President Barack Obama said Friday that members of the military guilty of sexual assaults threatened to undermine the trust and discipline vital to the strength of the US military machine.
Obama delivered the warning at a graduation ceremony at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, following a spate of reports of sexual violence and abuse in various branches of the military.
“Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that makes our military strong,” Obama said.
“That’s why we have to be determined to stop these crimes because they’ve got no place in the greatest military on earth.”
Obama has demanded answers to the problem of sex assaults in the military from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the highest ranking US military officer General Martin Dempsey, and top civilian and military brass in each service.
Earlier this month it emerged that a soldier who worked in a rape prevention program had been accused of forcing a subordinate into prostitution.
An Air Force officer in charge of his service’s sexual assault prevention office was arrested near the Pentagon for allegedly assaulting a woman.
And on Wednesday, officials said, a sergeant at the US West Point military academy was accused of secretly filming female cadets without their consent, including when they were in the shower.
“We must acknowledge that even here, even in our military, we’ve seen how the misconduct of some can have effects that ripple far and wide,” Obama said, also warning that pictures of misconduct from US troops were also a danger.
“In our digital age, a single image from the battlefield of troops falling short of their standards can go viral and endanger our forces and undermine our efforts to achieve security and peace,” Obama said.