- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2005

The Army has taken the extraordinary step of relieving a four-star general, with military sources citing sexual misconduct as the reason.

An official announcement yesterday did not specify why Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes, 52, was removed from his command of all soldier training and doctrine development, but two retired Army officers said it was for having an extramarital affair.

Adultery is illegal in the military, constituting conduct unbecoming an officer. The sources said they think the woman was not a subordinate of Gen. Byrnes at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Va.

It is rare in modern times for the Army to relieve a four-star general. President Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had five stars, over differences in fighting the Korean War. The first Bush administration fired Army Gen. Frederick Woerner Jr. in 1989 for not standing up to Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.

Gen. Byrnes, one of 11 four-star Army generals, was nearing the end of a three-year term at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command when Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, relieved him of command yesterday after a Pentagon inspector general’s investigation. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld picked Lt. Gen. William Wallace, a ground commander in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, to succeed Gen. Byrnes. His nomination is pending in the Senate.

Gen. Byrnes faces the possibility he may retire at a lower rank, forfeiting tens of thousands of dollars in retirement pay.

Retired officers, who asked not to be named, said Gen. Byrnes had been under investigation for some time and had been in the throes of a divorce.

They expressed dismay at Gen. Byrnes, for whom a number of officers went to bat in 2002 when Mr. Rumsfeld threatened to end his career at lieutenant general.

Mr. Rumsfeld was upset at Gen. Byrnes for fighting proposed troop cuts being outlined by the defense secretary’s aide, Stephen Cambone.

Then-Army Secretary Thomas White and top generals interceded and convinced Mr. Rumsfeld to keep him. Shortly thereafter, Gen. Byrnes won nomination to a fourth star and the TRADOC command.

“I’m damn mad,” said a retired general who supported Gen. Byrnes. “People went to the mat to get him promoted. … Now Rumsfeld can say, ‘I told you so. I saw something you didn’t.’”

A brief statement from Army headquarters said, “On Aug. 8, the Chief of Staff of the Army directed the relief of Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes from his position as commanding general, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. The investigation upon which this relief is based is undergoing further review to determine the appropriate final disposition of this matter.”

An Army spokesman said the firing was for “matters of personal conduct.”

Since 1990, two four-star officers in other services have been relieved for missteps. Gen. Michael Dugan, Air Force chief of staff, was fired by the first President Bush for openly discussing plans in 1990 for bombing Iraq. In 1995, Adm. Richard C. Macke, was fired as Pacific commander for indiscreet remarks about the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese girl by U.S. Marines.

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