FORT BENNING BASIC TRAINING BATTALION
Robert C. Howard almost had it made. But as the Army saying goes: "Close, but no cigar."
Closing in on 30 years of service, the former enlisted man could have hoped for a promotion to bird colonel while he still under 50 years of age. Now, the former commanding officer is hoping he keeps his silver oak leaf as he gets ready to retire and go out the back door. His military career is almost assuredly over.
None of the top brass at Fort Benning want to say what really happened. All we were able to get from an Army spokesperson was the usual boilerplate: "He has been relieved for loss of confidence in his ability to command." What we're hearing is a little more detailed.
THIS A POSSIBLE REASON FOR FIRING
Back in August, some of the female trainees started complaining that drill sergeants were coming on to them. All hell broke loose and a bunch of the DI's were suspended. Howard, by virtue of being boss of the 2nd Battalion, 58th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade, came under closer scrutiny and it was determined discipline was getting lax on his watch.
What probably drove the final nail in the light colonel's coffin was his allegedly looking the other way while a first sergeant had an open affair with someone else in the office. That, and the drill instructor complaints, was enough to end Howard's career at the 28-year mark.
The native of Savannah, Ga. started out as an enlisted man with the 82nd Airborne division. He served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Nine years after he signed up, the 47 year-old "Mustang" graduated from the University of Central Florida and was commissioned a second lieutenant.
Whichever way the "sex assault/drill instructor" CID investigation turns out, Howard can only hope his retirement papers will be stamped APPROVED and he can leave the military with his present rank intact.