WASHINGTON – One in five Army generals could not deploy in 2016 for medical reasons, according to data obtained by USA TODAY, a troubling trend in the military’s readiness to fight that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has vowed to fix.
Overdue medical and dental exams were the primary reasons for what the Army refers to as medical readiness in 2016. The deployment rate has improved to nearly 85 percent, according to Brig. Gen. Omar Jones, the Army’s top spokesman.
“The Army’s top priority is readiness and soldiers are expected to be world-wide deployable to ensure our Army is ready to fight today and in the future,” Jones said. “The data from 2016 does not reflect recent improvements in medical readiness for the Army as a whole and for the general officer corps specifically.”
The data were contained in a June 2017 report on the state of the Army’s general officer corps that was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The study was commissioned after a series of high-profile scandals involving generals and admirals came to light. In 2014, then-Defense secretary Chuck Hagel created an office to investigate ethical problems among senior leaders. An investigation by USA TODAY last year found that military investigators had documented at least 500 cases of serious misconduct among its generals, admirals and senior civilians, almost half of those instances involving personal or ethical lapses.
One of the most recent cases involved Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets, who was fired for making sexually suggestive comments to women and failing to report suicide attempts among airmen in his command.