News>AETC commander addresses recruits' allegations of sexual misconduct
Gen. Edward Rice Jr., Commander, Air Education and Training Command, gives a press briefing on allegations of sexual misconduct involving basic military training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in the Pentagon on June 28, 2012. An investigation since June 2011 into the allegations is still ongoing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)
Gen. Edward Rice Jr., commander, Air Education and Training Command, gives a press briefing on allegations of sexual misconduct involving basic military training instructors at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland in the Pentagon on June 28, 2012. An investigation since June 2011 into the allegations is still ongoing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina Brownlow)
by Tech. Sgt. Jess Harvey
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
6/29/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The commander of the Air Force's Air Education and Training Command spoke to members of the media here June 28 about the on-going investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by military training instructors (MTIs) at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
"In the fall of 2011 we discovered, to our great disappointment, that we had a number of MTIs who were alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct with trainees," said Gen. Edward Rice, Jr. "We are all committed to doing everything possible to investigate those allegations, to take care of the victims, to hold the perpetrators accountable and to fix any institutional problem that may have facilitated this completely unacceptable behavior."
In total, 12 MTIs have been accused of engaging in the misconduct, nine of which were from the 331st Training Squadron at Lackland. The squadron commander was relieved, and the MTIs were moved to other responsibilities within the squadron pending the results of the investigation.
Rice said the first allegation was raised by a victim in June 2011, and then, in November 2011, a group of MTIs came forward with information they overheard from other instructors.
"The vast majority of our 500 military training instructors are performing magnificently in a tremendously demanding environment," said Rice. "No one is more angry and disappointed than they are that a relatively small number of their cadre has cast a shadow over the entire program."
That's why, he said, the instructors came forward.
"Some of this alleged misconduct occurred while the trainees where in basic military training and some of this alleged misconduct occurred after the trainees graduated from BMT but were still in what we call the technical-training environment," said Rice.
But the general pointed out that, no matter where or when it happened, the Air Force has a zero-tolerance policy for this type of behavior and AETC has policies in place to deter it.
"Regardless of whether the activity occurred in basic military training or in the technical training environment," said Rice, "personal relationships of any kind between trainees and instructors are strictly prohibited by our regulations and our instructions."
As soon as AETC leaders received the first allegation, they began an aggressive investigation and further tightened the measures already in place to deter such misconduct.
One such measure includes a briefing given to all recruits within the first 72 hours of their arrival, according to Rice. The training group commander, chaplain, judge advocate, and sexual assault response coordinator talk to recruits about their rights and responsibilities to report misconduct.
Another measure includes comment boxes located all throughout the training areas where recruits can use comment sheets to anonymously report incidents.
"The training group commander reads every urgent sheet within 24 hours," said Rice. "And any allegation of sexual misconduct results in immediate action."
That includes the instructor being removed from his or her flight immediately and a no-contact order being issued, according to Rice. In addition, the MTI hat is removed from that instructor pending investigation.
He said the command is also looking closely at the instructor and trainee training process, the instructor selection process, and hiring more instructors among other things to combat this in the future, according to Rice.
"These actions are designed to help us address the root causes of the issue," said Rice. Additionally, Rice directed an outside look by a major general not assigned within AETC to review the command's policies and practices.
"This external review will examine all the actions we have taken thus far to address this issue and provide me with feedback on what more we can do to prevent misconduct in our training environment and to strengthen our entire training enterprise," said Rice.
"At the end of the day, the best line of defense is for the training instructors in fact to police themselves and that's what happened in this case." said Rice.
But, the general stressed, "It's important that we not pre-judge any of these cases, in any way. Remember that each person we are investigating is innocent until proven guilty."
