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Senate Panel Passes Bill to Change Military Law

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Senate panel has approved legislation to overhaul the military justice system in an effort to staunch the growing number of sexual assaults in the armed forces.
  
Key portions of the bill passed Tuesday by the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee are opposed by senior U.S. military leaders. They say the proposed changes are too drastic and will undermine the ability of commanders to enforce good order and discipline within their units.
  
But Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, the panel's chairwoman and the bill's cosponsor, says aggressive reforms in the military's legal code are needed to counter the rise in sexual assaults within the ranks.
  
Her bill would remove commanders from the process of deciding whether serious crimes, including sexual misconduct cases, go to trial.

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