Pentagon says it will act on recommendations of sexual assault and harassment commission

An independent review commission made 82 recommendations to tackle the problem

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said the Pentagon will take action on the recommendations of a commission on sexual assault and harassment in the military "as rapidly as possible."

"We're going to make needed foundational investments to support sexual assault accountability, prevention programs, healthy command climates and quality victim care," Hicks said during a news conference Wednesday. "To date, sexual harassment and sexual assault remain serious problems in our force, with lethal consequences for our service members and harmful effects on our combat readiness."

An independent review commission made 82 recommendations in June to tackle the problem of sexual assault and harassment in the military.

Hicks said the Pentagon will have an "implementation roadmap," which will include the formation of a full-time sexual assault prevention workforce that will include response coordinators and victim advocate positions.

A major change in how the military tackles sexual assault and harassment cases will be to remove prosecuting authority in such cases away from the military chain of command, instead allowing commanding officers to only decide whether or not a case should be sent to trial.

"Commanders are not lawyers, and they do not receive adequate training regarding victimization, implicit bias and the impact these concepts have on the administration of justice," the report said.

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That change has been one of the most hotly debated issues in the commission's findings, leading some leaders to question the wisdom of giving commanders less authority over the units under their command.

Other changes recommended by the commission, such as revisions to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, could take longer to implement as they will require congressional approval.