By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2012 – Air Force officials discussed the results of a commander-directed investigation into basic military training instructor misconduct and the service’s commitment to correcting those issues at a press conference here today.
Air Force Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of the Air Education and Training Command, and Air Force Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward, chief of Air Force Safety, outlined the underlying causes of basic training leader misconduct.
In his review of Woodward’s report on the investigation, Rice said he found weaknesses in institutional safeguards, leadership, and the instructor culture of self-accountability, with the conditions leading to abuse of power in basic military training “ever-present.”
“To that end, I am directing the establishment of the Military Training Oversight Council, which will be chaired by a three-star general,” he said. “The purpose of this council is to ensure we have the appropriate level of leadership oversight over issues associated with trainee safety and the maintenance of good order and discipline.”
According to Rice, the report includes nearly two-dozen findings and more than 40 recommendations based on 215 in-depth interviews, surveys of 18,000 service members, and meetings with basic trainees and training instructor spouses.
The report’s findings and recommendations “accurately reflect the deficiencies in our basic military training program and provide effective proposals to remedy those deficiencies,” he said.
Rice noted he intends to implement 45 of the 46 recommendations, with the final recommendation -- adjusting the length of basic training -- still under review, as part of a previous evaluation.
“Because we know the basic military training environment is highly susceptible to the abuse of power, we have established a set of institutional safeguards to prevent misconduct by instructors,” Rice said.
Rice also noted he intends to hold commanders accountable, having “found areas where commanders did not meet my expectations with respect to creating the type of command climate that’s necessary for good order and discipline to be in a healthy state.”
The Air Force has relieved two commanders since the misconduct cases surfaced -- one at the squadron level and one at the group level, Rice said.
“I have also [taken] disciplinary action with six additional commanders,” he said.
Rice and Woodward both emphasized there are honorable men and women in the enlisted basic training complex who continue to serve with distinction.
Rice, quoting Woodward in her report, said, “This report necessarily focuses on the few who violated a sacred trust and broke faith with fellow airmen everywhere.”
Woodward said the investigation also determined that instructors found guilty of misconduct “knew that they were violating a regulation or policy, and that was very clear to them,” she said.
Moving forward, Rice said, AETC will continue to “fix what went wrong in our basic military training program.”
“We are committed to doing everything we can to make our basic military training program the world’s finest example of military professionalism,” he said.