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U.S. Air Force Report on the Religious Climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy

Presenters: Michael Dominguez, Acting Secretary of the Air Force
June 22, 2005 1:00 PM EDT
U.S. Air Force Report on the Religious Climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy
            (Also participating in this briefing was General John Jumper, Air Force Chief of Staff; Lieutenant General Roger Brady, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel; Brigadier General Fred Ruggero, Director, Air Force Public Affairs)
 

            GEN. ROGGERO:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  I'm Brigadier General Fred Roggero, the director of Air Force Public Affairs.  Thank you very much for coming today.

 

            Today's press conference will be a single-subject event to discuss the findings and recommendations of an Air Force report on the religious climate at the Air Force Academy.  All briefers today are on the record.  Pleas turn off your cell phones and other electronic devices.

 

            With us today is Mr. Dominguez, acting secretary of the Air Force, and General Jumper, chief of staff of the Air Force, and Lieutenant General Brady, the deputy chief of staff for Personnel.

 

            During the question period, please direct your question to one specific individual, to the appropriate person for your question, and one follow-up.

 

            And at this time, I'd like to introduce Mr. Dominguez.  He'll make an opening statement.

 

            MR. DOMINGUEZ:  Thank you.  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Today the United States Air Force releases a report on the religious climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  Before I introduce the report's author, I want to make a few specific points.

            At the core of our airman ethos is respect.  Whether it's based on religion, race or gender, mutual respect is what enables us to do our job defending freedom.  Instances of disrespect, no matter how unintentional or limited, toward other cadets, staff or airmen are wrong and incompatible with what we do for this nation.

 

            Allegations of religious disrespect prompted me to direct an assessment of the religious climate at the Air Force Academy.  Above all else, our Air Force Academy is based on the same core values as the rest of the Air Force:  integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.  Our expectations are clear.  All airmen, including cadets, faculty and staff at the Air Force Academy, will live up to these values.

 

            The Agenda for Change, implemented approximately two years ago, placed renewed focus on officership and our core values.  Applying the Agenda for Change, Lieutenant General John Rosa continues to make positive improvements to the academy, with the goal of developing future military leaders of character.

 

            General Rosa's focus on character development identified the issue of religious respect as an area of concern.  He and his team have aggressively worked to emphasize religious respect and accommodation.  He's been the right leader at the right time.  He's done an outstanding job and continues to have the full support and confidence of Air Force leadership.

 

            With General Rosa's willing cooperation, the deputy chief of staff of Personnel, Lieutenant General Roger Brady, assessed the academy's religious climate.  The 16-member group assisting General Brady included military and non-military members, with representatives from the Navy and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. General Brady's report reaffirms the course set by the Agenda for Change:  a renewed emphasis on officership, based on our core values. His report identifies deficiencies and makes it clear we need to improve our policy and practice, and we are doing so.

 

            The report shows our challenges are more about improving sensitivity to the needs of all groups, and less about intentional discrimination.  We sincerely desire to strike the right balance between a person's right to freely exercise their religion and avoiding any appearance of establishing one.

 

            I encourage you to listen closely to General Brady's remarks, read the report thoroughly, and consider the process, findings and recommendations.

 

            At this time, I'd like to introduce Lieutenant General Roger Brady, who will present his findings and recommendations. 

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

 

            As the secretary has just said, I proceeded to the Air Force Academy on 10 to 13 May with the team to take the pulse of the academy on the issue of religious respect.  In preparation for that visit, we spent about a week reviewing Department of Defense and Air Force policy, reviewing media reports and previous U.S. Air Force Academy visits, coordinating with USAFA for interviews of key personnel, cadets, and ensuring a broad demographic of individuals to participate in focus groups.  We talked to over 300 people, including interviews with key personnel and cadets in a variety of focus groups of cadets, faculty and staff.

 

            The cadet focus groups were selected to provide a wide representation by seniority and also by belief system.  In all, there were 27 focus groups and about 69 individual interviews.  Basically, we made ourselves available night and day for anybody who wanted to come talk to us.  I had people available to talk to them, and people came to talk to us.

