Charges tarnish high-profile career of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Allen Sinclair
By Drew Brooks | The Fayetteville Observer | Published: October 10, 2012
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Allen Sinclair was part of an elite group when he was charged with forcible sodomy and other violations of the military justice system.
As a one-star general, Sinclair, 49, was among only 230 general officers that Congress authorizes for the Army, the nation's largest service branch.
But the charges that now mar Sinclair's decorated career have him in an even rarer position among the few general officers alleged to have run afoul of military law in recent years.
Sinclair, Brig. Gen. Roger Duff and Gen. William "Kip" Ward are the most recent examples of general officers accused of wrongdoing.
Duff pleaded guilty this year to two charges of false official statements and charges of wearing unauthorized decorations. A military judge sentenced Duff to two months of confinement and a dismissal, which is not final.
Ward, a four-star general, is being investigated for accusations of improper spending. He has not been charged.
Sinclair drew attention in May when it was reported that he had been relieved of his duties as deputy commander for support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan and sent home from that country months ahead of the division.
The charges that were announced against Sinclair late last month likely will cast a pall over his 27-year career.
Sinclair awaits an Article 32 hearing, but Fort Bragg officials have not released the names of his lawyers, the date of the hearing or the name of the hearing officer. Sinclair, whose awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal, served in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.
He served as an Army Ranger and spent two years working in the secretive Joint Special Operations Command.
In Iraq, Sinclair held high-profile command positions and, during that country's first elections since the U.S. invasion in 2003, headed security for a region that included Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
Sinclair's Army career began in 1985, when he was commissioned after graduating from West Virginia University.
His first duty assignment was in Germany as a platoon leader for the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division.
He later served at Fort Benning and Fort Stewart in Georgia before deploying to Saudi Arabia as part of Desert Storm.
By 1997, after attending several Army schools, Sinclair joined Army Special Operations through the 75th Ranger Regiment.
In 1999, Sinclair moved to Fort Bragg and began his stint at JSOC before joining the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade.
At Fort Bragg, Sinclair and his wife, Rebecca, had two sons, Cole and Finn, born at Womack Army Medical Center.
That's where Sinclair first served with then-Col. James Huggins.
Huggins, now a major general, commanded Sinclair on two stints in Afghanistan -- the first with the 3rd Brigade and then with the 82nd Airborne Division.
Between his Afghanistan deployments, Sinclair commanded units based in Germany.
In 2004, Sinclair led the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division to Tikrit.
In the city of mansions about 90 miles north of Baghdad, Sinclair oversaw an uneasy peace for a city that still supported the ousted Hussein.
According to media reports, Sinclair used money rather than bullets to sway the Iraqis, promoting the use of cash payments to help jump-start the local economy.
"I'm trying to give them something to do rather than take shots at someone," then-Lt. Col. Sinclair told The Washington Post in July 2004. "It's not bribery. It's priming the pump. And it works well."
Sinclair told the Post that he spent about $50,000 every few weeks on the "economic warfare."
The strategy of co-opting the enemy appeared to have worked.
Sinclair, according to news reports, was confident enough in the security that he offered to meet local university students. When he arrived to greet them, Sinclair took off his bulletproof vest and left his weapon outside.
By September 2004, Sinclair walked the streets of Tikrit, an act that might have been greeted with a rocket-propelled grenade just months earlier.
"This was RPG Alley," Sinclair told a reporter with The U.K. Daily Telegraph. "Now, I can sit on the curb there and have an ice cream."
In 2007, Sinclair became commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Germany and returned to Iraq, where he oversaw a large swath of Iraq south of Baghdad.
That was his last stop before returning to Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne Division in 2010, a move that reunited him with Huggins and preceded his nomination for his first star.
Staff writer Drew Brooks can be reached at email@example.com or 486-3567.