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Fired Air Force General Created Toxic Work Environment: Report


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Fired Air Force General Created Toxic Work Environment: Report

dawn-dunlop-1200.jpg
Maj. Gen. Dawn Dunlop, then-director of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Special Access Programs stands in front of an aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 1, 2019.

18 Aug 2020

Military.com | By Oriana Pawlyk

An Air Force general in charge of a Pentagon office that oversees some of the military's top secret programs was fired last year because of the toxic work environment she created for airmen and her staff, according to a new report.

Citing a 2020 Inspector General report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Air Force Times on Monday reported that Maj. Gen. Dawn Dunlop was removed from her post as director of the Special Access Programs Control Office, or SAPCO, after she repeatedly disrespected subordinates and once inappropriately grabbed a subordinate's hand without consent in an effort to scold her.

In several instances, Dunlop spoke to and treated subordinates in a demeaning manner, implying they were stupid after failing to meet her objectives, Air Force Times reported.

Witnesses who spoke to the IG described Dunlop -- the first woman to become a fighter test pilot, to fly the F-22 Raptor stealth jet and to command a test wing -- as "borderline abusive" and "dictatorial." Some said they were even afraid to come to work.

"That's the environment we were in; nothing was ever right," one unidentified witness said in the report.

Other witnesses testified that Dunlop was on a mission to fix a "broken" SAPCO organization.

Her leadership style was perceived as combative, as illustrated by several incidents in the IG report.

In January 2019, a member of Dunlop's staff went into her office to announce that a visitor was on the way. Caught off guard, Dunlop "just went ballistic," the subordinate said, and rebuked her for not alerting her to the visitor coming ahead of time. When the subordinate tried to point to the calendar schedule to note the change, Dunlop grabbed her hand to shake it "like a child to get my attention," the subordinate said in the IG report.

Dunlop later told the IG she wasn't angry, was not disrespectful, and had offered a "light touch" to her staffer's hand, though witnesses described the incident as "completely inappropriate."

The IG found Dunlop's actions were "in violation of rules barring conduct unbecoming an officer," Air Force Times said.

The complaints came to a head during a meeting in May 2019 when several senior leaders watched as Dunlop mocked another senior officer to the point where they stormed out of a meeting in tears, Air Force Times reported.

Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's top acquisition chief, removed Dunlop from the position on May 31 after an Air Force civilian reported the ill-tempered meeting. Multiple investigations were subsequently launched into Dunlop's actions, and she was reassigned as the special assistant to Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Seve Wilson.

In a separate 2019 IG investigation, the Air Force concluded Dunlop also misused her subordinates' time to finish personal requests while she was commander of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany, between 2016 and 2018, the Times reported.

For example, airmen switched out the tires on Dunlop's car; got an oil change; and drove her car around to empty its gas tank to meet the weight standard before arranging for the vehicle to be shipped back to the U.S.

Dunlop's lawyer, Gary Myers, told Air Force Times the IG reports have been an awakening for the general, who now serves as the service's director of operational capability requirements. But he also said the IG investigations were a result of Dunlop's steadfast commitment to reform SAPCO.

"Throughout her career, Maj. Gen. Dunlop has brought a clear sense of integrity, excellence and a strong desire to serve airmen and the nation," Myers said. "She has always been willing to work with others to take on difficult change where needed to deliver results in support of these values."

He added, "The IG allegations and report of investigation do not reflect who she is as a person, her values or her dedicated service of over 30 years."

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/08/18/fired-air-force-general-created-toxic-work-environment-report.html

 

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Chris24

Like most people who've served in the military, I've served under good commanders and bad commanders, just like most of us have had good bosses and bad bosses in the civilian world.  The military though magnifies both the good and the bad because of the broad scope of authority a commander has, and the inability of service members to "vote with their feet".   The military also rotates people through assignments that sometimes don't fit for their temperament, experience or skillset, although some adapt (and grow) and some don't.  Command assignments typically last two to three years so sometimes it's just a waiting game knowing that "this too shall pass", or a person can request (and sometimes get) a re-assignment.  

