Army reserve commander suspended during investigation

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MADISON, CLEAR. (AP) – The US Army Reserve suspended the commanding officer of an Illinois-based unit on Tuesday as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations that unit officials were wrongly handling complaints of sexual misconduct and retaliating against a whistleblower.

Lieutenant General Charles Luckey, commander general of the Army Reserve Command, suspended the commander of the 416th Theater Engineering Command, the army said. The commander was not named by name in the statement, but the unit’s website lists Major General Miyako Schanely as its leader.

The 416th’s spokesman, Jason Proseus, did not immediately return an email outside office hours on Tuesday evening.

According to Schanely’s biography, she joined the military in 1986, transferred to reserves in 1993, and held command positions with units in Fort Drum, Fort Leonard Wood, and Fort Dix, as well as in Syracuse, New York. She is also the Executive Director of the State University of New York North Country Consortium, a partnership of six SUNY campuses that works to bring university programs to Fort Drum.

According to the military statement, such suspensions are routine during ongoing investigations. However, it added that a “number of potentially adverse findings” have been linked to the 416th officers. In the statement, the officers were not elaborated or mentioned, but only that the officers are entitled to free representation when preparing their answers.

The statement said the military is “committed to preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault, each of which harms soldiers and affects the preparedness and cohesion of the unit.”

Army spokeswoman Colonel Sunset Belinsky said she would have no further information until the investigation is completed.

Based in the suburb of Darien in Chicago, the 416th provides engineering and technical support for U.S. forces. It serves as headquarters for nearly 11,000 soldiers in 26 states west of the Mississippi.

Amy Braley Franck, a civilian sexual abuse advocate at the 416th, has alleged that commanders have initiated internal investigations into at least two cases of sexual assault, one in 2018 and another last year. Federal law and the Department of Defense policy require commanders to refer assault complaints to officers in their respective branches to avoid biased investigations. Commanders who do not follow the correct channels may face reprimands, dismissals, or court-martial.

The top commander of the Wisconsin National Guard, Adj. General Donald Dunbar resigned in December after a federal investigation revealed that he had initiated internal investigations into sexual violence, rather than forwarding complaints to the National Guard Bureau. It is still under investigation by the Air Force.

Braley Franck has also alleged that the 416th months had passed without a meeting on sexual violence management, although the DOD requires such meetings monthly, and unit commanders also placed a victim on a firing range with someone accused of sexual assault. harassment, causing her to fear for her life.

Braley Franck’s commanders suspended her in November for what she said was retaliation for alerting officers to the internal probes.

The Army Reserve initiated an investigation into the 416th in January at the request of Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth. In their request, the senators cited an Associated Press story about Braley Franck’s allegations.

Assistants for Durbin and Duckworth did not immediately respond to an email outside office hours on Tuesday evening.

Braley Franck said that Schanely and other 416th commanders have ignored her allegations and that victims of sexual misconduct do not trust them.

“Any commander who ignores a subject matter expert to improve their formation, their soldiers will not trust them,” she said. “If soldiers don’t trust their leaders to take care of them, they don’t trust them on the battlefield.”

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Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1

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This story has been corrected to attribute suspension information, including a quote, to a statement by the military rather than the army commanding general.

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