The head of an Army unit operating the primary U.S. missile-defense system has been suspended after an investigation into allegations that he overlooked sexual affairs and promoted a pinup calendar featuring scantily clad female soldiers.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Miley was suspended today by Lieutenant General Richard Formica, commander of the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command, according to John Cummings, a spokesman for the Huntsville, Alabama-based command.
Miley is commander of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, a remote base in Alaska. The Space and Missile Defense Command received two sets of allegations involving misconduct at the battalion -- the first in August and the second in January -- before it opened a joint inquiry with the Alaska National Guard, Marco Morales, a spokesman for the command, said in an e-mail last month.
The allegations surfaced amid an uproar over a surge in sexual-assault allegations in the military that President Barack Obama has described as “shameful and disgraceful.” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told graduates at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point last month that they must build a “culture of respect” to stop “these debilitating, insidious and destructive forces.”
Miley was suspended after the Army and the Alaska National Guard reviewed preliminary findings provided on June 7, Cummings said in an e-mailed statement. Miley’s final status will be determined following a final review, Cummings said. He didn’t discuss the allegations or the findings of the investigation.
Miley said in a Jan. 4 meeting that adultery isn’t punishable under military law, according to soldiers who complained in an e-mail two days later to Formica.
“The modern military is an environment where sexual misconduct is commonplace,” Miley said at the meeting, according to comments cited in the e-mail and confirmed by one of the people who was in the audience. Bloomberg News obtained a copy of the e-mail, which was unsigned, and the account was confirmed by three people who worked on the base and are familiar with the events.
The service already was looking into Miley for promoting the World War II-style pinup calendar with photos of his wife and scantily clad female soldiers, when it received the anonymous complaint from the soldiers.
The calendar was sold to raise funds for the American Cancer Society’s “Relay For Life,” the Army Times newspaper reported in March, quoting a spokesman for the Space and Missile Defense Command.
Other military units around the country also have sold pinup calendars featuring military spouses and soldiers to raise money for veterans, the newspaper said.
Fort Greely, about 250 miles (402 kilometers) northeast of Anchorage, is home to 26 interceptors that are part of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system intended to shoot down long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles such as the ones that North Korea and Iran are suspected of developing.
While the system managed by Chicago-based Boeing Co. hasn’t successfully intercepted a test target since December 2008, Hagel reinforced their role in a potential attack when he announced in March plans to spend $1 billion adding 14 more interceptors at Fort Greely by 2017.
The isolated base is portrayed on its website as the “home of the rugged professional,” who’s likely to come upon a moose or fox amid snow-capped mountains. The town of Fort Greely has a population of 539, according to U.S. Census data, and the winters are so cold it’s the location of the military’s Cold Regions Test Center for winter warfare.
© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.