Top Officials Address Sexual Assault in Letter to Airmen

The Air Force’s top civilian, top officer, and top enlisted airman signed out a Letter to Airmen Thursday telling the force that “every airman is either part of the solution or part of the problem” when it comes to sexual assault in the Air Force. (USAF released the letter to the public on Nov. 16.) Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh, and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Roy jointly signed the letter, which comes on the heels of Air Education and Training Command’s release of investigation findings into sexual assaults at Basic Military Training. The three Air Force leaders noted in their letter that more than 600 airmen reported being sexually assaulted in 2011, and they expect more than 700 cases this year—but that “number may be much higher because many victims do not report sexual assaults.” They declared: “The only way to stop sexual assault is for airmen to take action. … Sexual assault is a crime. Failure to act when any of us has the opportunity to prevent a potential assault or stop a cycle of unprofessional behavior is incompatible with our core values.”