A list of four possible sites for a veterans cemetery in the Colorado Springs area has been narrowed to two, Rep. Doug Lamborn said in a news release Wednesday.
The two are Rolling Hills Ranch, in the vicinity of Bradley and South Meridian roads, and Bradley Heights, which is located near Bradley and South Marksheffel roads.
That means a site north of Highway 24 east of Colorado Springs has been eliminated, as has Kane Ranch east of Fountain, which had been identified for years as the probable location for the cemetery. Kane Ranch, though, didn't have a water source, meaning either El Paso County or the city of Fountain would have to extend a line to it. Because VA rules don't allow money to be spent on infrastructure off-site, the line's cost would have been the county's or Fountain's expense.
The county was given the Kane Ranch land several years ago when the VA was searching for a site. Commissioner Dennis Hisey has said that should the VA choose another place for the cemetery, Kane Ranch some day could become a regional park or open space.
“I am pleased the VA has further narrowed down their preferences for a new Veterans Cemetery site in El Paso County. Both of these finalists are much more accessible to Southern Colorado’s veterans and their families than Fort Logan near Denver. Veteran’s advocates have worked with dogged determination for more than a decade to bring a cemetery to our part of the state, and it appears their work will soon bear fruit,” Lamborn said in a release.
A final decision is expected late this year, with groundbreaking sometime in 2014.
On May 1, we wrote a blog post about how the city and Army planned a wedding of sorts at City Hall.
Called an "Army Community Covenant," the pact involved Colorado Springs Mayor Stephen G. Bach and Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Fort Carson and 4th Infantry Division commander.
Now, the Army plans to seal the same covenant with the city of Pueblo, which hasn't always fallen in line with the military-industrial complex's wishes as Colorado Springs has.
No matter: Pueblo apparently has bought in to being labeled "an extension of the Fort Carson community."
Here's the release:
Fort Carson and Pueblo will sign an Army Community Covenant at 10 a.m. tomorrow [Tuesday] at the Center for American Values in Pueblo.
The purpose of this covenant is to recognize the many bonds Fort Carson has with the Pueblo community and promote continued efforts to establish new and foster current relationships with community leaders and residents.
Fort Carson and Pueblo partner to support a number of community events, including parades, the Colorado state fair and military appreciation nights at Colorado Springs University - Pueblo. Fort Carson Soldiers and Families live and work in Pueblo, making it an extension of the Fort Carson community
Fort Carson signed an Army Community Covenant with Pueblo West in 2011 and another covenant with Colorado Springs in May.
The Army Community Covenant program is designed to foster and sustain effective state and community partnerships with the Army to improve the quality of life for Soldiers and their Families, both at their current duty stations and as they transfer to other states.
Interested members of the public are invited and welcome to attend.
Gen. Mike Gould, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, is again stirring the religious waters by referring to Sikhs as Muslims.
During a briefing of faculty, staff and cadets today, Gould mentioned the shooting in Oak Creek, Wisc., where six people were killed as having taken place at "a Sikh Mosque."
Sikhs are not Muslims, Mikey Weinstein says most emphatically.
Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says he has been contacted by 19 faculty, staff and cadets at the academy about Gould's gaff. "They're pretty horrified," he says.
"He might have just as well said a Christian Synagogue or a Jewish church," Weinstein says. "That [Sikh} is a completely separate faith."
A Sikh house of worship is actually called a Gurdwara, Weinstein says, something that the leader of a premier university should know, or at least know enough to look up before embarrassing himself and revealing his ignorance by saying otherwise.
"Nothing is more upsetting to Muslims that to be referred to as Sikhs," he adds. "The Air Force Academy's toleration of non-fundamentalist Christianity can be described as a wretched train wreck, and to have him refer to this as a tragedy in a Sikh Mosque is further evidence."
He says he contacted the academy's public affairs department so someone could point out Gould's error to him before further briefings were held and was asked by a public information officer, referring to Sikhs, "They're Hindus, right?"
"This is just unbelievable," Weinstein says. "It shows the lack of intelligence, lack of broad cultural diversity, the lack of understanding when you have this idiot leading the academy."
