command for prosecutions.
Still, military leaders acknowledge a lot of work remains to be done.
Metzler said the goal for this year is to continue efforts to increase reporting while also working more directly to reduce the survey number of 26,000 sexual harassment and assault victims.
Already, the military services are exchanging information on prevention programs that seem to be working.
Air Force officials, for example, visited a Navy pilot program at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois that worked with local hotels and bars to try to crack down on drinking by sailors from the naval station there. In the program, sailors are being taught to intervene when they see mates in trouble or engaging in bad behavior.
Loftus said the goal this year will be to improve the training so that sailors will actually have to act out scenarios in order to help them figure out when it's best to intervene and to ensure they have some type of plan before jumping into a situation.
Other programs that are being used more broadly include moves to cut hours of alcohol sales and the use of roving patrols of service members looking out for troops in trouble. She also said that some commanders are making their courts martial more public, publicizing the punishments for crimes, including sexual assault, and even holding cases on their parade fields, where all can watch.
"We're still not where we want things to be," said Metzler. "But we think all of this is having an effect."