On Wednesday, Air Force investigators announced the findings of their probe into cases of sexual assault by military training instructors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
Since January 1, 2012, dozens of cases have been uncovered; five instructors have been convicted, one was punished for military violations, and General Edward Rice, Commander of the Air Education Training Command, said dozens of other charges are being considered.
“Our investigative process has involved over 280 investigators and support personnel who have spent over 40,000 hours conducting interviews, analyzing data, and pursuing leads," said Rice.
Investigators attributed the breakdown to three elements:
- Weaknesses and gaps in institutional safeguards
- Insufficient leadership oversight
- Inadequate self-policing by instructors
Rice said eight commanders were found to be responsible, and though none was involved in behavior against rules and regulations, he said fixing the problem means holding them accountable for their responsibilities.
Investigators recommended creating an oversight council to institutionalize fixes, such as stepping up the training of instructors in their responsibilities – in particular, to become more vigilant about abuses of power.
“It’s a part of how we prepare them for this environment," said Rice, "and we’ve put additional rigor into helping them understand that for the first time many of them are going to have a significant level of power and how that can be insidiously impactful to them over time.”
Rice said commanders have the authority they need to implement the changes and does not feel legislation is needed. The Command also called for increasing the number of officers in each squadron -- and working over the next year to achieve a 25 percent female military instructor ratio. Rice said he would implement 45 recommendations over the next year.