In reading last night's blog about the Dean's address to faculty, I would like to point out a couple of items that are not completely accurate based on what he said (knowing you heard about this from those who were in attendance and also from the MRFF):
First, the discussion was about religion in general, not Christianity. Second, General Armacost never said one should never announce their faith in class because there may be cases where it might be appropriate for academic dialogue; his discussion was specific to the "first day of class." scenario.
Today I witnessed what I can only describe as the USAFA's February Miracle—or Hell Freezing Over, given the snowfall and plunging temps we're seeing. Today, BG Andy Armacost, Dean of the Faculty, during an address to the entire Faculty, addressed religious discrimination within the military in certainly the most direct, clear, and concise terms I've heard by any senior leader since the publication of AFI1-1. Frankly, I'm still in (pleasant) shock and think that you'll hear from others, too, once the shock starts to wear off. Here's how it all transpired...
The entire faculty was in our largest lecture hall, F-1, during a twice per semester "Dean's Call." After presenting awards and other typical duties, he began to discuss the recently released result of the unit climate survey within the faculty. After going over several positives, he said that he wanted to address specifically some of the negatives cited in the responses and written comments. The third topic on his list was religious discrimination. He said that 3.4% (or something like that) cited religious discrimination as something that negatively affected the climate on the faculty. He then added that written comments on the subject represented both sides of the issue, with some writing that it "wasn't easy being Jewish" on the faculty, or that they didn't feel comfortable identifying themselves as non-christian. Others thought that their rights to express their christian faith openly were being chilled by recent directives. He discussed those point for a few seconds and then described a question that was posed to him during new instructor training (during early Jan or last summer, I don't know when). Apparently, an instructor asked if he/she was allowed, during their self-introduction to their cadets on the first day of class, to cite their christian faith as an important aspect of their lives.
Gen Armacost said that we all had an obligation to get to know our cadets and our colleagues and to establish relationships that strengthen our institution BUT, and he said this quite clearly, the instructor should NOT announce their religious belief in class, to people he/she did not know, to people she/he had just met, to people over whom the instructor had a power relationship because no cadet or subordinate should ever have even the slightest concern that his/her religious (or other) personal belief could be a basis for judging them in the classroom—and he added race, sexual orientation, and gender to this, too. I almost gasped in delight.
He then said that everyone had a personal right to practice their personal religion so long as it did not affect their job or mission and that he respected everyone's personal beliefs. He said that in the holiday's he greats his friends that he knows are christian by saying 'Merry Christmas,' he says 'Happy Hannukah' to his jewish friends, and 'Eid Mubarrak' to his muslim friends. To the friends he knows are atheist, he says 'Have a good break.' To everyone else whom he doesn't know so well, he say 'Happy Holidays' or something non-sectarian.
THEN, he actually read from AFI1-1 verbatim including the lines about not proselytizing and the importance of the Air Force not showing favoritism or endorsement for one belief system over another. I was almost giddy at this point. FINALLY, someone with the guts to publicly say what's been documented, signed, and published (if not read aloud) by Air Force leadership. Clear guidance that it's NOT okay within the military hierarchy to bring your religion (or declare your lack thereof) in the classroom or the department office. Clearly, this is in response to the near constant pressure exerted by the MRFF over the last few years with the myriad violations of AFI1-1 we've seen at the Academy—before and even after it was published. Clearly, he was separating himself from his predecessor who went so far (according to reports) as tasking one of her senior leaders to conduct a counter-insurgency analysis within the faculty of MRFF supporters, and (earlier in her career) even put her name on a public advertisement in the base paper (with her rank included) declaring the "real" meaning of Christmas and inviting all to the christian faith.
He also announced the formation of a new Ombuds program on the faculty that will help resolve issues like this (among others) without using the chain of command or endangering the careers of faculty members and cadets—a great step towards building trust.
This was a watershed day for our Faculty, in my humble opinion. We can thank the MRFF and all of the hundreds of MRFF clients (cadets and faculty) at USAFA that have played a role in this day coming, as we thank Gen Armacost for his brave words. I'm sure he knows that the knives will be coming out for him soon, too. In the meantime, though, I hope this "bug" he's caught turns into a full-fledged virus of courage and we can hear similar words of support for all airmen from our other senior leaders.
A Senior USAFA Faculty Member
The United States Army announced today that it will convert the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division here to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
The conversion, scheduled to begin in March 2014, is being made to achieve a needed operational mix of brigade combat teams within the Army, and will take an estimated 10 months to complete.
The Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, G-3/5/7, issued a Record of Decision, based on a review of the 2008 Environmental Impact Statement that had considered several installations, including Fort Carson, for the permanent stationing of a Stryker brigade combat team. The 2008 Environmental Impact Statement assessed the effects of converting an Infantry brigade combat team to a Stryker brigade combat team; however, the Army is now converting an armored brigade combat team. Because of this change, the Army determined that the 2008 Environmental Impact Statement adequately evaluated the potential environmental effects associated with the conversion and that no supplementation of the Environmental Impact Statement is required.
Replacing Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles with lighter Stryker wheeled combat vehicles reduces heavy vehicle maneuver and fuel consumption, and is expected to reduce dust and air pollution at Fort Carson. Additionally, the net number of Soldiers training at Fort Carson will be fewer than anticipated because the action coincides with the inactivation of another brigade combat team as part of the Army-wide reductions, announced in June 2013.
The decision to convert the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, to a Stryker BCT does not require additional construction at Fort Carson or expansion of Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. The Stryker brigade combat team maneuver training requirements will be accommodated within the existing boundaries of Pinon Canyon.
The Record of Decision can be obtained online at:
Fort Carson is honored to receive Stryker combat vehicles and transition the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team. By converting an Armored Brigade to a Stryker Brigade, the 4th Infantry Division increases the operational capability and flexibility, while continuing to further Fort Carson’s net zero environmental goals of reducing pollution and fuel consumption. As Fort Carson and the 4th Infantry Division change to accommodate the Army’s reduction in forces, we will remain a well-trained, efficient fighting force.Bill Sulzman, who has opposed continual buildup of the military, says via e-mail, "Musical chairs. It is curious how they just dust off a 6 year old EIS and say it still fits. EIS's are mostly a joke anyway but it is still a cut and paste job. Still losing a full brigade a year from now."
U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), strong advocates for Colorado's veterans and their families, welcomed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' announcement today that it has secured land in El Paso County to build a new national veterans cemetery for southern Colorado. The announcement follows years of work by the lawmakers to bring a new veterans cemetery to the region. The Pikes Peak area has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the country and Pueblo, also known as the Home of Heroes, is home to four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Despite this, the nearest veteran cemeteries are located more than 70 miles away, greatly inconveniencing local families.
"Southern Colorado's veterans have earned our respect through a lifetime of service to our country," Udall said. "Our veterans and their families deserve better than to travel hours from home just to pay tribute to their loved ones. That's why I have fought for years to create a final resting place that is worthy of their sacrifice. It's long past time this cemetery was built so we can honor the veterans across southern Colorado who gave so much for our freedom."
"As a region with a rich military history and a large and active veteran population, Southern Colorado is an ideal location for a final resting place for our nation's heroes," Bennet said. "We've been working closely with the VA, veterans and their families to establish a new national cemetery in Southern Colorado. It's exciting that we can move forward on this long overdue project."
"As the son of a World War II veteran, I know the importance of dignity and respect for our nation's heroes," Lamborn said. "That is why the very first bill I introduced in Congress was to bring a Veterans Cemetery to El Paso County. It is tremendously exciting to see the hard work and help of so many members of our community pay off after all these years. I want to especially thank our Pikes Peak National Cemetery Committee for their years of dedication and advocacy on this project. The tens of thousands of veterans here in the Fifth Congressional District will now have a special place of remembrance close to heart and home."
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that it has acquired the land, water and mineral rights for a new veterans cemetery in southern Colorado. The new cemetery will be located on 374 acres of land in El Paso County at a site known as Rolling Hills.
Udall, Bennet and Lamborn have worked for years to bring a national veterans cemetery to southern Colorado, including successfully authorizing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to acquire land to build the cemetery. The lawmakers have worked closely with southern Colorado veterans and community leaders to make sure the new cemetery would meet the needs of veterans and their families. For years, Udall, Bennet and Lamborn have partnered with the Southern Colorado Veterans Cemetery Committee to build support for the cemetery and advocate for local veterans.
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo., - The Air Force Academy's Wings of Blue parachute team won 33 medals at the National Collegiate Parachute Competition in Lake Wells, Fla., recently.
Wings of Blue skydivers took home nine gold, 16 silver and eight bronze medals at the competition, held from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2.
The Wings of Blue received the highest point total, making it the collegiate champion, the 34th time in the past 45 years the Academy has
garnered this honor.
Cadet 1st Class Joseph M. Euhus, Cadet Squadron 6, won the collegiate tournament's "Outstanding Competitor" Award. He won a gold medal in sport accuracy (masters class). This makes the second year in a row a member of the Wings of Blue was chosen as the tournament's finest.
