The word on the street at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, home of the Air Force's basic training school, is that if you're an officer, hanging out with or paying special attention to enlisted folk is going to get you canned. And what was this "unprofessional relationship," you ask?
Craig Perry, the commander of Lackland's 737th Training Support Squadron, was fired from his job, given a career ending review and PCSed to a new location due to "lost confidence," according to this Air Force Times article. Largely because, an investigation found, "Perry engaged in unprofessional relationships with enlisted members in his organization." Ouch.
In an interview with Air Force Times, a retired lieutenant colonel who does not know the Perrys said their outreach efforts do not seem unusual.
Now, it's clear from the Air Force Times story and other posts like this one that some pieces to this puzzle are missing.
Because here's the deal: Sometimes commanders -- and their wives -- don't want anything to do with the little people (both O and E) under them. When we've made so much progress as a force in keeping up the O/E barriers necessary (and some are for professional reasons) while tearing down the ones that just cause animosity (like those between spouses), do we really need a message like the one given by this firing to muddle things up again?
Do we really need to hear that "fraternization" is bad and that we shouldn't be friends?
And yet, instead of that relatively light consequence, Perry was instead booted from command, moved across base, ordered to have no interaction with the squadron, given a career ending evaluation and PCSed to another duty station.
That's like burning down the house because you saw a garden spider.
One witness stated Perry spent “extensive amounts of time” with his superintendent, that their relationship went 'beyond a normal working relationship' and that the Perrys had socialized with the superintendent and her family outside of work.
The Air Force Times article plainly paints why Perry's firing for, in part, fraternization is anything but clear-cut.
According to sources the Air Force Times talked to the couple did virtually nothing out of line with larger Air Force policies. The couple reached out to hurting squadron members. Two of Perry's top priorities were "an extra layer of support for airmen and encourages interaction among families." To me that sounds like a dream unit.
Isn't the primary complaint about FRGs and other support programs that "no one ever contacted me?
" And character references in the investigation -- and the investigation itself -- showed that the interactions called into question were an attempt to make sure members of the unit felt supported.