Air Force Academy Introduces Sweeping Changes, Looks to Future
(EXCERPT) By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Oct. 7, 2003 — When the Class of 2007 cadets
reported for in-processing at the U.S. Air Force Academy [
in late June, they found many new changes
that are putting academy policies more directly in line with those of
the active Air Force.
Throughout the academy, privileges are now granted based not merely on
individual class seniority, but on the academic, athletic and military
merits of the squadrons as a whole. Similarly, the disciplinary system
more closely resembles the Air Force's. For example, a strict alcohol
policy is in effect, with offenders now charged under the Uniform Code
of Military Justice or expelled.
In the dormitories, female cadets now are grouped in clusters within
their squadron areas. And perhaps most significantly, new sexual
harassment and sexual assault reporting procedures are in place, along
with a new academy response team.
Sweeping as these changes may be, Lt. Gen. John Rosa [
, who took over the
reins as superintendent at the academy in July, calls them "baby
steps" in a long-term effort to transform the academy and rebuild its
"We realized that what we had here is a culture and a climate that
tolerates sexual assault and sexual harassment," Rosa said. "So if you
have an environment that basically tolerates sexual harassment, you
have to change that."
For months, the academy has been the focus of widespread criticism.
Amid charges of sexual misconduct at the academy, an Air Force team
identified 43 weak points in need of correction. These were pointed
out in the document entitled "Agenda for Change, [
released in March.
Six months later, a blue-ribbon panel led by former Florida
Congresswoman Tillie K. Fowler made 21 recommendations to Secretary of
Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld [
and Air Force Secretary
James G. Roche [
. Reports by the Department of
Defense inspector general, the General Accounting Office, and even the
academy's own internal cadet survey reaffirmed that change was needed.
Rosa said such intensive scrutiny has actually helped the academy,
because "it gives us a blueprint and a baseline for getting better."
And he and his new leadership team are wasting little time putting
recommended changes into effect.
Of 165 "action items" identified in the "Agenda for Change," the
academy already has adopted 140, and is incorporating them into the
school's operating instructions. Rosa said he hopes to implement all
165 recommendations by March, exactly one year after the report's
The most significant initiative, he said, was establishing clear
sexual-assault reporting procedures and standing up a new the academy
response team headed by the vice commandant. Since its establishment,
the team has activated three or four times to review alleged offenses,
all of which are now under investigation, Rosa said.
In addition, the academy leadership is making it crystal clear to
cadets — perhaps more so than ever since the school started admitting
women cadets in 1976 — that there is zero tolerance for the type of
misconduct identified through various panels and reports.
"We're at the point where we've laid down expectations and
guidelines," Rosa said. "Our expectations are that we don't tolerate
criminals, we don't sexually harass people, we don't sexually assault
people. We are not going to tolerate it."
The next big step, Rosa said, will be to institute a program of cadet
training and education about human relations, sexual harassment and
sexual assault. These classes, Rosa explained, will be provided
throughout a cadet's four years at the academy.
While implementing Agenda for Change recommendations, Rosa's team also
is reviewing the Fowler Commission recommendations. Rosa said about a
half dozen of the commission's 21 recommendations already have been
addressed through Agenda for Change initiatives.
Rosa said one big challenge in introducing changes at the academy is
to make sure they are backed up by lasting programs, "so that we don't
find ourselves 10 years down the road in the same or similar
He acknowledged these changes and programs — and the culture change
that they are designed to help bring about — won't happen overnight.
But Rosa said he hopes to be "well down the road" within one to two
years toward bringing the academy "to the next level of excellence and
(to) make it a place where moms and dads are proud to send their
Rosa said he and his staff are working to rebuild trust and confidence
in the academy — among the American public, but also among the cadets
themselves. That's a two-fold process, he said, that begins by
ensuring cadets understand their leaders care about them and will
enforce measures in place to protect them. But he said it also
involves "getting them to trust us to trust them."
Rosa said cadets at the academy are committed to helping restore their
school's image. "They're ready to get past this," he said. "They want
(the academy) to get better. They want this to be the institution they
came to. There's a tremendous amount of pride in the institution, and
they want to be a part of taking us to the next level of excellence."
NOTE: This is a plain text version of a web page. If your e-mail
The American War Library