Task force delivers its report on sexual assault in combat zone
ARLINGTON, Va. — The 10-member task force probing the issue of sexual assault in the combat zone has delivered its anticipated report to Pentagon leadership a few days ahead of schedule, but other hot issues within the department likely will delay its release to the public.
The task force, named “Care for Victims of Sexual Assaults,” was arranged because of reports earlier this year by dozens of female servicemembers who reported sexual assaults, including rape, carried out by other U.S. troops while in Iraq and Kuwait. Many said they were denied adequate medical care and counseling.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld received the task forces’ report Friday — a few days ahead of the May 5 deadline. No date has been set to publicly release the findings and recommendations, though the department is working to expedite a media briefing, said one defense official.
The Pentagon leadership is grappling with news that has otherwise kept the secretary busy, the official said.
During its three-month probe, task force members met in person with more than 1,300 individuals at military installations in the United States and in the Central Command area of operation. They conducted video-teleconferencing to the Pacific Command to review sexual assault policies and programs DOD-wide, Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cynthia Colin said.
A hot line, now deactivated since the task force has finished its research, received 143 calls. Of those, 72 callers were individuals who wanted to share insights, Colin said. Callers included victims, families and others who wished to share an opinion with the team, she said. Individual services still have hot lines operational.
The report will be made public after Rumsfeld reviews the findings, recommendations and gets feedback from each of the services and the combatant commanders.
Ellen Embrey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection and readiness, headed the team, represented by members of each of the services and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in areas of medical, personnel, social services, legal and criminal investigation.
On Feb. 5, Rumsfeld charged David Chu, the undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness, to begin a review of the department’s policies surrounding sexual assault.