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O'Reilly to be replaced as missile agency chief

Aug. 6, 2012 - 03:33PM   |   Last Updated: Aug. 6, 2012 - 03:33PM  |  
Witnesses describe Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director of the Missile Defense Agency, as brilliant. But his interpersonal skills are caustic, many said in an IG report.
Witnesses describe Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director of the Missile Defense Agency, as brilliant. But his interpersonal skills are caustic, many said in an IG report. (Getty Images)
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President Obama nominated the replacement for an Army general who headed the Missile Defense Agency after it became public that the general bullied and berated subordinates.

Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, who headed the organization since 2008, is to be replaced by Navy Rear Adm. (lower half) James D. Syring.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the nomination of Syring for appointment to the rank of vice admiral and for assignment as the director of the Missile Defense Agency at Fort Belvoir, Va., according to a Defense Department news release posted online today.

Syring is currently serving as program executive officer for Integrated Warfare Systems, Washington, D.C.

According to a report completed by the Defense Department's Inspector General's office in May and made public last month, O'Reilly "engaged in a leadership style that was inconsistent with standards of senior Army leaders" and a violation of military [ethics] regulations."

The report recommended Army Secretary John McHugh consider "appropriate corrective action."

Army spokesman George Wright told the Washington Post last month that McHugh reviewed the findings and consulted with the service's general counsel before referring it the Army vice chief of staff, Gen. Lloyd Austin, for appropriate disposition.

Rick Lehner, a spokesman for MDA, told Army Times in an email that it was known over the past 18 months that O'Reilly, whose four-year anniversary with the agency is November, intended to retire from the Army in early 2013.

"MDA directors have typically served for three to four years, although two of the eight directors have served about five years," Lehner said.

Lehner declined to discuss the current state of morale at the agency.

According to the DoD IG report, O'Reilly yelled at subordinates in public and private, demeaned and belittled employees, and behaved so poorly that six employees quit.

Witnesses also described O'Reilly as loudly attacking senior staff members on a personal rather than professional level.

Describing one of the many incidents in the report, a senior official testified O'Reilly told him over the phone, "If I could get my hands through the phone right now, I'd choke your f-ing throat."

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