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General Fired For Partying At Strip Clubs On DoD’s Dime Keeps His Clearance
The Army general who racked up nearly $3,000 in charges on his government-issued credit card at strip clubs — and also harassed female subordinates while serving as the defense secretary’s top military assistant — will get to keep his security clearance when he retires, USA Today reported Tuesday afternoon. Color me surprised.
Brig. Gen. Ronald F. Lewis was fired in November 2015 as then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s senior military advisor after partying it up with the “locals” at places like Candy Bar Club on “Hooker Hill” in Seoul, South Korea, and the Cica Cica Boom bar in Rome, Italy, before trying to pin the bill on the Department of Defense. At the time, Lewis claimed he didn’t know his conduct was out of line, but a year-long DoD inspector general investigation determined he was actually just full of shit.
The IG report ultimately found that Lewis lied about his actions, misused a government travel charge card, and demonstrated “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman,” the phrase the military likes to use for dudes who party with hookers. The report was released in October 2016, then submitted to the Army to determine Lewis’s punishment.
In February 2017, the Army demoted Lewis by one star to brigadier general, but don’t worry, he’ll still receive an annual pension of about $80,000, after taxes, in his first year out. He did receive a scathing letter of reprimand in his personnel file, which will be relevant until he retires, when no one cares anymore.
But just to make make sure that Lewis lands on his feet when this whole mess is over, the Army refrained from revoking his security clearance, which means he’ll have little issue transitioning into a cushy civilian life as a well-paid defense contractor with the backing of the Army. In fact, that’s exactly why the clearance wasn’t revoked, a defense official told USA Today.
While the strip-club mishaps might make Lewis sound like a just another fun guy with a wild streak, the DoD inspector general also investigated multiple reports of sexual harassment from female subordinates. In August 2015, while traveling with the defense secretary in California, Lewis asked a female enlisted soldier to report to his room to brief him on the day’s events. When she arrived, he was wearing only gym shorts and neglected to don additional clothing while she briefed him. Four months later, in November 2015, Lewis reportedly tried to kiss a female subordinate during another trip to Hawaii. The soldier said she’d had to physically ward off his advances.
Lewis’ punishment from the Army comes in the middle of the Marines United nude-photo-sharing scandal, in which lawmakers and advocates have argued that the military enables a culture that deems the mistreatment, harassment, and assault servicewomen as acceptable.
“If these reports are accurate, I would certainly want hear from the Army about their rationale for this recommendation," Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California, one of the lawmakers leading the charge on sexual assault and harassment in the military since 2013, said in a statement. "The official reprimand by the Army Vice Chief states that Gen. Lewis’ conduct impugns his personal and professional judgment, bringing significant discredit to the Department. Secretary Carter agreed and fired him. If that isn’t disqualifying for a position of trust that requires a security clearance, I don’t know what is.”
Me neither, Jackie. Me neither.
Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.
Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.
"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.
Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.
Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.