The Pentagon’s top brass has dealt another blow to a decorated Army officer who was fired last year as a war college instructor because of his teachings about radical Islam, his attorney told The Washington Times.
A four-star general’s rejection of Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley for consideration for command of a combat battalion likely means the end of a promising Army career of an armor officer who was decorated for valor in Iraq and received glowing evaluations.
Last year, Col. Dooley underwent an Army command selection board review after he was transferred from the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., to a weapons integration unit at Fort Eustis, Va.
The review board, comprising three generals and two colonels, voted to keep Col. Dooley as a candidate for battalion commander, his attorney, Richard Thompson, told The Times.
The board, however, was overruled by Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, then the Army’s vice chief and now chief of U.S. Central Command. He ordered Col. Dooley’s name removed from the candidates list, said Mr. Thompson, who added that he had read the “official use only” memo.
News of Col. Dooley’s setback has emerged as some researchers of radical Islam are criticizing the Obama administration for downplaying the Islamic connection in a string of attempted and successful terrorist attacks, including the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.
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Mr. Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan, said the blame for Col. Dooley’s treatment ultimately belongs to Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Dempsey publicly condemned Col. Dooley’s teachings and set into motion investigations that resulted in his firing.
“When he entered West Point, Matt Dooley’s ultimate goal was to one day command a battalion,” Mr. Thompson said. “But after 18 years of hard work, family sacrifice, six deployments and outstanding officer evaluations, Matt’s dream was shattered by Gen. Dempsey.
“Yet, despite Gen. Dempsey’s personal attacks on LTC Dooley, a command review board consisting of generals and colonels voted to retain LTC Dooley on the list for battalion command. But political correctness once again dominated the Pentagon. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff, directed that LTC Dooley’s name be removed from the Command List. Sadly, a principle of leadership — loyalty to the men who are loyal to you — is once again ignored. And violation of that principle in this case not only results in a miscarriage of justice to a loyal and patriotic officer, but deprives our nation of a proven combat commander.”
The Times asked Army public affairs for comment but received no response.
A spokesman for Gen. Dempsey previously told The Times that Col. Dooley’s training materials were “academically irresponsible.”
Col. Dooley’s downfall began in October 2011 with a letter sent by 57 American Islamic organizations to John O. Brennan, then President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser and now CIA director.
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The groups, which include two tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, which calls for global Islamic law, demanded that the government scrub its teaching on Islam. The White House complied.
The National Defense University, which oversees the Joint Forces Staff College and approved Col. Dooley’s presentation, did not find fault with his curriculum.
But a student later complained directly to the Pentagon, and Gen. Dempsey ordered an investigation that resulted in the colonel’s firing and a mandated poor officer evaluation last year.
One of the complaints was that the colonel advocated total war against Islam. Mr. Thompson said the charge is untrue. A guest lecturer talked of war as one scenario should radical Islamists obtain nuclear weapons.
The university’s faculty handbook states that students and teachers may express opinions “free of limitations, restraints or coercion by the University or external environment,” and that “no subject or issue is considered taboo.”
Mr. Thompson said Col. Dooley is pursuing an administrative appeal inside the Army. If that fails, his grievance will be decided in federal court.
Col. Dooley’s latest officer evaluation, based on his work at Fort Eustis, awarded him the highest rating — “best qualified” — for promotion to colonel.
“I rank Matt #1 of the 5 lieutenant colonels I rate,” his supervisor wrote. “Leveraging his superb leadership skills, tactical expertise and attention to detail, LTC Dooley quickly established himself a consummate expert on key lethality capabilities in the Army and across the Joint community.”