The perpetual problem of sexual assault in the ranks sometimes seems akin to white noise – a force of nature that tends to blend into the background because, you believe, it has always been there (this report from the Government Accountability Office released Tuesday only reinforces that feeling). Then you stumble across a letter like this, in the latest issue of Air Force Magazine, from a retired general:
I believe the statistics used in this [article] are bogus [“An Air Force War on Sexual Assault,” January, p. 42]. Even if the statistics are 50 percent correct, they are an indictment of our Air Force leadership. I am so incensed about this, I don’t know what to do. Maybe castration is the punishment that should be meted out. I know there will be a hue and cry over that suggested punishment, but in my mind it is appropriate. We should take the gloves off and fix this problem now and immediately!
During my career I was wing commander, base commander, director of operations, squadron commander, and flight commander. Never in my Air Force officer career did I hear about a rape or sexual assault, and I informed my commands on a weekly basis that I had zero tolerance for any act of prejudice or sexual harassment or assault. Once, I had a deputy who was arrested for flashing. He lost his security clearance that day, was court-martialed, and found guilty. I had a lieutenant reported by his girlfriend for having vandalized her car after an argument. Again, he lost his security clearance and was referred to the SJA for appropriate action.
I had a grandmother, mother, four aunts, four sisters, four daughters, five granddaughters, and numerous nieces and women friends. I believe all have suffered from gender discrimination, but not rape (one was assaulted).
These statistics say we have a war on women in our Air Force. For a fact, this report says our Air Force women have a greater chance of being raped or sexually assaulted than were the chances of a B-52 being lost over Hanoi in December 1973 — think about that! Unacceptable! Fix it now.
Brig. Gen. Gerald E. McIlmoyle,