Curbing Military Authority - The Missourian: Opinion

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Curbing Military Authority

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Posted: Saturday, June 8, 2013 6:32 pm

A good number of members of Congress are convinced the military’s authority in sexual assault cases should be curbed because of inaction or viewing the offenses too lightly. The military believes it should retain the power to oversee court martial proceedings and military prosecutions. They want to retain power over their units.

Top military leaders have told Congress their goal is to make their commanders more accountable and they want to be given additional resources to review and prosecute cases.

However, members of the House and Senate see a need to reform the military justice system because of irregularities, or abuses of power, that have undermined confidence to clean up the sexual abuse situations, which have been growing. When a commander has the power to overturn a sexual assault conviction by a jury, and to release an officer from a military prison, something needs to be done.

Had the military followed more strict oversight on sexual assault cases, and not looked the other way and used its power to excuse violations, this issue would not have been before Congress.

We understand the need for the military to have strict power over its units. For that reason, give the military a time limit to impose reforms and oversight and after six months view the results. In other words, tell the military its leaders have six months to act and let’s see what the record is. If there’s no progress in reforms, then Congress should step in and curb the military’s power.

The present situation cannot be tolerated. The military has shown it can respond rather quickly to almost any type of crisis. It needs to clean up this messy situation with dispatch.

/opinion