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Airmen: Get ready to be voluntold for MTI duty

Nov. 19, 2012 - 12:15PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 19, 2012 - 12:15PM  |  
MTI duty requirements are now shifting amid a BMT sex scandal that has led to allegations of misconduct against 25 trainers.
MTI duty requirements are now shifting amid a BMT sex scandal that has led to allegations of misconduct against 25 trainers. (Melinda Mueller / Air Force)
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The Air Force may make military training instructor duty mandatory for some if efforts to recruit enough volunteers fail.

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The Air Force may make military training instructor duty mandatory for some if efforts to recruit enough volunteers fail.

The suggestion to develop a nonvoluntary selection process for the post is one of 46 changes recommended to basic military training as part of an investigation report released Friday.

Gen. Edward Rice, head of Air Education and Training Command, ordered the review of the service's training units in June amid a BMT sex scandal that has led to allegations of misconduct against 25 trainers, ranging from contact with former trainees over social media to sexual assault. The scandal has also cost two commanders their jobs and led to disciplinary action against six more, Rice said.

Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward led the 60-day review, intended in part to identify past and present cases of reported sexual misconduct, unprofessional relationships, maltreatment and other abuses of power by MTIs.

Woodward, the Air Force chief of safety, was also tasked with determining whether "gender-segregated training" — assigning female trainers to female trainees and male trainers to male trainees — would help eliminate MTI misconduct.

All of the trainers charged so far are men; all 49 victims and alleged victims are women.

Gender-integrated training is the best option, Woodward concluded. Rice agreed.

"We believe that it's important from Day One to … make the experience one that is analogous to the experience they're going to have in the Air Force, which is: They're going to be in a mixed-gender environment," Rice said.

Rice said he plans to assign MTI teams of four to every two flights; by November 2013, one of the four will be female.

Women currently account for only 11 percent of the MTI corps, which has long struggled to attract volunteers due to long hours, high stress and time away from a career field.

Investigators examined 51 MTI application packages as part of the review, according to the report, and found that 29 did not meet certain standards: Applicants had poor physical readiness scores and past disciplinary actions, which included Article 15s for shoplifting, soliciting to minors and indecent exposure. Some had not met the qualifying test scores, according to the report.

"Promotion incentives must be established to reward noncommissioned officers for their commitment and ensure quality volunteers," the report stated. "In our opinion, a safe and effective training environment calls for these important investments."

That could include "potential impact on promotions, assignments and pay," it said.

Rice said he has no specific plans right now to up incentives.

"If I'm taking people and providing them incentives to do this work, that impacts what happens in the rest of the Air Force. It doesn't mean we shouldn't do that, but we shouldn't do it blindly, either," he said.

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.

Woodward's report showed that eight of 12 instructors under investigation at the time of her review had become MTIs as staff sergeants with less than a year in grade or were still senior airmen. Some airmen "homesteaded" at basic training, staying for up to 15 or 25 years.

Among other changes:

• 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 officer director of operations and officer flight commanders will be added to BMT squadrons.

• 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.

• A policy that requires wing commanders to be notified immediately if there are allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, unprofessional relationships or maltreatment.

• Specific mental health criteria for MTIs.

• Training on how to report MTI misconduct that assures recruits that their training and their career will not suffer.

• Trainees will be briefed before going to technical training that they cannot have contact with their MTIs while there.

• Create an "indicator set" that will help MTIs detect sexual misconduct, unprofessional relationships and maltraining.

• A tracking system for MTI misconduct.

Rice said he plans to implement all but one of the recommendations — shortening basic training from 8½ weeks to eight weeks so trainers and trainees are left with no idle time. Rice said the proposal is a good one and has not been rejected outright.

— ——

Staff writer jschogol@militarytimes.com?subject=Question from AirForceTimes.com reader">Jeff Schogol contributed to this story.

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