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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Without Concrete Action, New USAF Regulations on Church-State Separation Will Be As Useful As A “Football Bat”

At the very beginning of August 2012, I blasted outgoing (now-retired) Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force (CSAF), Gen. Norton Schwartz, for his lackadaisical and utterly impotent attitude toward the unconstitutional epidemic of coercive proselytization and innumerable religious violations within the United States Air Force (USAF). Referring to Schwartz as the "Joe Paterno" of the USAF for his truly despicable role in covering up of this cascading torrent of spiritual molestation, predation, and abuse, I cited the years-long, disingenuously cordial and utterly inconsequential string of meetings and telephonic communications between him and me. With great regret and no small amount of frustration, I noted that the General's "term of service as USAF Chief of Staff has epitomized a tortured, gutless legacy that's now being left behind for the rest of us to wretchedly wallow in." This dystopian description was in reference to the dire national security repercussions of the ongoing Christian fundamentalist takeover of what constitutes the most formidable and lethal aerial war fighting force devised in human history.

Our criticism of Schwartz's track record as Chief of Staff hasn't fallen on entirely deaf ears. As regular readers of this column well know, one of my favorite maxims is a quote from Frederick Douglass: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Once again this approach has been universally validated. How? In the form of a new official USAF document. This mandatory USAF directive was issued mere days after my Op-Ed condemnation of Schwartz's term as CSAF was published. Entitled " Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards ," this document establishes a uniform standard of conduct within the USAF and serves to underscore the fatally obscure and confusing series of instructional guidelines that had previously been haphazardly spewed across the entirety of the USAF chain of command. The guidelines laid out within Air Force Instruction 1-1 (AFI 1-1) govern various aspects of the conduct expected of all USAF airmen and cadets in the field of culture, conduct, values, discipline, and performance. According to an Air Force press release, "Having a one-stop shop for standards-related guidelines, while not unprecedented, has long been absent in the Air Force."

The cover sheet of this 27 page document bears former CSAF Schwartz's certification, and reads in big, black, and bold type: "COMPLIANCE WITH THIS PUBLICATION IS MANDATORY." Far more importantly, the cover further explains, "failure to adhere to the standards set out in this instruction can form the basis for adverse action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). An example would be a dereliction of duty offense under [UCMJ] Article 92." This invokes the draconian possibility of trial by courts-martial faced by armed forces members who willingly or unwillingly fail to obey orders or regulations.


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