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.”
My comment is that if officer’s and NCO’s in positions of responsibility would exercise that responsibility and do the right thing then these crimes would be greatly reduced. In an earlier day I was personal witness to the chain of command protecting a young Lt who had been selected for flight school from what should have been rape charges, he forced himself on a young two stripper who became pregnant. She came to me and I was about to elevate it to my commander when the first sergeant shows up and tells me to not say a word about it to anyone indicating that I would face some severe consequences if I spoke of the event. Eventually, the young two stripper was discharged for being pregnant and the Lt went off to flight school as if nothing had happened. Ruined the young enlisted girl’s life and it was all swept under the rug by the first sergeant. Not sure where the fair haired Lt wound up but he is probably a retired colonel now.