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Fired gay Air Force Academy commandant was ‘toxic’ leader IG finds; she claims discrimination

Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin, Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy, speaks at the Air Force Global Strike Command Technology and Innovation Symposium at the Shreveport Convention Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. Goodwin highlighted the importance of breaking barriers. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)
November 22, 2019

Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin was removed from her command at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. in April. Now she’s challenging some of the allegations that saw her relieved of her command.

With only a month to go before an expected Pentagon transfer, Goodwin was brought down from her command of the service academy over allegations she misused travel expenses for her personal use and fostered an unhealthy climate of leadership. On Thursday, attorneys for Goodwin announced she would seek legal redress to dispute the poor leadership claims, according to Air Force Times.

Goodwin intends to exercise a right to challenge her removal, based on Article 138 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Goodwin’s attorneys suggested she was the target of discrimination as a gay married officer.

According to an inspector general’s report that led to her firing, Goodwin allegedly conducted personal business while on official government travel. Goodwin also reportedly asked a cadet to bear some of her travel expenses on his credit card while she went to attend the premiere of the film “Captain Marvel” in Hollywood.

The report also claimed Goodwin regularly failed to take responsibility for her own leadership shortcomings and instead blamed her staff. The report suggested those around her viewed her leadership as “self serving.”

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Retired Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost, who observed Goodwin’s leadership before stepping down from his post as dean of faculty, described her quickness to blame others. He also claimed others had spoken to him of “how screwed up the [Cadet Wing] office is [and] how people are incapable of doing what they need to do.”

Another witness, whose name was redacted in the report, said Goodwin’s arrival saw the academy’s Cadet Wing “almost immediately became the most bizarrely toxic and mistrustful organization I’ve ever been a part of.”

The Inspector General report also identified four government travel cases between July 2017 and November 2018 where it is believed Goodwin instead conducted personal business “either in whole or substantial part.”

As a result of the investigation, academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria chose to remove Goodwin just before her transfer to a new Pentagon post.

Larry Youngner, the attorney for Goodwin, said his client had already addressed the allegations of travel violations. Younger also asserted that the inspector general failed to properly investigate the allegations against his client’s leadership practices.

“This decision was based on hearsay and was not appropriately investigated by [Silveria] or the IG,” Younger said.

Younger claimed the removal followed shortly after Goodwin raised her own concerns to Silveria about a senior officer under her command, as well as her concerns about discrimination as a gay officer.

“My client is proud of her 26 years of Air Force service. She is also proud of her service as the U.S. Air Force Academy’s commandant of cadets and the significant accomplishments the Cadet Wing made while she served in this capacity from 2017 to 2019,” Younger said of Goodwin. “She is equally proud of her wife and family for their commitment to serve alongside her in a very public position that placed demands and undesired attention on their lives.”