Tactical

Court-martial begins this week for fired artillery battalion commander

The general court-martial for the former commander of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington-based field artillery battalion will begin this week, according to an online court docket and an I Corps spokesperson.

Lt. Col. Herman Bernard West faces a general court-martial for alleged “conduct unbecoming an officer and sexual harassment,” said I Corps spokesperson Lt. Col. Jennifer Bocanegra. Stars and Stripes first reported the Army’s intent to court-martial West.

Bocanegra said the charges were referred to a general court-martial on Jan. 30. General courts-martial are the military’s most severe trial forum — unlike lesser courts, general courts-martial may sentence officers to dismissal, a punishment roughly equivalent to a dishonorable discharge or bad conduct discharge.

West’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8, she added. Bocanegra also noted that West “is innocent until proven guilty.”

The artillery officer was removed as commander of 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment in October, the Army said. His firing came after an investigation substantiated sexual harassment allegations, his attorney Jason Wareham confirmed to Army Times in November. Neither Wareham nor West immediately responded to queries from Army Times for this story.

West’s former battalion, which consists of HIMARS rocket artillery batteries, is part of I Corps’ 17th Field Artillery Brigade. The battalion received a new commander in January.

The lieutenant colonel is the nephew of Allen West, himself a former Army lieutenant colonel who was also fired from battalion command in 2003 for conducting a mock execution of a detained Iraqi policeman. The elder West, who has since become a prominent conservative politician, was ultimately forced to retire after receiving nonjudicial punishment for the abuse, which he admitted to investigators.

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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