Friday, December 27, 2013

Killer drones coming to a post near us

Posted By on Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 5:17 PM

The Combat Aviation Brigade being set up at Fort Carson apparently will also get drones used for killing people.

According to Army Times, "The first two tactical battalions to incorporate the Gray Eagle have been fielded."

In that article, it mentions that "Company E is expected to be fully operational in the fall. It is expected to eventually be reflagged and moved to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo."

Why is this interesting? Because environmental studies surrounding Fort Carson's new Combat Aviation Brigade say the unit won't use drones, although there's been speculation that it's only a matter of time before they arrive here.

Back in March 2012, we reported that Not 1 More Acre!, a group based in Trinidad that opposes greater use of historic Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS), wrote in a 123-page comment letter that the Army plans to use "unmanned ground vehicles and aerial systems (drones) at PCMS, the impact of which hasn't been analyzed in the [environmental assessment]."

As we reported:
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."


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Monday, December 23, 2013

Rosebush resume released

Posted By on Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 2:19 PM

The academy's new Center for Character and Leadership Development, where Rosebush works, is under construction. - COURTESY AIR FORCE ACADEMY
  • Courtesy Air Force Academy
  • The academy's new Center for Character and Leadership Development, where Rosebush works, is under construction.

Dr. Mike Rosebush, who currently works in 'character development' at the Air Force Academy, didn't mention his commitment to gay-conversion therapy when he submitted his resume to the academy in late 2008. Neither did he mention his association with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH), or any other organization with which he's had dealings about reparative therapy. 

And when citing his work at Focus on the Family, he didn't mention anything about its involvement in programs to convert gays and lesbians to be heterosexuals. (Of course, there's nothing in the resume, either, that discusses him borrowing from Focus founder James Dobson's teachings when writing about leadership for a military training manual.)

The academy released the resume today in response to the Independent's Nov. 12 Freedom of Information Act request

So the academy person who hired Rosebush probably didn't have much knowledge based on the resume about Rosebush's belief system, unless there were hints in the references section, which is completely redacted based on Rosebush's right to privacy.

See for yourself. Here's the resume.


Meantime, academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson says Rosebush stays, because all hiring procedures were followed according to Defense Department protocols. However, she adds that she's hoping to address cultural problems with a new leadership position. Her statement:

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.  

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Defense Authorization includes anti-rape language

Posted By on Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Sen. Mark Udall
  • Sen. Mark Udall
The 2014  National Defense Authorization Act currently includes 36 provisions to address sexual assault by military personnel.

The Act has passed the House with bipartisan support and will be voted on by the Senate next week. U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) said in a press release that he fought to include the provisions, which came on the heels of an news of rising sexual assaults in the military.

"We ask a hell of a lot of our troops, but I refuse to ask them to put up with rape," Udall stated in a press release. "Military sexual assault threatens the readiness and morale of our military. These provisions, which I was proud to champion, will make clear that there is zero tolerance for these horrific crimes and the people who commit them." 

Per Udall's office, some of the provisions include:

• 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.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Off they go, once again, into the wild blue yonder

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 3:10 PM

The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron "Thunderbirds" perform the Line Abreast Loop during the Gulf Coast Salute and Open House Air show at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Mar. 26, 2011. - STAFF SGT. LARRY E. REID
  • Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid
  • The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron "Thunderbirds" perform the Line Abreast Loop during the Gulf Coast Salute and Open House Air show at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Mar. 26, 2011.

The Air Force Thunderbirds will return to the skies, including their flyover demonstration at the Air Force Academy's graduation on May 28, after being grounded this year due to sequestration.

On March 1, the Air Force announced it had cancelled all aviation support to public events, including the Thunderbirds' aerial demonstration team "to save flying hours to support readiness needs." This included canceling support for air shows, trade shows, flyovers such as for funerals and military graduations and the like.

The entire Thunderbirds season was cancelled starting April 1.

“Engaging with the public is a core Air Force mission and communicating and connecting with the public is more important today than ever before. However, faced with deep budget cuts, we have no choice but to stop public aviation support,” Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, director of Air Force Public Affairs, said in a release back then. “The Air Force will reevaluate the program at the end of the fiscal year and look for ways to curtail the program without having to cancel aviation support altogether.”

