The Army has suspended the officer who ran the missile defense unit at Fort Greely, Ala., following an investigation into whether he condoned an atmosphere of sexual misconduct within the unit.
Lt. Col. Joseph Miley was suspended from command of the 49 th Missile Defense Battalion, based at the remote outpost in eastern Alaska.
The unit of Alaska National Guardsmen operates the ground-based missile interceptors that are capable of shooting down any intercontinental ballistic missiles headed for the West Coast.
The investigation into Miley's conduct was initiated on Jan. 9 after several soldiers in his unit stepped forward and alleged that he had condoned fraternization and extramarital affairs among the soldiers under his command. Adultery is a crime under the military's Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Miley's suspension was announced in a statement from the Army's Space and Missile Command, which along with the Alaska National Guard conducted a joint investigation into the allegations. The Alaska National Guard unit reports to the Army while on active duty.
"LTC Miley's command status will be determined, following a final legal and commander review of the investigation findings and recommendations, subsequent approval of the investigation report, and due process for the suspended officer," said a statement released Tuesday by Army Space and Missile Command. Miley's executive officer has been appointed as the unit's acting commander.
"During this period, the brigade leadership will be at Fort Greely to ensure continuity of operations for this strategically important mission."
Bloomberg News Service was first to report in May that Miley was under investigation.
Miley becomes the second Army officer in a week suspended from command because of an investigation involving sexual misconduct under their command.
On Friday, Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison, the general in charge of U.S. forces in Japan was suspended from his duties due to allegations that Harrison failed to report or properly investigate an allegation of sexual assault.
Sexual assault in the military has become a hot-button issue in Washington following a series of high-profile cases and new Pentagon statistics indicating a significant increase in the number of estimated cases of unwanted sexual contact.
On Monday, Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told a summit of senior Army officials gathered to deal with sexual assault that too many soldiers do not think there is a sexual assault problem in their commands.
Odierno said that when he travels to units, he often finds commanders who tell him, "I don't have a problem here, there is no problem in my platoon, there is no problem in my company, there is no problem in my battalion."
"That's baloney," said Odierno. "That's the problem. We're not seeing ourselves. I'm an all-male unit; I don't have a problem."
"That's not right," he said. "In fact, you probably have some perpetrators, probably have some predators and you probably have some males who have probably been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed."
Odierno listed five imperatives that needed to be communicated throughout the Army to tackle sexual assault, among them, "We got to hold individuals, units and commanders and leaders accountable."