Lt. Col. John Bryan, an academy spokesman, says this:
During one of his first SUPT calls he inadvertently referred to the Sikh temple as a mosque. Lt Gen Gould is aware of this and will correct it in upcoming SUPT calls.
In the interest of advancing understanding, Weinstein provides the following lesson:
Sikhs as a distinct ethno-religious group:
- Largely from the Punjab region
- Belief in One Immortal Being (monotheism) and ten Gurus, unlike Hindus
- Historic opposition to the Caste System (one's "previous life's Karma" does not determine their social position, as was the case in Hindu society)
- Sikhs see themselves as an entirely distinct people, i.e. Punjabi Sikh (although in Punjab region intermarriage is common)
- Meat is eaten by the majority, although Kosher/Halal meat is banned. Dietary preference is the decision of the individual.
As expected, Fort Carson Garrison Cmdr. Col. David L. Grosso has ruled that a 113-helicopter, 2,700-soldier Combat Aviation Brigade due at Carson later this year and next will have no significant impact on the environment.
The post, located south of Colorado Springs, said in a press release today the finding allows the Army to proceed with construction and infrastructure improvements to support the CAB, which is a ludicrous statement, considering many of the facilities are already built and have been for a couple of years.
As Carson spokeswoman Dee McNutt told us in March, "The Grow the Army EIS [Environmental Impact Statement], completed in 2009 included the potential to receive a CAB. So, in that EIS some facilities were included and started once the decision was made in 2011."
From Carson's release issued today:
Based on the analysis of all the environmental concerns raised during the public comment periods, any activity with the potential to have impacts can be mitigated.
Fort Carson concludes that the Proposed Action is not a major Federal action that would significantly impact the environment and does not require an Environmental Impact Statement.
The CAB EA was prepared according to all applicable laws and regulations. The entire EA and FNSI can be found at the below link:
Not everyone is thrilled with the ruling, such as Bill Sulzman, a peace activist who has picketed local military bases.
"To me, it's more of the same," he says. "It's sad news and a sign of why military spending cannot really be cut, because it becomes a jobs program in whatever district a new proposal is made, and that always wins the day."
We asked the Chamber of Commerce and EDC for a comment but haven't heard back. We'll update later. But Brian Binn, the Chamber official overseeing mlitary issues, wrote the following to us in March:
- over the past several years the economic impact of Fort Carson, as reported by the Fort, has been near or just above $2B per year.
- it is estimated, depending on which economist you follow, that for every military position, it creates 1.3 - 1.7 (about) additional jobs within the community - in many sectors of the business community.
- As you know, we are looking at about 2,700 Soldiers with the CAB, and approximately 120 helicopters of various types.
- most will live off-base in our community. Buying or renting houses, condos, duplexes, or apartments.
- a CAB for a division is an essential piece of allowing fully integrated training for our Soldiers. I'm sure you'll agree that our Soldiers deserve the best possible training and integration with their own air assets if at all possible.
- the 4th ID is the only division in the Army without it's own CAB. Even in tough economic times for our DoD, Army leadership recognizes that the air assets are heavily tasked, and to bring our aviation units into better alignment with the Army's ARFORGEN model they need to continue fielding this CAB at Fort Carson.
-We, our community, has seen CAB size aviation units at Fort Carson before, when the 3rd ACR was here.
There's been a lot said about the heroic efforts of firefighters to squelch the Waldo Canyon fire, which ignited on June 23 and put 32,000 people out of their homes in the following days due to evacuations.
But there are lots of hero stories to be told, and one of them involves a small band of Air Force Academy cadets who pitched in to help make sure that residents of Ute Pass didn't return to a pig sty when they were allowed to to back to their homes July 1.
Sheriff Terry Maketa says bears infiltrated the Cascade, Chipita Park and Green Mountain Falls area during the evacuated days, and as we all know, bears aren't very good housekeepers.
Their rummaging left those towns and their environs pretty trashy. Maketa didn't want residents to be depressed by such a sight when they returned, so he was happy when 20 cadets stepped up to do a dirty job that most of the rest of us would shun.
