You know what they say: Timing is everything. And in the case of Col. Robert McLaughlin, former garrison commander at Fort Carson, he got out of the kitchen just in time.
As we recently reported, a lot of people in southeastern Colorado aren't happy about the Army's ambitions in bringing in a 113-helicopter Combat Aviation Brigade to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs and the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.
Today, on the eve of making decision on the environmental impact of the CAB, McLaughlin shook the post's dirt off his boots and split town.
Here's the release:
Col. Robert F. McLaughlin will transfer command of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson to Col. David L. Grosso during a change of command ceremony Thursday at 11 a.m. at Founders Field.
McLaughlin assumed command of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson on June 30, 2009. He is leaving to deploy to Afghanistan, where he will serve as the chief of staff for U.S. Forces.
Grosso currently serves at Fort Carson as the deputy commander of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). His past assignments have included stints as Deputy Commander, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and Director, Village Stability National Coordination Center, Combined Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan.
During his tenure at Fort Carson, McLaughlin was instrumental in improving resiliency resources for Soldiers and Families and leading the garrison through a record growth in population and services.
No mention that McLaughlin was always represented as the decision guy on whether to accept the Environmental Assessment finding of no significant impact (FONSI) or order a more in-depth Environmental Impact Statement, as demanded by numerous residents and elected officials in the areas of the PCMS.
Like they also say: Oh well, now it's somebody else's problem.
Kerry Appel, who lives near the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, says he's had some unwelcome overhead activity of late. He even took a couple of pictures to demonstrate. Here's one of them:
He says he complained to Fort Carson, which is preparing to use the PCMS for its soon-to-arrive Combat Aviation Brigade and was told by a Carson spokesperson that the aircraft came from Buckley Air Force Base and Peterson Air Force Base instead.
In an e-mail, Appel writes:
These incidents constitute trespass to my land and my private airspace, a disturbance of my peace, and a threat to my safety. These incidents involved a group of four helicopters flying extremely low over my land and my house and occurred on:
9:18pm – in the dark with no lights
10:19pm – in the dark with no lights
11:06pm – in the dark with no lights
9:11pm – in the dark with no lights
9:23pm – in the dark with no lights
9:30pm – in the dark with no lights
Appel hasn't found out if those flights, in fact, came from other bases. He's working on it.
Meantime, Fort Carson, located immediately south of Colorado Springs, has assured residents the CAB will observe a restriction to keep aircraft 500 feet above private property.
In a related move, southern Colorado resident Doug Holdread tells us via e-mail that Trinidad City Council member Bernadette Baca-Gonzalez has asked that the council consider a resolution asking for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the new Combat Aviation Brigade. The council will discuss the matter at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
He also writes:
The training for this CAB will include120 helicopters and drones flying at extremely low altitudes in our region. This has potentially significant implications for our regional economy. Low-level flights adversely affect ranching operations, as well as the viability of wind energy production in Las Animas County. The Department of Defense is currently in the driver's seat, deciding where wind energy development may, or may not happen. The DoD has recently created a "Wind Energy Clearinghouse" which identifies areas where they will, or will not allow wind farms.
Proposed flights will occur within the Pinon Canyon Military Operations Area and along the Route Hawk Training Routes between Pinon Canyon and Fort Carson. These areas extend far beyond the physical boundaries of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. As more and more military training routes and military operations areas, MOAs are established in SE Colorado, opportunities for wind energy disappear. Already some energy companies have looked at developing wind farms east of Walsenburg, but have decided against it when the've learned of potential conflicts with the military.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the property owner has primary rights within the super-adjacent airspace, up to 500 feet, within which windmills are erected. But the military has been actively testing (violating) these property rights. Our concern is that if the DoD is allowed to lay claim to this low-level airspace, unchallenged, they will in effect have established an easement or right-of-way, negating the property owners rights and depriving our region of a promising area of future economic development.
It's not the first time residents in southeastern Colorado have complained about low flights. In a March 20 letter to Fort Carson Garrison Commander Col. Robert McLaughlin, Las Animas County commissioners expressed concern about low flights, some reportedly as low as 100 feet above ground.
The Army is conducting an Environmental Assessment, which is less vigorous than an Environmental Impact Statement. Those who either oppose or are skeptical of the CAB are seeking an EIS, including the La Junta City Council, and county commissioners in Prowers, Las Animas and Otero counties.
Fort Carson has said McLaughlin's decision is due any day on whether to expand the EA study to an EIS. Regardless, Carson spokeswoman Dee McNutt has vowed the Army will reopen public comment for an additional period, though the dates haven't been announced.
