PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -

Top U.S. Navy commanders in the Asia-Pacific region have formed a task force to discuss sexual assault issues as the branch fights to stem a military-wide problem within its ranks.

Leaders in the U.S. Pacific Fleet from all over its wide territory met by teleconference this week for the first time to outline how they'll share successes and failures during monthly meetings.

Fleet Master Chief Marco Ramirez, the fleet's top enlisted sailor, told rank-and-file sailors aboard the U.S.S. Paul Hamilton destroyer about the task force on Thursday during a round-table discussion of sexual assault issues.

Ramirez says assaults hurt the Navy's abilities when called to duty.

A Pacific Fleet spokesman says the task force includes commanders from Hawaii, California, Washington and Guam, as well as Korea, Japan and Singapore.