President Barack Obama addressed the rash of sexual assault criminal cases against U.S. military servicemembers on Friday, exhorting the graduating class at the Naval Academy to do better.
“Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that makes our military strong,” Obama said during the annual naval commencement ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland. “That’s why we have to be determined to stop these crimes. Because they have no place in the greatest military on Earth.”
Obama’s remarks were a doubling-down of his vow on May 7 that sexual offenders would face accountability for their actions. That same day, a study released by the Pentagon indicated more than 70 daily reported sexual assaults against service members and more than 26,000 reported cases in 2012. The month of May 2013 has also seen at least three officers in charge of programs tasked with preventing such assaults be arrested for stalking or sexual assault charges.
According to NBC News, Obama also used the speech to touch on topics like the recent allegations of misconduct against the Internal Revenue Service and to decry the federal sequester, the latter of which was underscored by the cancellation of the traditional fly-by by the Blue Angels squadron, which has been shelved for the remainder of 2013 for budgetary reasons.
Watch Obama’s remarks to the graduating class, in video posted Friday by Agence France-Presse, below.