Commanders Should Keep the Authority, But

Deborah James, Air Force Secretary nominee, thinks commanders should retain authority for deciding whether to prosecute airmen for allegations of sexual misconduct, but also said the commanders should be held accountable when they do not enforce Air Force standards of conduct. “It is extremely important to keep that authority with the commanders, but equally important to hold those commanders accountable for the climate and what goes on in their units,” said James during her Sept. 19 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. She was responding to a question from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), SASC chairman. James continued, “Command is an honor and a privilege in this country; it’s not an entitlement. And those who do not live up to our values simply need to be removed from that command.” James said the military chain of command “has been extraordinarily effective” in dealing with issues, such as racial integration, “when there is persistent and constant [and] unrelenting focus.” That focus “has been lacking” in recent years in dealing with sexual assault, she said. (For more coverage of James’ confirmation hearing, read James Supports Air Force’s Top Acquisition Priorities, Political Correctness Run Amok on Steroids, and An Advocate for the F-35.)