WASHINGTON — Air Force leaders announced Wednesday to members of the press the results of the commander-directed investigation regarding the occurrences of sexual misconduct within basic military training between October 2010 and June 2011.
The CDI was commissioned by Gen. Edward Rice, Air Education and Training Command commander, June 20 based on substantiated reports of misconduct within Air Force BMT, and led by Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, Air Force Chief of Safety, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
The final report included 22 findings and 46 recommendations that accurately reflect the deficiencies in the Air Force’s basic military training program and provide effective proposals to remedy those deficiencies, according to Rice.
Of the 46 recommendations, Rice said AETC is working to implement 45 of them within a year’s time to include a training oversight council and ensuring there is a female instructor included on every team.
“The conditions that led to the abuse of power in basic military training are ever-present; thus, our vigilance and engagement must be persistent as well,” said Rice. “To that end, I am directing the establishment of the Military Training Oversight Council, which will be chaired by a three star general.”
“The purpose of this council is to ensure we have the appropriate level of leadership oversight of issues associated with trainee safety and the maintenance of good order and discipline,” he said.
Another recommendation Rice highlighted was to have more female instructors in BMT because, as he pointed out, young Airmen come from all walks of life and some of them have never been around a strong authority figure of the opposite sex, but that’s an integral part of the Air Force.
“They may be under the authority of a female or a male, and we want to make sure they have the full range of that experience in basic military training and this will make that happen,” Rice said.
The change is to implement four-person training teams and every team will have at least one female Airman, but right now, there aren’t enough female MTIs to make this happen, Rice said. The Air Force is working hard to build to that level.
“Of all the 45 recommendations, that will be the last one that we complete fully,” the general said.
More female MTIs are already being recruited and trained, but like building any Airman, it takes time.
The recommendation not being implemented had to do with the length of basic training, Rice said. That’s because AETC was already looking at cutting down the just over eight-week BMT schedule.
He said gaps in the schedule leave the trainees too much time to potentially get into mischief.
“I haven’t rejected that recommendation,” Rice said. “We are continuing to look at the proper length of basic training. It’s just that we are looking at it in a different form.”
According to Rice, all of the recommendations were in line with the commitment Air Force leadership has made to correct this situation. Of the 46 CDI recommendations, 20 are associated with strengthening institutional safeguards, 14 are associated with strengthening leadership, and 12 are associated with strengthening the MTI culture.
To perform the CDI and come up with the recommendations, Woodward conducted 215 in-depth interviews, surveyed more than 18,000 personnel, and performed focus groups with basic military trainees and training-instructor spouses. The investigation also included survey trips to many of the training locations throughout the military.
But, Rice pointed out, what went wrong is not a mystery to Air Force leadership.
“We understand the what, the how and the why of our deficiencies, and because we have this understanding, I am confident the solutions we are implementing will effectively address the root causes of the problems we have identified,” he said.
“This report necessarily focuses on the few who violated [a] sacred trust and broke faith with fellow Airmen everywhere,” Woodward said in her report. “It is important to remember that despite the extraordinary scrutiny of basic training, honorable men and women throughout the Air Force enlisted training complex continue to serve every day with distinction.”