Protect Our Defenders News Blog


STATEMENT: New GAO Report Highlights Pentagon Failure to Address Sexual Assault Epidemic in the Military


November 6, 2015

*** STATEMENT *** 


 Only 2 out of 18 planned prevention activities have been implemented, multiple complaints of lack of direction from sexual assault prevention offices, and reports of significant understaffing of sexual response coordinators and victim advocates at military facilities

Washington, D.C. – According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Defense (DoD) is failing to meet basic tenets to prevent sexual assault in the military. The report is the result of a 13-month investigation into the Pentagon’s 2014-16 prevention strategy.

According to the GAO:

  • Of the DoD’s 18 planned prevention activities, only two have been implemented.
  • Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) complain of both a lack of direction and understaffing
  • One installation only had one Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and one Victim Advocate for 1,200 servicemembers
  • DoD fails to follow guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to effectively prevent sexual violence
  • DoD has not identified intended outcomes or clear goals for their prevention programs, making it impossible to measure the impact of their efforts

Today, Protect Our Defenders President, Col. Don Christensen (ret.) and the former Chief Prosecutor of the United States Air Force, released the following statement:

“This GAO report highlights yet again a lack of accountability by the Pentagon for dealing with the ongoing military sexual assault crisis. It is especially disturbing that the military continues to ignore leading risk factors for sexual assault. According to the report, the Pentagon has not identified any military-specific risk factors, such as those relating to leadership or the military community – the two areas they have greatest control over.

“In 2014, at least 20,000 service members were sexually assaulted — the same rate as in 2010. If the Pentagon is serious about ensuring the safety and well being of service members, it must develop a comprehensive and measurable sexual assault prevention program. The men and women who defend our nation deserve no less.”

GAO Report: Actions Needed to Improve DOD’s Prevention Strategy and to Help Ensure It Is Effectively Implemented

About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization.  We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country and re-victimized by the military adjudication system. POD provides pro bono casework and legal assistance to survivors. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at