Department of the Air Force Cracks Down on Climate, Disciplinary Issues

The Department of the Air Force recently rolled out two policy changes aimed at holding commanders more accountable for climate-related deficiencies and disciplinary equity within their units.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs John A. Fedrigo issued a memo on Dec. 21, the same day the Office of the Air Force Inspector General released its 150-page report into racial disparities within DAF.

The first of the policy changes requires Air Force and Space Force commanders who get lackluster scores on diversity and inclusion-related portions of their Defense Equal Opportunity Climate Survey reports to develop detailed plans to remedy those shortcomings.

“The climate factors that receive low scores requiring an action plan are fairness, inclusion, leadership support, racism, sexism, sexually harassing behaviors, workplace hostility, cohesion, and connectedness,” a Jan. 6 departmental release about the policy change explained. 

Commanders who receive a grade of 49 percent or lower in any of these areas—which the department notes tie into “diversity, inclusion, belonging, or equal opportunity topics”—must submit these action plans no later than 60 days after getting their reports.

According to the release, these proposed plans of action must include:

  • An explanation of why each commander wants to assess their command’s climate
  • “Analysis of the climate assessment report”
  • A list of problems the report uncovered, along with plans to rectify each identified issue, “the status of the actions taken,” and the name of the person in charge of carrying out each action item.
  • A strategy for publicly reviewing the overall action plan with everyone in the commander’s organization

Each impacted commander also must have a formal check-in with their installations’ equal opportunity office “within six months of report closeout” to make sure their proposed game plan is working, the release explained.

“This guidance does not preclude looking into subordinate reports, and commanders are encouraged to initiate an action plan for any additional areas in need of improvement,” Fedrigo noted in the memo.

The second policy change requires commanders to record demographic data about themselves and the Airmen or Guardians they counsel, admonish, or punish, Fedrigo wrote.

“The data collected will include member’s rank, age, gender, race, and ethnicity and will be provided to installation staff judge advocates to be available at wing and installation status of discipline briefings,” Fedrigo wrote. “This reinforces the Department’s commitment to ensuring all Airmen and Guardians are treated fairly and provides commanders insight to facilitate positive practices, such as increased mentoring and professional development.”

This new reporting requirement will let commanders see “disciplinary trends within their organizations” and help the Department of the Air Force remedy a blind spot when it comes to data about administrative actions that fall below the severity of an Article 15 or court-martial, said Department of the Air Force Judge Advocate General Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Rockwell in a Jan. 6 release about the interim Air Force Instruction change.

“The key to our success historically in developing this disciplined force has been to operate under a progressive discipline construct, across the entire continuum of discipline, addressing minor transgressions to major crimes appropriately,” Rockwell said in the release.