General to move to post in Ga. APG ordnance chief's shift amid sex scandal is routine, Army says


The commanding general of Aberdeen Proving Ground's Ordnance Center and School, where prohibited relationships between drill sergeants and trainees sparked the worst sex scandal in Army history, is being shifted to a post in Georgia with his career untarnished.

Army officials characterized Maj. Gen. Robert D. Shadley's move to Fort McPherson outside Atlanta as a routine, lateral transfer.

But critics -- including some Congress members -- denounced the reassignment, expected to occur this summer. The move comes amid a growing chorus of complaints that the Army is not holding commanders of the ordnance center accountable for rampant sexual misconduct.

"In the military, we stopped holding people accountable many years ago," said John Hillen, a former Army captain and gulf war veteran who is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"The higher the rank, the more you get looked out for. We do not seek the strict accountability that command relies upon," he said.

Shadley's reassignment to become director of logistics for the U.S. Army Forces Command follows Monday's surprise retirement announcement by Maj. Gen. John E. Longhouser, Aberdeen's post commander. He decided to retire after admitting he had an affair five years ago while separated from his wife.

Shadley, 54, could still be punished for his failure to detect rampant sexual misconduct among his staff and female trainees sooner.

Next week, a review panel is expected to report to Army Secretary Togo West on the Aberdeen command and other issues that could have led to sexual misconduct at the school. The Army's inspector general is also investigating.

Lt. Col. William Harkey, an Army spokesman, called Shadley's reassignment "a normal rotation. This has nothing to do with what's going on at Aberdeen. [Review panel members] are getting at the accountability question. If something comes up, we will take care of it."

Shadley's new post is for a two-star general, his current rank. It is considered a lateral move for the 32-year Army veteran, who served in Vietnam and has received six military decorations.

Shadley said yesterday in a written statement: "Being the Chief of Ordnance has been a professionally rewarding experience for me. While there are some recent concerns about a small fraction of our corps, the reputation for hard work and diligence established by the Ordnance Corps for the past 185 years is intact."

He added: "The majority of our Ordnance family, from the drill sergeants teaching and training our newest soldiers, to those who support and maintain our Army in the field, to those who are designing and testing the Ordnance Corps and the Army of the next millennium, are honest dedicated professionals."

Brig. Gen. Thomas R. Dickinson, commanding general of the 13th Corps Support Command, Fort Hood, Texas, will replace Shadley.

Shadley, who completed training three decades ago at Aberdeen, became commander of the ordnance school in August 1995. A year later, he and the 61st Ordnance Brigade commander, Col. Dennis Webb, noticed an alarming rise in the number of sexual misconduct complaints filed by female soldiers at the school.

Army investigators were called in, setting off what has become a militarywide search for sexual misconduct in the ranks. Since November, more than 20 Aberdeen instructors have been implicated in the scandal.

Twelve former drill sergeants and instructors have been criminally charged, including three who have been convicted in courts-martial and sentenced to jail time. In the biggest case, a military jury convicted Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson of raping six female soldiers who trained at the school between March 1995 and September 1996. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Shadley's reassignment is the second major move this week at Aberdeen. Longhouser, who as post commander was, in effect, dTC the ordnance school's landlord, handed over command to Maj. Gen. George E. Friel on Tuesday.

As Aberdeen commander, Longhouser had the authority to convene courts-martial at the post. But most of the criminal misconduct that has plagued Aberdeen since January 1994 occurred within Shadley's direct chain of command.

"If I ran that ship I would have had those guys in once a week, talking to the troops, and making sure that none of this would have happened with men and women training together," said Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Kennedyville Republican and former Marine sergeant. "What . . . happened there? They should go ahead and transfer him. He didn't do his job."

Added Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Republican who has been a frequent critic of the Aberdeen command: "I do believe that military leaders must accept some responsibility for the terrible things that happened there. Simply sweeping the problem south is no solution."

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Johnson, vice president of the National Organization for Women, said Shadley's reassignment without punishment is the latest example of the military not holding officers accountable for criminal behavior of their troops.

"It's been military tradition that the ultimate person responsible was your commander," she said. "As with Tailhook, the commander at Aberdeen is getting away with not being held responsible."

Pub Date: 6/05/97

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