Skip to comments.Air Force brass: Culture of fear led to cheating
Posted on 02/01/2014 3:47:53 AM PST by Timber Rattler
A worrisome culture of fear that made launch officers believe they had to get perfect test scores to be promoted fueled a widening cheating scandal within the military's nuclear missile corps, according to Air Force officials.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said the scandal hasn't affected the safety or reliability of the military's nuclear mission.
All 92 officers nearly 17 percent of the force have been decertified and taken off the job while the scandal is being investigated. That means other launch officers and staff must fill in, performing 10 24-hour shifts per month, instead of the usual eight, Wilson said. Staff members from the 20th Air Force, which oversees all of the nuclear missile force, are also being tapped to do the shifts.
Wilson said all missile launch officers have now been retested, and the average score was about 95 percent. He said 22 failed.
(Excerpt) Read more at stripes.com ...
And by ordering the remaining launch officers to to do two additional 24-hour shifts to fill the gap is simply courting more disaster through epic burnout.
Of interest PING!
Obama administration language, when translated means:
“Global Strike Command is in deep doodoo in general and Malmstrom Air Force Base in particular is so bad, we will probably need to close it down and maybe give to the Canada. Or maybe Iran.
Seemed very odd to me but I was assured by other USAF officers that they were not exaggerating.
The Marine Corps has/had some severe fitness report inflation too but nothing on that scale. The Corps didn't give a fig for fitReps written by other services (unless they were adverse) and considered end of tour awards to be belly lint.
They weren't. You wanted an OER with top marks across the board and an endorsement or two by the highest ranking officers possible.
It's the military's version of Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average.
So-called “culture of fear” trumps honesty and integrity. Everyone who has ever taken a test has experienced test anxiety. Those with honesty and integrity tough it out and do their best. Unfortunately, these Air Force officers didn’t and should face the consequences of being dishonest and having no integrity. Losers.
Thanks for the ping.
I feel for the crews pulling ten Alerts per month now. Back in the mid 70’s we had a crew member shortage in the Titan II system and for about three months we pulled 10/0 (ten Alerts and no Backups). With all the extra days of training and testing those three months were tough. Spending what seemed to be an endless number of days down in the complexes was mentally and physically wearing on the crew dogs.
I hope they get some fresh troops into the Wing to help alleviate the crews.
I’ll volunteer to come back and take some shifts. I’m sure not much has changed since I did this back in the 80’s.
It appears from your comment that you are either a current or former Marine officer. While your experience with AF officers may be limited your comments are spot on. For AF officers, and senior NCO’s, promotion is more about how you look than what you accomplish. Don’t get me wrong, I have known and worked with some exceptional AF officers and senior NCO’s but even they have to game the system in order to advance.
You were told the truth.
However, because of the “inflation,” it was very important what was actually written on the OER/OPR.
Because of this, when serving in another service USAF officers were very concerned because the other services didn’t usually inflate the checkmarks on the OER/OPR, therefore they had no true appreciation just how important the narratives were. The other services sometimes tried to take a ‘moral’ stand against perceived USAF inflation and the USAF officer suffered for it.
The checkmarks on the USAF OER/OPR may have been maxed, but we all knew that wasn’t important. What was important was what was said/accomplished.
Promotion boards first checked to make sure all the blocks were maxed, and if not that meant they were not keeping up with their peers and were trashed. That was why maxed check-marks were important. Less than max, trash the OER/OPR. If maxed, then take time to read the narrative.
The narrative was most important—what did he do and how well did he do it? How was this expressed on the evaluation? Was it written well with special phrases and key-words the promotion board would focus on? If yes, go to go. Example: “One of the best officers. . . “ Weak. “Top 20% of my officers. . .” Good. “The best officer in my command” Best.
While a major in another service may be just peachy for other services when it came to signing the top-level of a company-grade OER/OPR, a major in another service usually had many more people under his command than a major in the USAF, probably pretty close to an Air Force O-6. So, at least an O-6 was necessary to survive as it demonstrated keeping up with your peers in the area of responsibility.