Here's the last word we had from McNutt, on April 24:
We are still on track to provide a 30-day public comment period on the final version of the EA and the draft FONSI [Finding of No Significant Impact] during the May timeframe. The Garrison Commander will consider all comments received from this 30-day comment period before making a decision on whether to sign the FONSI or require an EIS be completed.
There's no mystery surrounding the long-standing love affair between Colorado Springs and the military, but now it's grown to such a passionate pitch that the two will celebrate their pairing with an honest-to-goodness sealed and official bond.
In a news release, Fort Carson announces that Army brass and city officials will "sign an Army Community Covenant at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Colorado Springs City Hall."
Presiding over the ceremony will be the Honorable John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, who will sign the convenant along with the happy couple, Springs Mayor Stephen G. Bach and Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Fort Carson and 4th Infantry Division commander.
The groom is expected to wear a traditional business suit, while the other groom will no doubt look dashing in his dress uniform.
McHugh and Anderson will speak to the media following the ceremony, and before the rice is tossed, presumably.
From the release:
The purpose of the covenant is to formally recognize the many significant ties Fort Carson has with the Colorado Springs community, while promoting continued efforts to build strong community relations.
Fort Carson previously signed an Army Community Covenant with Colorado Springs in 2009. This covenant represents a renewed commitment to mutual support between the civilian community and the 4th Infantry Division.
The 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.
The anti-globalists have been going nuts over the plans for around 20 Russian troops to visit Fort Carson to take part in some training exercises.
Alex Jones' Prison Planet reported Thursday:
The exercises, which will mark the first time the respective country’s two airborne forces have held joint drills on U.S. territory, will revolve around the the “reconnaissance of imaginary terrorists’ camp and a raid,” and will also involve evacuations of the troops by helicopter.
The Russian soldiers will also be given access to U.S. special service weapons at Fort Carson.
However, the Russian troops won’t just be confined to a U.S. military base – on May 27 they’ll be out in the local community attending a baseball game in Colorado Springs.
Today, the same site pointed to an article in the New American, a John Birch Society publication, in which Department of Defense Cmdr. Wendy L. Snyder confirmed the reports.
The Russian soldiers are here as invited guests of the U.S. government; this is part of a formal bilateral exchange program between the U.S. and Russia that seeks to develop transparency and promote defense reform,” Cmdr. Wendy L. Snyder, U.S. Defense Press Officer for policy, told The New American in an e-mail. “This is the first time that American and Russian special operations troops have participated in a bilateral exercise.”
According to Snyder, the exercises — which she said would last about three weeks in all — will serve to train and improve skills related to terror-war fighting. About 20 Russian soldiers will be participating, with most of the training to take place on the Fort Carson, Colorado, Army base and a mountain training area several hours away.
“Aside from typical military training, the exchange will include discussions on the rule of land warfare, developing appropriate rules of engagement, and employing cultural literacy and competency in the tactical environment,” Snyder explained. “This type of training is routinely conducted by 10th Special Forces Group.”
We called Meghan Williams, media relations contractor for Fort Carson, and confirmed that yes, the Ruskies are coming to Colorado Springs at the end of May. Someone call Kris Kristofferson, stat.
The Air Force Academy released an update Wednesday about the investigation into 31 cadets' alleged use of illegal drugs. The drug is probably Spice, an incense-type synthetic substance that's illegal and also was at the center of a similar academy investigation last year.
The academy reports that three cadets have received non-judicial punishment. Another four are facing non-judicial punishment.
Four await a command decision, and eight have been cleared of wrongdoing. Investigations involving another dozen are still underway.
Possession of this drug is a crime, but the academy is imposing non-judicial punishment, which usually is reserved for minor infractions. This avenue is typically called an Article 15 under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The investigation began in January.
The academy said in a news 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.
Cadets found in violation of this general order can face appropriate disciplinary actions that may include trial by court-martial, administrative discipline or involuntary separation from the Air Force.
However, all cadets under investigation are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
In another disciplinary action, the academy also acknowledged that a soon-to-be-graduating football player, Asher Clark, didn't travel with the team's seniors to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Obama on Monday because he was "not meeting Academy standards currently and wasn't allowed to travel with the team and represent USAFA," academy spokesman Lt. Col. John Bryan says in an e-mail. Asked how Asher didn't meet standards, Bryan refused to say, citing privacy laws.
