Generals’ Retirement Rules Changed
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Army has changed its procedures for allowing generals to retire _ a change made because of a case that is still under investigation by the Pentagon’s general counsel, a Defense Department spokesman said Tuesday.
The case involves the Army’s former deputy inspector general, Maj. Gen. David Hale, who was allowed to retire by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis Reimer, even though Hale was being investigated for possible improper conduct.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have questioned whether a double standard exists for higher-level officers such as Hale who are allowed to quietly retire, while lower-ranking military service men and women have faced harsher treatment amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Army officials have decided that ``from now on, there has to be full disclosure of any problems or allegations that a person may be facing at the time he or she requests retirement,″ spokesman Kenneth Bacon told reporters at a Pentagon briefing.
Bacon said acting Army Secretary Michael Walker ordered the change several weeks ago. The change was not announced by Army officials.
Bacon said the Pentagon general counsel’s investigation into the ``Army procedures″ that permitted Hale to retire had not yet been completed.
Defense Secretary William Cohen asked for the general counsel’s probe earlier this year after reports surfaced about Reimer’s decision.
``The Army has already made some changes in its procedures. ... There could be more made as a result of this review,″ Bacon said, indicating that the Pentagon might make such a policy a requirement for other service branches, as well.
Even though the general counsel’s investigation is not yet finished, Bacon insisted that Reimer’s actions were not the focus of the investigation.
``This investigation is not focusing on the activity of one person. It’s not focusing on Gen. Reimer. It is focusing on procedures,″ said spokesman Kenneth Bacon.
Queried whether that also meant the Reimer did not then face any potential punitive action, Bacon replied: ``That’s correct.″
Reimer said in an interview with NBC earlier this year that he approved Hale’s retirement even though he was aware some allegations had been lodged against Hale. Reimer said he was told it was possible to recall Hale, should there be any need to take action against him. However, the Army has never taken such a step, officials said.
On Monday, a separate investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general concluded that Hale ``engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behavior″ with the wives of four subordinates while he was the top American military officer at a NATO base in Turkey.
Hale also sanctioned the misuse of government funds for travel and made ``false and misleading statements″ to investigators and Pentagon officials, said the report by Defense Department Inspector General Eleanor Hill.
A copy of the 49-page report was obtained Monday by The Associated Press and released Tuesday by the Pentagon.
The allegations involve a period from 1996 to 1997 while Hale was stationed in Turkey as the deputy commanding general for NATO land forces in southeastern Europe.
The Army announced last week that it was opening a criminal investigation of Hale, 53, who retired earlier this year after serving only four months as the Army’s deputy inspector general.
He has not been available for comment.
The inspector general’s report, however, said Hale ``strongly denied all the allegations of inappropriate conduct,″ while acknowledging a ``relationship that he maintained with the former spouse of a subordinate Army officer who served with him in Hawaii.″