Academy spokesman Meade Warthen tells us that 20 cadet civil engineering majors volunteered to clean up trash created by bears, raccoons and other wildlife in the Ute Pass residential area.
"They spent about three hours on Saturday morning cleaning up before residents returned home after evacuating because of the Waldo Canyon fire," he writes in an e-mail. "This effort is part of an on-going civic outreach endeavor by our cadets, who conducted more than 31,000 hours of their time last year on various volunteer projects. They expect to match or exceed that number this year."
Remember all the flak over whether Air Force Academy dean of faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born and assistant dean Col. Richard Fullerton lied about faculty credentials?
Well, the Air Force Inspector General's Office has finally coughed up the investigation record, which concluded both were negligent under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which we reported in February.
Here are the pertinent parts of the report about Born, found on pages 24 and 25:
Same goes for Fullerton.
Here's the entire report:
Asked to comment, the academy issued this statement Tuesday: "The Superintendent reviewed the findings and took appropriate administrative action. And as the IG noted, there is no evidence that our faculty are not qualified to teach the courses to which they are assigned."
But David Mullin, a former academy professor who has a legal action pending against the academy, says he will further pursue the issue by making a formal complaint with the commission of higher learning that accredits the academy.
"The Air Force is misrepresenting the higher learning standards regarding faculty credentials," Mullin tells us. "The Air Force says there are no standards, and it's up to the academy to decide what the standards are. You need to have sufficient graduate course work in the field you're teaching. It's not at the complete discretion of a college's administration to determine" what credentials are necessary for its faculty.
Rather, he says, colleges and universities should meet standards set by accreditation agencies, and the academy does not meet those standards.
As for academy Superintendent Gen. Mike Gould's role, Mullin says, "He's, in effect, done nothing about this. In my opinion, that's dereliction of duty."
Born and Fullerton apparently remain on the job at the academy.
The Air Force Academy recently got its wrist slapped for using Associated Press wire copy without permission in its base newspaper, the Academy Spirit.
(Isn't that stealing?)
The newspaper used at least five AP sports stories that the Spirit lifted from the academy's athletics website, which, unlike the base newspaper, does have an arrangement with AP for use of its material.
The articles appeared from Dec. 10, 2010, to Feb. 17, 2012.
There apparently wasn't any legal action taken by AP, because Jim Clarke, AP bureau chief in Denver, tells us, "The situation has been addressed to the AP's satisfaction." He then referred us to the Spirit staff.
Lt. Col. John Bryan, the academy's director of public affairs who oversees the newspaper, admitted to improperly using the AP stories.
"We pulled the stories off the athletic site, thinking those are ours to use," he says.
Apparently, he's not familiar with Department of Defense Instruction 5120.4, which bars the use of commercial wire services by the military:
4.7. DoD publications normally shall not be authorized the use of commercial
news and opinion sources, such as Associated Press, United Press International, New
York Times, etc., except as stated below in this subsection and the following
subsection. The use of such sources is beyond the scope of the mission of command
or installation publications and puts them in direct competition with commercial
publications. The use of such sources may be authorized for a specific DoD
newspaper by the cognizant DoD Component only when other sources of national and
international news and opinion are not available.
The exception is "Overseas Combatant Command newspapers published outside the United
States...," according to the instruction.
Bryan called the usage "an honest mistake" and accused the Independent of "digging in our garbage cans for batteries that weren't properly disposed of," adding, "C'mon. Really?"
No word on whether any punishment was meted out by the academy's leadership over the issue.
Fort Carson, the Mountain Post south of Colorado Springs, is under investigation for an incident in which 10,000 gallons of sewage laced with oil flowed into Fountain Creek, the Pueblo Chieftain reports today.
The manhole overflow is being blamed on heavy rains earlier this month.
