Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday he believes the ban on women in combat positions contributed to the military's current sexual assault problem.
"We've had this ongoing issue with sexual harassment, sexual assault. I believe it's because we've had separate classes of military personnel–at some level," Dempsey said at a joint press conference with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to formally announce the ban has been lifted.
"Now, it's far more complicated than that," he continued. "But when you've had one part of the population that is designated as warriors and another part that is designated as something else, I think that disparity begins to establish a psychology that, in some cases, led to that environment. I have to believe that the more we can treat people equally, the more likely they are to treat each other equally."
A Pentagon report released earlier this week shows a sharp and consistent increase in violent sexual crimes in the military since 2006.