Dempsey: 'We let the boss down' in Colombia

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The nation's top military officer apologized on Monday for American troops' alleged role in a widening sex scandal in Colombia, acknowledging that the flap had "distracted" from President Obama's visit to the key Latin American ally.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the military was "embarrassed" that at least five troops may have joined Secret Service agents in hiring prostitutes there.

"We let the boss down," Dempsey said.

Dempsey's comments come as the number of service members implicated in the incident may rise, as Pentagon press secretary George Little said on Monday that while he didn't have an exact number, the original number may be too low. The U.S. Southern Command had previously said only five service members were under investigation.

"We believe that there may be more than five involved in this incident," Little said, according to the Associated Press.

Eleven Secret Service officers have been accused of hiring prostitutes at a hotel in Columbia, all of whom were sent home, and the military members under investigation were staying at the same hotel, the Associated Press reports.

However, the number of Secret Service officers under investigation may be as large as 20, NBC is reporting.

The incident has raised questions about the judgement of the agents charged with protecting Obama and it is being investigated by both the Secret Service and the military's Southern Command.

Dempsey said the troops would be punished if the probe concluded that they'd violated military rules.

"We'll hold those accountable if it turns out that they violated orders or policies," he said.

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