Euhus was part of the skydivers' record setting four-way Eufouria team that won gold in the open or highest division. Other members of the Eufouria team included Cadets 1st Class David Moore, Aaron Sporrer and Derek Dymenek.
The Wings of Blue is operated by the 98th Flying Training Squadron, which comprises 75 cadets and approximately 37 staff members. The team performs annually to an estimated combined audience 12 million people.
Just recently, on Dec. 28, the team jumped in the Buffalo Wild Wing Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., with 75 thousand stadium onlookers and millions of television fans watching the demonstration.
The Wings of Blue are scheduled to perform 23 nation-wide demonstrations in Fiscal Year 2014.
The 98th FTS also operates the Air Force's most prolific parachute program, executing 20,000 jumps and 3,500 UV-18B flight hours each year. The program allows more than 800 cadets per year the opportunity to earn their basic parachutist badge.
The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, is one of 10 active component brigade combat teams identified in an Army plan to be inactivated by FY15. At this time, we cannot speculate about the number of Soldiers who will be affected by 2BCT's inactivation. In June, Department of Army announced that 3rd Armored BCT, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson would inactivate, but now will inactivate 2nd Armored BCT, 4th Infantry Division. This change was necessary to adjust for deployment cycles. The decision to inactivate a brigade will not affect Fort Carson or the 4th Infantry Division's readiness to protect our nation and defend our freedom. Fort Carson remains a well-trained, adaptable fighting force with multiple well-trained, operational units.Since so much of the local economy revolves around the military, we asked El Paso County Board of County Commissioners Chair Dennis Hisey for his thoughts:
Kropp says those systems weren't analyzed, because they simply won't be used.
"This action doesn't include unmanned aerial or ground vehicles even though every other CAB has that," she says.
"If it's decided later they will have a [drone] company, they will have to do an EA or EIS to determine what the impacts are of that action, because it's determined to be a major action and it's not part of this action."
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - We have thoughtfully and carefully reviewed the conditions and circumstances surrounding Dr. Rosebush's hire and subsequent transfer to the Center for Character and Leadership Development and validated compliance with DoD hiring practices. We have found that at no time did Dr Rosebush's personal beliefs influence any professional decision or action taken in his position at the Academy. Further, we found that there have been no complaints about his conduct or professionalism. Therefore, there is no legal basis for either his removal or transfer and Dr. Rosebush will be retained in his current position.
In addition to reviewing the individual's hiring and performance during his tenure here, we also reviewed whether the Academy could do a better job of encouraging diversity and a climate of commitment, respect and concern for one another. During the review process we consulted with cadets and others, in and outside the Academy, for diverse perspectives and concerns. It is clear that we still have work to do in creating an Academy culture that respects the views of all and encourages diversity. My response to this challenge is to continue to reinforce and foster a culture of dignity, respect and inclusion for all. To that end, I am launching several initiatives- establishing a leadership position to provide oversight and integration of culture and climate issues. This position will focus attention on strengthening our institutional climate while working with other USAFA offices and agencies to eliminate negative sub-cultures and illegal activities and sexual assault. In addition, I have directed a series of panel discussions for our cadets, inviting thoughtful leaders and the best academics to help us create a better culture and climate transformation. We will continue to explore other initiatives that provide insight and solutions to the challenges we face.
As we develop lieutenants prepared to lead in our Air Force and in our nation, it is critical that we have a safe, non-threatening environment for every Airman—cadet, faculty and staff—regardless of sex, race, origin, orientation, ethnicity, religion, language, culture or life experiences.
• Requiring a minimum sentence of dishonorable discharge and dismissal for conviction of sexual assault;
• Assigning at least one fulltime [sic] sexual assault nurse examiner to all military medical facilities that offer 24-hour emergency care;
• Instituting a Special Victims' Counsel program in each service to provide specialized legal counsel to survivors of sexual assault;
• Prohibiting retaliation against service members for reporting a criminal offense while enhancing protections for military whistleblowers;
• Changing the rules for the military equivalent of a grand jury to better protect sexual assault survivors; and,
• Strengthening the review of decisions not to prosecute certain charges of sexual offenses.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have finalized their 2014 show schedule and will return to the Air Force
Academy to fly at the Class of 2014's graduation ceremony.
In its 61st season, the Thunderbirds team is slated to perform 66 demonstrations at 34 locations.
The Thunderbirds, officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, will perform its first public flyover of 2014 at the opening of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1.
The Thunderbirds make one appearance in Colorado, to fly May 28, 2014 over Falcon Stadium and the Class of 2014's graduation ceremony.
