Former Fort Benning commander retires with no reprimand after Army investigates his social media use
Stars and Stripes January 3, 2023
ATLANTA — Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, the former commander of Fort Benning, Ga., retired from the Army on Sunday after he was cleared of wrongdoing in an investigation into his use of social media.
“Elvis has left the building,” Donahoe tweeted from his Twitter account Sunday, announcing his retirement, which had been held up for months by an Army probe into his past use of that social media account.
Donahoe said Tuesday that he was cleared to retire without any negative administrative action following the investigation. He officially retired from the Army as a two-star general, according to a service document.
Army spokespersons did not immediately provide comment Tuesday about Donahoe’s retirement.
Service officials acknowledged in September that Donahoe’s retirement, initially expected in the fall, had been delayed as the Army completed reviews of his online behavior, sparked in part by his March 2021 Twitter clash with Fox News broadcaster Tucker Carlson.
Donahoe commanded Fort Benning and its Maneuver Center of Excellence from July 2020 through July 2022. He tweeted regularly during his tenure, amassing more than 25,000 followers. He often interacted with other service members about topics that impact the military and troops’ lives.
In March 2021, Donahoe called out Carlson on Twitter after the television host aired a segment criticizing Pentagon leaders for taking new steps aimed at recruiting and retaining more female troops, which the television host blasted as softening and “making a mockery of the U.S. military.” At the same time, Carlson claimed China’s military was becoming “more masculine.”
Donahoe responded by tweeting a video of himself reenlisting a female staff sergeant at Fort Benning. He wrote it was “just a reminder that @TuckerCarlson couldn’t be more wrong.”
The Army investigation found “national media coverage” that followed Donahoe’s tweets “brought a measurable amount of negative publicity to the Army.” Investigators also criticized some of Donahoe’s other actions on Twitter, including his strong stance in supporting a Pentagon coronavirus vaccine mandate.
Meanwhile, other service members took to Twitter to blast the investigation’s findings and defend Donahoe.
Donahoe has remained in the Columbus, Ga., area since he relinquished command of Fort Benning. He was temporarily assigned as a special assistant to the Army Training and Doctrine Command’s top general, Gen. Gary Brito, but he remained stationed at Fort Benning.
Donahoe said Tuesday that he plans to stay in the Columbus area.