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Abstract

Who protects those who protect the nation? In the United States, these responsibilities are levied upon the U.S. Congress, which has Constitutional authority to “make rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.” As such, the U.S. military currently has a robust and well-developed judicial system governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Yet critics have attacked this system during the past two decades by alleging that it fails to adequately prevent and prosecute sexual assault within the ranks. Following scandals at the 1991 Tailhook Convention, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, and the United States Air Force Academy, critics of the military justice system wrote several articles calling for reform. While the government subsequently enacted several initiatives in response to this criticism, recent events clearly demonstrate that there is still significant work to be done regarding sexual assault in the armed forces. This Note has two primary purposes. The first is to chronicle recent events in the U.S. military’s ongoing battle against sexual assault within the ranks, including several recent reforms to the military justice system. The second is to advocate for the use of a technical decisionmaking process, instead of recent Congressional reliance on individual narratives, to consider whether major reform that removes a military commander’s charging decision authority is appropriate.