Now, the Air Force is reinstating the Thunderbirds' season, according to this news release:

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:

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Udall: Let's scrap the idea of enlarging PCMS

Posted By on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Back in August, the Southern Colorado Environmental Council issued a public "thank you" to Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., for pushing to remove the waiver from the moratorium on major land acquisition that would allow the Army to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site northeast of Trinidad by 418,000 acres.

Foxes and other wildlife call PCMS home. - RUSS DEFUSCO
  • Russ Defusco
  • Foxes and other wildlife call PCMS home.

The PCMS, now at 238,000 acres, provides training grounds for soldiers from Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, which is getting a Combat Aviation Brigade with 113 helicopters and 2,700 soldiers that also will use the site.

"This action we view as a very positive sign and hopefully the final action that the efforts over the years by Southern [sic] Eastern Colorado residents and our congressional delegation to protect the private property rights of our agricultural community surrounding PCMS will be completed once and for all and the waiver is gone," the group's chairperson, Paula Ozzello, wrote in a prepared statement.

Now, the Pueblo Chieftain reports that Udall "is flying Army Assistant Secretary Katherine Hammack to the 238,000-acre training range Monday — a helicopter ride from Fort Carson to announce the Defense Department is repealing its 2007 land-acquisition waiver for the Army to try and add 418,000 more acres." This is a comprehensive article that spells out the history of this contentious issue.

As we've reported in the past, the Army has had problems handling the land it has in an environmentally friendly way, so ranchers, farmers and others in the PCMS vicinity are skeptical of allowing the military to have more land.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

UPDATE: Academy chief finally issues statement on Rosebush

Posted By on Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 1:49 PM

The academy is a nirvana of inclusion for LGBQ cadets without worry or fear of discrimination, harassment or bias, according to statements made by three cadets during a 45-minute telephone briefing with reporters held this afternoon.

The three cadets, all members of Spectrum, the LGBQ group on campus, didn't reveal their last names, but fielded questions in the wake of the revelation this week that Dr. Mike Rosebush, a conversion therapist who formerly worked for homophobic Focus on the Family for 10 years, works in the character and leadership department.

Said William: "I don’t think leadership is an issue at all at the academy. All I’ve experienced since the current leaderhip has gotten here is nothing but sheer support. The only issues I’ve ever had have been cadet-on-cadet. Every time that’s ever happened or what I’ve heard from others is that leadership as soon as they’re notified of it have taken care of it and stopped it."

Carol: "We do not have the full range of views from all LGBQ cadets at the academy. But I can inform you that one cadet statement saying his career would be ruined is completely false. I hold a very high job in the wing. Everybody I’ve ever talked to [at the academy] is ok with me being gay. Being out in the military will not ruin your career."

Stephanie: "I’ll just say I, personally, never had any problems with anyone. You’d think the most religious people would be against you the most, but people here are really supportive. I definitely feel that from the permanent party, the squadron, my teachers in my classes. There’s no problem that I’ve seen."

The cadets also said they are more worried about bad press coverage hurting the academy's ability to draw new students than Rosebush, himself.

Two of the cadets said they didn't even know Rosebush existed before the story broke on Tuesday about his association with Focus, Exodus International and other groups that believe LGBQ people can change their sexuality through prayer and counseling. "His position is such an administrative position I don’t know of anyone who has deal with him directly," William said.

Instructor in charge of Spectrum, Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler, said she had worked with Rosebush directly and "never had any negative experience with him."

However, one of the female cadets said it was "disappointing" the academy had "someone like that" on staff, then quickly added, "But everybody is allowed to think what they want. As long as they don’t pressure others, that’s perfectly fine.
I do not think having Rosebush having these views is harming to the academy."

Lt. Gen. Johnson is expected to finish her review of Rosebush's hiring and other matters within a time certain, public affairs spokesman Maj. Brus Vidal said.

——————— ORIGINAL POST, FRIDAY, NOV. 22, 10:15 A.M.———————

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson - KIN SCOTT
  • Kin Scott
  • Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson

Four days after word got out that the Air Force Academy employs a conversion therapy advocate, Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson has issued a statement. The statement comes hours before the academy's hand-picked LGBQ cadets hold court over the phone with the media.

Here it is:

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.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

UPDATE: More on Rosebush at the Air Force Academy

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 2:15 PM

The Air Force issued this statement late Thursday:

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."  