On Monday, the La Junta City Council adopted a resolution calling for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Combat Aviation Brigade coming to Fort Carson, noting that the less-intensive study being done is "woefully inadequate."
The Army conducted a more cursory Environmental Assessment, which concluded no significant impacts from the CAB. But elected leaders in southern Colorado, including those from Otero, Las Animas and Prowers counties, have asked that an EIS be undertaken and have written letters to Carson's garrison commander, Col. Robert McLaughlin. McLaughlin will decide whether to approve the EA or order a more exhaustive EIS.
The La Junta resolution states that the EA "simply advises 'no adverse effects,'" and that the "large number of CAB maneuvers are actually planned outside of the boundaries of the military installations implying an expansion of Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site that we fervently oppose." (The PCMS is roughly 235,000 acres located in southeastern Colorado.)
The resolution also states: "Many effects will thus occur far outside the Area of Potential Effects (APE) yet in the Environmental Assessment the Army defines the APE as only encompassing the boundaries of Fort Carson and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site" and "the APE should include the entire geographic area within which an undertaking may directly or indirectly affect the character and/or use of all such properties."
It goes on to contend that social economic impacts, noise, vibrations and visual impacts haven't been considered or evaluated.
"Therefore, the city of La Junta does not concur with the Army's finding of no adverse effect and considers the Environmental Assessment woefully inadequate," the resolution says.
Fort Carson spokeswoman Dee McNutt says the Army soon will post the EA online and reopen public comment on the document "very shortly," though there won't be any public meetings about it as there were earlier this year.
"Absolutely we will take all public comments under consideration for the NEPA process that we're doing on the CAB," she says. NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act.
Fred Malmstrom has submitted his resignation as a visiting scholar at the Air Force Academy. He had held the position since 1999.
"They were trying to put a stop to my research," he says, referring to AFA character development officials. Also, he said, the resignation was "because I wasn't getting anywhere."
Malmstrom, a 1964 AFA graduate, has been researching honor code violations and toleration for a quarter-century, as reported in this week's Indy cover story, "Cracks in the code."
After the Independent interviewed Malmstrom and academy officials about honor issues in February, academy officials called him to a meeting in March at which he felt they tried to put a lid on him and his work.
A couple of weeks later, an academy official called Malmstrom wanting to see an advance copy of a presentation Malmstrom will make Saturday in Reno, Nev., to the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association conference.
He says he didn't return the call but rather submitted his letter of resignation from his unpaid position. Malmstrom tells us he hasn't heard anything from the academy about his resignation.
Five elected officials have written a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh, pushing him to "continue to prioritize" the combat aviation brigade at Fort Carson, but opponents are pushing back.
"The Army's commitment to preparing our soldiers for combat is matched by the commitment the Pikes Peak community has made to invest in Fort Carson growth and support the well-being of soldiers and their families," says the March 26 letter to McHugh from Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, Reps. Doug Lamborn and Ed Perlmutter, and Gov. John Hickenlooper.
"State, regional, and local entities have spent or committed more than $178 million in infrastructure projects related to the installation's growth," the letter continues. "This includes vital transportation projects to mitigate traffic congestion and school infrastructure projects to help meet the needs of military families."
One such project, overhauling Highway 115 south of Carson's main gate, is costing the state about $25 million.
The full letter, drafted by Bennet's office, is here.
But those opposed to the brigade planned to deliver copies of their letters to Bennet's and Udall's offices in Colorado Springs today.
The letter calls the CAB "super expensive" and "militarily redundant" and notes that the lawmakers' letter "does not reflect the views of even a majority of the state's congressional delegation as you can see and most certainly does not speak for a majority of all Coloradans."
Here's the entire petition:
One of the opposition's ringleaders is local pacifist Bill Sulzman, who writes in an e-mail that he was "very disappointed" with the "pandering letter" by officials. He also wrote it's ironic that Bennet and Udall are pushing the CAB, considering they are "two super hawk Senators who claim to be concerned about the budget, world peace and the environment."
Col. Robert McLaughlin, garrison commander at Fort Carson, says the tour of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site has nothing to do with an effort to land an unmanned aerial vehicle training facility in Colorado.
Rather, in an interview this afternoon, McLaughlin says he was contacted last fall by some businessmen who wanted to get a better understanding of the PCMS, regarding cultural assets and the site's use, as well as "the balance between how we train and how we care for the terrain."
"We're open to whomever wants to talk to us about Pinon Canyon," McLaughlin says. "We're going to have the opportunity to show this group the site." He notes that some local folks from that area will be on hand to speak with the group, including those who have fought the Army's attempts to expand the site or expand the use of the existing site.
