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Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole tells Air Force leaders to take action in sexual assaults

Oklahoma Republican, whose district includes Tinker Air Force Base, says heads should roll after series of incidents and a recent report showing increase in sexual assaults in the military.
by Chris Casteel Modified: May 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm •  Published: May 10, 2013

“I think you've almost got too much judicial process here for the perpetrators and not nearly enough for the victims,” Cole said.

Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh, the chief of staff for the service, said he agrees.

“There's no magic that's going to solve this problem,” he said. “It's going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of new ideas, a lot of partnership with the Congress, with outside agencies and experts who deal in this area. … But we understand the problem.”

Repair concerns

Tinker Air Force Base is home to a huge aircraft repair depot that primarily employs civilians. Rather than imposing furloughs across the board for civilians, Cole said, “some discrimination might be appropriate” to ensure aircraft are properly repaired.

“I don't want airplanes that don't fly, let alone airplanes that come down with crews in them,” Cole said.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said the decision on furloughs has yet to be made, but that Cole's points have been part of the discussions. Because of the budget cuts that took effect in March, Donley said, a repair backlog of 60 aircraft and 35 engines is expected at Air Force depots.

The Air Force was doing its best to “minimize the impacts and to maximize the readiness we can get from our depot workforce with the funds available,” he said.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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