The deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command, a three-star Army general, wrongly used government money to travel to Alabama for his promotion ceremony, according to an investigation by the Defense Department inspector general.
Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield's trip was "predominantly for personal reasons, specifically to have his promotion ceremony at Fort Rucker rather than at his duty station in Hawaii," according to the IG report released Thursday.
And while a promotion ceremony is an authorized activity when conducted according to applicable regulations, Crutchfield "arranged a 7-day detour to Alabama at government expense en route to Washington, D.C., to accommodate his preference to hold his promotion ceremony at Fort Rucker," the IG investigation, completed last June, found.
The trip cost the government $3,821.61, according to the IG report. The amount did not include the cost of a rental car or travel expenses for Crutchfield's aides.
Crutchfield, who remains in his assignment as deputy commander of PACOM, contested the DoD IG's findings.
"I am not guilty of wasting government resources," Crutchfield wrote in his rebuttal to investigators. "I conducted my travel in my official capacity, attended 'bona fide' activities as the predominant purpose of the travel, and had a legal opinion of all the activities on my itinerary."
Investigators disagreed, standing by their findings.
"We recommend the Secretary of the Army consider appropriate corrective action with regard to LTG Crutchfield," the IG report states.
Army officials did not respond to Army Times queries about whether senior Army leaders took any action against Crutchfield.
An Army spokesperson would only say: "The Army takes senior leader accountability seriously while ensuring appropriate due process with any allegation that leaders fail to meet Army standards. The Army considers both sides of each case, and after a thorough review of all the evidence, takes action as appropriate."
The DoD IG launched its investigation into Crutchfield after receiving an anonymous complaint alleging that the general "invented a way to get a free plane ticket" to travel from PACOM headquarters in Hawaii to Fort Rucker for his promotion ceremony, according to the report.
Crutchfield was the commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker from August 2010 to August 2012, according to his official bio.
In his rebuttal, Crutchfield pushed back against the finding that his trip to Alabama was for personal reasons.
"This conclusion is false, not supported by evidence, and uses statements of what the anonymous complainant 'thinks' was actually the purpose of my travel," he wrote. "The investigation and report appears to omit or twist information to back up its findings."
The general added that his trip was vetted under a legal review and given the go-ahead.
"My staff and I sought the legal opinion of the entire concept of this trip early in the planning process," Crutchfield wrote in his rebuttal. "A conversation with my staff and the PACOM legal department can clarify this matter. They can also testify to my actions, views and customs when it comes to matters involving ethics. My reputation speaks volumes on this matter. I do what is legal, ethical, and in accordance with current regulations, policies and practices regarding the use of government resources and official travel."
The Pentagon's internal watchdog found Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command. misused government funds when he traveled to Fort Rucker, Ala., for his promotion ceremony. Crutchfield contests the findings. Here, he meets with staff members during his visit to Burmaís Ministry of Defense.
Photo Credit: Lt. Col. Eric Bloom/Army
The events leading up to the investigation by the DoD IG began in January 2014.
Crutchfield, who at the time was the chief of staff for PACOM, was nominated for promotion to lieutenant general in January 2014; his promotion had to be approved by the Senate.
On Jan. 6, 2014, the same day Crutchfield's nomination was received by the White House, the general's staff contacted the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, to request an invitation for him to speak at the school sometime in May, according to the report. This was one year after the general had declined an invitation from the school. This time, the school couldn't accommodate the general's schedule.
On Feb. 6, one day after the president forwarded Crutchfield's nomination to the Senate, the general's staff contacted the Squadron Officer School again, this time telling them the general's anticipated travel dates had "slipped right approximately two weeks" and requesting an invitation to speak in June.
The school sent an invitation to the general for an early June speaking engagement.
Crutchfield said the IG's description of events is "a mischaracterization of the events because I had an existing open invitation to speak at the SOS."
"Neither my staff nor I contacted the SOS to 'request an invitation to speak,'" Crutchfield wrote in his rebuttal.
