The Air Force scandal stemming back to last year on Lackland Air Force Base in Texas has resulted in the removal of a commanding officer. Col. Glenn Palmer, who oversaw all of the base's instructors and functioned in that capacity for a little over a year, was relieved of duty Friday.
The Air Force scandal sees Palmer now pushed out of his position, and he is the second high-ranking officer to be removed in connection with the sexual assault allegations. Although he himself was not accused of sexual assault, he did oversee nine squadrons of inspectors, who in turn taught 35,000 trainees a year.
The decision to remove Palmer was made by Col. Eric Axelbank, who "lost confidence" in Palmer's potential to lead the 737th Training Group at the base near San Antonio. Axelbank- the commander of the 37th training wing at Lackland- did not say who would replace Palmer, but his representative Collen McGee said that "a new leader is required to meet the current needs."
"Col. Palmer was relieved because Col. Eric Axelbank lost confidence in his ability to maintain a safe and secure training environment for our newest airmen," McGee, the representative for the 37th Training Wing, told the Los Angeles Times.
Another commander, Col. Mike Paquette of the 331st Training Squadron, was also removed in June by Axelbank for the same reason.
So far, 38 female victims have come forward and admitted that were sexually harassed, assaulted or raped while training at Lackland Air Force Base. Out of the 12 instructors openly accused, seven have been charged, and two have been convicted.
"We are taking a comprehensive look not only at the cases that we know, but trying to do the best we can to assess whether or not there are other cases out there," four-star Gen. Edward Rice, Commander of Air Force training, told reporters outside of the Pentagon previously. He also said that he didn't believe that the sexual abuse cases were a widespread problem.
"Nine of those 12 [instructors] were in one unit. We have a total of nine squadrons, and nine of them came from one squadron. So in my assessment to this point, it is not an issue of an endemic problem throughout basic military training. It is more localized," he told reporters.