Retired Generals Join Gillibrand in Push for Sexual Assault Remedy

Three retired generals have stepped forward in support of a measure sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) designed to address the crisis of widespread sexual assault in the military, according to a report by Politico‘s Darren Samuelsohn. Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) would remove the reporting and prosecution of rape, sexual assault, and other serious crimes from the chain of command, an approach that has encountered fierce resistance from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Politico reports:

The New York Democrat is still a long way from getting the backing of the Defense Department itself. But recent letters sent to the senator and obtained by POLITICO show she’s not without some backing from the brass. The new supporters are retired Brig. Gen. David McGinnis, a former Obama administration Pentagon appointee; retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the first woman to be a three-star Army general; and retired Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, who was the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist.

In June, Gillibrand, who chairs the Armed Services personnel subcommittee, attempted to include the MJIA as part of the committee’s mark-up of the annual defense appropriation (S.1429), but Levin struck it from the committee’s draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Levin replaced it with other measures that advocates for sexual assault victims say don’t go far enough toward stemming the crisis, which appears to have gotten worse, according to Pentagon estimates, over the last several years.

After her measure was defeated in committee, Gillibrand continued to rally support for the MJIA, and at last count had a total of 46 senators pledging support, according to an aide in her office. It is expected to come up for a vote once again when the NDAA comes before the full Senate.

See RH Reality Check‘s in-depth report, “Gillibrand’s Drive Challenges Senate Power Brokers on Military Sexual Assault Remedy,” here.

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  • fiona64

    Thing is, it really *does* need to be taken away from the chain of command. When I was dealing with sexual harassment (including being backed into a corner by my harasser, at which point he committed frottage), I got written up for telling him to get his moronic f**king ass away from me. The command treated it as a joke. It wasn’t until that soldier left the command that the JAG officer brought the unit’s copy of my letter of reprimand to my desk, tore it up in front of me and said “this bullshit never happened.” He had been livid at how I had been made out to be the problem — because I *reported* what had happened.

  • colleen

    I’m pleased to see some Brass behind this. I listened to some of the Generals on NPR and, to a man, they were inclined to attribute all rapes or most rapes to women soldiers drinking, playful hijinks and a woman’s natural next morning regret for her enthusiastic participation. I wanted to slap them.