Red Arrows featured in conference on trust despite ‘toxic culture’ controversy | UK News

Sources say Red Arrows once made headlines during a trust conference despite concerns it could upset victims of alleged inappropriate behavior.

The event is organized annually by the head of the Royal Air Force.

An RAF officer said the decision to invite the Red Arrows to speak while the organization was still embroiled in a controversy over a “toxic culture” within the squadron raised questions about Air Marshal Sir Sir’s ruling. Mike Wigston.

The theme of his leadership conference was “the power of belief”.

“There are many allegations emerging,” the source said. “People are absolutely disgusted… It’s almost like a slap in the face of the victims.”

The RAF confirmed this week that Wing Commander David Montenegro, the commander of the Red Arrows, who spoke at the conference on September 21, was suspended pending investigation of historical allegations against him.

It was the latest blow to the elite squadron.

Last Friday, the air force announced that an RAF Police investigation – launched last December by Chief Wigston Air Force – had revealed “a wide range of unacceptable behavior” in the Red Arrow.

No criminal activity was detected but it said “several employees” were investigated, leading to “a range of outcomes up to and including dismissal from the RAF”.

Team leader David Montenegro of the Royal Air Force Red Arrows aerobatic team speaks to the media in Zhuhai, southern China's Guangdong province, October 27, 2016
David Montenegro has been with the RAF since 1999. Photo: Rex/Shutterstock

A good case study of an entity that has faced challenges

A senior RAF source said Wednesday that the leadership conference came before any allegations regarding the Montenegro Wing Commander and that the Air Chief of Staff first learned about them on the 17th. November.

The source confirmed that an internal discussion was taking place about who should attend the conference, although the source denied that Air Force Chief of Police Wigston had been “warned” about the Red Arrows’ involvement. nor did he make any final appeals to join.

Finally, the source said that involving the squadron, also known as the RAF Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), is seen as a case study of a unit that has faced challenges. and working on them.

“The RAF is committed to addressing all instances of unacceptable behavior and we are taking action to address it when it is identified,” the source said.

“RAFAT’s participation in the conference is seen as the RAF not hiding any setbacks and trying to show how we’re dealing with issues. Red Arrows’ participation is particularly helpful for this.”

Red Arrow

‘Nothing gets swept under the rug’

The Montenegro Wing commander was filmed at the event to answer questions about how his squadron is rebuilding trust and whether the RAF’s disciplinary process can be trusted, according to a copy of video of the event shared with Sky News.

“[In] organization in which we live, nothing is hidden,” he said.

His appearance won praise from Air Force Chief of Police Wigston, who spoke later.

“His amazing frankness about this year’s events, at its core – and you heard it from Monty himself – it was about the RAF identifying malicious behavior within an organization and deciding to mind to do something with them,” said the head of the RAF.

“In my opinion, while it’s really a story that none of us want to read in the media, at its core it’s a really positive story.”

Red Arrows during a fly-by after Trooping the Color in London, Thursday, June 2, 2022, on the first of four days of celebrations to mark the Platinum Jubilee.  Events over a long weekend in the UK to celebrate the monarch's 70 years of service.  (RAF SAC Sarah Barsby, Department of Defense via AP)
Red Arrows in a flyby after Trooping the Color in June

Issues the RAF faces

The Red Arrows’ woes are among a series of problems affecting the RAF.

Sky News revealed in August that the head of the RAF’s recruitment department was resign in protest under a supposedly illegal order to hire minority candidates and women instead of white men to pursue “impossible” diversity goals.

Sky News also revealed Crisis scale inside the military’s flight training systemwith rookies stuck for years waiting for a training position.

Ben Wallace, the secretary of defense, had made fixing flight training the sole priority of Air Force Commander Marshal Wigston two and a half years earlier.

In a comment on the suspension of the Montenegro Wing Commander, an RAF spokesman said: “All RAF personnel are expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct.

“The RAF is aware of historical charges from 2017 that have been brought against the current Officer Commanding RAF Aerobatics Team (Red Arrows), which will be investigated thoroughly. Pending that investigation. and without effect, this individual has been removed from office. We will not comment further while the investigation is ongoing.”


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