I found other servicemen serving on exchange with the USAF were not concerned usually with their EOR/OPR because they knew they would not be inadvertently hosed by a comparatively low OER/OPR.
Majors and Captains in the USAF commonly served alongside each other as Flight Commanders. Therefore, a major signing your OPR as a senior company-grade was like having your peer sign it.
So, as a company grade if you didn’t get a maxed OER/OPR and have it signed by at LEAST an O-6 (your wing commander), then they were toast because you were not keeping up with your peers.
That is why, IMHO, the CBPO toads got the promotions (enlisted) over the guys on the line, as they knew the system.
For officers, it was a different game. See my previous post.
Unfortunately, “results” has trumped “integrity” for a long time. Since the liberals have succeeded in stifling Christianity amongst the military leaders things like this have simply become more conspicuous.
Example: One of the best officers. . . Weak. Top 20% of my officers. . . Good. The best officer in my command Best.
Col Lord at F.E. Warren AFB once called in all of his Group and Squadron Commanders and asked “how the hell can you have more than one “best (fill in duty title)?”
This is false crisis, there are no nukes left to arm missiles. The One has turned them all into plow shares. If Hitlery were to announce the number of nuclear weapons today, the answer would be zerO.
While running a section in a maintenance complex, I wrote an EPR on a young lady who failed and retested for her upgrade training end of course test (she passed the second time). I marked her down one block under training based on the verbage on the block as was appropriate. Her EPR was an overall 5 with one minor mark-down. As she progressed, she received two additional EPRs and they were “fire-wall 5s.”
Later, I transferred to a different unit and assumed a branch chief position. She also transferred and worked for one of my NCOs. She received relocation orders so I worked with her supervisor and we wrote an AF Achievement Medal package.
A certain Chief kicked it back all because her first EPR wasn't “perfect.” I went over his head, fought tooth and nail and pushed it through.
That's one of the primary reasons for Performance Report rating inflation.
The Marine Corps has its own version of inflation, so I can’t sneer at my AF comrades in arms. In our case, if an officer didn’t get all “outstandings” in all the blocks it was considered a “kiss of death” fit rep for promotion. Worse, we adopted the army’s command screening system, so we have had several generations of risk-averse pretty boys moving up while the talented innovators lost out. Chesty Puller wouldn’t make it in today’s Marine Corps.
I accepted what my two AF Captains told me and got them senior folks to sign their fit reps. They were in good shape.
It’s good that you supported the AF officers on the level of endorsement for their performance reports. I would assume that they were good officers and worthy of promotion. Its not their fault the system is the way it is. But it is important to understand how the system works in order to advance up the ladder. I knew many NCO’s who were clueless on what they needed to do in order to get promotion. I told them that they were the NCO’s I wanted to compete against for promotion.
During the last few years I spent in the USAF, my performance reports started having phrases like “#3 of 17” in them. That sort of ranking pretty well kills the ‘best’ rating. I don’t know what goes on now, but my impression from the outside is that the military has gone to hell since Obama took office. I’m glad to say my retirement date was 1 Oct 2008, before that POS bastard was elected!
I honestly never cared who signed my OPR. I worked at the OPRs of the folks under me and ignored my own. Maybe that contributed to my retiring as an O-5, but I suspect it had more to do with being a liaison officer with the Army during a drawdown & switching aircraft types frequently - and being a WSO instead of a pilot.
Still, I had fun, was honest and most of my 25 years were good ones.
As for honesty: I met more Marine officers who were liars than I did USAF officers. In my experience, the USAF & Army had the most integrity, the Navy was somewhere below that and the Marines would lie like dogs to save their reputation. That may or may not have been true of performance reports, but it was true on more important things: accident investigations & operational readiness statistics.
Having spent 26 years in AF I would agree with everything you say with one additional point. As you move higher the boards recognize the names of the Additional Endorsing officers. The members of the boards know which Additional Endorsing Officers are honest with their words and which ones pass out compliments like candy. This influences their decision.
My last EPR had the Wing Commander’s endorsement but I was ready for retirement. When preparing for an IG Inspection stresses you more than incoming rocket and mortar fire there’s something very wrong.
I retired in 2011.
“When preparing for an IG Inspection stresses you more than incoming rocket and mortar fire theres something very wrong.”
Indeed! If you don’t have the courage to face someone giving you poor marks, how will you handle someone who is trying to KILL you?
“Seemed very odd to me but I was assured by other USAF officers that they were not exaggerating”
Not at all. An AF Major had better get a O-7 or above endorsement or kiss off becoming an O-6. The AF is busy making up medals to give to those not serving in war zones tat are then equal in stature to the war medals.
Indeed! If you dont have the courage to face someone giving you poor marks, how will you handle someone who is trying to KILL you?
The problem was the Wing and Groups were so paranoid that they would overwhelm the rank and file. Obviously, you “exercise” harder in preparation than the actual inspection will be, but they took it to a whole new level.
Active Duty ping.
I guess I'm not surprised. It's a culture that has gotten out of control. When one award means nothing, none of them mean anything.
Many years ago I attended a staff NCO academy graduation for some of my AF NCOs (I had an interesting career) at Kirtland AFB and at the dress dinner afterward, I sat across from a young, pretty female AF NCO who was wearing a Bronze Star. I have the same medal - but with the V - so I asked her what war she was in and she answered "Grenada". I asked her what she did to earn the award and she said that she "assisted logistics for the war at the Pentagon". I was taken aback and resolved that I would avoid wearing my medals in the future - it's an option we have in The Marine Corps and I rarely wore anything on my uniform after that.
Really. I guess you forgot that there are more than a few Marines who read this stuff, huh?
I can give you this: I owe my life several times over to the courage of Marine Close Air and Medevacs. They came in where nobody else would through dense AA at altitudes that nobody in their right mind flies and they didn't hesitate. I'll take courage as a discriminator anytime.
When I did see USAF stuff, they flew high and safe and bombed the wrong treeline - and sometimes us. Put that in your pipe.
“I guess you forgot that there are more than a few Marines who read this stuff, huh?”
Nope. I did not forget. I just don’t care. In my experience over 25 years, the USMC was at the bottom of the heap for honesty.
. What job were the Marines doing?
In one case, they were supposed to deploy to replace us. They failed, and made false claims about why they failed. They kept it up until a 3-star investigating it was handed a stack of emails showing the CO & XO were lying.
A month later, I ran into a Marine Lt Col who repeated the lies - until I offered to show him & the others in the room the emails. He turned red and left the room.
In another, an accident report reviewed a series of accidents in a USMC squadron, and blamed the final accident on the CO & XO covering up the previous ones.
In another, their operational performace was, shall we say, inflated.
My SIL & daughter were in the Marines, and they made the same conclusion.
I did not have a huge number of intereactions with the USMC. But in the few I did, the marine officers I met were the least honest of any I ran into during my 25 years. It could be I was unlucky in which USMC officers I met. I can only report what I encountered, not what I did not.
So jet guys?
The Marine officers I dealt with were pretty much all jet guys.
Well, there’s the problem! I was in a mixed unit, while there were dicks in that MOS, there were also the guys that worked and flew hard and even did their ground jobs. Those were the guys or guys like them mentioned upthread. Spent 18 of 21 in the Wing, never met guys like you mentioned. Careerists, yeah, butt sniffers, unfortunately yes. Liars rarely, but you can’t get by in the Corps, if you lie to the rest of the Corps.
In defense of the USMC, the CO & XO who lied were fired along with the maintenance officer once the General read the emails. And frankly, the vast majority of military officers were more open and honest than what I’ve encountered in the civilian world.
I did a tour with a Navy squadron. I worked part of the tour as the Safety Officer. Anything that didn’t reflect well on the squadron did not go above the CO level. That was very from my experience in USAF squadrons...but then, much of my flying experience was before 2001. By 2008, it seemed like things were going downhill fast, and my impression is that it has gone all to hell now.
My son was in the Army Guard and my daughter in the USMC as enlisted, and both swore the things I did in the 90s would have been career-ending for guys in 2010.
