A two-star general who until recently commanded U.S. advisory forces in Iraq may retire at a lower rank after receiving a letter of reprimand for his actions regarding a government contract awarded to former West Point classmates while he presided over Fort Bliss, Texas.
The letter from Gen. Daniel Allyn, dated Feb. 6, admonishes Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard "for improperly creating the perception of preferential treatment" in a deal regarding the base's renewable-energy initiative. Names of two classmates of Pittard, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1981, were redacted from the letter; The Washington Post, which first reported the allegations, identifies one of the contractors as Thomas Gregory Harris, a retired colonel who in January was sentenced to two years in prison for wire fraud in relation to a $492,000 contract between his company and Fort Bliss.
The letter does not accuse Pittard of benefiting financially from the arrangement, but does state that the general met privately with his West Point classmates "prior to the contract 'kick-off' meeting" in September 2011 and emailed a "non-public" information paper on the project to them, seeking feedback and asking them not to share the report.
"You received the information paper because of your position as [commanding general], and you should have known that you were not authorized to share it with outside entities," Allyn said in the letter.
Pittard commanded Fort Bliss from July 2010 until mid-2013, when he moved to Army Central as a deputy commanding general. He remained there until April, two months after receiving the reprimand, with duties that included leading advise-and-assist efforts with the Iraqi military.
The letter came after an Army Inspector General investigation, Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said in an email, and "called into question his suitability for continued service and resulted in his request for retirement, effectively ending his career in the Army."
Pittard will serve as a special assistant to the commanding general at Army Training and Doctrine Command until his request — "and the associated retired grade" — is processed, Smith said.
The Ranger-tabbed general made multiple deployments to the Middle East dating back to Operation Desert Shield in the early 1990s and served as a military aide to President Clinton from November 1996 to January 1999, according to an online biography.
He made headlines while at Bliss in 2012 after a post on his official blog offered harsh words for troops who commit suicide, saying he was "personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess."