Why the Army Dumped Major General Smith

  • Share
  • Read Later
It looks as if Major General Larry Smith may never stick another star on his collar. According to official reports, General Smith, who is accused of attempting to kiss and fondle Lt. General Claudia Kennedy in 1996, is no longer poised to take over the post of deputy inspector general — a job that, among other things, would have required Smith to handle charges of sexual misconduct within the ranks. Kennedy's accusations, which were substantiated by a recently completed Army investigation, brought Smith's career to a screeching and very public halt; his presumed ascent to the inspector general's office was put on hold while the Army looked into the charges, and another officer took over the position temporarily. That officer is due to retire soon, and the post will be awarded to a third candidate, Major General Joseph Inge.

Although it may appear to outsiders that the Army handled Smith's case with uncharacteristic speed — perhaps looking to quash public interest in its embarrassing nature — TIME military correspondent Mark Thompson disputes that perception. "This appointment has been stuck in a holding pattern for about eight months while the investigation went forward," Thompson says, pointing out that the complaint had been made against Smith many months before the news emerged in the press. That kind of pace, Thompson adds, doesn't exactly point to a desire to jump the gun. At this point, the Army's proactive stance stems primarily from the knowledge that they've got to move on — not because they're sitting in the middle of a public relations minefield, but because they've got an important post just waiting for a permanent appointment. Even if Smith is eventually exonerated, the Army can't afford to sit around and wait for him, Thompson says. "Smith will appeal the investigation's findings, and the Army knows they can't allow this to fester while the case drags on."