KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Air Force this month will begin handpicking technical sergeants and master sergeants for mandatory duty as military training instructors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, where the service’s training program for new recruits has been rocked by a widening sex scandal.
The nonvoluntary selection process is aimed at boosting military training instructor numbers and filling those slots with more experienced and mature airmen, Air Force officials said in a Friday news release.
The Air Force will still consider volunteer applicants for instructor duty, but acceptance of staff sergeants, who currently make up about half of the instructor pool, “will be by exception,” according to the news release.
“Low manning may have allowed misconduct to go unnoticed, but investigation results indicated that other factors may have contributed to the problem, including maturity and experience levels,” Col. Deborah Landry, chief of the Air Force Personnel Center’s Airman Assignments Division, was quoted in the news release as saying.
The tighter selection rules come two months after the Air Force released a report detailing its internal investigation into the scandal, which so far involves 30 basic training instructors under investigation for sexual assault and misconduct with more than 50 female recruits.
Among the dozens of recommendations to come from the report was to immediately fill all 508 authorized military training instructor positions, assigning four instructors, including one woman, to every two flights. Previously, there was only one instructor assigned to a flight of 50 trainees, according to the Air Force investigation report.
The additional manning is aimed at reducing the military training instructor duty day, which can be as long as 16 hours for weeks at a time, according to the report.
Under the mandatory selection process, the Air Force will choose technical sergeants and master sergeants based on grade and time on station, according to the news release. Airmen selected will receive their assignment notification through the normal notification process. Once notification is received, airmen have 45 days to complete and submit the military training instructor application, the release says. If they decline the assignment, they’ll be ineligible for promotion, assignments, re-enlistment and extension, according to the release.
Airmen ineligible for nonvolunteer selection include: those with more than 16 years of active-duty service, those whose skill levels are not commensurate with their grade and those in in a position requiring a critical skill or who receive a selective re-enlistment bonus.