Congress Calling on Military to Toughen Penalties for Sexual Assault


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congress is stepping up the pressure to stop sexual assault in the military.

The Pentagon's top officers are in Washington Tuesday facing a possible shake-up in the military justice system.

Senators say the military's system for handling sexual assault isn't working.

The Pentagon confirms sexual abuse is on the rise. It estimates there were as many as 26,000 incidents last year.

"These crimes violate everything we stand for and must not be tolerated," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.

Proposed legislation would strip commanders of some of their authority to discipline forces.

"The role of the commanders should remain central," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey. "Our goal should be to make them more accountable, not render them less able to help us correct the crisis."

In the past month, a series of high-profile assault cases have brought the problem to a boil. While both sides agree there needs to be tougher action, they don't agree on how to go about it.

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