The commander of Fort Bragg has barred the wife of an 82nd Airborne Division colonel from nearly all interaction with her husband's brigade and the unit's families after an investigation found her influence "detrimental to the morale and well-being of both."Am I a bad person for laughing after I read this?
Sworn statements from the investigation, ordered in January by Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, accuse Col. Brian Drinkwine's wife, Leslie Drinkwine, of using her husband's position as leverage to repeatedly harass and threaten soldiers and their families.
Spillman's findings hold Col. Drinkwine partially responsible for his wife's behavior at Fort Bragg.Knowing the personality type in question; good luck with that Col. Drinkwine. Then again, it sounds like the problem is only partially hers.
Spillman calls Col. Drinkwine the "key enabler" of his wife's actions because he failed to dispel the perception that she had a level of authority similar to his own.
"At least three commanders approached Col. Drinkwine with issues they were having," Spillman wrote in the report. "Yet there is no evidence that he took steps to moderate her behavior."
In March of last year, before the brigade deployed, all six battalion commanders serving under Col. Drinkwine's command went to his office together to talk to him about his wife.Yikes.
At that meeting, according to their sworn statements, Col. Drinkwine dismissed their complaints and told them that the relationship between his wife and their wives was a senior-to-subordinate relationship. He reiterated that his wife speaks for him.
"Although he made the statement within the context of FRG-related business, this and (Dr. Drinkwine's) repeated reiteration of this statement to commanders and spouses clearly contributed to the perception that, by extension as the brigade commander's wife and within the context of FRG activities, she held a level of authority that resembled command authority," Spillman wrote in his report.
Spillman said Col. Drinkwine not only failed to dispel that perception in the March meeting with his battalion commanders but he "in fact worsened it."
In one instance in which an Army major said she threatened his career, Dr. Drinkwine said she merely mentioned that she would talk to her husband about their disagreement. She said she doesn't see how anyone could construe that as a threat.What a train wreck. That poor Brigade. It looks like they have strawberry problems as well.
Dr. Drinkwine told Spillman during the investigation that the stress of the situation and the demands of raising two children were weighing heavily on her.
Col. Drinkwine has supporters.Finally, the nuclear option.
Lt. Col. Kelly Ivanoff, who was the brigade's deputy commanding officer from June 2008 to June 2009, said the problems came from the bottom up, not the top down. "The resistance put forth by some of the battalions is nearly equivalent to a mutiny," Ivanoff wrote in a sworn statement.
Helmick, who took command of Fort Bragg in November, said he was told that the former Fort Bragg commander, Gen. Lloyd Austin, had told Col. Drinkwine before the deployment to take care of the issues.Skippy - how about we ship her to you for a couple of weeks? That would be an episode of Wife Swap that I would watch!
But the situation festered.
Helmick, in a letter addressed to Dr. Drinkwine, wrote, "even though (Lt. Gen. Austin) and (Maj. Gen. Scaparrotti) have discussed the command climate within the 4th Brigade Combat Team with your husband, the actions that he took have not been sufficient."
Helmick's order bans Dr. Drinkwine from holding any leadership position, directly or indirectly, in the 4th Brigade or its FRG; participation in any activity or function of the 4th BCT or its FRG, except for attendance at memorial services; being present in any 4th BCT building, including barracks and headquarters buildings; and contacting any member of the 4th BCT leadership or FRG leadership except contact with her husband.
The order remains in effect until Col. Drinkwine no longer commands the 4th BCT or until the Drinkwines leave Fort Bragg, whichever happens later.
Hat tip Chap on FB.