GOP Lawmaker Slams Pentagon Over Opposition to Bill Fighting Increase of Sexual Assaults in Military


Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) slammed the Pentagon over its opposition to a bill which would provide “self defense and combat training” in an effort to fight an increase of sexual assault in the U.S. military.

The bill, H.R. 1434, which was introduced by Luna on March 8, aims to “require a member of the Armed Forces” to take part in “self defense training once a month” as part of an effort to combat the rise in sexual assaults in the military.

Luna’s bill received opposition from the Department of Defense (DoD). In its statement sent to Luna, the DoD cited how the bill’s language “could re-traumatize many victims of sexual assault.” The DoD also said the bill went “against decades of efforts to improve treatment” with people who had been victims of sexual assault by not placing “a burden of physical resistance” on people who might’ve been unable to do so, and might provide counter training to “potential or alleged perpetrators.”

“The DOD’s response to my office says all you need to know about the state of our military right now,” Luna said in a statement to Fox News, adding it felt as if the DoD was prioritizing “wokeness and imaginary solutions.”

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A report released by the U.S. military in April showed that 8,942 incidents of sexual assault involving military members as either “victims and/or subjects” had been reported during 2022, representing a 1% increase over 2021 which saw 8,866 incidents of sexual assault reported.

“The U.S. military continues to report extraordinarily high rates of sexual assault against active-duty service members, making clear this problem is not being addressed by whatever tactics the DOD currently swears by,” Luna said in her statement.

Luna, a military veteran, added in her statement with the outlet that the DOD’s response was “absurd” and “highly disturbing.”

“Our men and women in uniform should be equipped to defend themselves against attack, and opposing the use of self-defense and combat training does not set them up for success,” Luna said.

Should the Pentagon support Luna's bill?

In 2021, President Joe Biden announced that he was supporting the U.S. military in changing how it reviewed sexual assault incidents. As part of the changes, the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault was removed from the chain of command and instead highly specialized units would be formed to handle these incidents.

IJR reached out to Luna and the Pentagon regarding the bill. A duty officer at the Pentagon responded, “It would be inappropriate to comment on pending legislation.”

UPDATE [7/11/23, 1:52 p.m. EST]: IJR added a comment from the Pentagon after publication.

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