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US military’s top enlisted leader is suspended amid investigation

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, makes a point as he and the senior enlisted leaders for the U.S. combatant commands brief Pentagon reporters at the conclusion of a conference, Nov. 28, 2017. (Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/Department of Defense)

The U.S. military’s senior ranking enlisted servicemember has been suspended from his duties pending an inspector general’s investigation into a complaint of alleged misconduct, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell has been temporarily removed from his position as the senior enlisted adviser to Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the Joint Staff.

What led to the misconduct complaint against Troxell was not immediately clear Thursday. Ryder said it would be “inappropriate to comment on the nature” of the allegations while the investigation was open. An Army official said he could not immediately comment on the Army Inspector General’s investigation Thursday afternoon.

“We will wait for a full accounting of the facts and will not presuppose any findings or outcomes,” Ryder said.

Troxell, 54, has served as the senior enlisted adviser to Dunford since December of 2015. In that role, Troxell serves as the principal military adviser to Dunford and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on issues pertaining to the enlisted force, such as military standards, professional development, pay and promotion, quality of life and awards.

Troxell made headlines in January after delivering fiery speeches to troops downrange during a holiday tour alongside Dunford in which he vowed Islamic State fighters who did not surrender would be killed, perhaps shot in the face or beaten with shovels, known as entrenching tools.

“If they choose not to surrender, then we will kill them with extreme prejudice, whether that be through security force assistance, by dropping bombs on them, shooting them in the face, or beating them to death with our entrenching tools,” Troxell wrote Jan. 9 in a Facebook post. “Regardless, they cannot win, so they need to choose how it’s going to be.”

The speeches and posts on social media went viral as servicemembers cheered Troxell’s enthusiasm.

Before reporting to the Pentagon to advise Dunford, Troxell most recently served as the command senior enlisted leader of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and United States Forces-Korea in South Korea.

He enlisted in the Army in 1982 as an armored reconnaissance specialist and served in several senior noncommissioned officer roles, including as the senior enlisted adviser for I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and the senior NCO for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force-Joint Command in Afghanistan.

He’s a veteran of five combat deployments including Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Shield-Storm and three post-9/11 tours — two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

The Joint Chiefs Office had not determined as of Thursday afternoon whether an acting senior enlisted adviser to Dunford would be selected during Troxell’s absence, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a spokeswoman for the Joint Staff.

Troxell will perform duties as a special assistant to the vice director of the Joint Staff while the Army conducts its investigation, Ryder said.


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