Here's what Fort Carson officials say about the spill:
The blend of industrial wastewater and rainfall runoff release occurred as a result of the installation’s industrial wastewater treatment system’s collection capacity being overwhelmed by rainwater introduced into the system from the big storm of June 6. The design capacity of the system was exceeded for a short period, allowing storm water mixed with industrial wastewater to overflow and then enter into B-Ditch about a mile away from Fountain Creek. It is estimated that up to 10,000 gallons of the wastewater/rainwater mix might have been discharged into the ditch. As soon as the overflow was discovered a Garrison emergency response crew responded by staking out the spill area and containing as much of the spill as they could. To assess impact, samples of the receiving ditch waters were taken. The spill was reported to the regulatory authorities right away. Water quality within the B-Ditch returned to normal conditions for the sampled contaminants (oil and grease) as of June 8. A few inches of soil from the impacted area will be removed and disposed of at a local landfill within the next few days.
Fort Carson complies most of the time with environmental laws, but it has had some missteps.
The post paid a $2,475 fine after state environmental regulators found Carson and its environmental contractor, Earth Tech, had violated the Colorado Hazardous Waste Act in 2005 and 2006.
The violations, as outlined in documents obtained by the Independent from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:
— Failure to make hazardous waste determinations for seven 55-gallon drums of liquid that was considered hazardous waste.
— Stored eight 55-gallon drums of hazardous waste in excess of 90 days without a permit.
— Disposed of material that was listed as hazardous waste "onto the ground at the Combined Landfill Area without having either a permit or interim status for the disposal of hazardous waste or treating the waste to levels below the Colorado Basic Standards for Groundwater."
Earth Tech said in the Compliance Order on Consent that it was merely working for Fort Carson and didn't have authority over the post's property and storage yard that was subject of the violations.
Fort Carson officials had this to say about the hazardous waste violations and fine:
The first two violations above that were outlined by the Independent resulted from a long-standing difference of opinion between the Army and Colorado as to how to handle water extracted from monitoring wells. The extractions contained small amounts of potentially hazardous waste. These violations did not include any releases of hazardous wastes or adverse effects to the environment.
The third violation involved leaking from a storage drum containing water extracted from monitoring wells. The leak started over the holiday period and was discovered by Fort Carson personnel and promptly reported to Colorado regulators in January, 2007. The leaked amount involved only approximately 25 gallons and, again, involved no adverse effects to the environment.
But that's not Carson's only problem. Additional Health Department records obtained by the Indy show Fort Carson was notified in February of 16 potential violations of the Colorado Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act, for which it could be assessed an administrative penalty of up to $15,000 per day for each violation.
Several of the violations involve air quality readings the state alleges were faulty. In another case, Carson put an engine into service in October 2009 without obtaining an Air Pollutant Emission Notice and paying an associated fee until July 2010. "Fort Carson incorrectly believed that the equipment met the definition of a non-road engine and did not need a permit until it had been onsite for over 12 months," state regulators wrote in its compliance advisory.
In several other cases, Carson put engines into service without the proper permits. The violations took place in 2010, 2011 and 2012, records show.
Again, Carson's comments:
Air quality violations were related to administrative oversight for emissions sources installed by government contractors without proper air quality construction permits during the rapid and sustained construction occurring as a result of the growth in Fort Carson. The garrison has since put preventative measures in place to ensure air emission sources scheduled for construction receive proper permits from the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division. The garrison environmental office continues to work cooperatively with all Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment offices to ensure its environmental protection measures comply with applicable laws and regulations.
The military is such an integral part of the state and local economies that Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach is helping Gov. John Hickenlooper set up the Colorado National Defense Support Council, Bach announced today at his monthly news conference.
Chairing the new group, which apparently doesn't have a website yet, is Don Addy, president of the nonprofit National Homeland Defense Foundation, which is based in Colorado Springs and hosts a homeland defense symposium every fall at The Broadmoor.
"We have a tremendous partnership with our Department of Defense installations," Addy said at the news conference. "Up until now, there was no organization in the state focused on nurturing that relationship. Our mission will be to nurture, preserve and protect our bases in Colorado that mean so much to our economy."
So while the soldiers and airmen watch our backs against enemies, Addy, Bach and company will watch theirs — to make sure the money keeps flowing. And it's a river, according to the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, which said in a report issued this year based on 2010 spending:
•Colorado as a whole receives $11.1 billion through the Department of Defense
•Estimated economic impact of the military on Colorado Springs metro was $6.5 billion in FY2010
•The direct and indirect military impact on the Colorado Springs economy is 30-35% of gross metropolitan product
•The five major military installations in El Paso County accounted for over 73,000 jobs in FY2010. (25,000 were civilian)
Those installations are the Air Force Academy, Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, Fort Carson and the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.