 

            We reviewed academy surveys that had been done.  We looked the chaplaincy and its programs, the complaint mechanisms of the academy and its educational programs.

 

            Now subsequent to our visit, we did telephone interviews with several people who were not at the academy when we were there.  These included Chaplain MeLinda Morton, Dr. Kristen Leslie of the Yale University Divinity School, and Mr. Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the Air Force Academy who has expressed considerable concern about the academy.

 

            Our charter, as I said, was to take the pulse on this issue.  We were not there to investigate individual behavior per se.  However, we made it clear to the people we talked to that if they provided us with specific information about particular events, we would refer that information to appropriate authorities.

 

            I referred seven specific cases of what appeared to me or to one of my team members to be questionable behavior to the chain of command.

 

            The Air Force Academy, we found, is aggressively working the issue of religious respect.  And as a part of the ongoing effort by the leadership, the Agenda for Change that the secretary just alluded to, the superintendent began to drill down into survey data that he had and picked up on an area of wider concern than might otherwise have been obvious.  He saw the perception on the part of some that there was an environment of religious bias, and he and his staff jumped into that.

 

            As we talked to people using this methodology I just described, we heard a wide range of views, and you will see that as you read the report.  Each focus group in the report is discussed and the nature of the discussion.

 

            The range of views went from concern over perceived bias to concern over the Air Force's possible reaction or overreaction to the perceived bias, to some people who had a complete lack of awareness there was an issue, and we had to explain what we were there for.

 

            We identified nine specific findings and nine recommendations, but the findings of the team can be summarized in three general areas.

 

            First, some academy practices left a perception among some groups at the academy that the academy was not addressing their religious needs, particularly groups that were less numerically represented in the population.

 

            Secondly, there's the ongoing challenge of dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds and making sure that they understand the values of our Air Force, most notably respect for the beliefs of others, in this case.  Every 1st of July, we bring in 1,300-plus fine young Americans. They come from very different backgrounds in terms of their experience with diversity.  The only thing they have in common is, they are really smart.  Most of them are athletic.  Some of them come from very small towns that are very homogenous.  Some of them come from very diverse backgrounds.

 

            Most of them know how to behave.  Some of them need a little work.  And sometimes behavior, in a pretty hot pressure-cooker environment of the academy, results in some behavior that's not consistent with our Air Force.  In those kinds of situations, you'll have the occasional religious slur, disparaging remark, and we jump all over that.

 

            That's an issue that we will not tolerate in our Air Force, we do not tolerate in our Air Force, but it's something that we have to work every year as new folks come into our Air Force.

 

            Finally, there was a lack of awareness on the part of some faculty and staff, and perhaps cadets in positions of authority, that -- as to what constitutes appropriate expressions of faith, particularly in this setting, in superior-subordinate relationships in a government institution.

 

            We found that the leadership of the USAFA has addressed this issue aggressively and has deployed some initial training regarding religious respect. It is a significant first effort, and more is in development now.

 

            We had very frank and open discussions at every level of the academy.  The team was very impressed by the professionalism of both the cadets and the permanent party personnel.

 

            Let me discuss in a little more detail the -- some of the recommendations that we made.

 

            First of all -- and I should say that part of what the secretary asked me to do was to ask myself:  Is this applicable -- did what we learn here -- is it something we should apply to the rest of the Air Force?

 

            And so what I found was, like you find when you visit any unit, is if you find something that is wrong, and there's a better management application, and it's a good thing to do, it's probably good to do everywhere.  So my recommendations are for the entire Air Force.

 

            We need to develop -- we found that the policy guidance is fine as far as policy guidance goes.  It talks about accommodation.  It talks about no discrimination.  It talks about not restricting free exercise of religion.  But it doesn't provide useful operational guidance to commanders regarding what is and is not appropriate in the area of religious expression.  And we need to provide some guidance there.

