Time for Army Accountability, Again

July 10, 2020
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On June 30th, the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) welcomed a new commander, Major General (MG) Jody Daniels.  From her predecessor, she inherits a controversy that is not going away soon.  As reported in a Washington Times June 16th article, "Army Reserve commander suspended amid an investigation," then USAR commander Lieutenant General (LTG) Charles Luckey suspended Major General (MG) Miyako Schanely, commander of 416th Theater Engineering Command.

Based in Illinois, the 416th commands 11,000 USAR soldiers in twenty-six states.  The suspension of MG Schanely concerns an investigation for her failure to properly administer the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program.  A suspension is not a relief for cause.  It will be the prelude should the investigation determine MG Schanely to be guilty.

LTG Luckey should have been alerted to problems within the 416th through his personal command oversight and his inspection programs.  The January 10th U.S. News and World Report's article, "Army Reserve Leaders Accused of Mishandling Claims," should not have been one of his problem identification sources.  Even then, it took another five months for him to remove MG Schanely from his position due to the initiation of an investigation.   

As explained in Washington Times and U.S. News and World Report articles, during MG Schanely’s time in command, unit commanders within the 416th illegally elected to not report sexual assault cases to the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID).  Instead, the commanders kept the matters "in-house" and made their own inquiries, if at all.  Monthly sexual assault management meetings were not held to address potential problems, accusations, and the status of on-going complaints. 

SHARP was developed in response to the Army-wide scandals of the late 1990s, in reaction to senior Army leadership having had long-since been warned that serious problems existed.  It took the court-martials of drill sergeants at Aberdeen, the Sergeant-Major of the Army, the Deputy Inspector General of the Army, and all the reports of victims believing that justice was possible, for senior leadership to admit there was an Army-wide culture problem.   

“Care of the Soldier” is a force readiness issue.  Sexual misconduct and abuse of authority are two problems that eat away at the effectiveness of any command.  All leaders are expected to adhere to the Army Values established in the wake of the ‘90s scandals.  Those values are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. 

Sexual misconduct or abuse of authority by subordinates are not, in themselves, negative reflections on a commander at any level.  Negative reflections resulted when the commander did not clearly establish an environment of mutual respect and trust, when violations are improperly handled, and when inconsistent punishment is rendered to various offenders.  When commanders elect to not enforce the execution of programs like SHARP, failure will ultimately result.

In combat, effective leaders are always looking for indications and warnings that adverse activity is taking place.  MG Schanely did have one staff member who was trying to do her job while providing those indications and warnings.  SHARP advocate Amy Franck was there for the victims, asked for a private office where she could conduct sensitive interviews and notified CID when she discovered assault claims were being covered up.  For this, Amy Franck was suspended from her position.  Franck's suspension will be a critical point in determining what MG Schanely knew when she knew it, and what she did about it. 

Those three “what” questions also need to be asked of LTG Luckey.  The expected sanctuary of retirement does not apply to general grade officers.  In the ‘90s, Army Chief of Staff, General Dennis Reimer, allowed Deputy Inspector General, David Hale, to retire while under CID investigation for gross sexual misconduct.  Hale was recalled to active duty and subsequently faced accountability. 

The investigation should not be limited to MG Schanely, but also address LTG Luckey for his performance concerning the SHARP program.  If they were not part of the problem, the investigation report would be their vindication.  If they were in the wrong, they should be held accountable. 

Far beyond the 416th, there are numerous indications and warnings of serious problems throughout the Army.  All senior Army generals were in the ranks during the '90s and should have learned from their predecessors' failures.  Massive public scandals should not be the motivation for today's generals to do what they should have been doing all along.

Colonel Martin, U.S. Army Ret., served as Senior Antiterrorism Officer for all Coalition Forces - Iraq and United States Army Chief of Information Operations. 

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