A three-star general "failed to treat his subordinates with dignity and respect" when he unleashed a tirade loaded with f-bombs during a 2014 briefing at U.S. Special Operations Command headquarters and suggested the presenters be shot, according to a Defense Department report.

The remarks made by Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr. were "not indicative of LTG Mulholland's normal comportment," DoD investigators wrote in a July 9, 2014, report that was recently posted in the Office of the Inspector General's Freedom of Information Act online reading room.

About six months after the report's completion, Mulholland left his post as SOCOM deputy commander for his current post as the CIA's associate director for military affairs.

Mulholland, a former Army Special Operations Command head who led special operations task forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, cooperated with the investigation, agreed with its conclusions and told IG staffers that his conduct during the meeting "probably failed [his] own standards." After what he called a "colorful" discussion, he recalled telling the group, "I love you guys."

The report recommended corrective action be taken by the Army; an Army spokesman did not immediately respond to questions regarding that action.

When briefers made their April 30 presentation to Mulholland and about 30 others — all men, some civilians, and one Australian brigadier general, per the report — in meeting room at SOCOM headquarters, the three-star was quick to make his own lack of satisfaction clear.

Less than a minute in, "Mulholland stated, 'This is not f—king right,' " the report states, citing testimony from a two-star general in the room — Marine Maj. Gen. James B. Laster, then-SOCOM chief of staff.

The remarks set a tone for the rest of the 50-minute meeting, per the report:

  • Mulholland reportedly said he would "fire all of you motherf—kers" and used the f-word "about five times" during the meeting "to punctuate his comments."
  • Witness accounts differ, but Mulholland may have said team members "should be taken out and shot" or that they should shoot themselves. Mulholland told investigators he may have said something similar to the first version, and may have added that "he 'ought to kill' himself if the concept was briefed to ADM McRaven."
  • Briefers attempted to argue with the general, which "exacerbated LTG Mulholland's frustration and prolonged the meeting."

Two complaints regarding the incident were lodged via the DoD Hotline within 10 days of the meeting, the report states.

Laster told investigators he had planned to address Mulholland's "abusive" remarks with the general, but refrained after becoming aware that complaints had been filed.

One witness called Mulholland "angry to the point of being almost 'uncontrollable,' " the report states. Others told investigators that they didn't deem the meeting worthy of a complaint, that they weren't surprised by the profanity, and that the remarks didn't amount to personal attacks or threats. The general's voice was only "occasionally elevated," witnesses said.

A spokesman for the CIA noted that Mulholland took responsibility for his actions and offered apologies to his subordinates.

"He stated that there was no excuse for his conduct that day, that he has great respect for the team members and that such conduct would never occur again," CIA public affairs director Dean Boyd said in a Thursday email.

Attempts to reach Mulholland via the CIA were not immediately successful.

Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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