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Military Recruiters, Sex Assault Responders To Be Retrained

All branches of the U.S. military have been ordered "to retrain, re-credential and rescreen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters," the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday morning.

That order from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel follows Tuesday's news that an Army sergeant who was part of the Fort Hood, Texas, sexual-assault response office is under investigation for abusive sexual contact. Word of that investigation came just a week after an officer in the Air Force's sexual assault response office was arrested for allegedly accosting a woman in Virginia.

Meanwhile, as The Associated Press wrote last week, "despite a slew of new oversight and assistance programs, troubling new numbers estimate that up to 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, according to results of a survey. Of those, fewer than 3,400 reported the incident, and nearly 800 of them simply sought help but declined to file complaints against their alleged attackers."

Pentagon spokesman George Little, according to the Defense Department, "said Hagel directed the retraining, re-credentialing and rescreening to address the broader concerns that have arisen out of these allegations and other recent events."

Update at 2:55 p.m. ET. Solution Won't Come From Within Military, Says Head Of Service Women's Action Network:

On NPR's Tell Me More Wednesday, former Marine captain and company commander Anu Bhagwati said that "the solution absolutely cannot come from within." Too much deference toward the military "is entirely why this problem persists," added Bhagwati, who is executive director of the Service Women's Action Network. Instead, she said, "the solution lies in criminal justice reform — in making the military justice system at least on par with the civilian justice system."

The Service Women's Action Network says its mission "is to transform military culture by securing equal opportunity and freedom to serve without discrimination, harassment or assault; and to reform veterans' services to ensure high quality health care and benefits for women veterans and their families."

Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts Tell Me More and a show schedule.

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