President Obama Delivers Very Pointed Message On Military Sexual Assault

President Barack Obama made it clear that he has “no tolerance” for military sexual assault after a new Pentagon report shows that such instances have gone up since 2010.

After speaking with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, President Obama drew a definitive line in the sand, promising to “exponentially step up” investigation into suspected assaults, and promising aggressive prosecution for discovered offenders.

“The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this,” he said at a press conference Tuesday. The president also made it very clear what he planned to do with those convicted of sexual assault in the military.

“I expect consequences,” he said. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable – prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”

New statistics released by the Pentagon show that military sexual assaults have risen dramatically – 35 percent – since 2010.

“For those who are in uniform who’ve experience sexual assault, I want them to hear directly from their commander in chief that I’ve got their backs,” President Obama pledged. “I will support them. And we’re not going to tolerate this stuff, and there will be accountability.”

Obama also talked about rising tensions between North and South Korea. The Tuesday press conference came just after his meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. In their meet, Obama reassured Geun-hye that South Korea’s relationship with the U.S. is still strong after several weeks of intense threats from the North.

“President Park and myself very much share the view that we are going to maintain a strong deterrent capability – that we’re not going to reward provocative behavior,” Obama said.

“But we remain open to the prospect of North Korea taking a peaceful path of de-nuclearization, abiding by international commitments, rejoining the international community and seeing a gradual progression in which both security and prosperity for the people of North Korea can be achieved.”