Third Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin will retire as a two-star, confirmed a US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa spokeswoman. Franklin’s decision to overturn a military sexual assault conviction in February 2013 sparked a contentious debate on Capitol Hill that eventually led to a series of changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He once again came under fire in December when he declined to pursue a court-martial in an alleged sexual assault case at Aviano AB, Italy. In a statement released last week, Franklin said he feared the public scrutiny of his future decisions could infringe on the privacy of future victims and the accused. “The last thing I want in this command is for the people to feel they cannot bring a sexual assault case forward or feel it won’t be dealt with fairly,” said Franklin in a statement. USAFE-AFA spokeswoman Capt. Reba Good told the Daily Report Franklin will retire as a major general “because he does not have the time-in-grade” to retire at his current rank. She added, “It is Defense Department policy that general officers have three years time-in-grade to voluntarily retire at their current rank.” Good said Franklin “will not pursue a waiver.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.