Thursday, August 7, 2014


Dear USAF, what has happened to the core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do?  The last few years have seen multiple scandals involving the USAF and its airmen.

Exhibit A:

"The U.S. Air Force's nuclear command has been rocked by a cheating scandal involving nearly three dozen officers.

Cheating on a proficiency exam involving intercontinental missile launch officers at the Global Strike Command at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana apparently was carried out around last August and September by text and appears to be the largest incident of its kind, the Pentagon said."  Source: CNN

Exhibit B:

"A military jury on Friday convicted an instructor at Lackland Air Force Base of raping one female trainee and sexually assaulting several others, the first major case in a sex scandal that has rocked the Air Force’s basic training system.

The jury of two officers and five enlisted airmen found Staff Sgt. Luis Walker guilty on 28 counts, including adultery, violating regulations and committing sexual crimes against female trainees, most of whom reported to him at Lackland, in San Antonio, the Air Force’s lone basic training school."  Source: NY Times

Exhibit C:

"Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, an Air Force three-star general, defended his decision to overturn an F-16 pilot's sexual assault conviction in a memo released Wednesday, calling criticisms of the move "complete and utter nonsense."

Franklin's recent decision had sparked outcry from advocates and members of Congress, which ultimately resulted in Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel calling...for reforms to the military justice system, including eliminating a commander's power to overturn a court martial."  Source:  Huffington Post

Exhibit D: 

"The Air Force Academy said Sunday it has launched an investigation of its athletic department and is demanding more accountability from coaches after the Colorado Springs Gazette reported allegations of lax oversight and athlete misconduct.

Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, the academy's superintendent, released a statement acknowledging "troubling" behavior by some athletes and other cadets. She cited a 2011 party that eventually led to the court-martial and expulsions of several cadets, some for sexual misconduct.

The Gazette reviewed hundreds of pages of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that shed new light on the 2011 party and an earlier one in 2010. Air Force investigators looked into allegations of heavy drinking and drug use at both parties, and claims of the use of date-rape drugs and sexual misconduct at the 2011 party, the documents showed.

Several weeks after the 2010 party, investigators seized synthetic marijuana during a raid on six dorm rooms. Twenty-one cadets were expelled and five resigned, but it's not known how many were athletes."  Source: ABC News

Exhibit E:

"In February of this year, the commander of the 19th Airlift Wing relieved Lt. Col. Blair Kaiser of command of the 30th Airlift Squadron, an active duty C-130 unit embedded within the Wyoming Air National Guard. The news came as an absolute shock to Kaiser and his 200+ airmen. He’d just returned from commanding a deployed squadron in Afghanistan, a job he’d done with great distinction despite having been dispatched on short notice almost immediately after being given command of the 30th."  Source:  John Q. Public blog

Exhibit F:

From Feb 23, 2011

"Boeing won the U.S. Air Force's $35 billion contract to build 179 aerial refueling tankers, Pentagon and Air Force officials announced Thursday.

An initial 2003 lease deal for new Boeing tankers fell apart under a cloud of scandal. The Air Force then chose a Northrop Grumman-EADS tanker over a Boeing offering in 2008, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates threw out that result after congressional auditors found serious flaws in the process."  Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Exhibit G:

From Sep 19, 2013

"Days after the U.S. Defense Department signaled an improving relationship with Lockheed Martin Corp. over the cost of the F-35 fighter jet, Sen. John McCain called the program “one of the great national scandals.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, who oversees the F-35 program, this week said the relationship between the service and Lockheed — the plane’s manufacturer and the world’s biggest defense contractor — along with engine-maker Pratt & Whitney, part of United Technologies Corp., is “orders of magnitude” better than it was a year ago."  Source:  DoD Buzz

These are the ethical scandals that have made the news.  There are others as well.  The USAF is not alone in experiencing a crisis of integrity, however the number of scandals that have come to light recently and the depth of these scandals is alarming.  Perhaps this is why Gen Welsh, USAF Chief of Staff had to go on record:

"The Air Force's top officer gives his service top marks for personal behavior, saying he is "very happy with the ethical fabric of the United States Air Force," despite problems that include a cheating scandal at its nuclear missile sites and a general's drunken binge on an arms control mission."  Source: USA Today

The USAF is has the most corporate culture of any of the military branches.  Nearly 90 percent of Air Force officers have degrees in engineering or related fields which means the USAF tends to copy the tech world more so than other branches.  It is not surprising then that in a service that tends to mimic a corporation more than a branch of the military lapses in ethical judgement happen as a result of trying to climb the corporate ladder.  

In all of my "exhibits", senior commanders and general officers failed to follow Air Force core values.  Their lapses in ethical behavior caused that of the junior officers and NCOs below them to become compromised as well.  

As though all of this weren't bad enough, the White House and Secretary Hagel want to severely slash the military including the USAF.  Here is a listed of proposed cuts to the USAF from NBC News:

  • Eliminate the A-10 and replace it with the F-35
  • Eliminate the U-2 and replace with Global Hawk unmanned drone
  • Eliminate the KC-10 fleet
  • Sequestering in 2016
  • Another BRAC in 2017
The F-35 is too expensive and too few in number to risk having it perform the close air support (CAS) mission of the A-10.  The Global Hawk vs U2 is not a true apples-to-apples comparison.  The U-2 is actually the more capable platform.  Eliminating the KC-10 but the KC-46 won't be coming off the production line anytime soon which means even more hours on the KC-135 fleet.

Hidden is all of this though is the reduction of manpower.  Fewer manned platforms, more reliance on unmanned vehicles, a nuclear force that may not be that capable, and fewer bases raise a very disconcerting question.  Does the US really need the USAF anymore?

The scandals and projected reductions in manpower has to be obvious even to Hagel.  Obama may just be waiting until after the mid-term elections to pull a major paradigm.  Save huge amounts of money be eliminating the USAF and dividing its mission up between the Army and Navy.

Far-fetched?  Perhaps but if more scandals start coming out, don't be surprised to hear talk about reducing/eliminating at least one branch of the military.

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