Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Tuesday blasted the Air Force for the recent decision that overturned the conviction of an officer at Aviano AB, Italy, in a sexual misconduct case. She said this move would only discourage victims of sexual assault from coming forward in the future. “What this decision did is underline . . . [the] notion that if you are sexually assaulted in the military, good luck,” said McCaskill during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on March 5. A military court last November found the Aviano officer—the base’s former inspector general—guilty of several counts of improper sexual conduct with a female civilian base employee. However, in late February, 3rd Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin reversed the ruling, saying the evidence “presented at trial did not amount to proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” McCaskill said she had “a high degree of frustration” with a military justice system that “appears unaccountable to thousands of victims,” and she suggested changing the Uniform Code of Military Justice so that “one general cannot overturn a jury.”
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.