Also in February, the IG investigation found that Crutchfield and his staff contacted Fort Rucker personnel to arrange for his promotion ceremony. Crutchfield's aide worked with Fort Rucker personnel on issues such as the use of the Army Aviation Museum for the ceremony, the invitation list, and the order of the receiving line. Two months later, in April, Crutchfield's aide asked Fort Rucker officials to add "several informal and 'hasty meetings' with soldiers" to the general's itinerary, according to the report.
On June 2, 2014, Crutchfield and his team left Hawaii for Maxwell Air Force Base, Fort Rucker and Washington, where he was to meet with DoD and Joint Staff officials in the Pentagon.
The trip included seven days of temporary duty in Alabama, costing the government per diem, lodging and rental car costs for himself and his aides.
During that time, the IG investigation found Crutchfield "conducted approximately 7 hours of meetings at Maxwell AFB and Fort Rucker," according to the report. This included meeting with the Army's aviation branch chief, the commandant of the Warrant Officer Career College and three presentations to students attending various schools on Fort Rucker.
His promotion ceremony took place June 6; the following two days, which were a Saturday and Sunday, were listed on his itinerary as "executive time," according to the IG report. Crutchfield told investigators he stayed at Fort Rucker over the weekend "awaiting travel" to Washington, the report said.
He left Fort Rucker on June 9 for Washington, returning to Hawaii on June 12.
"We found no other meetings, briefings or official business that he conducted during the 7 days of TDY in Alabama en route to Washington, D.C.," the report states.
The Pentagon's internal watchdog found Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command. misused government funds when he traveled to Fort Rucker, Ala., for his promotion ceremony. Here, Crutchfield visits members of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 75 during a visit to Naval Base Guam.
Photo Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Gay/Navy
In his rebuttal, Crutchfield said investigators misrepresented his time in Alabama.
"Although the itinerary may say 7 hours of 'official meetings,' there is much more work that goes on as a general officer and the deputy commander of the largest combatant command in DoD than is written down on paper," he wrote. "The bottom line is that the DoD IG investigator's measurement of calendar days does not adequately display the truth or account for the reality of time for the senior leader on official travel status."
Crutchfield testified to investigators that he "desired" to have his promotion ceremony at Fort Rucker, according to the report.
"If confirmed, I desired to be promoted at Fort Rucker, Alabama, instead of returning to Hawaii to do so," the general testified, according to the IG report.
"We determined that the predominant purpose of LTG Crutchfield's travel to Alabama was to accommodate his personal preference to hold his promotion ceremony thousands of miles from his duty station using government funded travel," the report states.
To make the trip look more official, Crutchfield's staff "solicited" an invitation to speak at Maxwell Air Force Base "only after his nomination was forwarded to the White House. His staff solicited the speaking invitation to coincide with his projected promotion ceremony date," according to the report.
While Crutchfield's trip to Washington was for an official purpose, his "7-day detour to Alabama at government expense" was not, the investigation found.
Crutchfield denied wasting government funds on a personal trip. He also pushed back against the report's characterization of his "hasty meetings" with soldiers.
"At no time do I conduct 'hasty meetings.' If anyone on my staff uses this term, it is most likely a figure of speech for them," Crutchfield wrote. "This report makes it out to be a fact as to what I did. In reality, my intent was to address Army aviators at Fort Rucker because I was there and already on official travel. I did not want to spend time receiving formal briefings from senior leaders, instead, I wanted to speak to the troops."
Crutchfield also said the purpose of his trip to Fort Rucker was "to conduct leadership training similar to his presentation at Maxwell AFB and other official business," according to the IG report.
The IG found, instead, that Fort Rucker officials "did not" extend an invitation for Crutchfield to speak or conduct leadership training on post, according to the report.
"Communications between LTG Crutchfield's staff and Fort Rucker staff from February through April 2014 focused on scheduling and planning details of his promotion ceremony," the IG report states. "The ceremony was the only stated purpose for his visit until April 2014, when LTG Crutchfield directed his staff to add informal and 'hasty meetings' with Fort Rucker personnel to his itinerary."