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Basic training commander sacked amid scandal

Aug. 10, 2012 - 03:11PM   |   Last Updated: Aug. 10, 2012 - 03:11PM  |  
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Col. Glenn Palmer, commander of basic military training recently rocked by a sex assault scandal, has been relieved of command.

Palmer came to the job just over a year ago, soon after a training instructor was accused of raping a basic trainee. That MTI, Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, was recently sentenced to 20 years and a dishonorable discharge for sexually assaulting or having improper relationships with 10 trainees.

Palmer was integral in a sweeping investigation of the basic training environment which so far has led to the convictions of three MTIs, with four more headed to court-martial. Eight more trainers are under investigation, and at least 38 possible victims have been identified.

Col. Eric Axelbank, the commander of the 37th Training Wing who is set to leave his post in September, removed Palmer, said spokeswoman Collen McGee.

"He feels new leadership is needed … in order to move forward in light of the continuing [sex assault] investigations," McGee said.

She said Palmer has not yet received his new assignment.

"Col. Palmer did not create the environment that resulted in the misconduct," McGee said. "But Col. Axelbank wants a different leader to implement the changes needed" at basic military training. "It's important we match the right leader with the need of the unit. A new leader is needed now."

McGee did not specify what new changes will be made at BMT. "Those changes haven't been announced yet. Obviously we're going to continue to look at anything any investigation brings up and take appropriate action," she said.

Palmer took a no-nonsense approach to the sex scandal, likening it to a cancer. "I've got to get them out," he said of trainers found to have acted inappropriately. "They don't belong."

Palmer was the second high-ranking official removed by Axelbank in the past three months. Lt. Col. Michael Paquette, who commanded the 331st Training Squadron where a majority of those implicated so far had served, was relieved in June.

The news of Palmer's removal came just hours after the Air Education and Training Command announced that Axelbank would leave his post Sept. 4.

Col. Mark Camerer, commander of the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base, Del., will replace Axelbank.

Palmer served as deputy group commander of the 720th Special Tactics Group at Hurlburt Field, Fla. prior to going to Lackland.

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