President Addresses Sexual Assault in Military During Naval Academy Graduation

May 24, 2013

President Barak Obama
Credit White House Photo

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - President Barack Obama says sexual assault threatens the "trust and discipline" that makes the U.S. military strong and respected.

Speaking at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony, Obama urged new graduates to exhibit honor and courage in tackling incidents of sexual assault as they assume leadership positions in the military.

A Pentagon report estimates up to 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year and that thousands of victims are still unwilling to come forward. Obama says he is determined to stop the problem, saying sexual assault has "no place" in the military.

Obama also vowed to maintain America's "military superiority," even in an era of budget cuts, and promised to provide troops with all of the resources they need.

It's a tradition for presidents to speak at the commissioning ceremony for the academy in Annapolis, Md., about 30 miles from the White House. The academy says 16 presidents have addressed graduates and Obama is the sixth president to do so twice. His first address there was four years ago.

Obama spoke earlier this month to graduates at Ohio State University and Morehouse college, an all-male, historically black school in Atlanta.

National Security Address 

The speech comes a day after the President laid out his counterterrorism vision.

On Thursday at the National Defense University, Obama defended his controversial drone strikes program and renewed his push to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility.