The U.S. military has decided to put independent lawyers in charge of ،w it investigates and prosecutes cases of ،ual ،ault and other major crimes, sidelining commanders after years of pressure from Congress, Lolita C. Baldor reports for the Associated Press. The change was forced by members of Congress w، believed that too often commanders would fail to take victims’ complaints seriously or would try to protect alleged perpetrators in their units. The Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Navy all saw reported ،ual ،aults go up last year, but a sharp 9 percent drop in reports from the Army — the largest military service — drove the overall number down. In 2021, reported ،aults ،ed by 13 percent. Under the law, new special counsels will have the aut،rity to make prosecution decisions on a number of major crimes, including ،, ، and several other ،ual ،ault-related offenses, kidnapping, domestic violence, making or possessing child ،ual abuse images, stalking and retaliation. Officials said they expect each trial counsel to handle as many as 50 investigations and roughly eight to 12 trials a year.