I did the Safety Officer thing as well, but I wanted safety school so I could call BS on the many things done in my squadron in the name of safety. As a school trained guy, I had the quals that made my call more likely to be heard in the midst of the safety conspiracy madness.
In defense of the USMC, the CO & XO who lied were fired along with the maintenance officer
As it should be, liars reflect on themselves, the firings, on the Corps. Most things that don't reflect well on a unit shouldn't go above the CO, it should be fixed. Work the programs you are supposed to do, keep the records you are supposed to do and your unit is fine. If you have an incident or a death, the witch hunt begins. If you were doing what you're supposed to be doing, the unit should be OK. Unfortunately, there exists the 'there are no such things as accidents' mentality.
Pretty slimy of you to tar all of us based on your limited experience with the Marine Corps but I have seen a lot of people like you on the internet. Conversely, I spent a tour in the IG investigating all sorts of malfeasance within the Marine Corps and we were quite good at finding the dirt and getting the dirtbags charged and expelled. We are very good at cleaning up our own.
Both of my uncles and my dad were Air Force (actually Army Air Force) so I don't make general statements about that service - or any other service other than specific examples of failure.
The blanket statement you made about the Marine Corps is shameful and wrong. If you have any integrity, you should apologize.
“The blanket statement you made about the Marine Corps is shameful and wrong. If you have any integrity, you should apologize.”
No. I saw and experienced what I related. And frankly, my daughter and SIL - both Marines - think my opinions are too nice.
Then you are welcome to your own little world.
I recall several high ranking desk jockies in the CONUS getting Bronze Stars during the first Gulf War.
I was attached to a Combined/Joint activity in Afghanistan during 2006 and had the pleasure of ripping up an Air Medal package put in for a female A1C. The entire package consisted of things she “might” have experienced had they happened.
Nope. I did not forget. I just dont care. In my experience over 25 years, the USMC was at the bottom of the heap for honesty.
I’ve worked around every brand of US Serviceman except Coast Guard. I’ve even worked around a whole lot of foreign military.
I’ve found that overall, our service members are decent and honorable. Of course there are dirt bags in every profession; but in the US Armed forces they are the exception, not the rule.
As I wrote in post 35: “And frankly, the vast majority of military officers were more open and honest than what Ive encountered in the civilian world.”
People like Mr Rogers who served a full career in a service and then spend the days of their retirement running down another service based on an isolated incident or two tend to have other issues at work. Generally, people who are satisfied with their own service don't waste their time or embarrass themselves running down other good people. Maybe they knew that they didn't put everything they had into it and calumny is their way of deflecting attention away from their history.
All I know is that the Marine Corps was, imperfections and all, the finest, bravest bunch of men I had ever known and I would return to combat anytime with them if I was called.
As I wrote in post 35: And frankly, the vast majority of military officers were more open and honest than what Ive encountered in the civilian world.
...except for Marines. That’s pretty much the jist of what you’ve said.
As for me, I’ve never met a Devil Dog I haven’t liked.
Just a short true story:
Back on 1997, I was working for the Sec of the Air Force in the Pentagon. One day, on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, a bunch of protestors gathered in front of the entrance I used when coming from North Parking.
In front of me was a Marine. A true pre-politically-correct poster boy for the Marines—tall, fit, walking with a purpose. A no nonsense presence.
We approached the protestors that stood in our way and the Marine, all the while not breaking his stride, quickly reached out with one hand and grabbed by the hair the lone protestor standing smack-dab in our way and YANKED the guy, physically throwing the (by now) screaming protestor aside.
The Marine never missed a step and kept on walking. The rest of the protestors were stunned into awed silence and parted like the Red Sea.
It was wonderful.
I had a lot of assignments with the other services during my time in the Corps and I enjoyed working with them. The different cultures were interesting and sometimes pretty funny - I had one female Air Force NCO break into tears when she saw that I was an officer and had to salute ("I just can't get used to your uniform!" she cried).
And the dishonest ones who lack integrity keep their jobs and get promoted. Thus the honest ones want to be able to move forward as well.
I suppose the mentality is "if everyone cheats, then no one is cheating." It doesn't stand the moral test, but it's quite common nonetheless.