 

            We believe that -- I have no reason to believe that people who are doing things that I think were inappropriate were doing so maliciously.  In fact, I think they thought they had the best intentions toward the cadets.  I think in some cases they were wrong. But we have not provided guidance in that area.  It's a difficult subject.  We'll take it on, and we are already -- have already begun development of that policy.

 

            We also need to enforce policy guidance regarding endorsement and advertising, and the groups that are on our base -- how do they -- how can they advertise on base, and does it comply with our values of respecting diversity of beliefs.

 

            Similarly, there are religious groups that come on all of our bases, not just Air Force bases but military bases around the world, and provide religious education to our people.  General Jumper has asked, in a preliminary message, and we're also going to develop more specific policy as to ensuring that we have appropriate governance of these groups and making sure that they understand what our standards are regarding respecting diversity of belief.

 

            We have -- we're also asking our commanders, consistent with what we found at the Air Force Academy, to make sure that they comply with this policy regarding accommodation.  As you plan operations, exercises, the various events associated with your mission, you need to think about the various diverse groups of your base, and faith and belief systems, and see if you need to work some accommodation issues regarding that.

 

            We also see a need for developing a wider cultural awareness, both internal to the Air Force and external, in our employed environment.  We learned after 9/11 that we as a military, as the Department of Defense, are probably not as culturally aware as we ought to be.  We need to understand better the role of religion and culture more broadly on the way people think and act and make decisions.  That's important for us in a diverse force.  It's also important as we work with coalition partners around the world.

 

            We are directing the -- or I'm recommending that we direct USAFA to develop a more integrated plan to work this into not just specific courses but into everything they do in terms of athletic, academic and military programs.  And we should provide oversight from the air staff to implement -- to help the USAFA form an interfaith ecumenical team, taking advantage of expertise in this area from outside the Department of Defense in developing this plan.

 

            We looked at complaint mechanisms.  Of course, there's the chain of command.  There's the Military Equal Opportunity Office.  There's the Equal Employment Office.  But all of this, it appeared to us, was a bit confusing to the customer.  So the academy is going to give us a plan for how they will provide a single point of contact that anybody who has a complaint about a cultural or climate issue can go there, and then it can be put into the right lane.  But some of those specified by statute.

 

            We also are saying that the academy needs to continue and in fact the whole Air Force needs to bolster our internal controls and our surveys.  We survey, as you probably know, every year or every other year our climate.  We need to make sure that as we learn more about this issue and other issues in a diverse culture, that we're asking the right questions, so that in these anonymous surveys, we make sure that we stay abreast of what our people are thinking and what kind of leadership and operational climate that we are providing for them.

 

            Finally, we need to -- for the academy to provide continuing opportunities for all cadets to learn about, discuss and debate issues of religion, culture and spirituality in a developmental setting.  The challenge here is, this is clearly a government institution.  It's also the home of 4,000 18- to 22-year-olds, who are trying to learn and make decisions about some of the weightier matters of life.  They need to be able to do that, just like students at other universities get to do that.  And we need to provide that in a developmental setting that helps them do that in a way that also incorporates the values of respect for diversity.

 

            This is a premier institution wrestling with an issue that is a matter of widespread public debate that is not unique to the Air Force or the United States Air Force Academy.

 

            There are challenges at our academy.  There are things that need to be done better.  We've identified those, and we're awaiting the secretary's guidance now to proceed with fixing what we need to fix and press on.

 

                MR. DOMINGUEZ:  Before we take your questions, it's important for you to know that I fully accept each of the nine recommendations General Brady has discussed.  And I also support the work and recommendations of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces.

            In addition to accepting these recommendations, I'm sending my director of the Air Force Review Board's agency to visit the academy, to ensure the military equal opportunity and equal employment opportunity processes are in order.

 

            We're also working with the academy to find experts from inside and outside of the Department of Defense who will help us refine and improve our character development and religious respect programs. Recently, using lessons at the academy, General Jumper gave direction to all Air Force commanders alerting them to be sensitive to religious respect issues.  As we develop the improved operational guidelines called for by General Brady, we will share those and any new lessons we learn with our commanders.

