The commander of the 47th Flying Training Wing at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, his operations group commander and a flying training squadron commander have been relieved for failing to stop officer misconduct there.
Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, head of Air Education and Training Command, on Wednesday relieved wing commander Col. Charles Velino, 47th Operations Group commander Col. Robert Pekarek, and the unnamed squadron commander after multiple investigations, and the recommendation of the commander of the 19th Air Force.
Kwast decided the command team at the 47th did not take appropriate actions to respond to, correct and report incidents of officer misconduct at Laughlin, according to a Wednesday release from AETC.
“The prior command team chronically failed to appropriately care for the people and the mission,” Kwast said in the release. “They failed to correct an evolving situation that led to an environment where some airmen did not feel safe or respected.”
“By failing to address incidents of dangerous behavior and a threatening environment, irresponsible alcohol consumption and disrespectful treatment of some students, these leaders did not establish and enforce a culture that upheld our Air Force core values,” Kwast continued.
AETC said the reports of the investigations are all complete, but could not be released at this time due to pending disciplinary actions.
Col. Lee Gentile, who was vice commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, is now in command of the 47th, AETC said.
Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, commander of the 19th, ordered a preliminary inquiry when he learned of allegations of misconduct at the wing, AETC said. But other investigations did not uncover a wider trend of unhealthy command environments elsewhere in the 19th, AETC said.
“Our airmen, families and the critical mission of the 47th FTW deserve engaged and effective leaders of the highest caliber, consistent with our core values,” Kwast said in the release. “Ultimately, every commander is responsible for enforcing good order and discipline and holding those accountable.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.