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Sheppard AFB review team findings announced

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Old February 27th 04, 03:52 AM
Otis Willie
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Default Sheppard AFB review team findings announced

Sheppard AFB review team findings announced

(EXCERPT) PRESS RELEASE -- Secretary of the Air Force, Directorate of
Public Affairs

Release No. 0226042 Feb 26, 2004

Sheppard AFB review team findings announced

RANDOLPH AFB, Texas - The commander of Air Education and Training
Command released a preliminary summary of the findings of the AETC
special review team examination of alleged increased sexual assaults
at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Feb. 26

The summary of findings is a result of a weeklong review of sexual
assault deterrence and sexual assault response programs currently in
place at the north Texas base.

Gen. Donald G. Cook, AETC commander, directed a 22-member
interdisciplinary team Feb. 12 to travel to Sheppard AFB and conduct a
review of the base's plans, policies, programs and procedures to
determine if there were any deficiencies in addressing sexual assaults
at the base. The general directed the review following allegations
that a wave of sexual assaults were going unnoticed at Sheppard.

The review team was charged to examine the environment and existing
sexual assault reporting processes at the base, review reported sexual
assault cases to confirm these cases were handled appropriately,
determine if there were unreported sexual assault cases and examine
the effectiveness of the Victim Witness Assistance Program at

The team, led by Col. K. C. McClain, AETC deputy director of
Operations for Technical Training, interviewed more than 1,000 people
at the base including commanders, senior enlisted leaders and
functional experts such as the chaplain, medical personnel, family
support center professionals and a random sample of students as part
of the review. The team also surveyed more than 5,000 students at

Based on these interviews and surveys, the review found students at
Sheppard AFB believe they are in a safe working, living and training

A majority of students -- 90 percent -- think wing leadership
effectively handles sexual assault allegations when reported and
encourages reporting. The majority of female students -- 95 percent --
indicated they feel safe on base.

Students understand how to report sexual assaults; however, many
students indicated a reluctance to report such assaults. Primary
reasons students gave were concerns they would be delayed in training
at Sheppard as the investigation moved forward, that they would be
disciplined for misconduct occurring in conjunction with the sexual
assault, i.e., underage drinking, embarrassment, loss of
confidentiality and peer pressure.

"Our most important obligation to our people at Sheppard and every
other Air Force base is to give them a safe and secure working, living
and training environment," said General Cook. "We do not tolerate
assaults and we make every effort to prevent such criminal behavior.
But if despite our best efforts deterrence fails, our top priority is
to provide swift and compassionate aid to the victims, thoroughly
investigate the circumstances surrounding assaults and prosecute

The review also determined base agencies have good processes in place
to respond to reports of sexual assault and to assist victims. Review
of Sheppard AFB's VWAP indicated the program provides solid support
and services to victims of sexual assault.

An in-depth review of 45 sexual assault cases at Sheppard AFB from
1993 to 2003 resulting in completed courts-martial or Article 15s
showed these cases were handled appropriately and expeditiously. There
were an additional 69 investigations since 1996 that did not result in
either courts-martial or Article 15 non-judicial punishment. The
command is reviewing these to confirm the disposition of each was

Additionally, 10 allegations are currently under investigation at
Sheppard AFB.

Colonel McClain met with local civilian crisis counseling center
leadership, who indicated their confidence in Sheppard AFB's handling
of sexual assault allegations and assistance to victims.

Discussions between Colonel McClain and local civilian law enforcement
officials yielded findings that local law enforcement officials have
confidence in Sheppard AFB's ability to appropriately respond to
sexual assault cases.

Though the review team's preliminary findings strongly suggest the
environment at Sheppard AFB is safe, and robust programs exist to
deter sexual assaults and swiftly respond to aid victims and punish
perpetrators when sexual assaults occur, the review team determined
there are ways to improve upon existing programs.

For example, student training should be expanded to include more
emphasis on sexual assault awareness, deterrence and reporting, and
that such training be presented in a more interactive setting.

Likewise, current training programs for commanders, first sergeants,
military training leaders and instructors should be expanded to
include additional training on sexual assault awareness, deterrence
and reporting.

The command is examining all of its plans, policies, programs and
procedures at each of its installations to ensure existing programs to
address sexual assaults are appropriate and effective in addressing
this issue.


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Otis Willie
Associate Librarian
The American War Library

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