——————————————ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 21, 2013, 2:15 P.M.———————————————————
The Air Force Academy has issued a new statement regarding its conversion therapist Dr. Mike Rosebush, saying cadets told senior leaders they feel "frustrated" at the news coverage and that they actually receive "extensive support" at the academy.

From the release:

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
l, 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
of Spectrum.

"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."

So far, academy Superintendent Johnson has yet to issue any kind of statement regarding Rosebush, whose title is operations research analyst for the Academy's Center of Character and Leadership Development. 

The founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Mikey Weinstein, cried foul over the characterization of what cadets told senior leaders, saying clients at the academy who have contacted him say Spectrum members were too "terrified" to be honest with them. They also noted to him that those senior leaders, while they may have attended an occasional program for LGBQ military members, hadn't met with Spectrum specifically until now. "Why are they doing this now?" Weinstein quoted one as saying. "It came across as, 'We need you to prop us up on this.'"

Meantime, although the academy has said Rosebush has no contact with cadets and doesn't counsel cadets, the Independent obtained the listing for him in the Air Force's Global Address List, which names him as "chief, coaching development."

Here it is:


We're withholding his phone number and e-mail address.

Although this makes it sound as if Rosebush has a role in dealing directly with cadets, we've asked the academy to clarify and will update if and when we hear back. In the meantime, the full release is included after the jump, along with a PDF of the "Character Coaching Manual" with which Rosebush works.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Military LGBT group weighs in

Posted By on Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Cadets march on the terrazzo with the Cadet Chapel in the background. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Cadets march on the terrazzo with the Cadet Chapel in the background.
As we reported yesterday, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has issued a letter to the Air Force Secretary seeking the immediate dismissal of Mike Rosebush from the Air Force Academy, where he works in the Center for Character and Leadership Development.

We just received this news release from a national group representing LGBT military spouses and families, which also is up in arms over Rosebush, about whom we wrote a story that appears in today's edition.

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.

No word from the Pentagon or the academy in the wake of this story. We've put in a few questions to the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, a 1976 academy grad who served as commandant of cadets at the academy from 1999 to 2001. We'll update if and when we hear anything from his office.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Conversion therapist at the Air Force Academy is under fire

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Fanning is being asked to fire Rosebush. - AIR FORCE WEBSITE
  • Air Force website
  • Fanning is being asked to fire Rosebush.
We started working on a story about Dr. Mike Rosebush some three weeks ago. You can read our complete report in tomorrow's edition. But meantime, the word is spreading like wildfire about Rosebush, who believes in conversion therapy and now works at the Air Force Academy's Center for Character and Leadership Development.

Before the ink was dry on our paper, which is on the press today, one of several sources quoted in our story zipped off a letter to Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning, calling for the dismissal of Rosebush. Fanning is the highest-ranking Pentagon official who has come out publicly as being gay.

That source was the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. It should be noted that according to academy sources, Rosebush does not counsel or work directly with cadets.

Here are highlights from the letter:

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.

The academy provided some information about Rosebush, which you can read in tomorrow's Independent. It also issued this statement at about 12:30 p.m. today:

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.

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AFA: An officer school or a church?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Is it the Air Force Academy or a Fundamentalist Christian Military Ministry? That's the question raised in a video airing on television stations in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, and reportedly, soon in Denver.

The video was produced by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and pivots around a comment made by an academy Preparatory School athletic trainer and assistant athletic director, Allen Willoughby, in an e-mail to MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein.

The comment is this: "I am on staff at USAFA and will talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and savior to everyone that I work with."

Despite proselytizing being a violation of Defense Department and Air Force policy, the academy has taken no action against Willoughby, giving rise to a billboard in north Colorado Springs and this video.

From a news release pointing out the billboard:

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.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

AFA sparks another billboard

Posted By on Mon, Nov 18, 2013 at 11:48 AM

This billboard stands at the southeast corner of Centennial Boulevard and Garden of the Gods Road, facing east. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • This billboard stands at the southeast corner of Centennial Boulevard and Garden of the Gods Road, facing east.

Amazed at a U.S. Air Force Academy staffer's vow to keep proselytizing, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation put up a billboard today to call attention to the issue.

We reported last week about Allen Willoughby, head athletic trainer and assistant athletic director at the academy's prep school, who wrote to Weinstein saying he plans to talk about Jesus to his co-workers. This is a violation of Department of Defense and Air Force Academy policy; yet, the academy says it will do nothing about it.

