A conservative military watchdog is concerned that legislation working through the Senate may alter the way sexual assault cases are handled in the military.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) has been pushing the idea that military sexual assault cases should be removed from the chain of command and assigned to independent civilian judge advocates. And according to Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness (CMR), the effort is gaining momentum.
"She's got some wind in her sails supposedly," Donnelly reports. "She's persuaded some Republicans to endorse her idea, which is against their better judgement. Even Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who should know better, has been one of her supporters. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) has signed on. Those two have gotten other Republicans to sign on, and now she has the equivalent of a veto-proof majority to get it through the Senate."
But Donnelly is pleased that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has received memos from the civilian secretaries of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the National Guard expressing their concerns over changing the policy.
"In fact, the military system of handling these cases is better than the civilian world; a study that came out … proved that," the CMR president notes. "So all of a sudden, reality is starting to show up. People in the Pentagon are starting to realize that [Gillibrand] just might get her way, and now they're starting to put some dampening on the effort to get this thing through. Who knows what will happen, but she certainly has worked hard for this and may very well get it."
Similar legislation has been introduced in the House.