Col. Frank Zachar, commander of the 172nd Infantry Brigade

Col. Frank Zachar, commander of the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The Army has relieved the commander of the 172nd Infantry Brigade, shortly before the unit intensifies its training for an Afghanistan deployment this summer.

Acting V Corps commander Brig. Gen. Allen W. Batschelet said Tuesday that Col. Frank Zachar was relieved of command on Monday, “… due to loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

Batschelet said there was no specific incident that led the Army to relieve Zachar.

“There weren’t any illegal, immoral or unethical activities,” he said. “His (Zachar’s) leadership style wasn’t really effective and over time the command here lost confidence in his ability to command.”

Attempts to reach Zachar on Tuesday night were unsuccessful.

The 172nd, which has roughly 3,500 personnel, is based in Grafenwöhr and Schweinfurt, Germany.

Zachar, who took command of the 172nd in May, served in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Before joining the 172nd he attended the Army War College, according to the brigade’s website.

“He’s going to be reassigned commensurate with his abilities and rank,” Batschelet said of Zachar’s future.

The 172nd’s top enlisted soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Robert French, will also be reassigned as a result of the decision to relieve Zachar, Batschelet said. The 172nd’s website lists Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna as the unit’s interim command sergeant major.

The 172nd is also without a deputy commander since the last officer to hold that position, Lt. Col. Jamie Gough, recently moved to another assignment. 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment commander Lt. Col. Christopher Cardoni has been appointed interim brigade commander until a new leader is appointed, Batschelet said.

“The Army will identify and provide a new brigade commander as expeditiously as it can,” he said.

The loss of the brigade’s commander will not adversely affect the unit’s preparation for the Afghan mission. The 172nd has a training plan that is similar to those followed by other brigades that have deployed, he said.

“I have full confidence in the soldiers and leaders who are inside that formation,” Batschelet said. “The unit will be prepared for its impending deployment.”

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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