21 April 2014

This is Symptomatic of a Crisis in the Culture of the Military

Air Force pilot Joshua Wilson, who blew the whistle on problems with the F-22 oxygen system, is having his career systematically destroyed in retaliation:
The Air Force has spent tens of millions of dollars over the past two years correcting problems with its premier jet fighter - issues that Capt. Joshua Wilson helped expose by speaking up, both to his bosses and on national television.

Since then, Wilson's career as an F-22 Raptor pilot has stalled. A member of the Virginia Air National Guard's 149th Fighter Squadron, Wilson hasn't been permitted to fly the jet since early 2012. He's fighting disciplinary actions that he sees as retribution for going public.

"I'm a fighter pilot. I worked my entire life to get in the cockpit and to that job," said Wilson, who is 37. "Right now, I'm fighting the Air Force when I should be fighting our enemies."

Almost two years ago, Wilson and Maj. Jeremy Gordon told CBS's "60 Minutes" that the F-22 had a defective oxygen system that was endangering pilots.

The veteran aviators, dressed in their Virginia Air National Guard flight suits, shared their personal accounts of mid-flight oxygen deprivation that left them disoriented. Other pilots had similar life-threatening experiences but were reluctant to speak publicly, they said.


Back at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia Air National Guard leaders were also taking action. Even before the "60 Minutes" segment aired in May 2012, the squadron's leadership began a series of punitive measures against Wilson.

In April 2012, they stopped his planned promotion to major, and they threatened to take away his wings, jeopardizing his military career.

They also forced him out of his full-time desk job with the Air Force's Air Combat Command at Langley.

During that time, Wilson alerted the Department of Defense's office of inspector general, which is investigating. He and his lawyers say the Virginia Air National Guard's actions are reprisal for speaking out.
This is a direct outcome of the up or out system that our uniformed military used.

By making a single disagreement or conflict with a superior officer a career ender, they have created a risk and conflict averse culture where careerism trumps doing the right thing.


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