UK & World News
Sex Blamed For A Third Of Military Downfalls
At least 30% of US military commanders fired over the past eight years lost their jobs because of sexual misconduct.
The figures, compiled by the AP news agency, highlight a problem that came into sharp relief with the resignation of General David Petraeus from the CIA, and the investigation into Major General John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan.
For top American officers, the statistics are startling.
Eighteen generals and admirals, from one star to four stars, were fired in recent years, and 10 of them lost their jobs because of sex-related offences.
Two others were caught out by alcohol-related problems.
Further down the hierarchy, the figures show that 255 commanders in all were fired since 2005, and that 78 of them were felled by sex-related offences.
They include 32 in the Army, 25 in the Navy, 11 in the Marine Corps and 10 in the Air Force.
Alcohol and drugs cost the jobs of 27 commanders; 11 in the Navy, eight in the Army, five in the Marine Corps and three in the Air Force.
Among the more high profile firings in recent years is Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair.
He was fired from his command in Afghanistan last May and is now facing a court-martial on charges of sodomy, adultery and pornography.
But many cases play out quietly with little public attention. The problem though is not going away.
"It's troublesome," said Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Navy's top spokesman.
"Navy leadership is taking a look at why personal conduct seems to be a growing reason for why commanding officers are losing their commands," he said.
"We're trying to get to the root causes. We don't really fully understand it."
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta ordered a review of ethics training across the military.
He said when lapses occur "they have the potential to erode public confidence".
"Worse, they can be detrimental to the execution of our mission to defend the American people," he added.
The statistics may represent a very conservative estimate of the real problem.
The Army, Navy and Marine Corps provided details on lieutenant colonels or commanders and above from 2005 onwards.
The Air Force could only provide data for colonels and above from 2008 onwards.
In addition, the military only collects data on officers in command - not on those fired from other jobs, such as administrative non-command posts.