In his latest Airman to Airman video, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh takes what could be his toughest stance yet on sexual assault and harassment in the ranks.
“I think it’s time we just looked ourselves in the mirror and were honest about this,” Welsh says in the two-minute video posted on the Air Force website.
The message is somewhat reminiscent of a June 13 video by Australian Lt. Gen. David Morrison posted to YouTube over what the army chief called “highly inappropriate material demeaning to women” circulated by a group of army officers.
In the Dec. 19 Air Force video, Welsh says he’s heard from airmen who say they don’t feel respected or included. He says he has also heard from airmen who don’t believe the Air Force has fostered “an environment that actually masks predatory behavior.”
“I’m here to tell you it’s out there, gang,” Welsh says.
Almost everyone has contributed to the problem in one way or another, he says.
“Whether it was an inappropriate joke or an offensive comment, most of us let it slide. And in doing so, we’ve allowed that bad behavior to become normal around us. In some cases we’ve even made the excuse that bad behavior is part of our heritage. I’ll tell you I don’t agree with that,” Welsh says.
“We should all recognize that diversity is very clearly a strength of this Air Force and will take us to places that we could not have gotten to without it. If you don’t feel you can be part of that culture change, it’s time to look for a different job.”