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60 lose posts after military review

| Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 7:06 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Sixty troops have been disqualified as sexual assault counselors, recruiters or drill instructors after the military investigators found they had committed violations ranging from alcohol-related offenses to child abuse and sexual assault, USA TODAY has learned.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered that the records of recruiters and sexual assault counselors be examined on May 17.

A Pentagon's report in May estimated that 26,000 troops had been sexually assaulted in 2012, a 35 percent increase since 2010, with offenses ranging from groping to rape. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called sexual assault in the military a crisis.

The records of at least 35,000 troops have been screened or are under review, according to the services.

Each of the services appears to have interpreted Hagel's directive differently. The Marines screened recruiters, for example, against a public database, while the Army considered criminal records for sexual assault, child abuse and alcohol-related offenses.

The Army has suspended 55 soldiers, according to figures compiled through mid-July, said George Wright, an Army spokesman. In all, it is looking at 20,000 recruiters, sexual-assault counselors and drill instructors and expects to have completed its screening by Oct. 1. More suspensions could occur as the review continues.

It is unclear whether the suspended soldiers have been discharged, Wright said, or if they can be reassigned.

“We only want the very best to be in these positions of special trust,” Wright said. “The steps we are taking are in keeping with our commitment to maintaining the special bonds of trust and confidence between the leader and his or her soldiers.”

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