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Air Force to track demographic disparities in discipline

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Rockwell (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

The Air Force is now following demographic trends in how service commanders mete out discipline, the military branch announced Wednesday.

A Dec. 21 Air Force memorandum directs commanders to track data from lesser disciplinary actions to determine whether discipline is imposed in a “fair and impartial manner,” according to an Air Force statement released Wednesday.

The Air Force defines “lesser disciplinary actions” as adverse administrative discipline, to include administrative counseling, admonishments and reprimands.

Data being tracked will include rank, age, gender, race and ethnicity of Airmen and Space Force Guardians who issue and receive disciplinary actions.

In late December, the Air Force and Space Force released findings that Black airmen were more likely to be suspects in military criminal investigations, more likely to be arrested by base patrol, or involuntarily discharged based on misconduct. That full report is available at https://www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/ig/IRDR.pdf.

The new effort “reinforces the department’s commitment to ensuring all Airmen and Guardians are treated fairly and provides commanders insight to facilitate positive practices, such as increased mentoring and professional development,” John Fedrigo, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs, said in the memorandum.

The Air Force says it has collected data on nonjudicial punishment and court-martials since 1974.

“The intent of this data tracking is to aid commanders in their responsibility to build a lethal, disciplined force to execute our national security missions and more specifically to see disciplinary trends in their organizations,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Rockwell, the judge advocate general for the Air Force, said in the Air Force announcement.

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