The announcement of the Thunderbirds schedule confirms the Defense Department's commitment to supporting community engagement. Last October, in an internal memo to military service chiefs, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stressed a continuing need to maintain military demonstration teams.
"Community and public outreach is a crucial Departmental activity that reinforces trust and confidence in the United States Military and in its most important asset - people," Hagel asserted. "It is our obligation to sustain that trust well into the future."
The remainder of the schedule is available online at:
The Air Force's Academy respects the rights of all people and we endeavor to
reinforce and foster a culture of dignity, respect and inclusion for all.
The Academy prides itself on its inclusive environment and is absolutely a
safe and validating place for all active duty Airmen, civilian Airmen and
cadets - whether they are LGBQ or not.
We realize the hiring of Dr. Mike Rosebush is a raw and emotional issue to
many people on both sides of the issue surrounding reports in the media
about his background and alleged beliefs. Regarding those concerns, here is
what we're doing to address them:
- Although we have great confidence in our personnel and hiring processes,
we are reviewing our hiring procedures to ensure they are legally sound,
equitable, and unbiased.
- We are reviewing the hiring process ultimately bringing Dr. Rosebush
aboard in 2009.
- To our knowledge, there are no complaints against Dr. Rosebush since he
arrived in 2009 and he has effectively performed the duties required by his
position for the Academy, but we are also reviewing our complaint systems to
make sure that nothing was missed.
Regarding Dr. Rosebush's role here, there are many reports out speculating
on his role. To be clear, Dr. Mike Rosebush is an Operations Research
Analyst for the Academy's Center for Character and Leadership Development.
He analyzes data to evaluate the effectiveness of USAFA's "Character &
Leadership 101: Foundations of Honorable Living - MOSAIC Personalized
Coaching Experience" course.
He is not, as has been reported, the point man for building "character" and
"leadership" here. That is a team effort and the person who leads that
effort is Air Force Col. Joseph Sanders, Permanent Professor & Director,
Center for Character & Leadership Development.
Under Col. Sanders, Dr. Rosebush is part of the team that allows cadets to
explore and commit to their own personal development around ethical
values/virtues, and his specific role in that capacity is to analyze and
evaluate the effectiveness of USAFA's "Character & Leadership 101:
Foundations of Honorable Living - Mosaic Personalized Coaching Experience"
course — he provides technical guidance on the overall program and part of
that is to help ensure the quality of coaches who conduct the coaching of
cadets. He does not personally coach cadets.
Our brand is our cadets. This program helps them grow as confident,
competent, humble leaders who can earn the respect of those who work for
them and those for whom they work. Cadets self-select one of the 11 Air
Force virtues they want to strengthen. The program, and the professional
coaches supporting it, helps the cadets articulate the behavior she/he is
excited about and committed to strengthen, and that ultimately helps develop
stronger leaders of character.
Our cadets will one day be lieutenants for our Air Force and leaders for our
Nation. By fostering a culture of dignity, respect and inclusion for all we
continue to positively mold these young men and women and properly prepare
them to defend our Nation's freedoms.
Below is a joint statement from Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning and General Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff on the USAFA personnel matter for your use:
"The Air Force is comprised of a rich workforce whose backgrounds reflect various races, origins, orientations, ethnicities, languages, cultures and life experiences. We promote an atmosphere of inclusion throughout our ranks and strive to ensure every Airman is treated with dignity and respect. If we fail to do that, at any level on the team, we break faith with our core values that hold us together.
The Air Force Academy and its leadership are looking into the personnel matter and are keeping us updated. We have the utmost confidence in [academy superintendent] Lt Gen [Michelle] Johnson's ability to lead her organization."
Regarding the allegations saying the Air Force's Academy not being [sic] a
welcoming place for LGBQ cadets, The Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen.
Michelle D. Johnson, along with the Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Gregory
Lengyel, and the Dean of the Faculty, Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost, and Dr.
Hans Mueh (Brig. Gen, ret.) Athletic Director recently met with Spectrum,
the Academy's affinity group for LGBQ cadets.
In that forum, the cadets expressed to Academy leaders that they are proud
to be in the Air Force and do not feel like the Air Force Academy culture
inhibits them in any way. Rather, they expressed their concerns about the
media reports and how those reports may affect the decision of young
Americans to attempt to come to the Academy.
One attendee at the forum was Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler, an
Instructor, Department of English and Fine Arts, and the Officer in Charge
"During the forum with leadership, the cadets of Spectrum expressed multiple
times that the Academy is a safe and validating place to be LGBQ," Capt.
Reinstatler said. "Several cadets have told me they are frustrated with the
articles disparaging USAFA; these articles do not take into account the
extensive support our LGBQ cadets have received from Academy leadership or
the reality of the Academy's inclusive environment."