 

            I'm also pleased to announce today the selection of Major General-select Irv Halter as the academy's vice superintendent.  This new position, which we've been working to establish for some time now, at General Rosa's request, will support the superintendent's continuing efforts to fully implement the Agenda for Change, focused on building officers of character.

 

            Our mission, to develop leaders of character for our nation, requires us to continuously look at ourselves to ensure we're doing things right.  When we identify things that may need improvement, we investigate them, fix them and get on with the business of developing leaders for America and America's Air Force.

 

            I want to publicly thank General Brady and his team for their thorough and deliberate work.  Also, I want to thank Jack Williamson of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces for his leadership and the conference's report.

 

            Finally, I thank Governor James Gilmore, chairman of our Board of Visitors.  Under his leadership, the Board of Visitors has been and will remain key to our progress.  We benefit tremendously from his leadership and the Board of Visitors' advice. And we will continue to address this issue of religious respect openly, with the Board of Visitors and with the Congress of the United States.  In fact, Congressman John McHugh, the chairman of the Personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services committee and I spoke this morning and agreed on the importance of a hearing on this matter.

 

            At this time, we'll be glad to take your questions.

 

            Yes, sir?

 

            Q:  I'd like to ask General Brady if I could --

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Yes, sir?

 

            Q:  General, I think you'd agree that this can be an explosive subject in today's world, beyond the Air Force and beyond the Academy because of the clash you have now around the world between the ideas in the Muslim religion and Christianity.  You say in this report that there was a perception of religious intolerance at the Academy by many at the Academy.  And that there was not overt -- overt intolerance. Why was there intolerance, any intolerance at the Academy?  And was this by people in authority or leadership -- Christians -- at the Academy?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  I think there were -- I think there were some -- let me handle it in two ways.  Yes, I think there were cases where people have said some things, perhaps from a lectern, that were overreaching, forgetting their position, that put cadets, perhaps, in an untenable position in terms of, "Gee, am I going to pass Physics 101 if I don't agree with this guy?"

 

            Q:  You mean Christians?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Right.  So -- so, yes.  I think that occurred.  And I think that a significant part of that, I'm convinced, was that we haven't -- this has been, as you point out sir, this is an issue of religious debate.  We can all agree on -- there's no debate, there's no issue about disparaging remarks and religious slurs.  There's a debate that gets enjoined if you talk about expression.  I think that the people who have done this, in my experience talking to them, was that they were well-intended, but wrong.  But we haven't sorted this out very well in terms of operational guidance that's useful to them.

            (Cross talk.)

 

            MR. DOMINGUEZ:  I guess -- I'm sorry.  To sum that up, there was -- there were instances of religious intolerance.  Just not perceptions of it, but there were.  There was religious intolerance.

 

            GEN. BRADY:  I don't know that that's intolerance.  It's certainly insensitivity to the situation.  It doesn't necessarily mean that, in my view, that it was intolerance.  And sometimes we -- I think we get confused about the difference between disagreement and intolerance, also.  The concern about the expressions of faith that I would have, in a context that's inappropriate, is when it raises questions between a subordinate and an insubordinate about whether or not agreement or disagreement -- whether it would put me at an advantage or a disadvantage.

 

            And so, those are the issues that I think we --

 

            MR. DOMINGUEZ:  I want to also address that we have to recognize that there are raw nerves among some of our population out there, because in our institutional practices, as General Brady said, we may not have been sufficiently aware of their unique need and the need to think about them before we did things like schedule a military training event in the middle of Passover; make it -- put it -- put the onus of a member of a minority religion to always seek to get a pass to get out of training because they wanted to go worship.  So, we can be a little more thoughtful about that.  But if you're at the receiving end, always having to push, always having to ask, always having to seek permission to deviate from the norm, you know, that can -- that can be pretty irritating to you over a long period of time.

 

            That did occur.  And we have fixed that.  We are much more aware now of our policies and practices so that we accommodate these things to the best of our ability within the mission.

