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Reprisal, restriction and abuse of authority

F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. -- "A funny thing happened to me on the way to the IG office ..." 

The story starts like this: 

"My boss gave me a letter of reprimand because I embarrassed the unit by going to the inspector general and discussing unit issues. Can he do that?" 

Is it reprisal, restriction or abuse of authority? Every time I approach an audience to talk about these issues, I will either get the deer-in-the-headlights look -- "Reprisal? What's reprisal?" Or the roll of the eyes -- "You're not going to tell me how to manage my troops." These are the folks that keep me employed. 

So what is it? It's stupidity at its finest moment. You're probably saying to yourself, right now, "Someone isn't stupid enough to say that on a letter of reprimand." Believe it or not, someone is that stupid. 

I've been working in the 90th Space Wing Inspector General office since 1999, and reprisal and restriction allegations were almost nonexistent until about a year and a half ago when something funny happened on the way to the IG office. 

Since then, this office has received eight allegations of reprisal and five allegations of restriction. Reprisal and restriction allegations are rare Air Force-wide. The 90th SW is actually leading the way in Air Force Space Command. 

So now you're probably wondering exactly what are these people doing when they are reprising against an individual or restricting them from going to the IG? 

During a reprimand: 

A supervisor tells an Airman, "I dare you to go to the IG." 

The Airman questions the decision. 

The supervisor replies, "You better be careful who you complain to." 

The Airman receives an LOR with the following statement: "Further attempts on your part to contact the IG will result in more severe punishment and possible loss of position." 

The Airman receives an LOR for not being a team player. 

The supervisor verbally informs the Airman that the LOR was for going to the IG. 

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Yes folks, reprisal and restriction are alive and well. 

Sometimes I sit and think about what I can do to stop this from happening, but I've come to realize that my briefings are actually working and someone is actually listening. 

Hopefully, you were listening. If not, you could find yourself visiting the Secretary of the Air Force IG and Defense Department IG. 

The primary charge of the IG is to sustain a credible Air Force IG system by ensuring the existence of responsive complaint investigations and fraud, waste and abuse programs characterized by objectivity, integrity and impartiality. (Editor's note: For more information on filing an IG complaint, call Sandra Hanway at 773-4800.)