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Air Force relieves training commander at Lackland over sex scandal

A top commander has been relieved of his position in the wake of a sex scandal at Lackland Air Force base.

Col. Glenn Palmer had been in charge of basic training for new Air Force recruits at the 737th training group at the base in San Antonio, Texas. A senior U.S. military official confirmed to NBC on Friday that Palmer had been relieved. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the wing commander lost confidence in Palmer's ability to lead the training group.

Allegations that basic training instructors behaved inappropriately with female recruits have rocked the base. Some of the alleged victims have claimed sexual abuse and assault. 

Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, a former instructor, received a 20-year prison sentence last month in a military court-martial after being convicted of rape and sexual assault. Walker was convicted on all 28 charges he faced. 

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Smith, 33, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a reduction in rank to airman first class last week. He was convicted of developing an intimate relationship with one female trainee and fraternizing with another.

Other training instructors are scheduled for courts-martial in the coming months. 

The military hasn't seen a sex scandal of this magnitude since the 1990s, when accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced at the Army's Ordnance Center and School in Aberdeen, Md., where officers were accused of using their positions to sexually assault female trainees under their command. The scandal resulted in one company commander and two drill sergeants being sent to prison. 

Lackland is where all new recruits go through eight weeks of basic training. The installation graduates 35,000 new airmen every year. About one in five recruits are female but most instructors are male.


Courtney Kube contributed to this report.

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