HomeNewsArticle Display

Sexual Assault is Sexual Misconduct

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a mandatory “Wingman Day” facilitated by 8th Fighter Wing leaders. If you are familiar with mandatory training, that may have seemed like sarcasm; at least that’s what a few of my peers thought when I shared with them how impressed I was with the event. However, it is not. I believe every base should host a Wingman Day.

Many times, our leaders talk about change but never take action. So when my commander actually put action behind his words, I respected it. In 14 years of service, this is the first time I can remember dedicating a day to discuss an issue facing our Air Force today. Usually, there’s a brief mention of the issue in a commander’s call and nothing more.

This “Wingman Day” consisted of informative briefs from the legal, Equal Opportunity, Sexual Assault and Prevention offices and the chapel staff, and was led by the wing commander. There were peer discussions on what we can do as Airmen to effect change. In my view, the briefs provided some much-needed clarity regarding sexual misconduct in particular.

Many of us know that sexual assault is a crime, but I would bet that not many people truly grasp the sophisticated delineations involved. Along with a lack of education, there are many misperceptions and this makes prevention and intervention challenging.

Sexual misconduct is any unwelcomed behavior of a sexual nature committed without consent or by force. This is where sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual contact, consent, aggravated sexual contact are categorized.

The term sexual assault has been used as an umbrella term in place of sexual misconduct to classify all activities sexual or egregious in nature. Yet, sexual assault is defined as a specific offense that is “an intentional and serious act.” The difference is nuanced, and may be confusing to the average Airman, who may be experiencing different forms of sexual misconduct, like inappropriate comments, which is sexual harassment. The misidentification of these terms also creates potential difficulties for victims.

Awareness is the key! Sure, we receive drive-by training for one hour once a year. But I would argue that while well-intentioned, that is not enough training the equip Airmen for situations this complex. Memory is short-lived; people cannot tell you what they ate yesterday, but are expected to recall, comprehend and reiterate definitions and strategies to combat sexual misconduct, sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual contact and consent after receiving one hour of training on the topic.

Sexual misconduct in the military undermines our core values, degrades unit cohesion and decreases readiness. As leaders, we have to become proactive instead of reactive.

Even though there are programs in the Department of Defense to help prevent, intervene, and respond to sexual misconduct, our Air Force needs a new way to implement education initiatives and promote awareness through training that is well-informed and repetitive.

Only time will reveal the significance “Wingman Day” had on our wing. Nonetheless, by setting aside a full day of normal operations to discuss sexual misconduct, and other important topics, it sent a message to me and all Airmen within the 8th Fighter Wing that this is serious and should not be taken lightly.

I believe this model of more frequent and in-depth discussion is the way forward. I urge Airmen of all ranks to welcome these types of training and see the bigger picture before complaining in the future. A mentor once told me “You can either be a part of the problem or the solution.” This day of training, however “inconvenient” or “unwanted” by critics, may just have prevented countless acts of sexual misconduct in the future.

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.