WASHINGTON, June 28, 2013 - --
Sexual assault issues are corrected within the fabric of an institution, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told troops today, "and you're the fabric. And I know you feel the same way."
Hagel visited several military installations in Colorado this week. He said in a response to a soldier's question at a Fort Carson town hall meeting that sexual assault is a scourge on the Defense Department.
Sexual assault is a crime, he said, and U.S. service members have to stop it within their institutions.
"We don't break the law, but we certainly don't assault our own people," Hagel said. "There's no excuse for this. Our standards are higher than that."
Prioritizing sexual assault as an issue, focusing on prevention, establishing accountability and administering effective training is all part of the solution, Hagel said.
"Every one of you -- me, top, bottom, bottom-up -- has the responsibility here," he said. "It isn't going to get fixed just by directive or a training session or a new law being passed. It gets fixed within the fabric of the institution."