The U.S. Air Force yesterday announced the removal of four top officials at its academy in Colorado Springs, where dozens of female cadets said they were raped and their complaints ignored.

Pledging to change the "broader climate" at the academy, the Air Force removed its leadership and promised to provide a "safe, secure" environment for cadets.

"[It] comes in the wake of a series of reports of sexual assault at the Colorado Springs, Colorado, institution," an Air Force statement said. The academy's superintendent, Lt. Gen. John R. Dallager, and its second in command, Brig. Gen. S. Taco Gilbert III, would leave the academy, along with the vice commandant, Col. Robert D. Eskridge and the commander of cadet training, Col. Laurie Slavec.

The Air Force nominated Maj. Gen. John W. Rosa Jr., deputy director of current operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to replace Dallager, who will retire. Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida was picked to succeed Gilbert, who was assigned to the Pentagon.

Col. Debra Gray, also with the Joint Staff, will replace Eskridge, and Col. Clara Monteith, deputy director of Security Forces at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, will replace Slavec.

About 56 cases of sexual assault or harassment have been reported at the school over the last decade.

Air Force Secretary James G. Roche said the sexual assaults predated the current leadership, and he stressed Gilbert and Dallager were not responsible.

"Still, change must occur, and a new leadership team to implement these changes is in the best interest of the academy and the Air Force," Roche said

At a Senate committee hearing this week, Roche assured lawmakers the Air Force was doing everything it could to make the academy a secure place for cadets.

"We first and foremost have to make the first steps so that the families of these young women coming in June can believe that their daughters are okay," Roche said. "And also that the families of the male cadets can believe that due process is going to be applied in all cases."