Army Reveals It Fired Female Commander in Troubled Brigade After Claims of Sexual Assaults on Male Soldiers

A female Army officer was fired from command of a unit based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord amid allegations of multiple sexual assaults against several male subordinates and a pattern of sexual harassment, according to a service spokesperson.

Col. Meghann Sullivan served as commander of the 5th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade, at the base in Washington state. She was relieved of command Oct. 13, but this is the first time her firing has been reported.

Military.com first reported on her suspension and the subsequent investigation into her conduct in April. That reporting was part of the publication’s investigation into the 5th SFAB, which uncovered potentially systemic issues with counterproductive leadership and performance and morale struggles among its rank and file.

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The investigation into the 5th SFAB included reviewing an unredacted command climate survey in addition to hundreds of internal Army emails, voice recordings, videos and text messages. The brigade’s commander, Col. Jonathan Chung, was later fired and left the service.

Sullivan, who did not immediately return a request for comment, is still in the service and was reassigned to I Corps, based out of the same installation. She is seemingly not facing a court-martial, according to a Military.com review of the public-facing court docket. It was unclear whether she had hired an attorney.

The former commander faced allegations of assaulting at least two male subordinates and harassing several others, with some of those incidents allegedly tied to alcohol abuse, according to one source with direct knowledge of the situation. One of those instances allegedly involved forcefully kissing one of the males, and grabbing another below the belt without his consent.

Male victims account for 10% of sexual assault cases in the military, according to 2022 data from the Department of Defense, though male reporting of sexual assault is seen by the Pentagon as underreported due to societal stigma. Women make up 6% of sexual harassment offenders, which is also likely underreported, the bulk of those being junior enlisted.

Women offenders who are also senior officers are so rare that they do not appear in most of the DoD’s reporting on offender statistics. Meanwhile, senior male officers account for 8% of offenders. However, the DoD’s data paints an incomplete picture of offender demographics. Some data on assaults and harassments does not meaningfully break down ranks or genders of offenders.

Sullivan was the first woman to take command of an SFAB battalion.

Those new units, created between 2017 and 2020, work with established foreign allied forces, assist in training, and develop ways the U.S. can partner with those forces.

The unique units sport a brown beret and “advisor” tab. Each SFAB focuses on a specific region, with the 5th SFAB’s area of responsibility being the Pacific. It partners with Australia, Japan, Mongolia and other nations that could be critical in a conflict with China.

Related: Inside One of the Army’s Most Chaotic Brigades

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