The latest billboard follows on the heels of an earlier admonishment from the MRFF we also reported recently, which gave rose to Willoughby's comments.

Here's part of a news release issued by MRFF:

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.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Postal Service honors WWII veterans in stamp dedication

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 2:14 PM

"I didn't think I did the heroics credited to me. I was just mad out of my mind when I charged up the hill. I thought I might die, but I was going to die trying. To be part of this stamp dedication is humbling. I share this honor with all the other brave men and women who sacrificed."  — George T. Sakato

As a second-generation Japanese-American serving his country in World War II, George T. Sakato and his unit set out to defend a hill from a German unit near Biffontaine, France in October, 1944. As shots rang out, Sakato's friend and comrade was shot and killed, his body going limp in Sakato's arms. Devastated and enraged, Sakato channeled his fury to single-handedly stage an assault on the Germans, killing 12 and capturing four. Inspired by his boldness, Sakato's unit followed his lead and captured 34 more prisoners. 

As a result of his gallantry, Sakato was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. 55 years later, the Denver resident and retired postal employee, received the Medal of Honor for his courageous service. 

In honor of the 16 million Americans who served their country during WWII, 464 of which who were awarded this honor, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated the World War II Medal of Honor Forever stamps in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Sakato's face is pictured along with 11 other of the living recipients on the first side of the four-page design, with the center pages listing names of all recipients of this honor. 

“Our challenge as a nation is to never forget the sacrifices all of these individuals made on our behalf,” says Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a news release.  “We hope these new Medal of Honor Forever stamps will provide everyone with one more way to preserve our veterans’ stories for future generations. Let them serve as small reminders of the giant sacrifices made by the heroes of World War II.”

George Sakato from Medal of Honor Foundation on Vimeo.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Military sexual assaults on the rise

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 4:27 PM

  • Shutterstock

Yesterday, the Pentagon released data showing that 3,553 complaints of sexual assault were made to the Department of Defense between October 2012 and June 2013 — a roughly 50 percent increase from that same time period a year before. And that number — which includes sexual assaults by civilians on service members, and vice versa — pales in comparison to separate numbers that come out of an annual survey of active-duty soldiers. The most recent of those surveys found that 26,000 people in the military were assaulted in 2011. It was 19,000 in 2010, reports the New York Times.

Suffice it to say that there's a whole lot of unwanted sodomy, rape and touching occurring among the uniformed. (Sexual harassment is tracked separately.) And, generally, it's an underreported act, so you know there's more. To that end, there are a few bills working their way through Congress with varying chances of seeing President Obama's pen — all championed by female Democrats — reports the Times.

The defense bill that is set to come to the Senate floor this month includes various changes to the military justice system. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, is to offer an amendment that would take sexual assault cases outside the military chain of command and give military prosecutors, rather than accusers’ commanders, the power to decide which cases to try. Pentagon leaders are strongly opposed to Ms. Gillibrand’s amendment.

Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, is pushing legislation that does not go as far. Supported by the Pentagon and Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, the measure would strip commanders of their ability to overturn jury verdicts and mandate dishonorable discharge or dismissal for anyone convicted of sexual assault. But it would keep control of court-martial proceedings within the chain of command.

Another measure offered this week by Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, would exempt victims of sexual assault from having to testify at what the military calls Article 32 pretrial hearings, which can include cross-examinations of victim that are so intense they frighten many victims from coming forward.

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Academy athletic trainer vows to proselytize on campus

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 3:02 PM

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Love him or hate him, Mikey Weinstein has a point. For nearly a decade, he's been ranting about the pervasive fundamental Christian atmosphere at the Air Force Academy. He's pointed out many such instances, and now here's further proof.

After Weinstein went ballistic over the academy posting the honor oath at the Preparatory School, which concludes with "so help me God," he's gotten a lot of hate mail.

To counter, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which he founded, posted a billboard on North Nevada Avenue asking why the academy feels compelled to make "so help me God" optional for cadets when President George Washington's oath of office didn't contain it?

