President Biden stated Friday that he wished the navy to take away the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault circumstances from the management of commanders, a sea change for the navy justice system.

An impartial fee formally beneficial to Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III this week that sexual assault, sexual harassment and associated circumstances be shifted to particular victims prosecutors exterior of the chain of command within the navy, one thing navy leaders have lengthy resisted, arguing that it might hinder order and self-discipline.

“Sexual assault is an abuse of energy and an affront to our shared humanity,” Mr. Biden stated in a ready assertion. “And sexual assault within the navy is doubly damaging as a result of it additionally shreds the unity and cohesion that’s important to the functioning of the U.S. navy and to our nationwide protection.”

Whereas Mr. Austin and Mr. Biden have supported the findings of the fee — that are all however sure to obtain pushback from officers from some branches of the navy — will probably be as much as Congress to alter the navy regulation.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has a bipartisan measure that may overhaul the way in which the navy prosecutes sexual assault but in addition different critical crimes, which some lawmakers consider is essential in adjudicating circumstances just like the one involving Military Specialist Vanessa Guillen. Legislation enforcement officers stated she was killed by another soldier at Fort Hood final 12 months.

“It’s a historic signal of progress that after a long time of obstruction, the Secretary of Protection has agreed that the elimination of sexual assault prosecutions from the chain of command and professionalization of navy justice would profit survivors and by no means diminish good order and self-discipline,” Ms. Gillibrand stated in a press release.

Her invoice has gained assist from at the very least 70 members of the Senate — together with many who voted against the same bill in 2014, arguing it might undermine commanders. Reconciling her invoice with the imaginative and prescient of the fee will now be within the palms of lawmakers.

In 2019, the Defense Department found that there have been 7,825 experiences of sexual assault involving service members as victims, a 3 p.c improve from 2018. The conviction fee for circumstances was unchanged from 2018 to 2019; 7 p.c of circumstances that the command took motion on resulted in conviction, the bottom fee for the reason that division started reporting in 2010.

“I need to acknowledge the expertise of our service members who’ve survived sexual assault and the bravery of those that have shared their tales with the world and advocated for reform,” Mr. Biden stated, including, “I hope this announcement gives some reassurance that the Division of Protection management stands with you, beginning together with your commander in chief.”