Among the changes to military personnel policy included in the fiscal 2015 defense policy law signed Dec. 22 are provisions to change the way the Pentagon handles sexual assault and rape cases.

The changes grant additional protections for victims and revamp administrative and legal procedures to ensure that commanders and investigative bodies take allegations of sexual assault seriously and properly handle criminal procedures.

While the new measures fall short of the step sought by some lawmakers and advocates — removing the authority of some commanders to decide whether a sexual assault case should be prosecuted in court — the changes overhaul military rules of evidence and give victims more say in how their cases are pursued.