Top general is relieved of command for misbehavior


WASHINGTON - Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes has been relieved of his command for "matters of personal conduct," the Army announced yesterday, the first time in a decade that a four-star officer has been stripped of his duties.

The Pentagon offered few details about the decision, although officials said the Pentagon's inspector general for months has been investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by Byrnes. He was sacked Monday as commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, known in military circles as TRADOC.

"The investigation upon which this relief is based is undergoing further review to determine the appropriate final disposition of this matter," the Army said in a brief statement.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker made the decision to relieve Byrnes, Army officials said.

One of only 11 four-star generals in the Army, Byrnes, 55, was in charge of all Army training programs and the development of combat guidelines for soldiers. His position at TRADOC, which gave him command of 33 training schools on 16 Army installations, is considered one of the most prestigious in the Army.

The decision is especially dramatic because Army officials said Byrnes had planned to retire in the fall.

Defense officials said that while the investigation was complete, it was yet to be determined whether Byrnes would be demoted or whether criminal charges will be brought against him.

While generals and admirals are frequently relieved of command, rarely is such drastic action taken against four-star officers. The last time a four-star officer was removed was 1995, when Navy Adm. Richard Macke - head of the U.S. Pacific Command - was forced into early retirement after making comments that three U.S. Marines accused of raping an Okinawan girl should just have hired a prostitute.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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