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23 Jan, 2024 21:27

US Army fires ‘trailblazing’ female officer – media

Colonel Meghann Sullivan has reportedly been relieved of her command after allegedly assaulting male underlings
US Army fires ‘trailblazing’ female officer – media

A female US Army commander who was accused of sexually assaulting and harassing multiple male subordinates has reportedly been fired from her leadership role advising allied nations.

Colonel Meghann Sullivan has been relieved of command of the Fifth Brigadier Engineer Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, Military.com reported on Tuesday, citing a military spokesperson. However, she apparently isn’t facing court-martial proceedings, and she has been reassigned to another job on the same base, the report said.

Sullivan was touted as a “trailblazing” female officer by media outlets, and she made history when she took command of the Fifth Brigadier Engineer Battalion in June 2021. She became the first woman to lead a battalion in a so-called Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB), a specialized US Army unit that advises and trains the troops of Washington’s allies.

Military.com said Sullivan had been relieved of command in October, but her firing wasn’t publicly revealed until Tuesday. The outlet reported in April that she had been suspended amid an investigation into her conduct. She was accused of assaulting at least two male subordinates – forcibly kissing a man in one case and grabbing another below the belt without his consent – as well as a “pattern of sexual harassment” involving several other troops. Some of the incidents were allegedly tied to alcohol abuse.

Military.com was unable to reach the former commander for comment on her firing. At the time of her promotion, she celebrated her historic appointment, saying, “I’ve been in the Army over 20 years as an engineer. Diversity, equity and inclusion makes us stronger. I am excited for young women to see that you can look and act different and be successful.”

Sullivan’s job involved preparing SFAB advisers to train allied troops in the Indo-Pacific region. She’s a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and served a one-year stint in Afghanistan, starting in 2018.

Sullivan’s ouster comes less than one year after her boss, Colonel Jonathan Chung, was fired as commander of the Fifth Security Force Assistance Brigade amid allegations of abusive and counterproductive leadership. He was accused of micromanaging subordinates and harshly rebuking them for minor infractions.

The Pentagon has long struggled to eradicate sexual assaults in its ranks, which have been on the rise in recent years. Gil Cisneros, then the Pentagon’s undersecretary for personnel, called the problem “persistent and corrosive” in the department’s latest annual report on sexual assaults. Military.com said male victims account for 10% of documented sexual assault cases, though many other incidents go unreported because men are more reluctant to report such incidents.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where Sullivan still works, has an Army anesthesiologist who faces a court-martial in which he’s accused of inappropriately touching or looking at his patients. Major Michael Stockin, who has worked at the base’s hospital, is charged with 48 counts of abusive sexual contact and five counts of indecent viewing.