McSally: Air Force needs an executive summit on sexual assault

Matt Saintsing
March 14, 2019 - 10:48 am
Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) wants the Air Force to hold a summit on sexual assault.

Photo by David Wallace/The Republic-Phoenix


A week after Sen. Martha McSally revealed she had been raped by a superior officer while serving in the Air Force, the Arizona Republican is now calling on the service to hold an “executive summit” to “tackle the issue of sexual assault.” 

In a letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on Wednesday, McSally—a former Air Force fighter pilot— asked the service’s chief, Gen. David Goldfein to meet with other senior leaders and experts within the following month for a candid discussion. 

“Despite a number of positive changes over the past several years, we have not seen a significant reduction in sexual assault reports or increase in convictions within the Air Force or across the services,” the letter reads. 

“While there are some positive trends, the latest DoD annual report on sexual assault still shows as many as 5,277 service members made reports of sexual assault for incidents that occurred sometime during military service.” 

McSally, who retired in 2010 as a colonel, unveiled her sexual assault during an emotional Congressional testimony on March 6. 

“Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time,” she said. “I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless. The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways.” 

RELATED: Senator reveals she was raped by a superior officer while in the Air Force

Unlike other lawmakers critical of the way the military handles sexual assault allegations, McSally wrote she “firmly believes that commanders must be fully responsible for preventing and responding to sexual assault in the ranks.

RELATED: Sexual assault at service academies: 'This isn’t a blip, a #MeToo bump, or some accident'

Others, including Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), have said they would like to see commanders taken out of the process in favor of independent trained prosecutors investigating allegations. 

RELATED: Most veterans don’t trust the Pentagon to handle sexual assault cases

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