Penalties likely to end Army careers General, 10 leaders linked to Aberdeen will be reprimanded

September 11, 1997|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- The Army has reprimanded the former commanding general of an Aberdeen Proving Ground training school and others who were in leadership positions when a sexual misconduct scandal rocked the Maryland base last fall and spurred an Army-wide investigation, Pentagon and congressional sources said.

Maj. Gen. Robert D. Shadley Jr., who commanded the U.S. Ordnance Center and School, and at least 10 other officers and senior noncommissioned officers who served under him will receive letters of reprimand and other administrative punishment that will likely end their careers, sources said.

Army officials believed "they didn't do enough" to prevent the misconduct at Aberdeen, where 50 women made allegations of rape and other sexual misconduct.

One Army officer said that reprimands are usually "career-enders" in a shrinking military where any blemish can prevent promotion.

In the wake of the allegations, 12 male drill instructors were suspended.

Some were later convicted and jailed. Others were dishonorably discharged.

As the probe widened, women at other bases made similar complaints. Earlier this year, the Army's top noncommissioned officer, Sgt. Maj. Gene C. McKinney, was accused of sexual misconduct by a half-dozen military women.

The disciplinary action against Shadley and the others will be made public today at a Pentagon news conference at which Army Secretary Togo West and Army Chief of Staff Dennis J. Reimer are expected to appear.

The senior leadership will also release reports from the Army's inspector general about command failures at Aberdeen and other training bases, and from a review panel of civilians and military leaders.

The review panel, headed by Maj. Gen. Richard S. Siegfried, the former commander of the Army's largest training center, at Fort Jackson, S.C., surveyed 30,000 Army personnel at dozens of U.S. bases around the world in an effort to find solutions to the problems of sexual harassment and misconduct.

The reports are expected to call for an extension of basic training to deal with issues of sexual misconduct.

Another recommendation will urge more chaplains, sergeants and officers for training bases such as Aberdeen, where cutbacks are said to have led to fewer supervisory personnel and provided a breeding ground for abuse.

The Army's Training and Doctrine Command already has moved additional personnel to Aberdeen and the other training bases.

In addition, the reports are expected to endorse psychological testing for drill sergeants, a suggestion made by a House panel headed by Rep. Steve Buyer, an Indiana Republican who chairs the Military Personnel subcommittee.

Army sources said about half of those being disciplined are officers and the rest are senior sergeants.

No names are expected to be released tomorrow because of privacy considerations, and all those disciplined may appeal.

The allegations of sexual misconduct at Aberdeen began last summer and relate to conduct going back to 1995. It is uncertain how many of the men to be disciplined are still at Aberdeen since most who were in command positions have since been transferred, said Ed Starnes, an Aberdeen spokesman.

"A couple are retired, a couple are in Saudi Arabia," said one Army officer.

In July, Lt. Col. Martin T. Utzig, a 20-year Army officer, was suspended as commander of a battalion at Aberdeen where seven drill sergeants -- including convicted rapist Delmar G. Simpson -- were charged with criminal sexual misconduct involving female trainees.

That action was taken by Gen. William Hartzog, head of the Army's training command.

Shadley was transferred in June to a new post at Fort McPherson, Ga., as deputy chief of staff for logistics at U.S. Forces Command.

He did not return calls left at his home last night.

One Army officer said he thought Shadley's punishment was too harsh, noting that the general tried to correct the problem when it came to his attention.

"Here's a guy who blew the whistle on himself, and at the end of the day gets burned," the officer said.

Utzig's counterpart at the other training battalion, Lt. Col. Jack D. Hogge, commander of the 16th Ordnance Battalion, said last night that he has heard nothing about pending disciplinary action.

"None of my guys are nervous. It's business as usual," he said. "I plan to have my TV on so I know what's going on, so we can figure out what corrective measures to take."

Hogge, who arrived at Aberdeen one month before the first arrest was made in the scandal, said he is not worried. He said his efforts helped uncover problems at Aberdeen.

When women in the battalion were reluctant to answer a survey about sexual harassment, he suspected something was wrong and called in counselors to talk with the women. Before long the first drill sergeant was arrested for sexual misconduct.

The colonel who had overall command of both battalions, John S. Bird Jr., left last summer for a post at Fort Irwin, Calif., and retired in late July after a 28-year career.

"It has nothing to do with [Aberdeen]," Bird said when contacted by The Sun last month.

Reached at his home last night, Bird, who was questioned by Army investigators, said he has not heard anything from Army officials about a reprimand.

Pub Date: 9/11/97

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