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Gen. Lloyd Austin III testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed senior military leaders to send him reports on sexual assault prevention programs, so the department can evaluate which initiatives have been effective, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Incidents of sexual misconduct reports have increased steadily since 2006, the AP says, and the consistent trend line has concerned senators, who pressed Austin on how he plans to tackle the problem during his confirmation hearings.

  • Austin told senators, “This starts with me and you can count on me getting after this on Day One.”
  • The directive was Austin's first official act since taking office.

By the numbers: There was a 13% spike in reports in 2018 and a 3% increase in 2019, according to department reports reviewed by the AP.

  • Nate Galbreath, the acting director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, suggested the increase in reports could indicate that more people were willing to come forward, therefore gaining confidence in the justice system.
  • Last April he also stated that he hoped that the lower increase in 2019 reports suggested a trend in declining assaults.

Where it stands: Last year officials announced a new system in which any victim who refuses to file a public criminal report can provide details about their alleged attacker so investigators can look into their backgrounds.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 22, 2021 - World

Lloyd Austin's first call as defense secretary goes to NATO

Austin during his confirmation hearing. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

Lloyd Austin's first call after being confirmed as defense secretary on Friday went to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the retired general announced on Twitter.

Why it matters: Former President Trump took office four years ago questioning NATO's relevance and value to the United States. President Biden and his team are sending just the opposite signal, with Austin emphasizing America's "steadfast commitment" to the alliance and signing off with "#WeAreNATO."

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
25 mins ago - Economy & Business

The Fed could be firing up economic stimulus in disguise

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard at a "Fed Listens" event. Photo: Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images.

Even as global growth expectations increase and governments pile on fiscal spending measures central bankers are quietly restarting recession-era bond-buying programs.

Driving the news: Comments Tuesday from Fed governor Lael Brainard suggest the Fed may be jumping onboard the global monetary policy rethink and restarting a program used following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.