Air Force putting a woman in charge

Major Michelle D. Johnson

Associated Press

Major Michelle D. Johnson

The Air Force has selected the first woman to lead its academy in Colorado Springs. The appointment marks another advancement for women in the military, a month after the demise of the combat-exclusion rules. Major General Michelle Johnson, who was NATO’s deputy chief of staff for operations and intelligence, may have been destined for this position: She was the first female cadet wing commander and logged more than 3,600 flight hours in large cargo planes. But her next mission will be to ensure that the women under her charge can thrive in an Air Force environment that has been far too hostile to their aspirations.

At Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, investigators have found evidence of widespread rape and abuse by male trainers against female recruits. The probe identified 59 victims, and left 32 drill sergeants facing discipline or jail. From her relatively elite command at Colorado Springs, Johnson won’t be able to ferret out every transgression. But her mere presence should be reassuring for the women who have suffered under the Air Force’s sad legacy of harassment and abuse.

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