Air Force to Replace Four Top Officers at Academy

U.S. Air Force leaders told senators Tuesday they will replace four top officers at the Air Force Academy because of the sexual assault scandal, a senator said Tuesday.

The Air Force officials also said two women would be included in the new leadership, said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

Clinton spoke after Air Force Secretary James Roche and others gave a closed-door briefing to senators to discuss the allegations that female cadets at the academy were ostracized and reprimanded after they reported they were raped.

"No, I'm not satisfied, but I believe they are making progress," Clinton said. "I believe that changing the leadership is a serious action but it is not sufficient."

Clinton did not name the ousted officers, but The Denver Post on Tuesday identified them as Brig. Gen. S. Taco Gilbert III, the commandant of cadets and second in charge at the academy; Col. Steve Eddy, vice superintendent; Col. Bob Eskridge, vice commander; and Col. Sue Slavec, training group commander.

Lt. Gen. John R. Dallager will remain as superintendent and the top official at the 4,100-cadet institution until his scheduled retirement in June, the newspaper said.

A formal announcement was expected from the Air Force on Wednesday, when changes in policies and procedures also were to be announced.

Two investigative teams are looking into the reports of rapes at the academy. A third team from the Department of Defense inspector general's office was to arrive at the academy this week for its own investigation.

Three Republicans -- Sens. Wayne Allard of Colorado and Sen. John Warner of Virginia and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado -- have all called for a change in leadership at the academy.

Allard said victims are unwilling to talk with Air Force investigators while the current commanders are in place.

A spokesman for Allard declined to say what was discussed at the closed-door meeting Tuesday.

As more and more women -- 39 in all -- told Allard's office they were victims, the senator called Gilbert a "common thread."

Gilbert, who declined to comment, was scheduled to leave the academy this summer after completing a standard two-year tour.

In late January, Gilbert said that every case of sexual assault has been thoroughly investigated and that misconduct was punished.