EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Two squadron commanders belonging to the 354th Fighter Wing were relieved of command the week of March 25, 2019, following investigations which revealed a culture of hazing within their units.
Col. Benjamin Bishop, 354th FW commander, relieved Lt. Col. Robb Fiechtner, 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron, and Lt. Col. Joshua Cates, 5th Air Support Operations Squadron, of their squadron command positions.
The 3rd ASOS is located on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and is responsible for Detachment 1 located at Fort Wainwright. The 5th ASOS is located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
“We’re better than this,” said Bishop. “Every Airman has an obligation to prevent and stop any harmful or demeaning conduct toward fellow Airmen. This is especially true for commanders.”
The command-directed investigation, which was initiated in January 2019, found specifically that a practice known as “rolling up” was common and encouraged in two of the four squadrons in the 1st ASOG. “Rolling up” involves tackling or restraining an Airman, binding their hands or feet using duct tape, and allowing the individual to struggle before being released.
According to the investigation, many Airmen in the squadrons viewed “rolling up” as being based on camaraderie and bonding, but that participation was based more on peer pressure than on enjoyment of the activity.
“There are traditions that promote the health of the unit and link us to the long blue line of Airmen that have preceded us,” said Bishop. “When Airmen, however, attempt to equate hazing actions as tradition, they do an absolute disservice to our Air Force culture and also undermine our mission effectiveness.”
The 1st ASOG commander, Col. Kenneth Boillot, has appointed Lt. Col. James Marlow and Lt. Col. Todd Davis as the acting squadron commanders of the 3rd and 5th ASOS respectively.
“I hold the duty of squadron commanders in the utmost esteem, and expect our commanders to train and strengthen our Airmen, while also caring for their morale and wellbeing,” said Bishop. “I hope we can all agree that hazing in any form has no place in our service, and that we can emerge more committed to our core values of integrity, service, and excellence as we move forward in pioneering Airpower’s frontier.”