A New Hampshire National Guard officer who commanded a battalion deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border now faces a general court-martial amid allegations of assault and sexual harassment, among other charges.
Lt. Col. Mark B. Patterson led the 941st Military Police Battalion, headquartered in McAllen, Texas, as part of the federally controlled National Guard mission supporting the Department of Homeland Security in the region. His unit deployed to the border in October 2022, falling under the control of the Pentagon through U.S. Northern Command and Joint Task Force-North, according to spokesperson Edd Natividad.
But less than three months later, Patterson came under administrative investigation and was suspended from command on Jan. 26, said Maj. Micah Maxwell, a spokesperson for U.S. Army North. His removal became permanent on May 3 after the administrative investigation concluded.
Now Patterson faces criminal charges for his alleged conduct. Maxwell said the former battalion commander, who is temporarily assigned as a staff officer at his brigade headquarters, is accused of: assault consummated by battery; sexual harassment; maltreatment of subordinates; conduct unbecoming an officer; and violating general orders.
The accused officer’s civilian attorney, Joseph Jordan, told Army Times that “not everything is as it appears,” implying that “individuals...are not telling the complete truth.” Jordan added that he’s working toward “the best resolution possible under the circumstances.”
Because Patterson has not been arraigned, Maxwell said the command is not authorized to release more information on his charges.
The 941st MP Battalion’s sector of the border has proved troublesome for Guardsmen deployed there as part of the federally controlled border mission. In 2021, three soldiers assigned to a Guard task force based in McAllen died, and leaders temporarily disbanded a cavalry unit in the area due to misconduct and command climate problems, according to an Army Times investigation that sparked an investigation by U.S. Northern Command.
The federally controlled border mission is legally and operationally distinct from Operation Lone Star, a Texas Military Department effort exclusively funded and controlled by the state of Texas. The state’s mission has also experienced problems.
Patterson is a 22-year veteran of the New Hampshire Guard who previously also served about five years in the Navy, said state spokesperson Lt. Col. Greg Heilshorn. Before deploying to the border, Patterson served in a variety of assignments in the New Hampshire Guard, including as full-time officer-in-charge of the state’s 54th Troop Command.
His trial is tentatively scheduled for January 2024, according to the service’s online court docket. It’s charged as a general court-martial, which means his sentence, if convicted, could include a dismissal from the service.
An active duty battalion commander also recently pleaded guilty after facing similar, but slightly more severe sexual misconduct charges at Fort Johnson, Louisiana.
Lt. Col. Jon-Paul Depreo pleaded guilty in June to one count each of assault consummated by battery and conduct unbecoming an officer, according to Stars & Stripes. Army Times first reported Depreo’s firing and subsequent criminal charges, which stemmed from an alleged groping incident at a unit holiday ball.
The engineer officer was sentenced to two months in prison as part of a plea agreement that dismissed one count of abusive sexual contact and one count of conduct unbecoming.
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.