Bach said his participation will cost the city nothing other than his time, and he pledged to not even seek reimbursement for mileage and expenses to attend meetings.
Here are the members of the Council:
Don Addy, National Homeland Defense Foundation
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Anderson
Christian Anschutz, Western Development Group
Steve Bach, Colorado Springs mayor
Matt Carpenter, El Pomar Foundation
Retired Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton
Maj. Gen. Mike Edwards, Adjutant General
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Larry Fortner
Gov. John Hickenlooper
Kevin Hougen, Aurora Chamber of Commerce president
Bill Hybl, El Pomar Foundation
Keith King, state senator
Chris Melcher, Colorado Springs city attorney
Chuck Murphy, Springs developer
Doug Quimby, La Plata Communities president
Retired Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Edward Soriano
Marvin Stein, Pueblo businessman
No one would have faulted officials at the Air Force Academy if they'd rounded up to $1 billion when reporting the 2011 economic impact on the region of the academy, located on 19,315 acres north of Colorado Springs. But to be precise, the academy states in a report issued today that its economic impact totaled $999 million.
The 24-page report contains lots of interesting figures, such as:
— Total workforce was 12,797 military and civilians; 3,360 were civilians.
— Payroll totaled $416.8 million, with cadets receiving $69.5 million of that.
— Last year, the base spent $168.6 million on construction and $165.2 million on services contracts.
From the report, issued annually under a service directive:
The staff and faculty of the United States Air Force Academy, in the interest of our future national security, transform our future leaders into outstanding young men and women to become Air Force officers with knowledge, character, and discipline; motivated to lead the world’s greatest aerospace force in service to the nation. Before its graduates enter various operational and support specialties, the Academy trains them to be, first and foremost, Air Force officers. Of the more than 42,880 graduates from more than 50 classes, more than 13,000 are on active duty.
The Academy’s work force consists of 12,797 military members and civilian employees. Of these employees, 3,360 are civilian. The rest are active duty military and cadets. Civilian employees include: wage grade employees, general schedule civil service employees (including National Security Personnel System employees), and non-appropriated fund employees (included in the non-appropriated numbers are morale, welfare, and recreation, Athletic Association, Base Exchange, Air Academy Federal Credit Union, and Air Academy National Bank) and private contractors. There are approximately 75,000 retired military and family members in the regional area. Nearly half use Academy facilities, although the retiree impact is not included in this report.
Although not included in the impact analysis, the Academy is a national icon that draws over 440,000 visitors annually. The Academy holds 17 varsity sports for men and 10 for women to include football, volleyball, basketball, hockey, and others, associated with NCAA Division I Athletics and The Mountain West Conference. Over 3,100 youths attend sports camps each summer. These sporting events are estimated to draw over 300,000 attendees, approximately $5.7M in revenue, and $1M in labor costs.
USAFA supported the Combined Federal Campaign with donations totaling $614,871 in FY11. While we recognize CFC is not the only support to the local community, CFC is the main fundraiser supported by the installation that gives back to the community. Roughly 30% of CFC donations support the local agencies.
For fiscal year 2011, the economic impact of the United States Air Force Academy on the local area was approximately $999 million dollars.
To read the full report, go here:
An Air Force lawyer at the Pentagon has essentially cleared Brig. Gen. Dana Born, the Air Force Academy's dean of faculty, of ordering a counterinsurgency against the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
The attorney, W. Kipling At Lee Jr., the Air Force deputy general counsel, also found that an investigation into the poisoning of David Mullin's service dog, Caleb, was "inconclusive."
Mullin, a former AFA economics professor who sued the academy over a religious matter last year, says he disputes all of the findings in the three-paragraph letter (see below). First, he says the MRFF has evidence that Born ordered her subordinate, Col. Thomas Drohan, in a mid-year performance review, to conduct a COIN (counterinsurgency) against the organization. The MRFF has sought the review through the Freedom of Information Act, but hasn't obtained the document.
