After becoming the United States‘ first black defense secretary, retired four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin has authorized a review into the military’s sexual assault prevention programs following the death of 20-year-old soldier Vanessa Guillen in April 2020.
Senior leaders of the new defense attorney have two weeks to inform him on what programs are useful in the military and which are not.
The review comes following the death of Guillen, who was found dead at Fort Hood.
After informing her family that someone was sexually harassing her at the Army base in Killeen, Texas, she disappeared.
Following her passing, several Army vets and soldiers revealed that they have been victims of abuse and harassment but have stayed quiet or dismissed.
In a two-page memo, Austin vowed to take action against the issue of sexual assault and harassment in the ranks, Daily Mail reports.
‘This is a leadership issue. We will lead,’ Austin stated in the memo.
According to a department report, there has been an increase in reported sexual assaults, including a 13 percent jump in 2018 and 3 percent the following year.
Lawmakers have requested information on how Austin plans to fix the problem, as military leaders have attempted to do it for years.
During his confirmation hearing, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand asked, ‘You do agree that we can’t keep doing the same thing that we’ve been doing for the past decade?’
‘Do I have your commitment to be relentless on this issue until we can end the scourge of sexual violence in the military?’ she added.
Austin replied, ‘This starts with me, and you can count on me getting after this on Day One.’