The commanding officer for the Camp Pendleton, California, based 1st Reconnaissance Battalion was relieved of his command on Tuesday, the Marine Corps has announced.
Lt. Col. Francisco X. Zavala is the fourth Marine commander in recent weeks to be sacked.
The commander of the 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, relieved Zavala over “lost trust and confidence” in his ability to continue to lead 1st Recon battalion, a press release stated.
Maj. Jeffrey Erb has been appointed as the new commander of 1st Recon Battalion, according to the release.
Col. Douglas Lemott Jr. was the third colonel fired in recent weeks from a key command position.
The Corps provided no further details.
Zavala was commissioned as an officer in 2000, and has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004, he was a platoon commander for 1st Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Company, Security Force Battalion, according to his official military bio.
From 2011 to 2014, Zavala served as the battalion operations officer for 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, his bio stated.
In 2018, Zavala commanded the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force–Peru.
Four Marine commanders ― all between the ranks of lieutenant colonel and colonel ― have been relieved over the past several weeks ― two of those incidents may be related to drunk driving charges.
On April 22, Lt. Col. James R. Compton was relieved of his command of the Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 in Iwakuni, Japan.
Compton’s squadron was involved in the deadly Dec. 6, 2018, collision of an F/A-18 and KC-130J off the coast of Japan, which claimed the lives of six Marines.
Just days later, the head of Marine Corps Installations Command sacked Col. John B. Atkinson, who commanded Headquarters and Service Battalion at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
According to arrest record, Atkinson was arrested on drunk driving charges April 12 in Prince William County, Virginia, and refused a blood alcohol test.
Col. Douglas Lemott Jr., the commander of Marine Corp Forces Cyberspace Operations Group, was relieved by Maj. Gen. Matthew G. Glavy on May 3.
Court records show Lemott was arrested in Virginia for driving while intoxicated on April 28. Lemott is due in court on June 21.
Ground combat reporter Todd South contributed to this report.