A two-star army general in charge of U.S. forces in Japan was suspended from duty Friday for failing to pursue an allegation of sexual assault in his command.
Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison, a 33-year veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, was relieved of his duties as commanding general of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward) by agreement of Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of Staff, and Army Secretary John McHugh, the Army said in a statement.
Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer, the deputy commanding general and chief of staff United States Army Europe, will serve as the interim commander of U.S. Forces Japan until the investigation that Harrison allegedly failed to pursue is complete, the Army said.
The Army statement did not spell out the circumstances of Harrison's suspension but said it stemmed from "allegations that Harrison failed in his duties as a commander to report or properly investigate an allegation of sexual assault" in his command.
George Wright, an Army spokesman, declined to say where or when the alleged sexual assault took place, or who the victim and alleged perpetrator may have been, but noted that Harrison's headquarters was at Camp Zama, Japan.
The action against Harrison came as the Army and the other services were under fire from Congress over a spate of scandals involving sex abuse in the ranks that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have described as an "epidemic" and a "crisis" threatening national security.
On Monday, the Army will convene at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland its annual Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention Summit with Odierno as the lead speaker for the overall theme: "Achieving Cultural Change to Eliminate Sexual Assault and Harassment."
"General officers and sergeants major from various commands will attend and share best practices, examine lessons learned and develop and communicate new ways to prevent sexual violence," the Army said in a statement.
In a related development, the Air Force named one of the highest ranking women in the military to replace a disgraced lieutenant colonel as director of the Air Force Sexual Assault and Prevention Office.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, who investigated the abuse of female recruits by trainers at Lackland Air Force Base, Tex., will take over from Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski.
Krusinksi has been charged with criminal battery by Arlington County, Va., prosecutors for allegedly being drunk and groping a woman in a parking lot outside a strip club last month. The woman beat off the attack by slamming Krusinski in the head with her cell phone, police said.
Krusinski's arrest came days before the Defense Department released a report showing that sexual assault allegations in the military rose from 3,192 in 2011 to 3,374 in 2012.
The Air Force had sought jurisdiction over Krusinski's case under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but Arlington County Judge Richard J. McCue has set a trial date for July 15 against the Air Force Academy graduate.
Woodward, a 30-year Air Force veteran, is currently the Air Force Chief of Safety at headquarters of the Air Force in Washington, D.C., and also commander of the Air Force Safety Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
Woodward, who has more than 3,800 flight hours mostly piloting KC-135 tanker aircraft over Afghanistan and Iraq, is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal and the Bronze Star.
An Air Force spokesman, Lt. Col. John Dorrian, said that Woodward, who began the new job this week, will be given added resources and a larger staff than existed under Krusinski.
Woodward's appointment was hailed by Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. McKeon called Woodward "a breath of fresh air for the Air Force" who was "well suited to the challenging task ahead of her and the service –ending the crisis of sexual assault in the military's ranks."