The annual study was expected to show a 50 percent jump to about 5,000 reports of sexual assault in the military in the 2013 fiscal year that ended on September 30, congressional aides said, a figure in line with preliminary numbers released by the Pentagon in December.If those numbers sound lower than other numbers you've heard, it's likely because, over the past year, the most-cited figure has been 26,000. That figure comes from a broader survey that seeks information about unreported sexual assaults. Low reporting rates may also lie behind the 50 percent jump in reported assaults in 2013. Widespread attention on military sexual assault may have encouraged a higher proportion of victims to report attacks; in that sense, a higher number of reports can, perversely, be a sign of improvement. Underreporting remains a particular problem among men.
By comparison, the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office said 3,374 cases of sexual assault were reported in the 2012 fiscal year.
Several recent high-profile cases have showed how military commanders often encourage hostile environments and protect offenders. But, again, such cases are now coming to light in ways that they have not in past years, possibly signalling a shift, however slow and inadequate it remains. And top military officials are claiming to realize that things really do need to change; according to Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, "If it occurs that after a period of very intense and renewed emphasis on this that we can't solve it, I‘m not going to fight it being taken away from us." We'll see about that, but it's good to have those words on the record.