Army Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., commander of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward), gives remarks in April 2012 during a ceremony at Camp Zama, Japan. (Dustin Perry / Army)
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WASHINGTON — A general who commands U.S. Army forces in Japan has been suspended from his duties for allegedly failing to report or properly investigate an allegation of sexual assault, the Army said Friday.
Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr. was suspended by the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Army Secretary John McHugh, the Army said. It provided no details about the alleged sexual assault case.
Until the investigation of Harrison’s role is completed, Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer will take his place in Japan, the Army said.
Harrison had been selected to become deputy commander of the Army component of U.S. Central Command, based in Kuwait. That new assignment was publicly announced in February by the Pentagon, which said at the same time that Boozer would replace Harrison as commander in Japan.
Typically, an officer who has been suspended rather than relieved of command could be reinstated in his job if cleared of all allegations. But this won’t happen in Harrison’s case because Boozer already was scheduled to take over the command in Japan next week, which is sooner than the investigation is expected to be completed.
Harrison, a 33-year Army veteran, began his assignment in Japan in October 2010.
Amid increased political pressure to crack down on sexual abuse in the military services, the Air Force said Friday it is expanding the office responsible for sexual assault prevention and placed a female two-star general in charge.
Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward, who ran the U.S. portion of the allied air campaign over Libya in 2011 and is one of the Air Force’s brightest stars, is running the reorganized office. She will report to the vice chief of the Air Force.
The move won praise from the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, who called Woodward a “breath of fresh air.”
The office previously was run by a Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, who was arrested in May and charged with sexual battery. That incident escalated public debate over whether the military was taking seriously the problem of sexual abuse.
The House is scheduled to vote next week on a defense policy bill that would take away the power of military commanders to overturn convictions in rape and assault cases. The legislation also would require that anyone in uniform found guilty of a sex-related crime receive a punishment that includes, at a minimum, a dismissal from military service or a dishonorable discharge.