Air Force Pilot Trainees, NCO Face The Music In Cheating
The Air Force dealt
harshly with two cheating scandals this week. One involved officers
cheating on academic quizzes in pilot training, and the other
involved an NCO illegally distributing materials for enlisted
Attitudes in the military towards cheating range from the
rock-solid honor code of the service academies, to the more casual,
"If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'."
In the first case, some Air Force pilot trainees found out the
hard way that the corollary to the latter is, "If you get caught,
you're tryin' too hard." The outcome for the eleven junior officers
caught cheating on emergency procedures tests at Columbus Air Force
Base in Mississippi, was non-judicial punishment under Article 15
of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and expulsion with
prejudice from pilot training.
In addition, the miscreant lieutenants and captains received
reprimands and forfeitures of pay. It is an airman's discretion to
decline non-judicial punishment and seek a court-martial instead.
The consequences of a court-martial conviction can be far more
severe than non-judicial punishment; for all intents and purposes
it's a Federal conviction.
One officer, Capt. Richard Brimer of the 41st Flying Training
Squadron at Columbus, does face a court-martial for conduct
unbecoming an officer (distributing controlled test answers),
making a false official statement, and failing to obey a lawful
regulation. During August, an Article 32 investigation will
determine whether his court-martial goes forward. It was unclear
from Air Force statements whether Brimer elected a court martial or
whether he was not offered nonjudicial punishment.
The specific charges against the group that received nonjudicial
punishment were broadly similar to those offense with which Brimer
is charged, including conduct unbecoming an officer (cheating on
academic tests), dereliction of duty and making a false official
statement. While the officers were not dismissed from the Air
Force, having such a punishment in one's record is not career
The tests in question are quizzes on emergency procedures that
are given every week during the T-37 phase of Undergraduate Pilot
Training. The quizzes make up 7.5% of student ranking. Student
ranking in turn has an influence on the student's ability upon
graduation to get a desirable assignment.
In the second case, in Ramstein, Germany, an Air Force NCO was
sentenced to 42 months in prison, reduction to the lowest enlisted
grade, and a dishonorable discharge after a two-day court-martial.
At the opening of the trial, Master Sergeant J. Abdur Rahim Saafir
pled guilty on most counts facing him, and was speedily convicted
of the rest and sentenced by a military judge. His offense was
distributing materials that enabled enlisted airmen to cheat on