Allowing torture: OK.
Adultery: Not OK.
Rare Move Follows Allegations
of an Extramarital Affair
By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 10, 2005; A01
In a rare move, the Army relieved a four-star general of his command amid allegations that he had an extramarital affair with a civilian, Army officials said yesterday.
Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes, 55, led the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., where he supervised the recruitment and academic programs at 33 Army schools, from basic training to the war colleges. Byrnes, who several military sources said had a previously unblemished record, was set to retire in November after 36 years of service.
The Army released few details about the decision to relieve one of its 11 four-star generals, with spokesmen saying only that Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, relieved Byrnes of his command on Monday as the result of an investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general. A spokesman said Army officials could find no case of another four-star general being relieved of duty in modern times.
Several defense sources familiar with the case, speaking anonymously because the investigation is not complete, said Byrnes is accused of having an “inappropriate relationship,” and some described him as being involved in an extramarital affair.
Byrnes, reached by telephone at his home yesterday, declined to comment. His defense attorney, Lt. Col. David H. Robertson, said the allegation against Byrnes involves an affair with a private citizen. Byrnes has been separated from his wife since May 2004; their divorce was finalized on Monday, coincidentally the same day he was relieved of command, Robertson said.
“The allegation against him does not involve a relationship with anyone within the military or even the federal government,” Robertson said, emphasizing that the allegations do not involve more than one relationship. “It does not involve anyone on active duty or a civilian in the Department of Defense.”
Having an extramarital affair can be deemed adultery and a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But such cases rarely go to court-martial and usually end in administrative punishment such as a letter of reprimand, according to military lawyers. Relieving a general of his command amid such allegations is extremely unusual, especially given that he was about to retire.
The Army has been hurt over the past year by detainee-abuse cases and has been accused of not going after top officers allegedly involved in such abuse. Army officials said relieving Byrnes was meant to show the public that the service takes issues of integrity seriously.
“We all swear to serve by the highest ideals, and no matter what rank, when you violate them, you are dealt with appropriately,” said one Army officer familiar with the case. “Relief of command is a huge consequence. He’s had an extraordinary career, but at the end of the day, the Army has to hold people accountable for their conduct.” (Emphasis added.)
Footnote Not that it really matters anymore, but note the uncontradicted assertion that no four-star general had previoulsy been releived of duty “in modern times.” I’d like to invite all the people who pretended to believe that Wesley Clark’s non-reappointment as SACEUR was the same thing as being relived of duty, and then called him a liar when he denied it, to go off in a quiet corner and strangle themselves.
Update An alert reader points me to this AP story naming two other recent cases in which officers of four-star rank were relieved: one Air Force General and Admiral.