It's not hard to see how someone who is an excellent fighter pilot might have difficulty translating that mindset over to being a good commander.  If Patton were alive today I wonder how quickly he would make the news for creating a toxic work environment.   I hope that MG Dunlop moves on to something that is a good fit for her in today's world.

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SkyMan
6 hours ago, Chris24 said:

It's not hard to see how someone who is an excellent fighter pilot might have difficulty translating that mindset over to being a good commander. 

That was my thought.  Going from the aircraft world to flying a desk doesn't always work well.

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Headshot
6 hours ago, SkyMan said:

That was my thought.  Going from the aircraft world to flying a desk doesn't always work well.

The Air Force's biggest problem is the mindset that only pilots (rated officers) make good commanders, when the opposite is true in most cases. However, it is the AIR Force, so I doubt that wearing wings will ever lose its appeal when deciding on leadership positions. It has always been a club, and it always will be a club. Almost every bad commander I ever knew wore wings. Yes, I had good commanders as well, but most of them weren't pilots. Obviously, you will always have pilots commanding flying units, but they need to keep pilots out of command positions in non-flying units (of which there are plenty). There are plenty of good non-rated officers in the Air Force who can make great commanders.

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SkyMan
14 hours ago, Headshot said:

The Air Force's biggest problem is the mindset that only pilots (rated officers) make good commanders, when the opposite is true in most cases. However, it is the AIR Force, so I doubt that wearing wings will ever lose its appeal when deciding on leadership positions. It has always been a club, and it always will be a club. Almost every bad commander I ever knew wore wings. Yes, I had good commanders as well, but most of them weren't pilots. Obviously, you will always have pilots commanding flying units, but they need to keep pilots out of command positions in non-flying units (of which there are plenty). There are plenty of good non-rated officers in the Air Force who can make great commanders.

Lots of cases like that in the AF where not moving up gets you tossed.   I knew several cases where one guy was a technical/mechanical whiz and would have been quite happy doing that the rest of his career but was so good he was promoted into management which he hated.  In one such case, the airplane mechanic was the manager and a management minded guy was in the mechanical job because the mechanic's date of rank was a couple months ahead of the others.  Had the mechanic not gotten the rank promotion, though, he would have reached is High Year of Tenure and been discharged.  The military does not follow the Peter Principal.  Quite often people get promoted beyond their level of incompetence and this may be the case for the general.

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lamoe
3 hours ago, SkyMan said:

Lots of cases like that in the AF where not moving up gets you tossed.   I knew several cases where one guy was a technical/mechanical whiz and would have been quite happy doing that the rest of his career but was so good he was promoted into management which he hated.  In one such case, the airplane mechanic was the manager and a management minded guy was in the mechanical job because the mechanic's date of rank was a couple months ahead of the others.  Had the mechanic not gotten the rank promotion, though, he would have reached is High Year of Tenure and been discharged.  The military does not follow the Peter Principal.  Quite often people get promoted beyond their level of incompetence and this may be the case for the general.

Thanks to the movies, civilians can have unrealistic expectations of abilities of military leaders to lead.

Got "promoted" 3 times to management positions. I was a decent SGT. of Marines and asst. engineering dept. mgr - but terrible  at direct people management - asst plant manager  / office manager

Problem solving was easy compared to dealing with malcontents (no brig) and 12 ladies on assembly line  - way beyond my abilities.

On the military Peter Principle and High Year of Tenure - 1969 - knew an E-4  coming up on  18 years - tried to re-enlist - was denied - the original Forest Gump - all of his chain of command tried to get him promoted to E-5 (mandatory to be allowed to go to 20 back then) now E-6 - was eligible for severance pay - but that was it.

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/high-year-of-tenure-in-the-us-military-3355995

 

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SkyMan

Had an E-4 Sgt working for me before I got my commission.  He had been a mustang Captain but got passed over for Major.  He was allowed to remain in service to complete his 20 years and retire at Captain but only because he was prior enlisted.  I don't remember how much time he had to go but figured he'd make rank fairly quickly.

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savarity

Makes me glad I've never had to work under anyone. Halfway to retirement, so maybe never will have to...

Sent from my SM-N950F using Tapatalk

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