U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, listened to testimony this week that revealed a culture of covering up that needs to be stopped, an official said Thursday.
“Our hearings are always designed to inform (the committee’s) legislation,” said committee spokesman Claude Chafin, discussing the purpose of the testimony. “In this case, we’re setting the public record upon which we will consider further reforms to combat sexual assault in the military.”
The revelations that came out from testimony from the U.S. Air Force’s chief of staff, the chair of training and command, a chief master sergeant who’s a member of the Service Women’s Action Network and Protect Our Defenders
McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, “is particularly disturbed at the delays reporting in the assaults that were uncovered,” Chafin said. “What we heard is that it’s not just about the investigating and prosecuting offenders. There’s a culture within some elements of our armed forces that we’re going to have to try ad combat, that doesnt take these issues as seriously as they should.”
The hearings sought more information about what happened at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where sexual misconduct took place by basic training instructors.
McKeon noted the widespread nature of the abuses in his opening statement: “32 instructors have either been found guilty, have been charged with or are still being investigated for crimes against 59 trainees,” he said.
There were a couple of potential results that may have come from the hearings, Chafin said.
“(Creating legislation) designed to not only prosecute offenders, but to deter sexual predators from getting into the military in the first place, I think will be some of the things the committee will be looking at as we start working on the National Defense Authorization Act for this year,” Chafin said.
Lackland has about 475 instructors for the nearly 36,000 airmen who will graduate this year. That’s about 85 percent of what Lackland would consider a full roster of instructors, a demanding job that requires airmen to work longer hours than most for four years, at the expense of family and personal time.
[Click here] for a link to the testimony.