Pentagon to consider more female basic training instructors after sex scandal

The Pentagon has called for a review of basic training procedures and is considering boosting the number of female basic training instructors in the wake of a widespread sex scandal at Lackland Air Base that has involved more than a dozen Air Force instructors.

The Defense Department announced new steps it is taking Tuesday to try and crack down on sexual assault cases. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta instructed all the services to review training procedures and policies for basic training, including the selection, training and oversight of instructors.

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The scandal at Lackland has seen 17 trainers investigated for sexual assault or inappropriate relationships with as many as 42 female trainees. One instructor was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and the commander of basic training at the base was dismissed.

Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters Tuesday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta considered Lackland in issuing the new directive.

“I think that the revelations at Lackland certainly contributed to his thinking on these announcements, but he's been concerned about this issue for some time,” he said.

One of the things the basic training review, which is due to be completed Feb. 13, will examine is having female instructors, Little said.

The new review of basic training will “consider the potential benefits of increasing the number of female instructors conducting military training,” he said.

Panetta also instructed the services to ramp up standards for sexual assault prevention and response training.

In April, Panetta announced a round of new sexual assault initiatives when he traveled to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers, including establishing a victims unit and elevating the status of the most serious sexual assault cases.