 

            Q: 

 

            If I can follow up on that -- 

 

            Q: 

 

            A follow-up on this idea of the findings of perception by well-intentioned people, because when you say that, it creates the impression in some people's mind that perhaps the people who were offended are over -- being over-sensitive.  Did you find it in your investigation that people were being over-sensitive at all to these -- 

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Well, that's -- you know, that's something -- do I think somebody's being over-sensitive?  I'd never say that.  I mean, people feel what they feel.  And so -- so, if they're offended by it, we need to be -- we need to be aware of it, and understand.  We also need to teach our young people -- and our not-so-young people -- that if you're offended, you can say, Hey, you know, that kind of offends me.  I don't really want to hear that.  We can do that.  And we need to -- and we -- that's a part of the developmental process of our people that we need to do.  We've done it in every other area, and we need to do it in this area.  So I think that's something that we are working.

 

            Yes, ma'am?

 

            GEN. JUMPER:  Let me just -- let me just jump in and add one thing on this.  To the extent that some people who received a message took it as offensive, then we respected that opinion.  The thing that we corrected were people who were standing up in front of cadets expressing a personal belief, in a clear position of authority, that was not appropriate or sensitive to the feelings of the whole group.   That's the part that was corrected and corrected in a timely manner. So it's whether it was received -- it was -- how it was received is a matter of whether it was offensive or not.  It was inappropriate to transmit -- for instructors to transmit in that mode.

 

            Q:  So it's not necessarily what they say, but the context, you're saying, in which it's said? 

 

            GEN JUMPER:  The context in which they said it, and in a position of authority, standing up in front of a class, with perhaps a uniform on, certainly is a -- in a position of authority that we -- that's the behavior we sought to correct.

 

            MR DOMINGUEZ:  Why don't we -- yes, ma'am.

 

            Q:  Can you tell us how widespread that practice was?  I know you didn't do a statistical analysis of it, but just to give us a sense of if it went beyond General Weida?  And also did the fact the Air Force Academy is in Colorado Springs, which is the center for evangelical Christians in the United States, there's a lot of -- does that have any influence on the atmosphere on campus?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  It could have.  To the first part of your question, what's -- how widespread was this, is what you asked me?

 

            Q: 

 

            How widespread -- yes. 

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Right.  You know we talked to people -- as I said, we talked to the athletic department, academic department, cadet wing, and we found some people that expressed it in each one of those areas. But in each one of those areas, we had people say, "That doesn't happen in my department," or "That doesn't happen on my team.  I'm teaching -- you know, I'm coaching tiddlywinks, and I haven't got time for that."  So does it exist a little bit in each department?  We think so, I mean indications are.  But is it pervasive in each one of those departments?  No, it is not.

 

            Interestingly, there were 10 young cadets in my office Monday, this last Monday, who happened to be here on Operation Air Force during their three-week tour with the operational Air Force.  I asked them to come down and talk to me.  They came in.  I sat down.  I gave them the same spiel, basically, that I gave you.  I also said, "Hey, let me give you an example."  I gave them an example of what a professor might say, "Hey, I'm this guy and I believe this, and welcome to Physics 101.  We're having a prayer meeting tonight.  I'd really like for you to attend.  Would you come?"  I said, "Did you ever have anybody do anything like that?  Did you ever hear anything like that?"  One young woman said, "I think I heard something like that once."  "How about the rest of you?"  "No, I've never heard that."

 

            So does it happen?  Yes, it has happened.  Is it really widespread?  I don't think so, and that's the sense that I got having talked to a lot of people.

 

            Q:  Is there a major outsider evangelical face on campus?  Is it a place that -- because you talked about outside groups coming onto campus and how you need to regulate them.  How prevalent is that?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Well, there are -- we have -- there's a problem at the academy called SPIRE.  Like everything we do it has an acronym, Special Program In Religious Education.  Think of it as Sunday school on Monday night.  For an hour and a half, there are 19 groups who are sponsored by our chaplaincy -- overseen by our chaplaincy on the campus.  They involve a number of Christian and Protestant groups. They also involve a Catholic group, an LSD -- an LDS group. (Laughter.)  You have to be careful with your acronyms!  No offense! A Buddhist group and a Jewish group.

