The United States Air Force is launching an independent probe of its nationwide training practices after 31 female recruits accused 12 instructors at Lackland Air Force Base of sexual misconduct over the last two-and-a-half years. The problem became so bad that for one day in March the entire Air Force base was shutdown so all 5,900 recruits could be interviewed.
Among the claims against six of the bases instructors are charges of improper relationships and rape. One instructor has already pled guilty to having a relationship with a subordinate while other instructors have pled not guilty to accusations brought against them.
According to Air Force Gen. Edward Rice in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:
“We are all committed to doing everything possible to investigate those allegations, to take care of the victims, to hold the perpetrators accountable, and to fix any institutional problems that may have facilitated this completely unacceptable behavior.”
Rice claims that the assault cases are “localized.”
According to the Washington Post.com:
“Last year, about 3,200 incidents of sexual assault were reported or investigated by the armed services — a fraction of the estimated 19,000 cases that took place, according to Defense Department figures.”
Realizing the growing trend towards sexual assault within the military ranks Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in April announced a new policy that encourages victims to come forward and expose wrong doings at every level of command. The new program requires that all sexual assault claims be handled by a senior officer.
The problem is compounded by a lack of reporting, RT.com reports that 80 to 90 percent of sexual assault cases within the military ranks are believed to go unreported.