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AFA Chairman of the Board retired Lt. Gen. George Muellner said a proposed amendment to the Fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill, introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), will have a “devastating impact on our national security and military readiness.” If approved, the amendment would remove commanders’ authority to make decisions in sexual assault cases. The Nov. 13 letter, addressed to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was signed by 112 retired general officers and five former Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force. It strongly urged the amendment not be added to the authorization bill. “We share congressional concern that sexual assault is a pervasive threat to our armed forces,” states the letter. It continues, “For that reason, in our professional military opinion, there is no substitute for committed and empowered commanders who engage their troops at every level of the chain of command. Based on our careers leading airmen at every level, we know commanders require the full authority under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to back up their leadership skills with swift, fair discipline.” Muellner also noted that, “changing military culture requires empowered commanders.” One week after sending the letter, Gillibrand released her own letter signed by 26 military leaders who do support the proposed amendment. (See also Competing Amendments)(AFA release)