The U.S. army has revealed that it has dismissed a female commander in charge of a troubled brigade over alleged sexual assaults on male soldiers.
The female Army officer lost command of a unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord over allegations of multiple sexual assaults against male subordinates and a pattern of sexual harassment, as reported by a service spokesperson.
Colonel Meghann Sullivan, the commander of the 5th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade at the Washington state base, was relieved of command on October 13th, with this being the first public report of her firing.
Investigation into 5th SFAB leadership
In April, Military.com initially reported her suspension and the subsequent investigation into her conduct. The investigation into the 5th SFAB uncovered potential systemic issues with counterproductive leadership, performance, and morale issues among its personnel.
The inquiry into the 5th SFAB involved reviewing internal Army communications, including emails, recordings, videos, and text messages. Colonel Jonathan Chung, the brigade’s commander, was later dismissed.
Sullivan, who did not respond to immediate requests for comment, remains in the military and has been reassigned to I Corps at the same installation. Based on Military.com’s public court docket review, she appears not to be facing a court-martial, and it’s uncertain whether she has retained legal representation.
Allegations against the former commander included assaulting at least two male subordinates and harassing others. According to a source familiar with the matter, some of the incidents were reportedly linked with alcohol abuse. One alleged incident involved forcefully kissing a male subordinate, and another included an unwanted below-the-belt grab.
While the military’s 2022 Department of Defense data shows that male victims account for 10% of sexual assault cases, societal stigma is considered a reason for the underreporting by men. Women comprise 6% of sexual harassment offenders, predominantly among junior enlisted personnel. Data on assaults and harassment often lacks detailed breakdowns of offender demographics.
Sullivan was the first woman to command an SFAB battalion. Established between 2017 and 2020, SFABs collaborate with allied forces, aid in training, and devise collaboration strategies with foreign forces. The 5th SFAB focuses on the Pacific region, partnering with nations like Australia and Japan in potential conflicts involving China.