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Army general suspended amid investigation into ‘racy’ Facebook messages with subordinate’s wife

Maj. Gen. Joseph Harrington (U.S. Army Africa)
September 14, 2017

The U.S. Army has suspended and launched an investigation into the general in charge of forces in Africa for allegedly sending racy and flirtatious messages to the wife of an enlisted soldier under his command, USA Today reported.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Harrington, the two-star general in charge of U.S. Army Africa based in Italy, sent Facebook messages to the wife of an enlisted soldier. He later requested she delete the messages he sent her.

“MG Harrington has been suspended from his duties as the Commander of United States Army Africa’s Southern European Task Force pending the completion of an investigation by the Army’s inspector general,” the Army’s chief of public affairs office said in a statement, Stars and Stripes reported.

USA Today reported some of the message exchanges.

“U can be my nurse,” Harrington wrote in one of the messages to his subordinate’s wife, which was reviewed by USA Today.

“You seem to have a great modeling resume! Truly! Though I hadn’t noticed,” Harrington wrote in a separate message. “Where is your hubby tonight? Work?”

A military law expert said the messages were in violation of military law and is conduct unbecoming of an officer.

“With all the attention we have paid to improper relationships in the military, he just didn’t care,” Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor for the U.S. Air Force and president of Protect our Defenders, told USA Today. “He should lose his command over this. It’s probably time for him to retire.”

In another message, Harrington said that the woman’s husband would not be happy if he knew she were talking to another man, while also telling her in a different message that he would enjoy giving her a gift one day.

Harrington seemed to know the messages were inappropriate and urged her on several occasions to delete her messages.

“I hope u delete this exchange,” he wrote in one message thread, while asking her in another: “why not delete after communicating?”

“By asking her to delete the exchanges, he seems to know it wasn’t appropriate to be involved with the wife of an enlisted man in his command,” Christensen said.

Harrington was a top aide to to Gen. Martin Dempsey while Dempsey was Army chief of staff and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The message he’s sending is that the rules don’t apply to him,” Christensen said. “It erodes confidence in the junior officers and enlisted soldiers who serve under him. It’s a message that this guy thinks he’s above the law.”