 

            Q:  What about Muslim?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Currently, I'm not sure there is a Muslim group. And they could have, if they wanted to -- if they wanted to have one.

 

            And they come on base and -- for an hour-and-a-half, or so.  So is there a presence at the base, are there people interested in our cadets?  Yes.

 

            GEN. JUMPER:  Let me say that this SPIRE activity also happens at other bases.  And the difference between the academy and other bases is that virtually 24 hours of the academy cadets' life is regulated. On a normal Air Force base, we're on a 24-hour rhythm too, but you have time off where you go home and you have your choice of activities you choose to engage in during your free time.  The free time is pretty much regulated at the academy, so rather than send people off base, these groups are allowed to come on.  And our charter and our challenge is to make sure that the groups that do come on are -- have the proper oversight and regulation, and that the messages they send are within the bounds of what we think is correct.

 

            Q:  I have a follow-up on that.  Of those 19, how many are protestant Christian?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Probably 13, 14.  I don't know.  It's in the report. All 19 of them are laid out in the report for you.

 

            MR DOMINGUEZ:  This gentleman in the back.

 

            Q:  Yes, can you tell me, if an incident like this were to occur from a professor or someone making these types of remarks from a lectern, is there a discipline or sanction program that is either in place or being developed that would respond to it?

 

            GEN. BRADY:   Well, I think two things.  The answer is yes.  We have a chain of command and the faculty are within the chain of command like everyone else.  And so incidents like this that are reported can be immediately corrected.  But in the longer term, going forward, you know, I would go back to the comments I made about more specific, more operationally friendly guidance regarding appropriate --

 

            MR. DOMINGUEZ:  Let me say on this, General Rosa has been through this subject with his leadership team.  All right?  So we've talked a lot about this.  People who needed counseling have gotten counseling. His team are on board with him around their mission of developing officers of character, and they are now vastly more sensitized than they have been in the past about what are the appropriate guidelines to our -- to the best of our ability to advise them now.  We have some work to do to help them stay inside the lines.  But the point I want to make is that this team is on board with General Rosa and the vision now.  They are aligned around the mission of developing officers of character, and they're going to do it respecting the Constitution.

 

            Q:  As a follow-up to the question on the system -- the seven cases that refer to the chain of command -- can you give us the details of what those were?  Are they in the report?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  No.  It wouldn't be appropriate to do that --

 

            Q:  (Off mike) -- professors?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  A couple of them do.

 

            Q:  So General, when it says on the first finding that some faculty members and coaches consider it their duty to profess their faith and discuss the issue in the classrooms, that is no longer the case?  Or --

 

            GEN. BRADY:  I don't know that -- I wouldn't say they don't still feel that way, but they will -- are being made aware that that -- that there's a setting where that is inappropriate.  And what I found, as you discuss it with people, is that people sometimes have not thought this through about -- okay, let's remember:  you are a professor, perhaps a relatively senior officer.  You're talking to a cadet that's struggling in your class, who doesn't believe what you're saying. What position have you put that in?  That can be construed easily as coercive.

 

            And so that's what we're dealing with.

 

            Q:  General Brady?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Yes, ma'am?

 

            Q:  I just want to go back a little bit to the idea that you have no -- this is not institutional.  And I want to see how you reconcile that with the fact that you've got staff members that are involved.  You know, these aren't just cadets kind of preaching to other cadets with a religious flourish ?.  You've got the coach putting up this banner, you've got General Weida, who was questioned about the e-mails and included things in it.  And you've got faculty at the beginning of classes saying:  this is what I believe, so.  And you've also -- and one of your (attachments ?), K, said that the faculty is not diverse and the hiring practices tend to favor evangelical Christians.  So -- (inaudible) --

 

            GEN. BRADY:  That's the perception; we don't know that that's true.  But that's something we're looking at.

 

            (Cross talk.)

 

            Q:  Given all that, I wonder how you can reconcile that with this not -- given all those factors, I'm wondering how you reconcile that with it not being institutional, because these people are certainly part of the institution.

