Lacking at Lackland

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Multiple victims (31).  Multiple instructors implicated in abuse (12). Intimidating recruits. Rape in the closet.

I’m not talking about the Aberdeen sex scandal 15 years ago, but details of what is alleged to have happened over the last three years at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Staff Sergeat Luis Walker’s court-martial began Monday. Ten women are expected to testify against him; apparently many recruits were too scared to come forward initially.

What is really unsettling is seeing this same pattern yet again, in such an egregious fashion. At the Air Force’s only recruit training center. After all the other scandals.

As Sig Christenson, veteran military-affairs reporter at the San Antonio Express-News, reported on the eve of the trial:

The Air Force has three core values, and they’re drilled into recruits from their first hours of basic training. As they march at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, they pass signs saying, “Integrity,” “Service before self” and “Excellence in all we do.”

“There is a reason there are three core values,” said retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald Fogleman, who created the ethos for his service in the wake of a series of disciplinary problems during the mid-1990s. “You can remember them.”

But only if you believe in integrity, service and excellence to begin with.