Cadets at Air Force Academy
Cadets at the Air Force Academy wait to march onto the field for their commencement ceremony in Colorado Springs, May 23, 2012. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

The number of sexual assault incidents reported in the United States military academies saw a steep rise in the 2017 school year, with a total of 112 complaints reported, an increase from 86 cases in 2015-16.

According to a report released Wednesday, based on Department of Defense's (DOD) annual assessment of three military service academies — U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy and Naval Academy — the reporting of sexual assault increased by 30 percent in the academic year 2016-17.

The reporting of sexual assaults almost doubled at the U.S. Military Academy. A total of 50 cases were reported at the West Point, New York, academy, which was almost double from the 26 incidents reported in the previous year.

Similarly, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, had 29 reports while the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado received 33 complaints, both academies recording an increase by one from that of the previous year.

"Most of the reporting increase occurred at the US Military Academy following a change in reporting policy and the relocation of its victim assistance office," the Pentagon report said.

Though the big leap could mean that more assaults were happening in its campus, the DOD and the Military Academy officials attributed it to its efforts aimed at encouraging victims to come forward.

Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent at West Point, told the Associated Press, “I’m very encouraged by the reporting. I recognize that people are not going to understand. I’ve got the steel stomach to take the criticism.”

In a release, Robert Wilkie, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, said, “We are absolutely committed to making the Academies safe. … It is imperative that these future officers understand how eliminating sexual harassment and assault advances our ability to protect the nation."

The Pentagon report, prepared based on feedbacks received from 188 cadets/midshipmen, and 107 faculty, and staff members, said, “Most cadets and midshipmen knew how to report and obtain support should they experience a sexual assault."

Though the report showed that more and more people were coming forward to report incidents of sexual assaults, it said the Air Force failed to fully comply with the military's victim assistance and advocacy policy because of chaos in its prevention office.

"Sexual assault prevention and response program mismanagement at the US Air Force Academy put it out of compliance with Department and Air Force victim assistance and advocacy policy. Given this discrepancy, the Air Force Academy is in partial compliance overall," the report said.

However, it admitted the institute had taken necessary measures to address the problems.

"Late in the academic year, allegations about problems within the USAFA SAPR (sexual assault and prevention and response) office were reported to academy leadership. A commander directed investigation disclosed significant evidence of mismanagement and unprofessionalism that negatively impacted victim advocacy and assistance rendered to a number of cadets. USAFA took action to address these personnel related issues," the report said.