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Fort Campbell hosts roundtable to discuss sexual assaults in the military

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CLARKSVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

With the Pentagon reporting a dramatic increase in sexual assaults in the Army, Fort Campbell hosted a roundtable discussion Thursday to talk about how they're addressing the problem.

"It's an egregious crime," said Brig. Gen. Mark Stammer. "We're talking about a few people, but those few people, left unchecked, can cause a tremendous negative impact in the unit. It's a cancer, a poison if you will. It can't be tolerated in the formation."

Stammer said Fort Campbell is pushing greater awareness of the Sexual Harassment Assault Response Program, known as SHARP.

As part of a week to highlight SHARP, Stammer said he talked with senior commanders about taking immediate action if reached with a report of sexual misconduct.

"We do have some issues," said Stammer. "It's criminal conduct that's been allowed, tolerated to a certain degree. We shouldn't have to tolerate it."

Nationwide, the Pentagon estimates 26,000 members of the military were sexually assaulted last year. That's up from 19,000 in 2011.

Stammer believes the increasing numbers could be due in part to soldiers feeling more willing to report crimes to their first line supervisors.

"You should feel comfortable coming forth without any feelings of retribution," said Stammer.

Stammer added the focus at Fort Campbell is re-establishing bonds of trust with senior commanders and holding soldiers accountable for their behavior.

"If you come forward, some action will occur, an investigation will occur, and if found guilty, some punishment will be carried out," said Stammer.

The House Armed Services Committee has introduced a bill to take away the power of military commanders to overturn rape and assault convictions. The House will vote on that bill next week.

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