The White House on Friday announced its support for a Defense Department plan to remove sexual-assault cases from the military chain of command, The Wall Street Journal reports. In a Friday statement, President Joe Biden said the military needs to prioritize the safety of its members. “We need concrete actions that fundamentally change the way we handle military sexual assault and that make it clear that these crimes will not be minimized or dismissed,” he said. Biden said he would push Congress to force these long-overdue reforms into law, with expected implementation in 2023. Under the changes, the prosecution of sexual crimes would be handled by independent military lawyers, hopefully decreasing the risk of negligence from leadership.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his dedication to working with Congress on the reforms in a Friday memo that listed a series of changes based on findings from the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment. “It is clear from their detailed and evidence-based analysis that countering sexual assault and sexual harassment in our military will require a comprehensive approach that integrates action across each line of effort,” he wrote.