United States Representatives Michael R. Turner and Jane Harman (D-Calif-36) today announced they have successfully included provisions in H.R. 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2010 to improve the response and investigation of alleged sexual assault of members of the armed services.
United States Representatives Michael R. Turner and Jane Harman (D-Calif-36) today announced they have successfully included provisions in H.R. 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2010 to improve the response and investigation of alleged sexual assault of members of the armed services. These provisions are nearly identical to those included in H.Con.Res. 28, authored by Reps. Turner and Harman. The NDAA passed the House of Representatives by a 389 to 22 vote.
The new provisions would strengthen protections Rep. Turner added to the Fiscal Year 2009 NDAA, adding greater emphasis to sexual assault prevention measures as well as investigation and response to alleged incidents.
“This year, the new Defense Authorization Act includes provisions Rep. Harman and I have advocated for: increased accountability of the Department of Defense and the military services in monitoring, reporting and investigating sexual assault and to implement sexual assault prevention programs,” said Rep. Turner, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Our military personnel deserve the fullest measure of protection on and off the battlefield. These provisions are designed to ensure the safety and security of our troops.”
“Rape and sexual assault in our military ranks is pernicious – and statistics show it’s not going away. For the thousands of brave women and men serving in theatre overseas, even their own barracks aren’t sanctuary from danger,” said Harman. “The provisions in the Defense Authorization call for stronger efforts at prosecuting offenders, a more coherent prevention strategy, and opportunities for base transfers.”
The provisions Reps. Turner and Harman added to the NDAA would require:
- A GAO study of each military service’s ability to investigate and adjudicate sexual assault allegations.
- The Department of Defense would create a sexual assault prevention program and report to Congress on its status including an action plan for reducing sexual assaults and a timeline for implementation; a mechanism for outcome measurement; and, training courses for commanders and senior enlisted personnel.
- The Department of Defense must report on the availability of sexual assault forensic exams in combat zones; any barriers that exist; and, legislative actions needed to improve availability of forensic exams.
- The Department of Defense will report annually to Congress whether a Military Protective Order (MPO) was issued in a sexual assault in the armed services.
- The Secretary of Defense will ensure that when a military protective order is issued, the service member requesting the MPO is informed of their right to request a transfer.
Last year, Rep. Turner successfully added language to the defense authorization bill that Military Protective Orders be made standing orders and that civilian authorities be notified when an MPO is issued and affects off-base personnel. After considerable review, Members of Congress agreed that the Military Protective Orders which were in use did not provide sufficient protection to uniformed personnel.
“In the months following the alleged rape and murder of Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, I worked with her family to identify failures in the system which may have led to her death,” Rep. Turner said. “It’s important we work together to prevent a similar tragedy from ever occurring again.”
“This is another crucial step forward. Congressman Turner is an outstanding partner; he and I are anxious to see the Pentagon’s strategic plan and Defense Task Force findings that will be released later this summer,” said Harman.
The FY 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) must now be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill before it goes to the President for his signature.