By Larry Shaughnessy
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey face two crises - an increase in sex assault claims within the military and heavy budget cuts.
But they said on Wednesday that military staffing reductions due to forced budget cuts under sequestration would not impact an initiative aimed at combating sex assault.
Civilians central to the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention Response Program will be exempt from furloughs that are a consequence of spending cuts.
"We have already excepted medical personnel required to handle emergency situations and crisis intervention," Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said in a statement.
"This additional exception will ensure responsive victim care and ensure program initiatives recently directed by Secretary Hagel will be implemented swiftly and efficiently," Smith said.
A recent Pentagon study found that even as the number of troops in uniform decreases, cases of sex assault in the military have increased in recent years.