LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AP) — The head of the Air Force's training command ordered an independent investigation into instructor misconduct Friday amid a scandal at a Texas base that already has led to sexual misconduct charges against four instructors.
Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of the Air Education and Training Command, said in a statement that he has appointed Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward — acting director of operational planning, policy and strategy at the Air Force's headquarters in Washington — to lead the investigation that will include all training units in the command.
Rice said concerns about instructor sexual misconduct came to light after an instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland was accused of sexual assault last year. Military prosecutors have since charged four Lackland instructors with sexual misconduct involving trainees. One has been accused of rape.
Rice expressed confidence that the majority of military training team members follow conduct standards but he wants to ensure there aren't broader problems.
"It's important to look even deeper and wider to identify any systemic issues that may place our youngest Airmen at risk in any basic or technical training environment," he said. "If there are, we need to address them."
Nearly three dozen Lackland instructors have lost their jobs in the past year amid the widening scandal. While base officials have said most of the 35 ousted instructors were not removed for sexual misconduct, military prosecutors have charged four male instructors and the Air Force is investigating other allegations.
Earlier this week, the Air Force also relieved Lt. Col. Mike Paquette as commander of the 331st Training Squadron that has been under scrutiny in the scandal and assigned new leadership. Military attorney Col. Polly Kenny has said Paquette is not accused of misconduct and that his new assignment will determined this summer.