Female drill sergeant fights removal

Claims probe motivated by sexism, racism

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COLUMBIA, S.C. | The first woman to command the Army’s drill sergeant training took legal action Monday to reclaim her job, saying she was improperly suspended last year because of sexism and racism and demanding that two of her superiors be investigated for abuse of their authority.

Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King still does not know exactly what conduct of hers was being investigated by her superiors when they suspended her Nov. 29, according to her attorney, James Smith.

Stephanie Slater, a command spokeswoman, refused to elaborate to Army Times and other media outlets when the suspension became public knowledge in December, citing the ongoing investigation and privacy issues.

But Mr. Smith on Monday filed a legal complaint with the Army against two of his client’s superiors, and he wants to have her reinstated to her position. Mr. Smith is also asking South Carolina’s two senior members of Congress, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. James Clyburn, for a congressional probe.

Army officials said they wanted to study the complaint first before commenting.

Command Sgt. Maj. King, who is black, made headlines in 2009 when the Army named her as the first woman to head the Drill Sergeant School at Fort Jackson, S.C., the Army’s largest training installation.

Mr. Smith has statements from her deputy at the school and an Army colonel who worked with her contending she is a victim of sexism and racism on the part of soldiers who resented her promotion and the national attention it drew.

“It’s abundantly clear that there was nothing to warrant her removal. The Army should reinstate her and restore her honorable name,” Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith, who has handled military legal cases as an executive officer in the National Guard, said Army regulations require that investigations must be handled “expeditiously” and the investigation in this instance has gone on far too long.

The complaint was filed against Maj. Gen. Richard Longo, who ordered the suspension, and his top enlisted aide, Command Sgt. Maj. John Calpena. Emails sent to the two for comment were not immediately answered.

At the time of the decision, Gen. Longo was the head of the Army’s basic and advanced military training at the Training and Doctrine Command, which has responsibility for the drill sergeant school. He now is serving in Afghanistan.

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