Army Removes Hundreds of Soldiers Over Sexual Assault Concerns

The U.S. Army has banned 588 soldiers from working as sexual assault counselors, recruiters and drill sergeants for a variety of transgressions, many of which are related to their ongoing issues with sexual assault in the military.

Last summer, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel requested that soldiers in these "positions of trust" undergo background checks to make sure they didn't have criminal histories. At that point, only 55 soldiers were removed. But as USA Today reported Wednesday, after the records of 20,000 more troops were reviewed, the new number of soldiers that have been dismissed from these roles by the Army is significantly higher. In contrast, other sections of the military that have had just as many problems as the Army concerning sexual assault removed only a few recruiters and counselors:

The Navy dropped three of 5,125 recruiters it had reviewed, and two of 4,739 counselors. None of its 869 recruit instructors was disqualified. The Air Force and Marine Corps reported that none of their servicemembers had been disqualified.

It's unclear what will happen to the suspended troops. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has put forth one of two proposed laws that would change the way sexual assault has been handled by the military, said the "reports paint a very clear picture of why nine out of 10 sexual assault victims don't report their attack and why the military needs a reformed, independent and transparent system of justice." Her sort-of opposition, Senator Claire McCaskill, praised the Army for their thorough review. On Monday, Republican Senator Jerry Moran blocked both bills from being voted on.

The Army has also been working to integrate women into a greater number of combat roles. Along those lines, a new series of in-house studies reported by the Associated Press Tuesday revealed that only 8% of women in the military want these jobs. Interestingly, most of those women were younger and held lower positions in the military.

Image via U.S. Army/Flickr