Congress calls on military brass to explain misconduct among generals
WASHINGTON A series of high profile scandals in recent years involving military brass will draw congressional scrutiny Wednesday when top officials from each armed service and the Department of Defense are scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill to explain the rash of cases in senior officer misconduct.
The House Armed Services Committee personnel panel is examining a series of incidents involving senior officers, many of them exposed by reporting in USA TODAY, according to Rep. Jackie Speier, D Calif., and ranking member of the committee.
is an appearance that cases like these continue to reoccur, and that the conduct is so egregious yet the penalty is so modest, Speier said. these cases are hidden from Congress and the public. Mike Coffman, R Colo., who chairs the personnel subcommittee, has expressed concern about sexual misconduct among the enlisted ranks as well, and the need for commanders to take responsibility for ensuring the proper response to sexual assault.
“When the misconduct involves flag or general officers, the negative effects are even greater,” he said in excerpts from the chairman prepared hearing statement. “While such instances are rare and the vast majority of senior leaders serve with distinction, misconduct not only affects the victims, but can have a lasting impact readiness and reverberate through the force.”
Among the cases of senior officer misbehavior uncovered by USA TODAY include that of Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Harrington. Army Africa until the fall of 2017 when he was found to have sent inappropriate social media messages to the wife of an enlisted soldier at his post. In one exchange, Harrington referred to the woman as a was fired from his command and is awaiting further discipline,
according to the Army.
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All told, since 2013, military investigators documented at least 500 cases of serious misconduct among its admirals, general and senior civilian officials, a USA TODAY investigation found last year. Almost half of those cases involved personal or ethical lapses.
The number of complaints about misconduct among senior officials, including generals and admirals, has continued to rise, according to the Pentagon Inspector General. In November, the inspector general reported a 13% increase from fiscal year 2015 to 2017 in the number of allegations of misconduct among senior officials. The number of complaints increased from 710 to 803, according to the inspector general.
Also, the inspector general found that investigators continued to substantiate allegations, including those for sexual misconduct, against senior officials at a steady rate.
Nonetheless, the Pentagon tends to downplay the issue of misconduct among its upper ranks, Speier said.
services tend to minimize how significant the problem is, Speier said. see that these cases get swept under the rug. There needs to heightened transparency.