7/17/2012 9:46:42 AM ET Quoting Timbo's post on 722012 95431 AM ET: I know the Air Force has had thousands of female flights go through under male TIs without any problems... Timbo Scott AFB.Respectfully, I disagree with Timbo's approach to all-female flights because that's a form of gender segregation and that's the worse way to indoctrinate a recruit. There's no such segregation once the recruits join their respective active-duty units, so why subject them to such concept? The ideal approach is to expect the utmost professionalism out of the TIs to rely on self-police among TIs and encouraging the already-in place anonymous reporting mechanism. Those who are found guilty as charged should have the book thrown at them with extreme prejudice to demonstrate the zero tolerance stance. No one and no organization is flawless; the best thing we can do is to constantly strive for perfection while instituting rules and regs to weed out the bad apples.
USAF major, MacDill AFB FL
7/10/2012 9:01:13 AM ET Timbo please don't wait for TOS to apply. Timing is everything. If you are a stellar performer and meet the criteria they can and will waive the TOS to get female volunteers. I applaud you for your desire to be part of the cure. Train them tough train them right. MTI 1993-1996
CMSgt Tim Servati, Keesler AFB MS
7/9/2012 10:34:13 AM ET These actions bring shame upon the Air Force. Sexual Assault is real in the Air Force and I know from experience. It's even sadder when it is happening from the very start of your career. I guess I should be lucky that it took 10 years to come in contact with it. I totally agree with the retired SMSgt about re-militarizing the Air Force. There is a lack of respect for leadership and leadership these days no longer demand respect. As an NCO, it's hard to even discipline Airmen these days becaue someone always feel you are being too hard. It's really a sad state of affairs. I hope as an Air Force we can find a way to put things back to where they need to be.
TSgt Concerned, Dover
7/5/2012 2:34:45 PM ET One small but important correction to the General's last statement: Remember that each person we are investigating is PRESUMED innocent until proven guilty.
Avatar, Springfield USA
7/4/2012 2:27:41 AM ET My son just graduated from BMT on June 22, 2012. I was very impressed with all the MTI's I saw that entire weekend, both male AND female. Over 450 Airmen graduated and I salute and respect every single one of them for all their hard work. My son is an amazing human being and his MTI's made him an even BETTER person. It's unfortunate that a few have tarnished the image if the training instructors. I truly feel they still can hold their heads hig;h it's a tremendously tough job. Here's hoping that they retain more female MTI's in the very near future.
Jami, Las Vegas Nevada
7/4/2012 2:11:52 AM ET Editor's note: This comment was rejected because it did not meet the comment rules. Please review the comment rules, which can be found just above the comment submission form.
SSgt , Hill AFB
7/3/2012 1:46:25 PM ET I know I'm not the only 086 member who hasn't lost their respect for the man that we called dad.'@068: Perhaps THIS is part of the problem. Back in the day, as airmen we were scared of senior NCO's. Hell, we were scared of a Buck Sgt. The last thing we would have done is consider one of them Dad, and we certainly didn't call any of them by that name. They would have had our asses. Others have hit on it, mostly retired types like me. Maybe it's time to not only re-blue the Air Force but re-militarize it as well
Jay SMSgt ret, DC
7/3/2012 12:41:07 PM ET Don't believe everything you read....
7/3/2012 12:14:00 PM ET @o68, let's start there... you don't call the man Dad. He's your TI and that culture tells me all I need to know. It's perfectly appropriate for a man who fooled you into respecting him to go down this way, and if you can't see that then you need remediation on core values. If you and others weren't included, consider it by definition predatory... not going after the masses rather selected individuals. We need to clean house top to bottom on this.
7/2/2012 5:26:23 PM ET I was in one of the accused MTIs flights. It's heart breaking to hear that a man who instilled you with such pride for the uniform you wear to go down this way. The story doesn't add up from the experince we had with him; none of us girls can quite make since of it. I know I'm not the only 086 member who hasn't lost their respect for the man that we called dad.
