Sen. Claire McCaskill is among the female senators on the Armed Services Committee leading the push against sexual assault in the military, and the Missouri Democrat is now mobilizing her campaign supporters behind the effort.
“Instead of focusing on prosecution, there has been an effort to ‘train’ their way out of this problem with programs discussing unwanted sexual contact or encouraging a buddy system for women on bases,” McCaskill wrote an in email to her campaign mailing list. “It’s not going to work. This isn’t a problem the military can ‘train’ its way out of.”
McCaskill encouraged supporters to watch a recent appearance she made on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.
Congress is likely to act on the issue during debate on next year’s defense authorization bill. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., noted Tuesday that those markups begin in a few weeks.
Tuesday night brought news of another troubling development, with allegations of sexual misconduct against an Army sexual assault prevention and response coordinator at Fort Hood, Texas.
In the aftermath of that incident, Pentagon spokesman George Little said that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered review and re-training of personnel involved in sexual assault response, as well as military recruiters.
“Sexual assault is a crime and will be treated as such. The safety, integrity, and well-being of every service member and the success of our mission hang in the balance. Secretary Hagel is looking urgently at every course of action to stamp out this deplorable conduct and ensure that those individuals up and down the chain of command who tolerate or engage in this behavior are appropriately held accountable,” Little said in a statement.
“If these allegations are proven, then now is the time for our military leaders to reevaluate who is being put into these positions,” McCaskill said in a statement responding to that incident. “Are folks filling these jobs who aren’t succeeding elsewhere? Or are these jobs being given to our best leaders?”
McCaskill’s 2012 re-election opponent, Republican Rep. Todd Akin, made universally criticized public comments about what he called “legitimate rape” that brought national headlines to her race.