Leading with Honor Response – “Female airman says Air Force trainer attacked her”

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Luis A. Walker arrives from a lunch break during his court… (AP Photo/The San Antonio Express-News, Jerry Lara)

You may have been reading about the ongoing case currently in the news regarding Air Force airman, Luis A. Walker –

“SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A female Air Force airman has testified that a basic training instructor sexually assaulted her in his office at a Texas base and told her to keep quiet.

The woman told jurors at Staff Sgt. Luis Walker’s court-martial Tuesday that he ignored her pleas to stop while pulling her onto a bed in his Lackland Air Force Base office. She is the first of 10 alleged victims to testify. The Associated Press typically doesn’t identify alleged sexual assault victims.

Walker is charged with raping one female recruit and sexually assaulting or having inappropriate sexual or personal contact with nine others.

Walker denies the allegations.

He is among 12 base instructors who have been charged or who are being investigated in a burgeoning sex scandal. Walker faces the most serious charges.” **

The Leadership Response
From a leadership perspective, what is the response to this serious issue? Lee Ellis, author of Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton, as well as a retired USAF colonel with specific focus in leadership development, responds to this case –
“This is a very sad story and a disappointing one for everyone.  Although we don’t know the outcome of this trial and the accused is innocent until proven guilty, the allegations are strong, and provide an opportune time to reflect on some of the skills needed for leading with honor.  Two that come to mind are awareness and action.  Good leaders must know their people and know what is going on in their organization by being alert to small queues that things are awry.  Like it or not, leadership involves social science. Alert leaders sense that something is off track and immediately begin searching for more details to confirm or clear up their suspicions.  If a problem is indicated, they initiate a process that will take it all the way to full accountability.  Good leaders also build a culture in which individual team members are alert and proactive about upholding their own the standards.  Loyal team mates, protect the honor of the team by holding mates accountable.

As a squadron commander, I got wind that one of my officers was using and possibly selling drugs.  There were enough questions to warrant further investigation so I called in the JAG (prosecutors) who agreed and brought in detectives (OSI) to run the case down.  Within a few weeks, the individual was in jail and within a few months he had been court-martialed and sent to federal prison. Thankfully, these situations are the exception as the vast majority of our men and women in uniform do lead with honor by showing respect for others and what is right.

This serious problem at the basic training facility should prompt all of us to do an honor check on ourselves, our team mates and the leaders who serve in public, private, and government roles.”

What are your thoughts and comments on this case? Do you agree or disagree with Lee’s comments? Please share your experiences on leading with honor.
**Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

0 Comments on “Leading with Honor Response – “Female airman says Air Force trainer attacked her”

August 1, 2012 at 2:46 am

Appreciate the candor and especially agree with statement “Loyal team mates, protect the honor of the team by holding mates accountable.” Too often there is a misguided definition of loyalty which leaves out critical aspects such as accountability and questioning team.

Lee Ellis
August 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Cheryl – we couldn’t agree more. Thanks for your comments, and hopefully this Leading with Honor blog forum can help keep us all loyal yet accountable! (WP Admin)

M.J. Trodden
August 1, 2012 at 1:13 pm

The San Antonio Express-News has been all over this sordid story – and rightly so! To this point, I am aware of one 05 who has been relieved of duities due to a “loss of confidence” by his commander. I find it hard to believe that in light of the apparent scope of this problem, more officers, to include those at the highest levels of the BMT organization, could not have been aware or at least suspicious of what was going on. Where was the senior leadership when this was happening?

Lee Ellis
August 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm

M.J. – thanks for your insights and thoughts. Like so many other current news stories where something is “suddenly” revealed to the public, there are always internal clues long before it gets to this point that something isn’t right. It is tough (but necessary) to explore clues as they come up–not in a way that creates distrust within a team but as an act of genuine care for all parties involved. Then, allow justice (or a resolution) to be given when it’s appropriate. (WP Admin)


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