In a Dec. 9, 2011, deposition given by Born in an unlawful dismissal lawsuit filed by Mullin, Born testified she didn't order a COIN, which both Mullin and MRFF's founder Mikey Weinstein say constituted perjury.
At Lee ruled her statements during the deposition were "factually correct."
As for the investigation into Caleb's poisoning, Mullin has maintained the dog was harmed while at the academy. The dog survived, but his vet concluded the dog had been poisoned, Mullin has said.
"I think it is criminal obstruction of justice," Mullin says of the investigation. "They performed an incompetent and incomplete investigation. For instance, you do not go and interview suspects more than a month after the incident, and that's exactly what they did."
Lastly, there's been much made about the academy's alleged resistance to allowing the Dec. 9 deposition to occur on the academy grounds. Weinstein says the academy refused to provide protection for him, which he says he needs in light of numerous and repeated death threats. (Weinstein is Jewish and is trying to break what he considers the iron grip that fundamentalist Christians have on the military. Recently, MRFF persuaded the military to stop placing the seals of the four services on Bibles.)
Mullin says there was plenty of time to make arrangements to have the deposition at the academy but the academy gave Weinstein's bodyguard the wrong phone number.
"The bodyguard told me he tried to make contact well over a dozen times with no response over a period of days. They were really uncooperative," Mullin says.
Here's the account the bodyguard, Anthony Burnside, provided the Indy in an e-mail:
I was never given any help from the Academy. I was given the wrong phone number to call and make arrangements. I never got an answer from anyone. The Academy was never in proper contact with myself for security arrangements. To date I was never contacted by any government officials for my side of the story. I have attached my email correspondence between myself and Major Bauman explaining my reticence and lack of help from the Academy.
Burnside tells us in an interview he couldn't get an answer at any phone number he was given for the academy. He also says he wasn't interviewed or contacted in any way by At Lee or anyone else involved in the investigation that resulted in At Lee's findings.
Which was that there was no COIN, no perjury by Born, no poisoning of Caleb and no dispute over arrangements for the deposition.
Mullin says now that the administrative process has run its course, he and MRFF are considering filing a lawsuit over the COIN order and the investigation involving his dog.
Weinstein dismissed the letter as so much hogwash, noting that Caleb's vet confirmed rat poison in the dog's tissues.
He also said MRFF lawyers are analyzing the possibility of legal action in which the organization would make a constitutional common law claim against the academy and Air Force for creating an atmosphere in which MRFF's and its clients civil rights were violated.
Referring to At Lee's findings, Weinstein said, "You can't waive a wand and say no dog was poisoned there, no COIN ordered there, there was no problem between the head of security forces and my body guard. You can't say, 'We are an island of constitutional conformance when in fact the opposite is true.'"
As a footnote, At Lee was at the center of controversy when a special congressional panel was formed in 2003 to investigate the sexual assault scandal at the Air Force Academy. The panel, chaired by the late Tillie Fowler, concluded, in part, "It is clear from our review of nearly a decade of efforts to solve this problem that the common failure in each of those efforts was the absence of sustained attention to the problem and follow-up on the effectiveness of the solution."
At Lee headed up a working group in 2000 that studied sexual assaults at the academy going back to 1985. At Lee asked to form the group, saying in an e-mail to another officer he wanted his office and Air Force Office of Special Investigations to “discuss the procedures in place for responding to allegations of sexual assault against cadets; whether they remain appropriate after the passage of time since their institution; and whether they now create unacceptable risk for the Academy leadership.” (Emphasis added.)
The Fowler commission notes: "In addition to considering the merits of the Academy’s confidentiality policy, the Sexual Assault Policy Working Group collected information about the number of sexual assaults since 1985, and analyzed such sources as Social Climate Surveys and “reprisal climate behavior data.”
But in the end, At Lee's group never produced a formal report, Fowler's panel noted.
Some saw this as something of a smoking gun in the sexual assault scandal, arguing that the Air Force knew for years that sexual assault was rampant and that the academy lacked appropriate processes to deal with it.
