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Lawmaker says sexual assaults in National Guard threaten national security

National Guard leaders said the bureau is aggressively addressing sexual assaults by focusing on prevention through education and training.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said the number of reported sexual assaults in the National Guard more than tripled nationwide, going from 173 in 2009 to 634 in 2020.

National Guard leaders said the bureau is aggressively addressing sexual assaults by focusing on prevention through education and training.

But members of the House Armed Services Committee insist there must be more of a sense of urgency. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California), called the trend, "an insidious rot that threatens our national security."

Speier's remarks came Wednesday during a meeting of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

She continued: "And the National Guard is on notice. Sexual assault and harassment will not be tolerated. We pay your bills. We fund you. The game is over."

Brigadier General Charles M. Walker, the director of the Office of Complex Investigations, responded that within the bureau, "these matters are being taken seriously."

Walker continued: "It is a poison within our ranks. And the National Guard at all levels is committed to eradicating sexual violence against all service members."

In November, USA Today reported on National Guard assault scandals in 13 states.

Wisconsin was one of them. That's where the USA Today said the National Guard reportedly "botched" at least 33 sexual assault investigations, and the state's Adjutant General was forced to step down.