Year in review:
2012's top stories
The year began with the U.S. military’s rank and file under scrutiny for urinating on enemy corpses and burning Qurans, but it ended with the behavior of top officers in the spotlight.
Some of the allegations bordered on farcical, such as unconfirmed Washington whispers that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, had carried out a torrid email correspondence with a married Tampa socialite who liked to hobnob with military brass at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
Other cases were deadly serious. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, former deputy commander of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, is facing court-martial for sexual misconduct charges including forced sodomy, alleged by a subordinate, and adultery.
According to an accuser, when she complained about what was being done to her, Sinclair threatened her life, saying, “I’m a general, I’ll do whatever the [expletive] I want.”
The year saw the downfall of current and former four-star generals.
In November, retired Gen. David Petraeus, one of the most respected military officers of recent decades, abruptly resigned his post as CIA director when news broke of his affair with his biographer, Army reservist Paula Broadwell.
The Allen email imbroglio subsequently came to light because the FBI had investigated anonymous harassing emails that Broadwell sent to Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite with whom Allen had been corresponding.
Allen’s nomination as NATO supreme allied commander-Europe and head of U.S. European Command are on hold while the Pentagon combs through the emails for improprieties.
Also in November, another four-star general, Gen. William “Kip” Ward, former head of U.S. Africa Command, was stripped of a star and retired with an order to pay back $82,000 in improper spending of government money for personal uses during his days as AFRICOM commander.
The head of another combatant commander who faced a similar investigation was cleared.
Adm. James Stavridis, whom Allen was nominated to replace at EUCOM and NATO, was cleared of expense account irregularities pointed out by a DOD Inspector General’s report. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in November that Stavridis didn’t misuse his office and had corrected the accounting errors.