Defense Secretary Carter fires senior military assistant
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday removed his top military assistant and longtime confidant from his advisory team, citing alleged misconduct.
In a brief statement released Thursday evening, Carter said Army Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis had been relieved of his prominent position after the secretary had directed the Defense Department Inspector General to investigate alleged misconduct. The statement did not elaborate on the allegations, but the Associated Press cited an anonymous source who said Lewis was fired because of an improper relationship with an adult colleague.
“I have confidence in the Inspector General’s ability to determine the facts,” Carter said in the statement. “The Department of the Army will then take action as appropriate.”
The Inspector General’s office, in a statement, confirmed the investigation Thursday.
The general was reassigned to the Army, where he will report to Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn.
An official said Carter learned of the allegations against Lewis on Tuesday and spoke to the general on Thursday morning, when he notified Lewis he’d been relieved of his duties. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.
Although the official said he could not discuss even broadly the nature of the allegations against Lewis, he said only the DOD IG had been asked by Carter to investigate.
Lewis, 50, had been a fast-rising star among the Army’s general officers and had served alongside Carter previously. Soon after Carter was sworn in as defense secretary, Lewis was tapped to serve as his senior military adviser. This summer, Lewis moved into the three-star position, just months after being promoted to major general in January.
Lewis served as Carter’s military assistant in 2011 when he was undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics until his promotion later that year to deputy secretary of defense.
Lewis, a West Point-educated aviation officer, had served as the Army’s chief of public affairs and had served combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The senior defense official said Thursday that Carter “was very surprised to learn of these allegations.”
A senior military officer will replace Lewis as Carter’s senior military assistant while the defense secretary searches for a permanent aide, the official said. The officer who would serve in the interim was not immediately named.
“I expect the highest possible standards of conduct from the men and women in this department particularly from those serving in the most senior positions,” Carter said in the statement. “There is no exception.”