MDA Gets New Director, Apparently For Good Reason

| August 8, 2012

Rank has its privileges. To an extent, that’s as it should be.

But sometimes, those in high positions abuse their positions and their authority. To me, it’s particularly galling when they do so through abusing their subordinates. And as the case of our recent Johnson of an adulterous former Brigade Commander shows, sometimes they get away with being abusive for a while before getting nailed for other reasons.

However, every once and a while an abusive senior leader gets fired simply for being an asshole. And it seems that’s happened at MDA.

The SECDEF has announced that LTG Patrick O’Reilly, Director of the Missile Defense Agency, is being replaced and will retire. His replacement will be RADM James D. Syring, who has also been nominated for promotion to Vice Admiral.

Apparently LTG O’Reily was a . . . real piece of work. According to a recent DoD IG Report, LTG O’Reily reportedly “engaged in a leadership style that was inconsistent with standards of senior Army leaders and a violation of military [ethics] regulations.” Examples given were

  • yelled at subordinates in public and private
  • demeaning and belittling employees
  • behaved so poorly that six employees quit
  • loudly attacking senior staff members on a personal rather than professional level
  • telling a senior official over the phone, “If I could get my hands through the phone right now, I’d choke your f—-ing throat.”

Really classy behavior, general.

Yeah, I understand that individual leadership styles vary.  Yeah, I understand that a leader sometimes has to be an asshole towards a few who just don’t “get it”.  And yeah – I understand the need to “kick ass and take names” sometimes, even at very senior levels.

But there’s a right – and a wrong – way to do that. And attacking subordinates publicly, on a personal level, ain’t the right way to do it. What I learned was “praise in public; chew ass in private; and don’t get personal.”  It sounds to me like O’Reily was rather out of control.  IMO, the Army probably did the right thing in “encouraging” O’Reily to retire – now.

Obviously the DoD IG – and senior DoD leadership – agrees.

Maybe O’Reily “caught the PTSD” worrying about how that next BMD test would turn out. If so, maybe the VA can get him into an anger management class or two during his retirement.

Category: Military issues

Comments (14)

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  1. Former3c0 says:

    Weird, IG recently came to all the units (unrelated to this story btw) and informed us of the complaint process and trends.

    It’s interesting to see such a senior officer get the axe like this. Looking back at his career was there a pattern of this type of behavior?

  2. ChopIT says:

    It appears the firing is a bit late… perhaps 10-12 years earlier before becoming a general or colonel?

  3. Steadfast&Loyal says:

    I have found, typically, that leaders like this have always been like this. they may have either gotten away with it or the extremes were not so pronounced….meaning it gets worst as the rank goes up. So as an LT the abisives were minor or could be attributed to the trooper in question being pretty bad themselves.

    This is not uncommon. I see it more with SESs (civil service equalivent of a general). By the by the country boy act is old…espiecally when I know the dickhead in question has a PHD in robotics.

    I have zero tolerance for it. I expect more from my leaders. The stories I could tell. The best one was when I was a senior LT in my battlaion. My Battalion Xo threatened me with court martial, read me my rights and confined me to my home. by the end of the day the brigade commander called me and asked me what happened. I told him. He confirmed that was what my CO and 1SG said and told me to get to work.

    I was pissed….very. I repsectifully told him that a field grade confined me to quarters for court martial. After a few minutes of being nice the old man told me to get my fucking ass to work.

    After that the XO stayed at least 100 feet from me.

    I still want to punch that fucker.

  4. Bobo says:

    I just pulled his GOMO bio. 34 years of service, only 5 with soldiers. He spent his company grade time in platoon leader slots and as a company commander in the ordinance corps. After command he went to OOAC, followed by Naval Postgraduate School and a teaching gig at West Point. After that he went into the acquisition corps. Also, no combat patch in 35 years.

    The fact that he got away with his behavior for so long is because he didn’t spend enough time with 1SGs, MSGs, and SGMs who would have told him to shove it up his ass. With the reduced time for promotion from 2LT to MAJ, we are going to see the same for a long time.

  5. Steadfast&Loyal says:

    Just looked too. yeah too little troop time. I was an Ordnance officer so I dont hold that agasint him….there is good troop leader posts in a log unit.

    it looks like he spent most of his troop time in division and corps. Not at brigade and below…meaning a Forward
    Support Battalion.

    but agree with the assessment…too little troop time.

  6. Hondo says:

    Steadfast&Loyal: my experience has been the same – if a senior leader is abusive, from what I’ve seen they’ve generally been abusive (to perhaps a lesser degree) throughout their career. IMO it seems to be a core personality trait.

    I’ve never worked with/for LTG O’Reily, so I can’t confirm/deny that in this case.

    However, on occasion an individual does show dramatic personality changes of this sort. If that’s the case, I do hope the man has the good sense to have himself thoroughly checked out. Sometimes such changes are the result of significant physical or mental issues that previously had not come to the forefront. My impression is that’s fairly rare, but also not unknown. And it can be truly bad news if not addressed.

  7. RangerX says:

    Wait, isn’t this the same bunch of whiners that just got busted for surfing porn on gubbmint ‘puters?

    Sounds like a clean sweep might be in order…..

  8. NHSparky says:

    Ranger–sadly, “leadership” like this isn’t confined to any single branch.

    A couple of prime Navy examples come to mind, that of former Admiral (now former Congressman) Joe Sestak, and former Captain Holly Graf.

    Unfortunately, people like that never get the hint that it’s THEIR issue, even when they get pecker (or vagina) smacked over their abusive behavior.

  9. Spade says:

    I dunno if any of them worked directly for this guy, but I know a few ex-MDA support contractors who all said it was a terrible work environment and they’d rather be homeless then ever work there again.

    One guy said his boss sent the deputy boss an email at 2300 or so on a Saturday night. When the deputy amazingly hadn’t responded by 0430 Sunday morning the boss sent an email to everybody in the department saying, “Since soandso apparently can’t answer my question, can anybody else answer this?”

  10. Spade says:

    One of the guys I know who used to work for him just used the word “evil” and said the IG reports do not come anywhere close.

  11. Hondo says:

    Hmmm. . . . wonder if he’s related to former SAC Commander Gen. Thomas S. Power.

  12. J.M. says:

    On the subject of COL Johnson. This weeks Army Times has an article where he’s whining that it’s all the fault of his 1st wife that he was court-martialed and he filed court papers to make her sell her house and jewlery to help him pay his fine.

  13. Ex-PH2 says:

    Since when is threatening to choke someone an appropriate way to chew him out?

    This guy sounds like he’s beyond passive aggressive and about one step away from bipolar.