Here's At Lee's letter regarding the COIN, Caleb and the deposition arrangements:
As we reported in today's paper, the Air Force Academy is investigating a raft of cadets for cheating on a match exam, the latest black eye at the institution that prides itself on its honor code that requires cadets to not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate anyone among them who does.
Sources tell the Indy that many of those caught up in the cheating incident are athletes. Because the academy will grant most of the cadets honor probation, which lasts six months and bars cadets from participation in Division 1 sports, the academy's fall sports teams could suffer. Which means the football team.
The cheating investigation is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the academy. Last year, several cadets were investigating for illegal use of a drug called Spice; this year, another 31 were similarly investigated. Asher Clark, star running back, was expelled right before graduation.
The most recent widespread cheating scandal at the academy took place in 2007, again involving freshmen. Of those investigated, 27 admitted to it, including 25 athletes, and 17 were found in violation of the honor code.
Does yet another instance in a series spanning the past 50 years mean that cheating has become something of a tradition at the nation's military academies?
Actually, the Air Force Academy is using the latest episode to say its honor code works, because most of those caught at cheating took "full responsibility" for their actions. After the fact, of course.
Here's the academy's release:
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Academy officials announced today that up to 78 cadets used unauthorized resources—a web math program—during an online Mathematics 142 (Calculus) Fundamental Skills Exam (FSE). The cadets involved independently accessed a website that was authorized for use on homework, but not for the exam. There is no evidence of collusion—each cadet acted on his or her own. Mathematics 142 is a freshman calculus course.
Most of the cadets have taken full responsibility for their actions, and as a result have begun an intensive, individualized six month remediation program. During this program, they will participate in reflection, journaling, and mentoring with senior officers and cadet honor representatives.
“Penalties for cadets can range from honor probation to disenrollment, and that process is being worked through the Cadet Honor Code,” said Lt. Col. John Bryan, Academy Director of Public Affairs. “Cadet Honor Representatives along with USAFA staff are fully engaged to determine who potentially had an unfair advantage in taking the basic FSE test. The fact that many of these cadets owned up to their mistakes tells us our process in developing these leaders of character is working.”
“We are disappointed in this small number of our nearly 4,200 cadets. However, this review sends a strong message to all that if there are suspicions that a cadet uses unauthorized resources we will hold them accountable in accordance with the Academy Honor System,” Bryan added. “We expect the very best of our cadets.”
Updates will be released as they become available.
We heard from David Cannon, director of communications at the academy, who says the following about whether a cadet has to repay the government for his or her education and how much that would be:
The Academy doesn't decide if a cadet will pay back the cost of their education (approx $167k and not $400k as you blog — I can explain the difference but basically, the cost of the education is tuition, books, fees, room and board for 4 years. The $400k figure is taking our entire Operations and Maintenance budget and dividing by the number of cadets), the Secretary of the Air Force makes that decision. That's where this is now — awaiting that decision. And we may never know. It will be between the individual and the Secretary of the Air Force.
—————————————ORIGINAL POST: MONDAY, 2:20 P.M.——————————————
Months after the Air Force Academy undertook an investigation into cadets' use of spice, only 10 have been or are being punished.
The illegal drug use investigation was announced Jan. 12. Today, the academy, in response to media requests over the last several weeks, including from the Independent, said of the 31 cadets investigated, 13 have been cleared and 10 penalized in some way. Another eight are awaiting word on their cases.
Here's a rundown of where the cases stand:
— 25 reports of investigation are currently published:
— 13 cadets have been cleared of allegations of substance abuse;
— 8 received non-judicial punishment, such as a letter of reprimand or letter of counseling or an Article 15, a proceeding that falls short of court martial. Two of the eight have been disenrolled, while six still face pending disenrollment.
— 1 still faces non-judicial punishment.
— 1 faces a court martial.
— 2 reports of investigation have been completed and are awaiting command decision.
— 6 reports of investigation are still pending.
The academy said in a press release:
In April 2010, Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould issued a General Order prohibiting the use of intoxicating substances other than alcohol, caffeine, tobacco or lawfully-used prescribed medications. This general order was superseded in January 2011 when the Air Force published a service-wide Air Force Instruction which states “the knowing use of any intoxicating substance, other than the lawful use of alcohol or tobacco products, that is inhaled, injected, consumed, or introduced into the body in any manner to alter mood or function is prohibited.”
