You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Lawmaker: MTI cases show system needs revamping

Oct. 5, 2012 - 01:08PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 5, 2012 - 01:08PM  |  
Rep. Jackie Speier
Rep. Jackie Speier (AP)
  • Filed Under

A member of the House Armed Services Committee says new leadership at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland will have some success in changing what she described as a culture of tolerance that permitted military training instructors to prey on young recruits. But nothing short of an overhaul of the military criminal justice system will ensure permanent change, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said following a nine-hour visit to the base Oct. 2.

"The new leadership at Lackland is genuine in their interest in scrubbing the sex scandal from the memories of those who work there and those that come through as trainees," said Speier, who was joined by Reps. Loretta Sanchez and Susan Davis, both California Democrats. "I have every confidence that they will make some inroads. But that could all be very temporary as leadership changes."

Speier called the reason for the visit "pretty obvious. Lackland represents the newest and probably the biggest sex scandal in the history of the military."

The congresswomen met with base leadership, MTIs and trainees, and prosecutors and investigators who are handling more than a dozen cases of rape, sexual assault and improper relationships between trainers and recruits.

The Air Force has charged seven MTIs so far; 12 more remain under investigation. Of those charged, five have been convicted; two await court-martial.

Speier also spoke to the MTIs who reported some of the abuses. "They became victims, as well. ... They are ostracized, they can't sleep," she said. One of those trainers, who has spent 12 years in the service, said he always planned to retire from the Air Force. Now he wants out.

Speier said one of the trainers' initial reports to supervisors was dismissed. "It wasn't until the second MTI reported it that they took it seriously."

The congresswoman talked to victims by phone during her visit, she said. "The sex scandal at Lackland becomes more egregious the more specifics you know about it. It was a veritable cesspool."

The Air Force said it has already made multiple changes at basic training to try to prevent a repeat of the scandal. It also installed new leadership in September.

More changes may be coming. Gen. Edward Rice, head of Air Education and Training Command, is reviewing recommendations from an independent investigation of basic military training.

Speier has called for a new method of reporting sexual assaults. A recent change in Defense Department policy requires such complaints to be handled by an O-6 or higher instead of by an immediate supervisor.

Speier said sexual assaults should never be handled within the chain of command. "It's a conflict of interest," she said.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Air Force Times

This Week's Air Force Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook