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AF’s former top military lawyer to retire in reduced rank

  • Published
Air Force Secretary Dr. James G. Roche has directed that Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Fiscus, the former Judge Advocate General of the Air Force, be retired in the permanent grade of colonel effective Feb. 1.

Retirement in the grade of colonel instead of major general will result in a future retired pay loss of about $900,000, Air Force budget officials said. The estimated loss of future retired pay is based on an additional life expectancy of 29.5 years, using Internal Revenue Service life expectancy tables.

The retirement grade determination follows an Air Force Inspector General investigation and subsequent nonjudicial punishment for several violations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Gen. Donald G. Cook, commander of Air Education and Training Command, imposed nonjudicial punishment consisting of the maximum permissible forfeitures of pay and a reprimand Dec. 21.

Secretary Roche made the retirement-grade determination after a review of the report of investigation and after considering recommendations from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper, General Cook, and a panel of the Air Force Personnel Council comprised of three lieutenant generals.

Before making his decision, Secretary Roche also considered General Fiscus’ entire military record and matters General Fiscus submitted for consideration in the grade determination. The secretary concluded that he had not served satisfactorily as either a major general or brigadier general.

In the report of investigation, the IG substantiated three categories of allegations. Allegations included unprofessional relationships with both officer and enlisted female subordinates, inappropriate sexual advances toward female subordinates and improper relationships with female civilians. The incidents occurred over 10 years and involved 13 women.

When a commissioned officer retires, federal law requires the service secretaries to determine the highest grade the officer satisfactorily held over the course of his or her career.

“An adverse officer grade determination significantly reduces the retirement benefits of officers who perform unsatisfactorily,” said Michael L. Dominguez, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs. “It also provides the Secretary of the Air Force an additional mechanism with which to appropriately address misconduct. The retirement grade reduction imposes a substantial financial penalty for the officer’s misconduct while leaving him some benefits from his long and otherwise distinguished military service.”

General Fiscus will also lose the benefit of the privileges and respect normally afforded to retired general officers.

“The actions of Air Force leadership make it clear that such misconduct will not be tolerated, regardless of the grade or position of the offender,” General Jumper said. “General Fiscus has now been held accountable for his misconduct under the UCMJ and by retirement in a lesser grade.”

Details of the nonjudicial punishment were recently made public. In the Article 15, General Fiscus was punished for 11 offenses.

"You, a married man, did ... wrongfully and dishonorably engage in an unprofessional relationship and exchange inappropriately intimate e-mail with (a subordinate major) while pursuing a romantic or sexual relationship outside your marriage," read one specification.

Other specifications involved inappropriate touching and kissing, fraternization with a noncommissioned officer, and misuse of government e-mail. Another specification accused the general of attempting to hinder the investigation by deleting incriminating e-mails from his government computer.

General Fiscus served the Air Force for over 32 years and attained the highest rank and position available to a military lawyer. He now faces a review of his conduct under attorney professional responsibility standards.