Fired Air Force Academy Commandant Plans to File Complaint

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Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin
Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin, then commandant of the U.S Air Force Academy, answers questions and discusses goals and priorities at the academy's Arnold Hall Theater on Aug. 17, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Mike Kaplan)

The former commandant of cadets at the Air Force Academy intends to file an Article 138 redress of wrongs complaint under the Uniform Code of Military Justice in coming weeks to remedy her removal from the position, according to her lawyer.

Larry Youngner, an attorney for the law firm Tully Rinckey PLLC, told Federal News Network radio in a recent interview that Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin, who was removed from the academy amid an investigation earlier this year, will seek redress against her then-commanding officer, academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria.

"That allows subordinates to ask a commander to correct a wrong," Youngner said during the interview.

According to the Inspector General report, officials looked at Goodwin's record of inappropriate travel practices as well as allegations she created an unhealthy command climate. The news was first reported by Air Force Times on Nov. 21.

Related: New Air Force Academy Commandant Is Setting a High Bar

The IG noted that between June 2017 and November 2018, six out of 19 trips that Goodwin took had instances of improper use of taxpayer dollars while renting cars or booking airfare, and included layovers or stops to conduct personal business during official work trips.

The unnecessary expenses totaled $5,367, according to the IG.

Youngner said Goodwin has since reimbursed the government, and said it was up to her staff -- "who let her down" -- to make wise financial choices, including travel.

The IG also investigated Goodwin's record between June 2017 and February 2019, when witnesses said she failed to properly maintain a healthy command climate, including making her criticism of Silveria known in front of subordinates.

Various witnesses, whose names were redacted, claimed Goodwin's behavior affected their personal lives and often made them uncomfortable, according to the IG report. Some even viewed Goodwin as a "self-serving" leader, one witness said.

In the radio interview, Youngner said that if the toxic command climate allegations had been investigated further, Silveria might not have made a "rush to judgment" to remove Goodwin based on statements from a few people.

"The key fact is to look at her character and conduct and accomplishments ... as the commandant," Youngner said.

In 2017, she was selected to pin on her first star and become the academy's commandant of cadets, making her the first openly gay married airman to hold the position.

Youngner said he has noted "over a dozen mission impacts made by [Goodwin] that could not have been done in an unhealthy command climate" during her time as commandant.

The attorney also raised issue with one of the witnesses who came forward against Goodwin.

"We don't believe that that complaining witness' motive, bias or credibility was fairly assessed," Youngner said. "I intend to introduce evidence that shows bias … and bad intent, frankly."

Goodwin graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1993. She led the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, becoming the wing's first female commander, according to Air Force Times. Before that, she was vice commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and has flown the B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress, EC-130, C-130 Hercules, and various trainer aircraft.

She previously served as the senior military adviser to then-Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

Goodwin is still serving under Air Force Space Command in Colorado, Youngner said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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