That triggered this piece of hate mail from Allen Willoughby, head athletic trainer and assistant athletic director at the academy's prep school:

Finally a leader at USAFA that really lets you know how all of us at USAFA especially at USAFA Preparatory feel about you and your beliefs, can't wait 'til you are escorted off campus and I am sure the majority of staff/cadets (believers and nonbelievers) wish that could happen now. Stop pushing your beliefs on us. God will always be a part of the US Military even when you are gone to meet him face to face. You know you can do a lot for the homeless veterans out here but you could care less about them but when it comes to Christians you are willing to fight against us, well you will never win and so you know the war has already been won. I am on staff at USAFA and will talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and savior to everyone that I work with [emphasis added]. Do something productive with your life and Stop harassing the fine people at USAFA. I really pray for your soul.

As you can imagine, this sent Weinstein into orbit. He tells us in an interview, "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."

He then fired off an e-mail message to Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, saying, "he feels absolutely NO worries or even the slightest nuances of concern about making such heinous, astonishingly bigoted statements of fundamentalist Christian supremacy ... at USAFA so very publicly??"

Meantime, we asked the academy to comment on Willoughby's message and to tell us what, if any, action would be taken against him, given that the academy claims to require its staff, faculty and cadets to be trained in religious respect. Not so long ago, proselytizing was banned from the academy.

The academy issued a statement and later said, "No action is being taken against the individual."

The academy's statement:

Regarding the e-mail sent by Mr. Allen Willoughby to the MRFF, we can confirm that Mr. Willoughby is a trainer at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School, and yes, he did send an e-mail to the MRFF in his personal capacity [all emphasis added] and not as a representative of the Air Force's Academy or the Prep School.

Supporting the right of free exercise of religion relates directly to the 
Air Force core values and the ability to maintain an effective team. Air Force Academy Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for an individual's free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion.

All Academy Airmen, especially commanders, supervisors and those who are in 
daily contact with cadets or cadet candidates, must ensure that in exercising their right of religious free expression, they do not degrade morale, good order, and discipline or degrade the trust and confidence that the public has in the United States Air Force and the Air Force's Academy.

The Air Force's Academy remains committed to protecting individuals' right 
to practice any religion they choose, or no religion, provided their practices do not violate policy or law, or impede mission accomplishment, military readiness, unit cohesion, standards or discipline.

It's also important to point out that USAFA has a robust, structured Religious Respect Training Program that helps cadets, cadet candidates, faculty and staff understand how the First Amendment applies to them at USAFA with an expectation that all are educated on religious respect and, in turn, are practitioners of respect.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

UPDATE: George Washington didn't say it

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 9:55 AM

UPDATE: Academy spokesman Maj. Brus Vidal sent this comment in response to the billboard:

First, the Cadet Honor Oath remains unchanged. However, in the spirit enabling all to be true to their beliefs, the Air Force's Academy made the final clause optional - cadets can choose to say that final clause or not.

Second, it seems the MRFF is confusing the facts and also does not understand the difference between 1) the commissioning Oath of Office, 2) the Cadet Honor Code, and 3) the Cadet Honor Oath, which remains unchanged.

Finally, and most importantly, I refer you to the MRFF's mission statement and the apparent disagreement of its fundamentals with the final clause in the Cadet Honor Oath as optional, thereby allowing all to be true to their beliefs, whatever those beliefs are.

To help define the differences in the Cadet Honor Code and Cadet Honor Oath, I refer you to our story about the Cadet Honor Code and Honor Oath - you might want to pass it along to them since they seem to be unclear on the facts and, specifically, that the Cadet Honor Oath was not changed — we simply made the final clause optional, which is directly in line with the MRFF's mission statement to ensure "that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom."

Here is the link and the story:


A new billboard in town already is stirring angst over the U.S. Air Force Academy's use of "so help me God" as part of its honor oath.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation posted a billboard at North Nevada Avenue and Garden of the Gods Road saying President George Washington's oath of office didn't contain those words, so why should the academy's oath?

We reported on this a couple weeks ago, but the subject is still getting attention. MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 academy grad, says his group already has received a dozen hate calls about the billboard.

The billboard stands facing east so that motorists westbound on Austin Bluffs Parkway, which becomes Garden of Gods Road, get a full view of it.

MRFF has posted this billboard message on North Nevada Avenue and Garden of the Gods Road. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • MRFF has posted this billboard message on North Nevada Avenue and Garden of the Gods Road.

We've asked the academy if it cares to comment and will update if and when we hear back.

Here's a letter the MRFF sent to the academy.

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