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Report: Ex-Hill commander acted inappropriately

Published December 20, 2010 4:27 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The former commander of Hill Air Force Base's 75th Air Base Wing made repeated comments to female subordinates that call into question his "judgment, values and maturity," according to a report by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The investigation was prompted by complaints arising since Brig. Gen. Scott Chambers began his duties as commander of the joint Defense Logistics Agency's Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia, a job from which he has since been dismissed.

The inspection does not include any allegations stemming from Chambers' time at Hill, where for most of 2006 and 2007 he led a unit that provides security, medical care, housing and other on-base services for tens of thousands of airmen and civilians. The report may, however, shed light on his service during that time. Airmen and their families complained that Hill's leaders, including Chambers, were unresponsive to their concerns about issues that included the cleanup of chemically tainted soils near base housing, the presence of mold in older base housing and the rise in suicides among Hill's work force.

Air Force leaders initially declined requests to view the investigation report but provided a copy to The Salt Lake Tribune within hours of a formal Freedom of Information Act request.

The report revealed that Chambers was repeatedly told by female subordinates that his words and actions were inappropriate but Chambers continued to make "improper and inappropriate gender" based statements and take other actions that "diminish subordinate female staff."

In one case, Chambers asked a female officer in his command whether she preferred military-issued undergarments or those she purchased on her own, then repeatedly referenced her answer in the company of other officers. Chambers told investigators that the discussion was in the context of understanding what purchase orders were a priority, noting female military members' preference for underwear they purchase on their own.

In another situation, Chambers asked another subordinate when she first became sexually active — a conversation that Chambers told investigators he did not remember. Investigators also found that Chambers inappropriately massaged the necks and backs of two civilian women who worked for him.

In several instances, according to the report, Chambers was confronted by the women he'd offended, but he told investigators that he believed the women had misinterpreted his attempts to "foster a more positive relationship by showing my openness and humanity."

"I am incredibly sorry that my words and actions offended any of my personnel," Chambers told investigators. "My aim was to do just the opposite."

mlaplante@sltrib.com