Congress is also more interested in reviewing longstanding positions of military and diplomatic officials that have produced few new results, an issue that Mr Kaine raised in several recent hearings. “We don’t have to say the same thing over and over,” he said, “because the results show it didn’t work to deal with sexual assault, it didn’t work in some of those military engagements, and.” It doesn’t necessarily work in some other areas. “
“Let’s get out of platitude mode,” added Kaine.
There are perhaps few areas where Congress has dismissed generals more openly than in the current movement to revise the way the military handles sexual assault cases by removing them from the chain of command and reassigning them to military attorneys . While Ms. Gillibrand and others have been pushing for such a system for years, a majority in Congress has accepted the military leaders’ claim that such a shift would undermine discipline.
But Ms. Gillibrand now has more votes than she needs to pass such a measure, including from those who once voted against her proposal, and she recently got Rep. Michael R. Turner, Republican of Ohio, to stand up to be used for an accompanying measure in the EU House.
“Senator Gillibrand has an opportunity in Washington today to do something too rare: deliver a transformative, bipartisan, bicameral solution,” Turner said.
Such changes – as well as those promoted by Congress to better integrate women into all aspects of combat and military life – also reflect wider societal changes, as the military, as always, reflects American culture.
“These things are all interrelated,” said Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator who served as secretary of defense under Obama. “Who makes the decision to send men and women to war? Who is judging their behavior? That has to come from society. This is how we live and react to one another. “
While Republicans should be expected to argue with Democrats over funding for the Pentagon and other national security issues in the future, the era of backlash against generals’ omnipotence now seems to be embedded in the culture of Congress.