WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon is preparing a series of new initiatives to try to curb sexual assaults in the military -- a problem that officials think could be six times greater than reported.
Saying sexual assaults blemish the honor of the force, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday announced what he said were the first in a series of proposals, some of which need congressional approval.
They include extending victim services to military spouses as well as Pentagon civilians and contractors working abroad. Also, more money will go toward training investigators and lawyers to go after and prosecute perpetrators.
Panetta said that last year, 3,191 sex assault cases were reported in the military, but because so few victims come forward, the real number is believed to be closer to 19,000 assaults.