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Well, because I think -- I think it goes back to your leadership.  And I think it goes back to whether or not the leadership is sensitive or aware of the issue, and is dealing with the issue.  If you had -- if you had a leadership that was clueless or knew about it and wasn't doing anything about it, I would think you had an institutional problem.  In other words, I don't think it is an institutional problem.

 

            GEN. JUMPER:  And it's also a fact that it was General Rosa in the surveys that he took that uncovered the problem as a part of this Agenda for Change that we're marching along to institutionalize the core values of the Air Force in the Air Force Academy, along with the rest of the Air Force.  And this is part of that process that uncovered this, and he took action on it.  So, in all of the counseling that I'm aware of, no one has come back and said:  no, I'm not going to do that.  They have --

 

            Q:  Can we ask you about Captain MeLinda Morton, who you said you talked to.  She has submitted her resignation from the Air Force now, and has made comments indicating that she is not certain about the commitment in changing the atmosphere at the Academy.  Can you tell us what was the situation with her?  Was she -- did you find that she was in any way adversely affected by her participation in this? And what was her assignment that she was offered that she turned down?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  I'll make one brief statement about that, and then I'll tell you why I'm not going to talk to you about it any more. (Laughs.)

 

            Captain Morton was upset, obviously.  She's made a number of comments.  She's made a couple of allegations about the Air Force regarding her assignment and what she perceived as her removal from the job inappropriately.  And because she made those accusations that were not just about the Academy, but against the Air Force more broadly and the assignment system, Mr. Dominguez I think appropriately said, "This is something somebody outside the Air Force needs to look at."  And so, he asked the Department of Defense inspector general to look at that.  And that issue is under investigation.

 

            MR. DOMINGUEZ:  Now, with regard to the commitment, the commitment to change, I don't know how more committed you can get. I've got the chief of staff standing here.  I'm standing here.  John Rosa found this in surveys in the spring of 2004 and brought it to the board of visitors, anxious for their help and guidance and assistance in fixing the problem.  He did not have to do that.  He did not have to put it into the public.  He wanted to change.  He did the right thing.  We are all committed to helping him restore this institution to its rightful place of preeminence among military institutions and academic institutions.

 

            Yes, sir.

 

            GEN ROGGERO:  We have time for about one more question.

 

            Q:  Did you share your findings, results, experiences with the other academies -- Coast Guard, Army, Navy, I guess the Merchant Marine?

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Yes.  I sent it to them this morning.

 

            Q:  And have you had any preliminary -- you said you had a Navy person on your -- 

 

            GEN. BRADY:  Yes.

 

            Q:  Are they surprised at this at the Air Force Academy?  Do they have this sort of problem at the Naval and --

 

            GEN. BRADY:  I can't -- I can't speak for the other academies and wouldn't -- it wouldn't be appropriate for me to.  When we asked the Naval Academy if they -- I asked the superintendent of the Naval Academy if they'd like to participate, he said, "Absolutely."  He sent me his senior staff judge advocate.  We were happy to have him, because there was at least an awareness that they would have to deal with the same kinds of issues.  Whether or not they are, to the extent they are, I don't know.

 

            Q:

 

            (Off mike) -- please.

 

            GEN. JUMPER:  Let me just -- let me just make one final statement, If I might, with the secretary's permission.

 

            We have a group of outstanding cadets at the United States Air Force Academy.  We are all very proud of these outstanding men and women who come -- highly qualified, as the secretary said.  And for 99.9 percent of them, they are looking for the guidance to do the right thing.

 

            We have superb leadership in the form of General Rosa, who has taken this Agenda for Change, and he is -- he has run with it.   He has the backing of -- my personal backing and the backing of the secretary.  So when problems like this arise, we are transparent with these problems and we don't let them roll around, we take them on and we work these problems.

 

            General Rosa has taken action in his commander out there that's appropriate to the situation, and we're very proud of what he's done. And we're going to continue to support this Agenda for Change with all the energy that we have until we get the academy to the place that it does not suffer from these sorts of issues.

 

            Thank you.

 

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