In addition to the challenges of Syria and North Korea, President Obama on Tuesday also condemned a reported rise of sexual assaults within the military.
"Let's start with the principle that sexual assault is an outrage," Obama said at a brief White House news conference. "It is a crime. That's true for society at large. And if it's happening inside our military, then whoever carries it out is betraying the uniform that they're wearing."
Obama spoke after release of a new report showing that sexual assaults in the military jumped by more than one-third since 2010. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has order the armed services to take immediate steps to curb the problem among troops, as has Obama.
"When you engage in this kind of behavior that's not patriotic -- it's a crime," Obama said after meeting with the president of South Korea. "And we have to do everything we can to root this out."
As for the victims of sexual assault, Obama said: "I want them to hear directly from their commander in chief that I've got their backs. I will support them. And we're not going to tolerate this stuff and there will be accountability. If people have engaged in this behavior, they should be prosecuted."
Obama also said, "I don't want just more speeches or awareness programs or training but, ultimately, folks look the other way. If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable -- prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period. It's not acceptable."
By David Jackson, USA Today
USA Today / Gannett