Female officer to lead Lackland training

Sept. 18, 2012 at 2:51 PM
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SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The appointment of a woman to head basic training at an Air Force base in Texas rocked by a sex scandal has drawn praise from observers.

Col. Deborah Liddick was appointed commander of the 737th Training Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Saturday, the San Antonio, Texas, Express-News reported Tuesday, amid a shakeup in the top ranks after accusations of misconduct against 18 instructors, and at least 42 women identified as victims.

Liddick will take command Friday, a month after Col. Glenn Palmer, the previous commander, was abruptly ousted, and a higher-level commander, Col. Eric Axelbank, stepped down earlier in September, the newspaper said.

"Seeing a female in charge, someone female trainees can identify with, at least on the surface, may help the 'keep quiet or suffer the consequences' perception that exists in the basic training environment," said retired Col. Morris Davis, who led an investigation into a sex scandal at the Air Force Academy in 2003.

The change in leadership comes as the Air Force prepares broad reforms in basic and technical training, including the installation of numerous boxes on bases in which trainees can drop comments without oversight from their trainers.

"We've already made major changes, and a lot of those we've made public. It's going to help us modernize the entire way we look at basic training," said Gen. Edward Rice Jr., commander of the Air Education and Training Command.

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