Fort Benning Commander Fired After Drill Sergeant Investigation

The Army has fired the commander of one of its first gender-integrated infantry training unit in the wake of drill sergeant misconduct connected to female trainees.

Lt. Col. Robert C. Howard, 47, a native of Savannah, Georgia, was relieved from his command of the 2nd Battalion, 58th Inf. Regt., one of two units inside the 198th Inf. Bde training female infantry soldiers, for “a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” according to Fort Benning spokesman Ben Garrett.

Fort Benning officials refused further comment and follow-up questions, citing privacy concerns.

However, sources in the brigade and battalion have contacted USAWTFM over the past week to detail a slew of offenses and unprofessional activity.  Much of this activity was attributed to Howard’s “lackadaisical leadership style,” according to one source who requested anonymity – another described the command climate as the result of “absentee fatherhood.”

A drill sergeant from 2-58 described the “litany of offenses” that led to Howard’s firing:

  • An adulterous relationship in the battalion between a married first sergeant and another married cadre member, a junior enlisted soldier
  • An overall lack of supervision in the training environment during the earlier portions of training, known as “red” and “white” phase, where trainees would be left to the supervision of one drill sergeant after the day’s training events were complete, a situation known as “CQ in effect”
  • Lack of enforcement of standards under the so-called “Brave and Bold” rules in the brigade

The weight of all of these situations would alone be enough to trigger a relief, according to a Fort Benning official who spoke with USAWTFM anonymously because he is not authorized to speak about this incident on the record.

“Those factors were all nails in Howard’s coffin, but the hammer that drove those nails was the initial report of the drill sergeant misconduct. None of these issues would have seen the light of day without the splash of the sexual misconduct allegations.”

“In a way, they really did us a favor,” the source said, in allowing the larger picture to emerge.

While Howard is the most high-profile member of the command to lose his job, his is not the only personnel action on Sand Hill, the area of Fort Benning that houses infantry and armor training units.

A number of drill sergeants, the noncommissioned officers responsible for the day-to-day training of new soldiers, have been administratively moved in and around the battalion, according to a drill sergeant with personal knowledge of the moves.

Howard’s current status and duty position is unknown. The former enlisted soldier has 19 years of commissioned service in the infantry, and has service at Fort Bragg and Fort Stewart.  He is a veteran of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom, according to his official biography.