It's the second consecutive year the academy has investigated a cadre of cadets for illegal drug use, one of many factors that underscores the idea that the academy's honor code is broken, as we reported in a recent cover story that can be found here.
The most high profile cadet to be punished in the most recent investigation was star running back Asher Clark, who was supposed to graduate last month but was ousted instead. The academy hasn't disclosed whether Clark will be required to repay the U.S. government the roughly $400,000 cost of a cadet's education. Cadets who are kicked out or leave during their junior or senior years can be ordered to reimburse taxpayers. If they separate as freshmen or sophomores, they're generally not asked to repay the expense.
Air Force Times is reporting that the Air Force is still dragging its feet in deciding what, if any, action to take against Air Force Academy Dean of Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born.
Born is accused of ordering a COIN, or counterinsurgency, against the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, run by outspoken advocate Mikey Weinstein. We've previously reported on this story.
Weinstein, a 1977 academy grad, has battled the Air Force Academy and its handling of religious issues for eight years.
The latest revolves around the question, "What's taking so long?" As the Air Force Times reports, a Pentagon official says, "The Air Force takes every allegation seriously and these are being given appropriate consideration.”
Air Force Academy officials touched base this morning to offer their side of the issue.
Officials said they had no plans to cancel their prayer luncheon, noting the state ruling specifically stated that it would not affect similar events.
In an e-mail, Tech. Sgt. Raymond Hoy, wrote:
In paragraph 7 of the court's opinion (attached), the Colorado Court of Appeals specifically stated, '...we emphasize that we only interpret the Colorado Constitution as it applies to the Colorado Day of Prayer proclamations in this case. We do not offer any legal judgment about the constitutionality, under the First Amendment, of the National Day of Prayer proclamations issued annually by the President.'
"The Academy does not participate or host any Colorado Day of Prayer events," said Colonel Paul Barzler, the Air Force Academy's Staff Judge Advocate. "This opinion does not address National Day of Prayer events."
The e-mail did not specifically address accusations that the AFA has a double standard when it comes to following state law, but did offer the following quote:
"The Air Force Academy plans to continue hosting an annual National Prayer Luncheon, which is open to all members of the Academy," said Chaplain (Col.) Robert Bruno, the U.S. Air Force Academy Chaplain. "This event is in solidarity with the Presidential Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, D.C. each February. The Academy's luncheon is multi-faith, in compliance with all relevant DoD and Air Force guidance, and is attended on a completely voluntary basis."
——- ORIGINAL POST, MONDAY, 2:58 P.M. ——-
It only happened days ago, but the Colorado Court of Appeals' decision to throw out Colorado's Day of Prayer on the grounds that it's unconstitutional, is already having an unexpected impact.
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says the ruling means that the U.S. Air Force Academy should cancel its Annual Prayer Breakfast and related events to comply with the ruling. While federal institutions don't normally need to comply with state laws in this way, Weinstein says the AFA should have to, because the military school already stated that it was following state law when it forbade same-sex couples from marrying on campus. (See "Wedding Bell Blues.")
Same-sex marriage is illegal in Colorado. Under a directive of the Department of Defense, same-sex marriages are only allowed on military campuses in states where the ceremonies are legal.
But if the AFA is following state law when it forbids same-sex ceremonies, Weinstein reasons, than it should also follow the state's lead in canceling government-sponsored religious events. Alternately, Weinstein says, the AFA could simply revert its position and reassert its right to operate outside of state law, by allowing same-sex marriages on the campus.
“You cannot have it both ways," he told the Indy, noting that it was inconsistent to only follow cherry-picked state laws while ignoring others.
It's clear that either change would please Weinstein. He has long fought to eliminate religious-oriented functions at the Academy, and his foundation has same-sex clients that wish to have wedding ceremonies at the the academy's Cadet Chapel. It's not clear, however, whether Weinstein's demands will be met, or indeed carry any legal merit.
Academy officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. When and if they do, we'll update this blog.