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The Air Force may make military training instructor duty mandatory for some if efforts to recruit enough volunteers fail, Gen. Edward Rice, head of Air Education and Training Command, wrote in a report released today alongside an independent review of the service's training units.
The recommendation to develop a non-voluntary selection process for the post is one of 45 changes to basic training underway amid a high-profile sex scandal that so far has led to charges against 11 former trainers and the investigation of 14 more. Alleged misconduct ranges from rape to inappropriate contact over social media. Up to eight commanders face disciplinary action, Rice said at a press briefing at the Pentagon just prior to the release of the results of the review led by Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward.
Two of those commanders, including the head of basic military training, were relieved of duty this summer, though none of them has been found to have broken any rules or regulations.
"This isn't about punishing people for wrongdoing. It's about holding them responsible" for upholding the highest standards, Rice said.
Woodward's report identified how and why the misconduct occurred and made 46 recommendations to try to ensure it doesn't happen again; Rice said he has either already implemented or plans to implement all but one — shortening basic training so that trainers and trainees had no idle time.
Rice said the proposal was a good one and had not been rejected outright. "We're looking at it in a different form," he said.
The AETC commander summed up the MTI misconduct at the briefing: Safeguards that were supposed to protect young recruits and prevent the abuse of power by instructors grew weak over time, he said. Leadership failed to detect and prevent those weaknesses, and MTIs did not adequately police themselves.
"What happened is that we had a breakdown in good order and discipline among a relative few, but not insignificant number, of our instructors," Rice said.
MTIs historically work 80 to 100 hours a week, Woodward's report stated. One instructor was in charge of about 60 trainees, which put trainers under a lot of stress and provided very little oversight.
By December, there will be a team of four MTIs per two flights; by November 2013, one of those four will be a female instructor. MTI duty will also undergo a number of changes: tours will be shortened from four years to three, and instructors will have to be technical sergeants or higher, although staff sergeants with at least one year in grade could be considered. Airmen who want to return to MTI duty will first have to serve four years in their career field.
Airmen may also have more incentive to volunteer for MTI duty by way of "potential impact on promotions, assignments and pay," the report said.
Among other changes underway:
• Every basic military training squadron will have a diamond-wearing first sergeant who has already spent at least a year as a first sergeant.
• An advanced BMT leadership orientation course that will include "lessons-learned case studies" on use of power, wrongful sexual contact, sexual harassment, unprofessional relationships and maltreatment by May 2013.
• A policy that requires wing commanders to be notified immediately if there are allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, unprofessional relationships or maltreatment.
• MTIs must meet specific mental health criteria.
• Training on how to report MTI misconduct that assures recruits that their training and their career will not suffer if they come forward with allegations.
• A 24/7 hotline for reporting misconduct.
• Create an "indicator set" that will help MTIs detect sexual misconduct, unprofessional relationships and maltraining.
• A tracking system for MTI misconduct.
Rice also said intends to establish what he calls a "Military Training Oversight Council" that will meet regularly and be chaired by a three-star general.
"This isn't the end. I don't take these 45 recommendations and move on," he said.