WASHINGTON, DC – The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s premier resource and support network for LGBT military spouses and their families, released the following statements today regarding the employment of Dr. Mike Rosebush by the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. Rosebush has spent a lifetime devoted to advocating the pseudoscience that homosexuality is something that can and should be "cured." Such a practice is uniformly dismissed as harmful and unscientific by organizations such as the American Psychological Association and other respected medical and social work organizations.
"Hiring a man committed to such a destructive pseudoscience in a position devoted to developing character and leadership in cadets is simply unconscionable," said Stephen Peters, president of the American Military Partner Association. "It is extremely disrespectful and offensive to not only the gay and lesbian cadets at the academy, but the thousands of gay and lesbian service members and their families proudly serving our nation."
"As one of the original founders of Exodus, and a close follower of the 'Ex-gay' movement for over 30 years, I can personally attest to the great harm done by 'reparative therapy' and 'ex-gay' programs," said Michael Bussee, one of the ex-gay reparative therapy survivors and most vocal critics. "They promote junk science, religious prejudice and shame, and have done immeasurable harm to countless LGBT individuals and their families. It is deeply disturbing that a leading U.S. military institution should have anything to do with these unscientific and destructive 'therapies.'"
The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), a non-partisan and non-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Washington, D.C., is the nation’s premier resource and support network for LGBT military spouses and their families. Founded and led by same-sex military partners in 2009 as the Campaign for Military Partners, AMPA is committed to connecting, supporting, honoring, and serving the partners and spouses of America’s LGBT servicemembers and veterans.
Dear Acting Secretary Fanning,
With great shock and an enormous sense of disgust, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has been informed of the notorious anti-gay bigot Dr. Mike Rosebushʼs employment at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). Needless to say, the employment of a fundamentalist Christian, “gay conversion therapy” advocate comes as a grave insult and palpable threat to USAFAʼs lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) cadets, staffers, and faculty members, including MRFFʼs 27 LGB clients at the Academy. Accordingly, MRFF demands that USAFA immediately terminate the employment of the notorious homophobe Rosebush.
The mind literally boggles at the wretched thought of Rosebush being employed at USAFA anywhere, but especially at a place described as the Academy's "Center for Character and Leadership Development"! Mike Rosebush has absolutely no place in the hallowed halls of our military service academies. Such casehardened proponents of old-school horrific bigotry and putrescent prejudice, if employed by the United States Air Force Academy, will no doubt use their positions to erode and denigrate the precious civil rights of airmen, cadets, faculty and staff. We call on the leadership of the United States Air Force to expeditiously and comprehensively root out this menace to good order, morale, and discipline at USAFA.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation demands that USAFA exercises its responsibility towards the civil rights and protections of cadets, staff, and faculty, and immediately terminate the employment of “ex-gay” fraudster Dr. Mike Rosebush.
Dr. Rosebush respectfully declines all interviews, and wants to express how honored he is to work at USAFA — where we develop and commission officers of character. Also, he emphasizes that we at USAFA are committed to respecting the human dignity of everyone.
A litany of previous religious liberty violations at USAFA, also exposed by MRFF, have led to alleged “thorough investigations” by the U.S. Air Force and supposed continued efforts to establish a “religious sensitivity training regimen.” As recently as mid-October, 2013, Mr. Weinstein met personally with USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson to inform her of several unconstitutional religious civil rights violations affecting cadets, staff and faculty at USAFA.
However, Weinstein has subsequently decried the recently-appointed Superintendent for her inability or unwillingness to challenge the deep-rooted Christian fundamentalist dominance existing at the Academy.
Further fuel was added to the fire when the Academy issued a statement defending and exonerating Willoughby, stating that the hate-mail was sent “in his personal capacity,” and that “no action is being taken against the individual.”
In an interview, [Mikey] Weinstein [MRFF founder] responded: "This is the best example of how wretched the climate is there, the brazen boldness of Christian supremacy. It's an absolute disgrace. We want an apology to me, my family and the foundation, and we want him disciplined."
The MRFF billboard features a quote by Willoughby accompanied by the words “We get it, but we won’t tolerate it!” The billboard includes a graphic depiction of an American flag festooned with Christian crosses which is meant to symbolize the unconstitutional, theocratic fifth column which permeates USAFA.
The MRFF currently represents 435 USAFA cadets, staff and faculty clients, 372 of whom are practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics.
Mr. Weinstein and the foundation have frequently come to blows with the USAFA administration in the past decade due to the permeating, profound presence of, and support for, fundamentalist evangelical Christianity at the Academy.