I’ve been at Freedom Fest and was asked a question on one panel about the lack of integrity in the senior levels of our military. I must acknowledge, this starts at the top with the Commander-in-Chief, who’s quite accustomed to perpetuating false narratives. And I just have to ask, where’s Bowe Bergdahl? After all, the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, found plenty of time to demonize and punish Special Forces officer MAJ Mathew Golsteyn.
I came across this story — and well, it just blew my mind. As reported by the Army Times:
An Army colonel fired from her job in April tried to intimidate subordinates to bend the rules after a tape test found her to be overweight, according to an Army investigation.
The investigation also found that Col. Glenda Lock, commander of McDonald Army Health Center, fostered a “toxic” work environment. Her own command sergeant major described her as a “dictator,” according to the investigation obtained by Army Times through the Freedom of Information Act.
Though Lock did have some supporters, many of the dozens of witnesses in the report portrayed Lock as an authoritarian leader and sometimes-abusive “bully” who decimated morale, citing several specific examples including belittling of subordinates and retaliatory reassignments.While many of the complaints against Lock revolved around alleged abrasiveness, much of the investigation centered on her alleged attempts to influence her body composition measurements — the infamous tape test. According to the report, Lock was measured on Nov. 3, 2014 — the week after the unit was supposed to be measured — and she was found to be outside of standards.
Those of us who’ve served certainly remember Army PT and height/weight standards — and I recall leaders leading by example. First of all, the rater and senior rater of COL Lock should’ve been counseling the hospital commander on her appearance. There are not different standards for operational soldiers vs. non-operational ones. So there was an obvious failure in leadership to counsel COL Lock.
The problem is, instead of COL Lock being a leader, she took a different route — one apparently driven by a sense of entitlement. The investigation showed she attempted to intimidate subordinates to keep them from referencing her failing the Army tape measurement test.
COL Lock was measured twice and both times found to be out of regs. Then Lock told the unit first sergeant “she would re-do the weigh-in later on that week.”
The first sergeant told Lock she’d let her know, and said, “it is not my decision to do that or not.” The first sergeant later contacted an officer up the chain of command for instruction, and was told to give Lock a “flag,” or Suspension of Favorable Personnel Actions. A flag renders Lock ineligible for promotion, assumption of a command, bonuses, and advance or excess leave, among other actions.
Lock tried a workaround to avoid getting in trouble, the investigation found. The medical center’s chief of HR said in a sworn statement that Lock gave her a call later that day.
“She asked me if I could remove the flag or somehow fix it because it could not go forward,” the HR chief’s statement said.
The HR chief said in the clarifying statement that Lock did not explicitly order the flag’s removal, “but her intent was that the flag be removed….I perfectly understood what she was saying.” The HR chief added: “An O6 in my rating chain was asking me to do something unethical and I don’t think I should be put in that position.”
And for those of you wondering:
Lock passed her Army Physical Fitness Test in the fall, though she did so at a time of her choosing and away from most other soldiers. Investigators concluded Lock had “demonstrated a pattern of secrecy regarding her APFT,” and never participated in APFT or measurements with her soldiers at any time during her command.
Back in the day, we called that a “pencil-whipped fitness test.”
I care little to get into the stories about COL Lock being “abusive” and “abrasive.” The point here is I’m praying we’re not watching an Army culture develop of commanders who believe they’re above the standard. Commanders should never sequester themselves away from their troops, especially when it comes to physical training. As a commander, you’re expected to uphold a higher standard, in every way.
At a time when we know 40,000 active duty soldiers will be cut from the U.S. Army — the need for strong leaders is dire. The tale of COL Lock is just an indicator of an Army where leadership needs to be reevaluated. It’s not about self, but rather selfless service. And that also means standing up to a President and other civilian political appointees who’ve exhibited a lack of competence in directing our oldest combat force.
Just so you know, COL Lock is a medical-surgical nurse (MOS 66), who’s worked at more than a dozen locations in her 26-year career. Overseas assignments have included South Korea, Germany, Honduras and Afghanistan. Her decorations include a Legion of Merit Medal, Bronze Star, seven Meritorious Service Medals and two Army Commendation Medals. Lock has not lost rank or pay after being removed from command, according to Army human resource records. The records show that in May the Army’s Medical Command reassigned her to San Antonio, Texas, as a senior nurse staff officer.
No, I do not agree with the reassignment. The Army Medical Service Corps is not so big that COL Lock’s isn’t known. It sends a horrible message to soldiers — there are no consequences to abuse of power. Soldiers are not able to intimidate anyone to change a standard. And sadly, our soldiers are the ones who suffer the consequences of a country that elected, and reelected, someone who also abuses power.