Allegations of sexual assault in the U.S. Army have climbed steadily over the past five years, reports the Washington Post. The problem has been exacerbated by weak prevention efforts, slow investigations, inadequate field reporting, and poor managerial oversight, say internal Army data and a new report from an Army task force. The May 27 report, which arose from complaints from women’s groups and female lawmakers about an apparent increase in reported assaults against U.S. servicewomen in Iraq and Afghanistan, says the Army lacks “an overarching policy” for dealing with the problem, and that as a result it “does not have a clear picture of the sexual assault issue.”
Reported cases of sexual assault involving Army personnel rose 19 percent from 1999 to 2002 — from 658 to 783. During the same period, the number of reported rapes increased by 25 percent — from 356 to 445. The number of Army personnel on active duty, including reservists, rose during this period by less than 6 percent. The Army acknowledges that these tallies probably understate the magnitude of the problem. Advocacy groups say that sexual assaults are routinely underreported.