November 14th, 2012
11:57 PM ET

Air Force changes training structure after sex assault investigation

By Mike Mount

An investigation into sexual assaults and harassment at the basic-training facility for the U.S. Air Force has led to sweeping changes of how instructors are chosen, as well as to an increase in the number of female instructors for new recruits.

The announcement came on Wednesday as the Air Force briefed reporters at the Pentagon on the findings of an investigation into claims earlier this year that dozens of female recruits had been sexually assaulted.

The Air Force's final report into the Air Education and Training Command at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas said some of the instructors, "lacked the experience necessary to effectively serve as mentors and leaders and had little to no supervisory experience...this lack of experience is considered particularly relevant when a single (instructor) is generally responsible for a flight of 50 or more trainees."

Some 23 instructors have been identified as having been allegedly involved in the misconduct against 48 recruits at the school. The report says five people have been convicted in military courts on rape and adultery charges, with punishments ranging from 30 days in prison to 20 years behind bars.

The report comes as the Pentagon and CIA find themselves embroiled in a sex scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus - a retired Army general - and an investigation into possible improper conduct by the NATO top commander, Gen. John Allen.

Among the 46 recommendations in the report, the Air Force will require that a fourth of the instructors be female - there was no standard on a male-female ratio before - and that four instructors will now oversee two units - with at least one instructor being a woman. Prior to the report, the training command had only one instructor overseeing a 22-person unit of men and women.

Lackland Air Force base, near San Antonio, is where all U.S. Air Force recruits report for basic training. Air Force statistics show that there are about 500 instructors at the base that trains about 35,000 airmen each year. Only 20% of the recruits are female, and the vast majority of the instructors at the school are men, according to the fact sheet.

The lead investigator into the training command improprieties, Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, said the biggest problem was instructors who took advantage an oversight system where instructors and officers did not monitor one another to spot trouble signs that could catch the abuse.

"Basic military training is an environment that is highly vulnerable to the abuse of power because of the significant power imbalance that exists between instructors and trainees," the report said. "The conditions that led to the abuse of power in ... are ever-present; thus, our vigilance and engagement must be persistent as well," according to the report.

The commander in charge of Air Force training wrote a response to the investigation.
Gen. Edward Rice Jr., said the service will put additional and better prepared officers in charge of training units and will require enlisted instructors to have more seniority before taking a position. Instructors will now monitor each other to look for signs that abuse is taking place.

"The susceptibility to the abuse of power is well-documented, not just here but in any situation of its type," Rice said at the Pentagon news briefing.

"And we believe we can do more to both equip each individual with the sort of warning signals they should be looking out for among their fellow airmen and taking ownership of the responsibility to monitor not just their own behavior, but also those around them in a way that when someone doesn't meet our standards, they intervene early," the commander in charge of training, Gen. Rice said at the Pentagon news briefing.

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Chris

    The Air Force and boot camp in the same sentence is laughable.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  2. Will

    They should put eunuchs as trainers!

    November 16, 2012 at 12:10 am | Reply
  3. Ex-Navy

    Why don't they just go back to all male/all female training facilities? I have a daughter who wants to join the Navy, and knowing the mentality of sailors when on extended deployments, it scares me to death to think of what she will endure.

    November 15, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      Its still that way in my beloved Marine Corps. On the island females are in 4th Battalion which is on the opposite side of the base from 1st-3rd Battalion which are all male, I didn't see a female until we hit the rifle range and even than we were not even close or even allowed to look at them.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • yaolinning

      then, I hope she is smart so she can get an intel job!

      November 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  4. NNN

    Good story that fully reveals what the Air Force has always been about, lots of show about integrity and honor but in reality a sleaze infested dis-organization full of a lot of really bad people. This is just another indicator that the Department of Defense is too big to be reasonably managed, it is little more than a cash cow for a bunch of unemployables.

    November 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  5. Navy Vet.

    HAHAHAHAH and Hello: What if it is your little sister or brother.

    November 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply
    • Disgusted

      Amen! People like that don't think about how they would feel if it was them and or their family involved. They just think it's funny? I don't get that! Anyhow my friends daughter was raped by her MTI and he is one of those accused. The medical people had to have known what was going on and instead of reporting it they just slapped some fake diagnosis on the poor girls involved and eventually made them go away by having them discharged. The girl I know is so traumatized by the whole thing that her life is changed forever. She had to have surgery to fix what that animal did to her. It's sick and I hope those animals all get the same treatment in prison!

      November 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  6. Mike

    Ok, now we have a roadmap for what to do about Patreus & Broadwell. Courts-martial....sauce for the goose and all.

    November 15, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  7. Hahahahahahahahhaha

    Now see here boys. This is a p_ssy. Play nice with it. Carry on. Hahahahahhahahahaah

    November 15, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
  8. Hello

    Ahhhh good times........

    November 15, 2012 at 9:07 am | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.