Report Provides More Information into Laughlin Firings

Col. Charles Velino, Col. Robert Pekarek and Lt. Col. Tom Allen were all relieved from command in October 2018. Air Force photos.?

Three commanders at Laughlin AFB, Texas, were removed from their positions because of unsafe leadership, poor oversight of alcohol consumption at official events, and missed “opportunities to establish a culture of dignity and respect,” Air Education and Training Command said in a mostly redacted report.

AETC boss Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast removed Col. Charles Velino, commander of the 47th Training Wing, operations group commander Col. Robert Pekarek, and Lt. Col. Tom Allen, commander of a flying training squadron, from command in late October.

“The prior command team chronically failed to appropriately care for people and the mission,” Kwast said at the time. “They failed to correct an evolving situation that led to an environment where some airmen did not feel safe or respected.”

AETC released the report in late December, briefly detailing incidents of drinking at unit-sponsored events, incidents of sexism, and an allegation of a “frat boy” atmosphere among student pilots. Additionally, the report states Velino was largely absent as commander because he was away at another base and unable to integrate enough with the wing.

The report provided a total of 19 recommendations to improve the organizational climate at the wing, such as evaluating the use of alcohol at unit events, investing in quality of life programs, and developing anonymous feedback mechanisms.