Central Command’s top spokesman during the Inspector General’s general investigation

U.S. Central Command has suspended its top spokesman pending an investigation by the inspector general, according to three sources familiar with the investigation.

Army Colonel Joe Buccino has served as CENTCOM’s Public Relations Officer and CENTCOM’s Chief of Staff, Army Eric Crilla, since April 2022, when the General assumed command of the organization overseeing defense operations in the Middle East region of Asia. I have served as an advisor to the General. .

Buccino, who was formally suspended Tuesday, declined to comment on the investigation. CENTCOM did not respond to the Military Times’ request for confirmation as of Friday afternoon.

CENTCOM is the third command Buccino has served as spokesperson for Kurilla in the last decade. Buccino previously served under Krilla during his General’s tenure with the 18th Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The current investigation calls into question the ties, according to three people who spoke to the Military Times on condition of anonymity for fear of military retaliation. Included are allegations that Buccino fostered a hostile command environment and demonstrated poor judgment in his conduct and communication with staff.

“No one who has worked with him over the past few years is surprised by this,” said one of the sources.

General complaints of multiple inspectors filed with both CENTCOM and the Department of Defense, A preliminary investigation was conducted earlier this year, two sources confirmed, and a spokesperson provided a written statement about the boss in April.

The statement included that Buccino called staff at any time to have private conversations or discuss non-urgent business.

“Another thing that leaders at all levels need to understand is that even though the military operates 24/7, you have to put yourself in other people’s shoes.” said one source. “They have to understand that they need some kind of boundary, some kind of separation. I think that’s the point.”

Findings from the statement led to Buccino’s suspension and subsequent Pentagon-level investigation. However, CENTCOM conducts an investigation and he is tasked with reporting the results to Kurilla.

In the wake of the allegations, a source expressed concern over whether Kurilla would be an impartial decision maker as someone who has worked closely with Buccino.

“It goes back to trusting the system. Of course you have to trust the system to work, but with that said, they may be too close,” a source said. , I don’t know how to get rid of emotions.”

Another source also expressed confidence in the system, adding that there is growing optimism that the high-profile survey will not obscure or downplay its findings.

“I think leaders like Kurilla’s stand in particular are probably more concerned with keeping their noses clean,” the source said.

Buccino’s investigation is the second such high-profile investigation into a high-ranking spokesperson in recent years, following Brig’s dismissal at the time in 2021. General Amy Johnston, chief of public affairs for the Army.

A command environment survey that year found that 97% of Johnston’s staff reported a hostile command environment. His two-thirds of them reported low morale, and about a quarter reported witnessing sexual and/or racial harassment. Johnston received written disciplinary action and retired in 2022.

Megan Myers is the Pentagon Bureau Chief of the Military Times. She covers operations, policy, human resources, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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