SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE — The Air Force’s top general made clear Saturday that he does not have sympathy for those caught up in a series of sex scandals that have rocked the military.
Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, the Air Force chief of staff, came to Scott Air Force Base to help dedicate a new piece of the growing Air Mobility Command Memorial.
But looming over the ceremony as much as the low-lying clouds was the
shadow of a man who wasn’t there — Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston. The candidate
for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came under fire last week after
he admitted to an adulterous affair in the 1980s while
separated from his wife.
Defense Secretary William Cohen has said he thinks Ralston remains qualified for the job because his affair “was neither prejudicial to good order and discipline nor discrediting to the armed forces.”
Fogleman, who is considered one of several possible candidates for the chairmanship if it does not go to Ralston, had not commented publicly since the scandal broke.
On Saturday, Fogleman did not mention Ralston or other sexual controversies, but gave a version of what has become in the last year his central message: The Air Force must set an example by strictly adhering to the core values of “excellence in all that we do, integrity, service before self.”
“These core values in the main raise it above the society that it serves,” he said.
Fogleman paid special attention to the issue of integrity.
“Integrity, you know, is a character trait. It is the willingness to do right, even when we know that nobody’s watching,” he said. “It is the moral compass, it is the inner voice, it is the basis for trust that is imperative within a crew, within a flight, within a squadron, within a wing, within any institution worthy of being called the world’s most respected air and space force.
“Embedded in this legacy of integrity that we have inherited from those that we honor at this memorial service today are other moral traits.”
He said one of those traits is courage, which in the military often relates to performance under fire.
“But it’s also a moral courage — doing what is right even when the personal cost is high,” Fogleman said.
“Another of those traits is honesty. Our word is our bond, and it can be no other way. That is the way these men and women that we memorialize lived.”
Cohen’s defense of Ralston has been contrasted with the recent dismissal of 1st Lt. Kelly Flinn, the first female B-52 bomber pilot who was charged with adultery with a married civilian, fraternization with an enlisted man and lying to her superiors.
One of those making the comparison is U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, a West Point graduate, who late Friday released a letter he sent Cohen.
“I am concerned that a double standard may be emerging here,” the Collinsville Republican wrote. “If it is illegal for members of the military to engage in adulterous affairs, then it should be illegal regardless of rank or gender. The penalties for breaking the standards of conduct should be uniform as well.”
The ceremony Saturday marked the unveiling of a memorial to aerial refuelers, joining one that memorializes airlifters and another that commemorates the Berlin Airlift.
Fogleman, who once headed the Air Mobility Command at Scott, had been scheduled to give a news conference after the ceremony, but his staff canceled it after the Ralston controversy broke. The reason given was that he had another engagement immediately after the ceremony.
Originally Published, June 8, 1997, Belleville News Democrat, Belleville,
(c) 1997, Belleville News-Democrat, Belleville, Ill
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