ex-fort-benning-commander’s-retirement-halted-over-tweets

The former commanding general of the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia, has had his retirement put on pause while the service completes an investigation into alleged misconduct focused on his social media use.

Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe intended to retire after handing over command of the installation to Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard in July.

But according to an Army website, he’s no longer in the retirement process and has been reassigned as a “special assistant” to the commander of the service’s Training and Doctrine Command. The two-star general did not respond to an email or social media messages from Army Times requesting comment.

Army spokesperson Cynthia Smith told Army Times that Donahoe “has been temporarily assigned as a special assistant to the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command pending appropriate Department of the Army administrative reviews.”

Donahoe is likely to face discipline for his conduct on social media, a source familiar with the move confirmed, who was not authorized to speak on the record regarding internal personnel issues. It’s not clear what form such discipline will take, though.

Smith declined to comment on what’s preventing Donahoe’s retirement from going through, stating, “As the Army’s review process is ongoing, we cannot provide any additional information at this time.”

Social media snafu?

The two-star general has long had a significant Twitter following that won him acclaim in some corners of the service.

In 2019, Military Times rated him No. 1 among “the top service members” to follow on the site. It’s not clear what specific posts have come under scrutiny, but he was a party to a few prominent social media spats in recent months.

Donahoe and other senior leaders with prominent followings, such as Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, publicly clashed with conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson in March 2021.

Carlson made controversial remarks about women in the military, accusing the Biden administration of “feminizing” the DoD through uniform policy changes.

The former Fort Benning commander made headlines alongside other TRADOC general officers when he shared a female soldier’s reenlistment video and called Carlson out, saying the Fox host “couldn’t be more wrong.”

A few months later, in June 2021, Fox host Laura Ingraham targeted Donahoe after the general sparred with right wing trolls about installation COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Popular military-themed meme accounts, most notably TerminalCWO, have previously accused Donahoe of inappropriate online conduct and retaliation against officers who had filed inspector general complaints against him. There is no indication that the retaliation allegations were founded.

This story contains reporting from the Associated Press.

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master’s thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood’s WWII movies.

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