Following the work of Congressman Mike Turner, who co-chairs the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), includes several provisions strengthening prevention and response policies concerning sexual assault in the U.S. military.

”These additional protections in this legislation are victim-focused, and continue the bipartisan approach we in the House and Senate have taken on this issue. This year’s NDAA includes several additional provisions as we seek to preserve and enhance the rights of those affected by sexual assault,” said Turner.

The FY13 NDAA continues a concerted bipartisan effort to provide significant regulations and procedures for combating sexual assault within the military, as well as deterring potential sexual predators. Included is language which requires new commanders to assess the climate of their organizations with regard to sexual assault shortly after assuming command and then annually. In addition, it requires the Department of Defense to make information widely available that can be used to report and respond to sexual assaults.

Provisions in this year’s NDAA include:

-          Sec. 570. Armed Forces Workplace and Gender Relations Surveys.

-          Sec. 571. Authority to retain or recall to active duty reserve component members who are victims of sexual assault while on active duty.

-          Sec. 572. Additional elements in comprehensive Department of Defense policy on sexual assault prevention and response.

-          Sec. 573. Establishment of special victim capabilities within the military departments to respond to allegations of certain special victim offenses.

-          Sec. 574. Enhancement to training and education for sexual assault prevention and response.

-          Sec. 575. Modification of annual Department of Defense reporting requirements regarding sexual assaults.

-          Sec. 576. Independent reviews and assessments of Uniform Code of Military Justice and judicial proceedings of sexual assault cases.

-          Sec. 577. Retention of certain forms in connection with Restricted Reports on sexual assault at request of the member of the Armed Forces making the report.

-          Sec. 578. General or flag officer review of and concurrence in separation of members of the Armed Forces making an Unrestricted Report of sexual assault.

-          Sec. 579. Department of Defense policy and plan for prevention and response to sexual harassment in the Armed Forces.

“The leadership at the Department of Defense has begun to see the seriousness of this issue. Secretary Panetta has taken a number of steps to change the culture and course of the Department, and it is my hope that the next Secretary of Defense continues his work,” added Turner.

Earlier this year Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Department of Defense policy changes enhancing the Pentagon’s ability to investigate military sexual assault cases. In the House, Turner included provisions that elevated the disposition authority of sexual assault cases to the O-6 level in order to have sexual assault cases investigated outside of the immediate chain of command.  That provision was immediately incorporated into Department policy.