The Pentagon says reports of sexual assault in the military increased by nearly 50 percent during the last fiscal year.
New figures from the Defense Department show there were more than 3,500 assault complaints in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, which runs from from October 2012 through June 2013. Last year, there were about 2,400 reports of sexual assault.
Sexual assaults are defined in the report as rape, sodomy or other unwanted sexual contact. It did not include reports of sexual harassment.
The data is unable to show whether the spike in assault reports represents an increase in sexual assaults, an increase in reporting them, or both.
Defense Department officials say the new figures show people feel more willing to come forward about assaults due to improvements in the military's system for handling them.