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US Department of Defense Takes Strong Stand Against Sexual Misconduct

The Pentagon's top personnel director is vowing sexual misconduct in the U.S. military will not be tolerated. The pledge follows reports that scores of female soldiers have been sexually assaulted in Iraq and Kuwait.

David Chu, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, says a special task force is already probing allegations that some 90 female soldiers have been sexually abused in Iraq and elsewhere overseas by their male counterparts.

"We regret every single offense that was committed and we will do our best to corral the perpetrators and ensure that justice is done and the victims properly cared for," said Mr. Chu speaking to reporters at the Pentagon after an appearance before Congress earlier in the day.

U.S. senators have voiced alarm at the latest incidents of sexual abuse within the military, including highly-publicized cases at one of the nation's military academies as well as the more recent incidents in the Middle East. But Mr. Chu says overall incidents of sexual assault within the military have declined by almost half, according to a survey carried out two years ago.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered a special probe into sex attacks within the ranks earlier this month.

A senior Pentagon official is now traveling in the Mideast to collect data so the military can best determine how to prevent sexual assaults and also how to best care for the victims of abuse.