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The adjutant general of the Kansas National Guard who both retained the department's top command position in 2017 despite a damaging internal investigation of leadership shortcomings and survived last year's transition to a Democratic governor plans to step down in March, officials said Monday.
Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, a former Republican legislator elevated to adjutant general in 2011 by then-Gov. Sam Brownback, remained on the job after Gov. Laura Kelly was sworn into office in 2019.
Tafanelli's scheduled departure March 31 was referred to by the governor as a "planned resignation."
‘If he was on the battlefield, he probably would’ve been shot in the back’— Inside the toxic command of Air Force Lt. Gen. Lee Levy
There are good leaders and bad leaders, and then there are leaders whose command climates are so toxic and humiliating that they make deployments seem like a cakewalk. Air Force Lt. Gen. Lee Levy II was in the third category, according to a recent Inspector General report.
The 80-page report was unwavering in its condemnation of Levy, who, as head of the Air Force Sustainment Center based in Tinker Air Force Base, was responsible for nearly 43,000 airmen, multiple supply chain wings and air base wings, and nearly two dozen operating locations both within and outside the continental US. But all that authority couldn't stop those directly under his command from hating his guts.
"I think if he was in the battlefield, he probably would've been shot in the back," said one witness, whose sentiment "was expressed by virtually every member of Lt. Gen. Levy's [redacted]," the report said. In total, 35 of Levy's subordinates and other witnesses were interviewed.
A Vietnam vet found covered in ant bites is forcing the Atlanta VA to finally reckon with years of dangerous practices
Dawn Brys got an early taste of the crisis unfolding at the largest Veterans Affairs hospital in the Southeast.
The Air Force vet said she went to the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur last year for surgery on a broken foot. But the doctor called it off because the surgical instruments hadn't been properly sterilized.
"The tools had condensation on them," recalled Brys, a 50-year-old Marietta resident. The doctor rescheduled it for the next day.
Now the 400-plus-bed hospital on Clairmont Road that serves about 120,000 military veterans is in a state of emergency. It suspended routine surgeries in late September after a string of incidents that exposed mismanagement and dangerous practices. It hopes to resume normal operations by early November as it struggles to retrain staff and hire new nurses.
The partial shutdown came about two weeks after Joel Marrable, a cancer patient in the same VA complex, was found covered with more than 100 ant bites by his daughter. Also in September, the hospital's canteen was temporarily closed for a pest investigation.
The mounting problems triggered a leadership shakeup Sept. 17, when regional director Leslie Wiggins was put on administrative leave. Dr. Arjay K. Dhawan, the regional medical director, was moved to administrative duties pending an investigation. Seven staff members were reassigned to non-patient care.
The only question for some military veterans and staff is why the VA waited so long. They say problems existed for years under Wiggins' leadership, but little was done.
Recently, the term “toxic leadership” has broken into mainstream culture. Where it used to mainly occupy wardrooms, ready rooms, and professional journals, it’s now entered the lexicon of pop psychology and management consultants. The military, to its credit, has devoted much time and energy to the study of leadership, probably much more than the civilian world. It has been trying to address the toxic leadership problem for years, with little success.