The Navy's new top officer is launching several programs aimed at reducing sexual assault in the ranks

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WASHINGTON — The Navy's new top officer is launching several initiatives targeting the problem of sexual assault in the ranks.

Adm. John Richardson, who took over as chief of naval operations in September, said Thursday he wants to make clear that he is as committed as any of his predecessors to trying to eliminate sexual assault. He called it one of several forms of "destructive behavior" that must be attacked.

Richardson said the Navy will work out ways to enable victims of sexual assault to leave the service early if they choose — so-called "expedited discharge."

He also is expanding a program that puts civilian counselors aboard ships to make their services available to sexual assault victims. Eventually this would be expanded to Navy installations ashore, Richardson told reporters in an interview.

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