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2-star accused of intimidation, compromising investigation

Aug. 23, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
An Inspector General investigation recommends 'corrective action' be taken against Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, who has plans to retire.
An Inspector General investigation recommends 'corrective action' be taken against Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, who has plans to retire. (Glenn Fawcett / Department of Defense)
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A two-star Army general impeded a Navy reservist’s interaction with Defense Department investigators at a military hospital in Afghanistan in 2011, a recent DoD report found, when he allegedly told the reservist to “stay in your f---ing lane” when speaking with the visitors.

The July 28 investigation, a redacted copy of which was obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, recommends the secretary of the Army “take appropriate corrective action” against Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, who announced plans to retire after stepping down as the head of the Pentagon’s sexual-assault prevention office late last year.

Patton, who remains in uniform, “disagreed with our conclusions,” investigators wrote, and told them he did not remember “the specifics, verbatim use of words, in that conversation.” Patton, through an Army public affairs officer, declined comment for this story.

“The report of investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General regarding Maj. Gen. Patton has been provided to the Army,” said Lt. Col. Alayne Conway, in a statement sent first to POGO and forwarded to Army Times. “It is currently under review.”

In an email to Army Times, Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Young, who made the complaint, said DoD investigators “asked the tough questions and took the time needed to clearly understand and articulate the truth. Their only goal was to seek the truth.”

Patton also had been named in an August 2013 inspector general report that found his boss, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, had blocked subordinates from telling investigators of the problems surrounding Dawood National Military Hospital in Afghanistan.

Among other citations, investigators said Caldwell sent an email to subordinates within NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan directing that “NOTHING” be said to the IG without his approval. The three-star retired last fall.

The hospital, where Afghan doctors cared for Afghan patients under mentorship from U.S. officers, was the scene of gross patient neglect, according to multiple reports, including some soldiers starving to death while some medical staff solicited bribes before providing basic care.

Whistleblower's tour

Young told investigators that he was selected to lead DoD inspectors on a 2011 tour of Dawood, a follow-up visit from a December trip during which some of the installation’s problems had surfaced.

Then-Lt. Young said he scheduled visits to five patients with the goal of allowing visitors “to be able to see that things at the hospital were not better at all,” he told investigators.

At least one witness said Patton, who was along for the tour, became “irritated.” After the tour left the third patient’s room, where Young had shown investigators an X-ray of the patient’s broken leg to illustrate a poorly performed surgery by Afghan doctors, Young said Patton approached him in the hallway.

“You need to stay in your f---ing lane,” Young recalled the general saying. When Young insisted he was the only person on the tour who could speak to patient care, Patton allegedly responded by saying, “I don’t give a s---, Lieutenant. If you don’t know about bones, don’t talk about bones. You need to stay in your f---ing lane.”

Patton told investigators he “did not recall a ‘confrontational, abusive conversation’ with Young.” Witnesses were split, with one calling the interaction more of a “pep talk.”

POGO reported that two senators, New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and Iowa Republican Charles Grassley, are “demanding accountability” in relation to the recent report, but did not offer specifics.

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