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Allegations of Sexual Assualt at the United States Air Force Academy

Location: Washington, DC

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA): Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that too, because it does show the level that this issue has risen to from the standpoint of how you and our colleagues are treating this issue, and you're treating it with all the due sincerity that it needs to be treated.

I went home this weekend thinking that I'd spend 30, 45 minutes in preparation for this hearing. I took all of the news accounts, all the correspondence home with me, and I wound up spending several hours reading, rereading some of it. And, Mr. Secretary and General Jumper, I will have to tell you I am just totally not just appalled at what's been going on for apparently about a decade at the Air Force Academy, it's a lot more than that. There appears to be an attitude at the Air Force Academy that not just condones what's been happening but it just seems like it's part of the accepted life if you believe the accounts.

And I don't believe everything I read in the press but I know you two gentlemen very well, both of you, and I know that you would never condone the type of activity that's obviously going on out there. And I'm not sure of where we need to go with this. You gentlemen have jumped on this early and I know you have some recommendations, some things you've already done, some other recommendations you're going to make, but I tend to agree with Senator McCain that we have got to bring in somebody from the outside to tell us where we need to go.

The one other thing, Mr. Chairman, that concerns me is the fact that the leaders in the United States Air Force usually come from the academy. And if this type of activity is going on at the academy—and every cadet must know it's been going on. They just have to. And what's been going on in the Air Force? That really concerns me about where we are, and I think that this issue may need to be broadened beyond just the Air Force Academy, the West Point and Annapolis and some other areas which I look forward to discussing with you and other members of the committee.

And I thank you.

SEN. CHAMBLISS: Gentlemen. Secretary Roche, you've been on the job for about two years and, General Jumper, less than a year. And while this was not initiated on your watch, it is in your lap. And I think you can see the sentiment of virtually everybody who has had anything to say, that somebody from the outside needs to look at it. Now, very honestly, what you've done to this point in time I think is commendable.

I think you've approached it exactly right. If you had gone ahead and gotten a third party group outside, you're right, Mr. Secretary, the antics would be ongoing as we're trying to put an organization together.

You've approached it right, you've done what you should have done, but I think it's probably time maybe that you come back to the committee with some sort of recommendation as to where you think you need to go because otherwise it's pretty obvious, I think, the committee's going to act and with your recommendations it would make it a lot easier.

There's one other group we hadn't talked about that I hope is very much in your minds as you're going through this and that's the alumni. They have helped create the climate that exists at the Air Force Academy. And I've read some reports on some particular situations where alumni have made it well known that when they were at the Air Force Academy we didn't have any females there and they take great pride in that. And, you know, the male ego tends to do that sometimes. The fact of the matter is we've got some outstanding young women who are not only cadets but are serving in the Air Force. We all know that. And to try to further any kind of attitude that this should be a male only club just certainly exacerbates the problem.

So I know you're thinking through that but we hadn't mentioned that today and I think obviously it needs to be given very serious thought as we move forward.

SEN. CHAMBLISS: One other thing that has been mentioned over and over again but it's not the primary focus of what we're talking is the situation in a number of particular instances I noted it's repeated that alcohol played a significant role. I don't know what we're doing with respect to concentrating eliminating that problem in the future. I know you've talked about it a little bit and I've seen your regulations. And I know, General Jumper, you've talked particularly about putting the senior person, whoever the senior person is, at a party or a gathering or whatever as the person in charge. But there obviously has to be a concentrated effort made to eliminate alcohol use particularly when we're throwing female and male cadets together.

SEN. CHAMBLISS: Senator Levin, I do know that Senator Warner in coordination with you is planning on getting all branches back up here to make sure that we've got some common standard out there that everybody's adhering to.

SEN. CHAMBLISS: Gentlemen, thank you all very much for being here and helping us deal with this very, very sensitive problem. Thank you for your leadership, thank you for what you've done for our men and women in Iraq today, and we'll continue to work with you as we move down the road to make sure that we all have great confidence in every single nominee to the Air Force Academy and every other academy. Thank you.

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