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After just two weeks as the first female to head the U.S. Air Combat Command F-16 Viper demonstration team, Capt. Zoe Kotnik was removed from her position by the Air Force due to "lost confidence in her ability to lead the team."


"I removed Capt. Kotnik from her position as the commander of the Viper Demo team [Monday], because I lost confidence in her ability to lead the team," said Col. Derek O’Malley, the 20th Fighter Wing commander in a statement, according to Fox News.
"I know that loss of confidence is a common response from the Air Force, whenever someone is removed from a command position, and I think it's important to understand why we take this approach," he added. O'Malley suggested Kotnik, who was named to lead the demonstration team on January 29, made mistakes during her short-lived tenure, but said he wishes Kotnik "continue to be a part of this great service."
"As good people, like Capt. Kotnik make mistakes, I want them to have the opportunity to learn from them without being under public scrutiny, and to continue to be a part of this great service," he said. "They'll be better for the experience, and in turn, we'll be better as an Air Force."
"In these types of situations," O'Malley continued, "I never forget that we're dealing with real human beings, that I care deeply about, and that we are charged to take care of. This will be a difficult time for Capt. Kotnik, but she's surrounded by wingmen that will help her every step of the way."
In May, the sixth woman to attempt to complete the U.S. Air Force's battlefield airman training dropped out of the program, reported Military.com.
"The sixth woman who entered the pipeline self-eliminated and is no longer in the pipeline. There are currently no females in TACP training," said 1st Lt. Geneva Croxton, a spokeswoman for Air Education and Training Command.
In addition to the self-elimination, the two other females attempting to become TACP specialists failed the training. The other three unsuccessful female trainees dropped out for a variety of reasons, according to Military.com: a leg injury, an incomplete selection program application, and failing to meet standards after Basic Military Training at a Texas Air Force base.
"Our effort [is] to make sure we're treating everybody like they're world-class athletes, where we're proactively using physical therapy and training techniques that are uniquely fit for the human being that's in the program to make them healthy," AETC commander Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast told reporters in May.
"We make sure that every woman who is coming into the battlefield airman [pipeline] has a coach, and those coaches are designing the training uniquely for them, to make them healthier, faster, better, stronger and smarter all the way along," continued Kwast, adding: "We still have to work harder at the recruiting piece, where we are inspiring a broader swath of society to come into this because we align their passion, their propensity and their skills and talents with our requirements."
According to Fox News, Kotnik's position will be filled by Maj. John "Rain" Waters, who was last season's Viper demo pilot.

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