WASHINGTON — Under pressure from Congress, the Pentagon announced several revamped policies Thursday to prevent and prosecute sexual-assault cases, but the measures did little to satisfy some lawmakers and advocacy groups who are pushing for bigger changes.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved a raft of new regulations designed to provide more support to victims of sexual assault, standardize policies among the armed services and ensure senior commanders are notified immediately about every reported incident.
Many of the rules were under consideration by Congress, and lawmakers generally welcomed them. But some said they would continue to push for an overhaul of military law that would require uniformed prosecutors, instead of commanders, to oversee investigations of sexual abuse and other serious crimes.
"The Pentagon taking action is a good thing and these are positive steps forward, but it is not the leap forward required to solve the problem," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a member of the Armed Services Committee. She is the lead sponsor of the bill that would take sexual-assault cases and other crimes out of the chain of command.
Gillibrand's proposal has met resistance from the Pentagon and the leaders of the House and Senate armed services panels, and was voted down in committee in June. But her staff says support has grown since then, with 46 senators publicly backing it.