Sexual Assault, the Military Justice System and Commanders' Authority: Recent Developments [May 25, 2021] [open pdf - 652KB]
From the Document: "Over the past two decades, Congress has taken legislative action to address sexual misconduct in the military and to improve prevention, response, and accountability through the military justice system. Despite legislative changes and Department of Defense (DOD) initiatives, sexual assault reporting and prevalence data [hyperlink] indicate continued risk factors and room for improvement across several metrics [hyperlink]. A recent independent review [hyperlink] at Fort Hood which found 'ineffective implementation' of the Army's sexual harassment and assault prevention program, has raised additional congressional concerns. [...] In a February 26, 2021, memorandum [hyperlink], Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III ordered the creation of a 90-day Independent Review Commission (IRC) to address sexual assault in the military. According to DOD reporting [hyperlink], the IRC has four lines of effort: (1) accountability, (2) prevention, (3) climate and culture, and (4) victim care and support. The commission began work on March 24, 2021, and has provided some initial recommendations [hyperlink] to Secretary Austin, including those related to the commander's authority. While some officials have argued against transferring authority from commanders to career prosecutors, a few senior military leaders recently expressed openness [hyperlink] to changing military justice processes."
CRS Insight, IN11680
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/