The number of reported sexual assaults in the military rose 8 percent in the past year, which the Pentagon said is a sign of significant progress but is likely to increase pressure for changes in how the cases are handled.

There were 5,983 cases reported in fiscal 2014, up from 5,518 in the previous year, according to a study released Thursday.

Pentagon officials attributed the increase to greater efforts to encourage victims to come forward, prevent retaliation and make prosecutions more victim-friendly.

"In this particular crime, an increase in reporting is a good thing," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, head of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault and Prevention Response Office.

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