McLaughlin also says there is no attempt by the Army to do away with a 500-foot limit, and that helicopters using PCMS will observe the limit, unless safety prevents it, such as a sudden cloud cover.
In addition, he says, "Our goal is to limit the routes in," meaning helicopters won't fly willy nilly from Carson's Butts Field to the PCMS so that surrounding pastures of cattle or horses are disturbed by the flights.
McLaughlin emphasized that Carson wants to comply with the training restrictions under which it must operate at PCMS and cooperate with the community in doing so.
———————————ORIGINAL POST TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 8:14 a.m. ————————————-
Business people from Denver and Colorado Springs are among those who this week will tour the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, a training ground in southeast Colorado used by Fort Carson troops.
It might be part of an effort of the Front Range Airport Authority and others to convince the Pentagon to locate a drone test range in Colorado. The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, and the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. are supporters.
As we reported Feb. 9:
The 2012 defense spending bill contains funding for six pilot test sites for unmanned aircraft to be established by the Federal Aviation Administration. "Language in the bill orders that potential sites take into consideration geographic and climatic diversity and ground infrastructure and research needs," Doug Quimby of the Chamber and EDC says in a release. "We believe Colorado is a leading contender."
The drone training search coincides with the approval of a Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Carson, which should start arriving in 2013 and will bring a fleet of drones as well as 113 helicopters and 2,700 troops. The unit's environmental assessment is currently under review by federal authorities.
Local activist Bill Sulzman warns: "Colorado's airspace is about to get much more crowded. The release refers to the 'Aerospace Industry.' In Colorado we know that industry is dominated by the military. This initiative will certainly lead to more military domination of our skies and our economy."
Maybe the testing range will be at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, which is sure to spark opposition. Some residents in the PCMS vicinity want the Army to stay out of their air space, at least up to 500 feet above their property.
Besides ranchers and homeowners, the 500-foot debate might end up involving a dispute between the military and wind energy developers, says Doug Holdread of Trinidad. He notes a 1946 Supreme Court decision that says surface owners "also own the super-adjacent air space and that invasions of it are the same as invasions of the surface."
Although the environmental studies surrounding Fort Carson's soon-to-arrive CAB say the unit won't use drones, there's speculation it's only a matter of time before they do.
Anyway, here's the invitation for Thursday's tour that's circulating:
Fort Carson has made good on a promise to build a pedestrian bridge to Stratmoor Hills Elementary School because of its rail project, which we first reported about here.
The bridge, El Paso County says in a news release, provides a safe passage to the school by those crossing B Street, the railroad tracks and Loomis Avenue on their way to and from school.
More from the release:
“There has long been a need to provide a safe route to school for the kids in this neighborhood,” said Commissioner Dennis Hisey, who represents the area on the Board of County Commissioners. “El Paso County and Harrison School district came together with Fort Carson as part of their railroad expansion project bringing critical pieces to the table allowing this pedestrian bridge to be built. Students no longer have to cross a busy street and a set of railroad tracks getting to and from school.”
El Paso County purchased a small piece of land on the east side of the road to support as one end of the bridge, while the school district provided the land on the west side. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers paid for construction of the bridge as part of the railroad yard expansion at Fort Carson.
A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28 at the bridge. Plenty of parking is available at Stratmoor Hills Elementary at 200 Loomis Avenue, as the school will be closed for spring break.
Remember the story about former Air Force Academy professor Dave Mullin's dog, Caleb, surviving a poisoning attempt? We wrote about it here.
Now the story is being retold by TruthOut.org in more detail as Mullin battles the academy over his contract not being renewed. Mullin is the only named client of Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and sued the academy a year ago over a National Prayer Day event.
The latest is that a federal judge has rejected the academy's motion for dismissal of Mullin's employment case. During discovery for that case, information arose pointing to the possibility that Dean of Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born ordered a COIN, or counterinsurgency, against the MRFF. So far, the Air Force has been mum on what it's doing about that.
Mullin is at the center of a controversy over whether academy academic leaders misrepresented the credentials of faculty, which resulted in a finding of negligence. Here's that report.
President Barack Obama will be the speaker at the graduation of the Air Force Academy Class of 2012 on May 23.
The president usually rotates with the secretary of defense, Air Force secretary and vice president in giving the keynote address during the graduation ceremony, traditionally staged at Falcon Stadium.
"We're waiting on the announcement to come out," says Lt. Col. John Bryan, director of communications at the academy. "Yeah, that's been the game plan all along. It's our turn to get him in the rotation."