068, Sheppard AFB
7/2/2012 4:30:26 PM ET Looks like the whole chain of command had a breakdown. We did have female MTIs when I went thru Lackland in the 60's. Guess the upper command was to busy to make unannounced visits to all the barracks at all all times 24/7. You have a job to do and a moral one at that. We who are the silent salespeople out in the hinderland for the Air Force have been let down
Ralph Chalfant, Fort Hood TX
7/2/2012 3:56:41 PM ET I was a TI 10 years ago. This stuff happened all the time, maybe 1 or 2 per year who got caught. Today it is ridiculous and embarrassing. You can always blame it on perverted MTIs--but the REAL root cause is the lack of good order and discipline that must be upheld and enforced 24/7 on and off duty. The enlisted leadership and supervision of today's MTI corps is a new younger generation that needs to be re-blued. The same can be said about the regular Air Force- where there is too much fraternization between senior and junior members, enlisted or officers alike. With rampant sexual misconduct at BMT, it is obvious the training superintendents and section supervisors alike are not upholding and enforcing standards among their MTIs.. Commanders contribute to the same problem when they too have the same lackadaisical attitude towards discipline. If MTIs are not professional and strict with trainees, NEITHER are they among other MTIs and their supervisors and or commanders. Maybe wh
MSgt Blue-Rope MTI Retired, Colorado
7/2/2012 2:38:01 PM ET What are you going to do now that well the Air Force Drinks from has been poisoned by the actions of a few I'm so glad none of my children will be going through Lackland any time soon.
7/2/2012 10:39:57 AM ET I worked for Gen Rice in PACAF. I think if he could he'd give these guys the lash once convicted. I still recommend the rapists be put up against a wall and shot. One thing that needs to be done is to look at this not only at Lackland but other AETC bases as well. Lot of KNOWN unprofessional relationships during my time at Keesler that were overlooked by the higher ups because the instigators were the Golden Children. We had an instructor MARRY a student as soon as she got out of school. Nah nothing going on there OTOH I knew a guy that came to Keesler as a SSGT and left an A1C because he got busted with students three different times. Needless to say he was NOT one of the Golden Children.Clean it all out. Yank a stripe or two off every instructor that messes with studentsAnd shoot the rapists
Jay SMSgt ret, DC
7/2/2012 10:36:33 AM ET Who said that these are all women Remember....open doors to all same-sex abuse is rampant but nothing mentioned. What about AFA Heard stories for YEARS.
M.A.C, Nellis AFB
7/2/2012 9:54:31 AM ET I know the Air Force has had thousands of female flights go through under male TIs without any problems. However I do think it's time to appoint more female TIs so that there's enough to lead all female flights. I know there's not enough volunteers but maybe we she should look into having leadership recommending their superstar female Airman for TI duty. Before anyone says what about you I do plan on applying for TI duty when I have enough TOS.
Timbo, Scott AFB
6/29/2012 1:08:12 PM ET A sad sad day...
6/29/2012 10:16:15 AM ET How sad is it that every single trainee now has to be given what is essentially a warning from a panel of leadership that their first experience with my Air Force may involve sexual misconduct by those who are supposedly the best of us This is utterly shameful. I am aware that it is a few bad apples but that does not make it any less embarassing. This has been going on for a long time but it seems to be getting worse.
Fish, New Mexico
6/29/2012 8:47:11 AM ET Of course the severity of thse crimes are creating a firestorm of criticism and rightfully so. We should all be enraged when women are sexually abused and the penalties should be harsher than they are. Obviously the current sentencing guidelines are not enough to deter these losers. Please do not smear the entire MTI field nor the Air Force for the actions of a few undesirables....it is not fair and definitely not taken lightly by leadership. One suggestion look at hiring retirees to assist with the training. They have the experience and maturity to effectively teach these young kids. Even if they retired from the Vietnam era and so much has changed since then they have proven they have the capacity to learn whatever it takes to be successful. It is time for a change and there is no reason a civilian can't provide an equal or higher standard of training. We already have them in the tech schools and they are doing a great job.