Airmen and guardians who commit sexual assault will automatically face military discharge unless they qualify for an exception to that rule, the Air Force said in a recent update to its department-wide guidance.
“Sexual assault is incompatible with our core values, the ‘guardian ideal’ and military service,” Air Force Undersecretary Gina Ortiz Jones said in a news release. “These revisions will significantly improve our ability to discharge those unworthy of calling themselves airmen and guardians.”
The changes appear designed to cut down on instances of retaining troops so they can keep their paycheck, because they are good at their job or because they have spent years or decades in service.
“The prohibition of consideration of the members’ good military character or service record moves the ‘zero-tolerance’ culture forward, omitting opportunities for the ‘good dude’ defense,” said Kate Kuzminski, a military personnel expert at the Center for a New American Security.
“I think it’s more of a reflection of the sea change on sexual assault policy,” Kuzminski said of the Pentagon’s recent independent review of sexual assault prevention and response and moves to address the problem in the annual defense policy bill. “But I also think that the Air Force is out ahead on this issue in a way that’s consistent with their policy leadership on a number of workforce and [diversity, equity and inclusion] issues.”
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