COLUMB IA, SC — The commanding officer of Fort Jackson, the Army’s largest basic training base, has been suspended after allegations of misconduct, according to the Army.
Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts is accused of adultery and being involved in a physical altercation, Harvey Perritt, the spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command in Virginia, said in a release Tuesday. The 29-year veteran was suspended by Gen. Robert W. Cone after the allegations were revealed, but the exact circumstances were not released.
Mike Pond, Fort’s Jackson’s public information officer, declined to comment.
Roberts, a one-star general, took command of the base in April 2012 after the retirement of Maj. Gen. James M. “Mike” Milano. Before that, he oversaw training of Iraqi security forces.
The general also served as the deputy commander of U.S. Army recruiting command at Fort Knox, Ky., and as the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team with the 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood. Roberts also worked at the White House’s military office and on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.
He is the 45th commanding general in Fort Jackson’s 95-year history. He and his wife, Cassandra, have two sons and one daughter.
Retired Col. Angelo Perri, who has known every Fort Jackson commander since 1966 and has been actively involved at the fort for decades, had lunch with Roberts on Monday.
“There was no hint or rumor that I picked up that there was anything wrong,” he said.
Perri described Roberts as “affable, gregarious, likeable and highly respected by all his subordinates. The year or so he’s been in command he’s done so many good things,” including the rehabilitation of Hilton Field parade ground and the Fort Jackson Museum.
Retired Maj. Gen. William “Dutch” Holland, the executive coordinator for the S.C. Military Base Task Force, wasn’t aware of Roberts’ suspension until late Tuesday afternoon. He said he doesn’t think the suspension will interfere with Fort Jackson’s mission.
“The mission will continue regardless of the outcome of this,” said Holland, who was an Air Force two-star general.
“Everybody recognizes that it is the best place for the mission they’ve got regardless of who is in that position.”
Ike McLeese, the chief executive of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the state’s civilian liaison to the Secretary of the Army, was briefed by Fort Jackson officials on Tuesday. He called the suspension “unfortunate.”
“The only thing I can say is I regret it happened and that (Roberts) and the Army have to deal with this,” McLeese said. “I just hope that whatever is the right thing for the Army will happen.”
Roberts’ suspension is the latest incident in a string of misconduct allegations involving high-ranking military officials.
Just this month, three high-ranking officers tasked with preventing sexual assault were accused of misbehavior. In early May, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the chief of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention program, was arrested in northern Virginia on allegations that he drunkenly grabbed a woman’s breasts and buttocks. Another officer, Lt. Col. Darin Haas, turned himself in for stalking his ex-wife and violating a restraining officer. And another, an unnamed officer at Fort Hood’s sexual assault prevention office, has been accused of abusive sexual conduct and forcing at least one female officer into prostitution.
In another incident of military misconduct late last year, former Army commander Gen. David Petraeus had to resign from his post as director of the CIA after it was revealed that he had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
NBC News, citing an unnamed U.S. military official, reported that Roberts allegedly argued with a woman he is accused of having an affair with and bit her lip while they were making up, causing her to seek medical help.
As the claims against Roberts are investigated, Brig. Gen. Peggy C. Combs will take over as Fort Jackson’s interim commander. Combs is the commandant of the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
More than 50,000 new soldiers graduate from Fort Jackson each year, including 70 percent of the Army’s female soldiers. The base also is home to the Army’s drill sergeant school and chaplain school, among other missions.
Perri also said the suspension should have no affect on training at the fort.
“Fort Jackson is run by the colonels and the sergeants,” he said. “The training will get done, and it will get done in an excellent manner.”
He added: “In South Carolina we had Mark Sanford, and in the Army we had David Petraeus, so nothing shocks me too much anymore.”