Two Air Force squadron commanders have been fired after an investigation uncovered "a culture of hazing within their units," officials have announced.
The two commanders relieved are Lt. Col. Robb Fiechtner of the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Lt. Col. Joshua Cates of the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, according to the 354th Fighter Wing.
A command-directed investigation found that the two squadrons encouraged a ritual known as "rolling up," in which airmen's hands and feet are bound with duct tape, they are tackled, and they struggle before being freed, a wing news release said.
"According to the investigation, many airmen in the squadrons viewed 'rolling up' as being based on camaraderie and bonding, but that participation was based more on peer pressure than on enjoyment of the activity," the news release said.
No more information about the investigation was immediately available on Monday.
"We're better than this," Col. Benjamin Bishop, commander of the 354th Fighter Wing, said in the news release. "Every airman has an obligation to prevent and stop any harmful or demeaning conduct toward fellow airmen. This is especially true for commanders."
Hazing is not tradition, Bishop said. Traditions promote the health of units and link airmen to those who came before them.
"When airmen; however, attempt to equate hazing actions as tradition, they do an absolute disservice to our Air Force culture and also undermine our mission effectiveness," he said in the news release.
"I hold the duty of squadron commanders in the utmost esteem, and expect our commanders to train and strengthen our airmen, while also caring for their morale and wellbeing," Bishop continued. "I hope we can all agree that hazing in any form has no place in our service, and that we can emerge more committed to our core values of integrity, service, and excellence as we move forward in pioneering airpower's frontier."
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)
The Pentagon is sending nearly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as part of an escalating crisis with Iran that defense officials are struggling to explain.
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
On Monday, Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans received a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail, said Samantha Dooies, an assistant to the New Hanover County District Attorney.
Evans must complete 18 months of unsupervised probation, pay $8,000 in restitution, complete a domestic violence offenders program, and he cannot have any contact with his former girlfriend, Dooies told Task & Purpose. The special operations Marine is also only allowed to have access to firearms though the military while on base or deployed.