Since the academy hadn't yet disclosed officially that the president would speak, there was no immediate information as to how to obtain tickets other than a reference on the academy's website here about cadets being given as many as they like.
Fort Carson now says the helicopter training actually begins tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 23, rather than early April as a previous press release stated. The training will continue through mid-May, as earlier reported.
——————————-ORIGINAL POST: 5:07 p.m. Tuesday———————————————
A visiting military helicopter unit will be flying over our neck of the woods from April through mid-May, Fort Carson announced today.
This exercise will give the community a little preview of what it might be like when the new Combat Aviation Brigade comes to down next year with its 113 helicopters and 2,700 soldiers.
Of course, people who live in the foothills have seen it all before, because Carson has hosted visiting helicopter units for years, including one that involved a crash.
The 4th Infantry Division will conduct High Altitude Mountainous Environment Training for a visiting aviation unit at Fort Carson from early April through mid-May.
Fort Campbell’s 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, is undergoing HAMET training to prepare for a deployment to Afghanistan later this year. Because Fort Carson’s mountainous terrain closely resembles that of Afghanistan, training here will allow 101st CAB pilots to practice maneuvers in an environment similar to their theater of operations in Afghanistan.
Army aviators will complete the training on the UH-60 Blackhawk, HH-60 Medevac Blackhawk, AH-64 Apache and the CH-47 Chinook.
4th Infantry Division leadership and training units will continue to work together to ensure that all noise abatement and environmental concerns are addressed with the local communities and governments.
The 101st CAB will adhere to Fort Carson’s rules and regulations regarding flight training throughout the course of their visit. Noise complaints should be directed to the Fort Carson Public Affairs Office at (719) 526-9849.
Jenna Hilb, marketing coordinator at Poor Richard's, confirms that Weinstein will indeed hold a book-signing at the store from 5 to 7 p.m., March 3.
——- 9:21 A.M., THURSDAY, FEB. 16 ——-
According to an employee of Poor Richard's Bookstore, Weinstein's March 3 book-signing is not yet confirmed. We'll update when anything changes.
——- ORIGINAL POST, 3:30 P.M., MONDAY, FEB. 13 ——-
To say Mikey Weinstein has made a name for himself would be an understatement. Now the Washington Post will be giving its readers a steady dose of Weinstein's message through a twice-monthly column called "Faith at the Front."
Since forming the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in 2004, the 1977 Air Force Academy grad has become the watchdog for unconstitutional imposition of religion on military members. His organization represents tens of thousands of soldiers, airmen and sailors, including more than 300 cadets, faculty and staff at the Air Force Academy.
Here's a few of the issues he's brought to light.
New York Daily News, January 2010:
A Michigan weapons company is under fire for branding thousands of rifle scopes used by U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan with passages from the Bible.
U.S. military rules prohibit any service member from proselytizing while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, which are primarily Muslim nations.
Trijicon, a sighting manufacturer based in Wixom, Mich., has several multimillion-dollar contracts with the Pentagon to make sights.
Along with the sight's stock number, there are coded Bible passages from the New Testament engraved on the sights. One reads JN8:12, an apparent reference to John 8:12, which says, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
TruthOut.org, July 2011:
The United States Air Force has been training young missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons by citing passages from the New Testament and commentary from a former member of the Nazi Party, according to documents obtained exclusively by Truthout.
The mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session, which includes a discussion on St. Augustine's "Christian Just War Theory," is led by Air Force chaplains and takes place during a missile officer's first week in training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The Gazette, November 2011:
The Air Force Academy backed down Thursday after it came under fire for alleged religious intolerance, this time with a program designed to spread Christmas cheer.
Academy critic Mikey Weinstein accused commanders of crossing the line by promoting “Operation Christmas Child” a program sponsored by an evangelical Christian group that sends toys and toiletries in shoe boxes to needy kids around the globe. The group includes a Christian message with the gifts.
Most recently, Weinstein's group exposed a Marine unit's display of a Nazi SS flag below a United States flag.
Although the Marines initially claimed they didn't know where the flag came from or even what it stood for, Weinstein said his supporters have run down the source. It came from a Third Reich website, he says.
Anyway, you get the picture. Weinstein and his organization are credible. So it's peculiar why the Gazette would report on Saturday that everything seems to be going well at the academy on the religion front. Reporter Jakob Rodgers, a cops reporter recently assigned to cover the military, reported that the academy's Board of Visitors was told the academy would be providing training to faculty on religious sensitivity. He also quoted the board chair:
“It is incredible how far we’ve come since 2004,” said Susan Schwab, chairwoman of the board and a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland. “It’s very impressive.”
