Who "owns" military justice for sex offenses today in the U.S. armed forces?
Former Defense Secretary
Opponents of structural change in the current command-centric U.S. military justice system insist that commanders must have more, rather than less, hands-on involvement in the fight against sexual assault in the armed forces. But former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's April 20, 2012 order withholding initial disposition authority remains in force and removes responsibility for dealing with rape, sexual assault and forcible sodomy cases from the lion's share of commanders -- those who are under pay grade O-6 (colonel or naval captain) or who are not special court-martial convening authorities. The effect is to concentrate authority at the top rather than disperse it throughout the pyramid of commanders, leaving subordinate commanders with responsibility but without military justice power.