following sexual misconduct between drill sergeants and female trainees
The Air Force today ordered a top level military investigation into Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base Texas, after revelations that several drill instructors have had improper sexual relationships with female trainees, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The investigation was ordered by Gen. Edward A. Rice, the commander of Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base.
"It is important to look even deeper and wider to identify any systemic issues that may place our youngest Airmen at risk in any basic or technical training environment," Rice said. "If there are, we need to address them."
Several BMT instructors at Lackland have been charged with having improper relations with female recruits, one sergeant testified that he engaged in prohibited sexual conduct with as many as ten women.
Since then, Air Force investigators have fanned out to probe other drill sergeants, and have asked all trainees to report any suspicious activities.
"I tell the trainees, you are my neighborhood watch, each and every one of you," said Col. Glenn Palmer, commander of the 737th Training Group. "If there is any Military Training Instructor misconduct going on, report it. If it's happing to you, report it. If you observe it happening, be a good wingman and report it."
Rice said Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans, and Requirements at the headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington DC will conduct the investigation.
He said Gen. Woodward's investigation is not designed to halt any ongoing or planned training unit review, corrective actions, or criminal investigations being conducted by subordinate units. Her probe will evaluate all aspects of sexual and other abuse of power or misconduct between faculty or staff and trainees or students in Basic Military Training or technical training throughout the command.
All men and women entering the Air Force as enlistees undergo basic military instruction at Lackland AFB, which is known as the 'Gateway to the Air Force.' Male and female trainees serve together in training units, known as 'flights.'
The Air Force has a strict policy against fraternization between drill sergeants and trainees of either sex, either during or after basic training.
"Misconduct, particularly when committed by faculty or staff with trainees or students, undermines an entire team, damages good order and discipline, and threatens the trust the American people have in us as professionals and as an institution," Rice said. "It will not be tolerated."