What's missing from the story is a comment from Weinstein, who instigated examination of allegations that the academy favors fundamental Christianity eight years ago. Former Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Rosa admitted in 2004 the academy had a serious problem with religious sensitivity.
Turns out, Rodgers interviewed Weinstein on Friday but decided not to include him in his story. We asked Rodgers and weekend editor Tom Roeder why he left Weinstein out of his report, and Roeder declined to comment.
In case anyone thinks everything at the academy is peachy, just a week or so ago, the academy dealt with a cadet who sent a religious message to her entire class. The Indy reported that here. The academy treated the incident as a "teaching moment," giving the freshman the benefit of the doubt.
In case you're wondering, here's what Weinstein says he told Rodgers:
"I told him that first of all, I didn't want to hear anything related to the faculty reception to religious tolerance when the head of the faculty has lied about her calling for a counter insurgency to my organization," he tells us, referring to Dean of Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born.
"I also said, 'Let's make sure we say B-O-R-E-D of visitors, because they're asleep at the switch. That place is a disaster. Until Dana Born gets fired and gets punished for what she's done and her superiors, there's nothing to talk about in rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.' I thought that was fairly relevant, but I didn't get any comments in the story."
As for Weinstein's column in the Post, that gig starts later this month.
Weinstein will attend a book-signing for his newest release, No Snowflake in an Avalanche, recently published by Vireo of Rare Bird Books, at
7 p.m. 5 p.m., Saturday, March 3, at Poor Richard's Bookstore.
The book is his second; With God on our Side was published Oct. 1, 2006, by St. Martin's Press.
UPDATE: The Pentagon issued the following statement today:
Commanders are given broad latitude to administer punishment appropriate with the offense. USAFA/CC Lt Gen Gould has reviewed the AF IG report and will be the officer who decides what, if any, command action will be taken.
—————————————Original post, 5:14 p.m. THURSDAY——————————————————-
A finding of negligence has been ruled in the investigation of Air Force Academy Dean of Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born and Vice Dean Col. Richard Fullerton by the Air Force Inspector General's Office.
But it's unclear what, if any, disciplinary action has been or will be taken as a result of those findings.
The investigation was triggered by two complaints regarding credentials of academy professors.
One complaint specifically alleged that Born and Fullerton intentionally misled the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools about the qualifications of some instructors at the academy. The complaining party, former economics professor David Mullin, alleged that many instructors were teaching in fields for which they didn't have master's degrees.
In addition, Born was accused of misstating qualifications to the Independent in an interview for this report.
From that 2010 story:
Among active-duty military faculty, only 40 percent have doctoral degrees, compared to 80 percent of civilian faculty. Yet Born denies allegations that military instructors are less educated than their civilian counterparts. One reason for the disparity is the academy's practice of having captains and majors with master's degrees teach low-level courses. Born asserts that all AFA instructors have graduate degrees in the areas they teach, or related areas.
In a letter to Mullin, the Inspector General's Office wrote:
— Col. Fullerton was negligent in making an absolute statement concerning the academic credentials of United States Air Force Academy faculty members while authoring the Academy's 2009 Institutional Self-Study Report to the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
— Brig. Gen. Born was negligent in making an absolute statement to a local newspaper regarding the military faculty's specific academic credentials as they related to teaching disciplines without first confirming the accuracy of the supporting data.
The letter goes on to say the investigation found "no evidence supporting any allegatios or claim that the USAFA faculty is not 'qualified' to teach at USAFA."
Read the whole letter here. Mullin_from_SAF_IGS_February_10_2012.pdf
(We'll note here that the IG's office never contacted us and never interviewed us. Apparently they accepted our published story as de facto evidence that Born told us what we reported she told us.)
Says Mullin in an interview: "They’re trying to white wash this as much as possible, given the enormous amount of evidence against them. They're trying to exonerate the Air Force Academy and the Air Force. The academy might meet a bare minimum standard based on accreditation, but is that still good enough considering the academy portrays itself as a premier institution? At best, it’s misleading and at worst its fraud."
Mullin's next step is to file complaints with the Higher Learning Commission and the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business, which also provides accreditation to the academy.
His attorney, Robert Eye, also will seek through the Freedom of Information Act a copy of the investigative report.
We've asked for a comment from the Pentagon and also the academy and will update when we hear back.