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Special Operations General Lost Command for Public Drunkenness

Former Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland, the former commander of Special Operations Command South, greets U.S. service members May 7 in Lima, Peru. (DoD photo/Army Maj. Emanuel Ortiz)
Former Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland, the former commander of Special Operations Command South, greets U.S. service members May 7 in Lima, Peru. (DoD photo/Army Maj. Emanuel Ortiz)

Former Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland was removed as commander of U.S. Special Operations forces in Central and South America and demoted to colonel before retiring May 1, according to a June 4 Army statement.

The statement comes a day after the Washington Post reported that Mulholland was removed from his post last year after he repeatedly became intoxicated in public, including during a deployment to Peru.

Mulholland, 55, allegedly got into alcohol-fueled altercations with civilians on a golf club bar near his Florida headquarters, the Post reported. He was removed last August, but at the time, military officials said in a statement that he was "retiring for health and personal reasons." The Pentagon withheld the fact that he had been investigated and reprimanded for misconduct, the Post reported.

Adm. William H. McRaven, then commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, "removed Brig. Gen. Mulholland from command and Mulholland retired on May 1, 2015, in the lower grade of [colonel]. Under federal law, the Secretary of the Army has authority to make retirement grade determinations involving general officers," according the Army's statement.

Citing the results of an internal investigation, McRaven reprimanded Mulholland for failing "to exercise restraint in the consumption of alcohol" while on duty in Lima, Peru, in May 2013. The Army general was also cited for two incidents in the spring of 2014 at a golf club and bar in Homestead, Fla., near the headquarters of U.S. Special Operations Command South., the Post reported.

In the first incident at the Keys Gate Golf Course bar, Mulholland got into an alcohol-fueled argument with a civilian "that culminated in physical contact in front of civilians and enlisted personnel," according to the letter of reprimand. In the second, he drank and got into "a verbal altercation" with three civilian women that "required others to intervene," the Post reported.

In his reprimand, McRaven calls Mulholland's behavior "unacceptable," adding that it "demonstrates a failure of personal and professional judgment and embarrasses the command."

In a brief telephone interview, Mulholland said he had been affected by "some medical issues," including post-traumatic stress disorder and a moderate case of traumatic brain injury, the Post reported. He said his actions were triggered by a lack of sleep, but he declined to comment further about the incidents, the Post reported.

"I'm not in favor of your printing any of this, truly," he said. "I don't need this harassment. .?.?. I just want to be left alone," the Post reported.

An Army Grade Determination Review Board recommended to Secretary of the Army John McHugh that Mulholland last served satisfactorily at the grade of colonel, according to the Army statement.

"This reduction in grade underscores the Army's commitment to holding senior leaders accountable, and is consistent with Secretary McHugh's treatment of similar cases," according to the statement.

--Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com

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Army Crime in the Military Matthew Cox

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