(NBC News) The Pentagon revealed Thursday that reported sexual assaults in the military rose again to nearly 6,000 this year.
Still, military officials say the despicable crime is now actually less frequent because more victims are reporting attacks.
Reported incidents have risen steadily over the past three years.
A survey found only one in four victims reported an assault, but two year years ago it was one in ten.
The Pentagon estimates all sexual assaults, reported and unreported, dropped to 19,000 this year from 26,000 two years ago.
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hailed that progress.
“We believe that our effort to prevent sexual assault are beginning to have an impact,” he said when briefing the media on the latest reports.
Several reforms have been instituted, but critics still say the reporting process relying on the military chain of command is flawed.
New York’s Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing for for victims to be able go to sex assault specialists outside their chain of command. The Pentagon has firmly resisted any such change.