Lt. Gen. Patrick
O'Reilly, the head of the Missile Defense Agency, mismanaged his office,
harassed and bullied his senior staff, and overall failed in his leadership of
the Pentagon's largest program, according to a previously
undisclosed internal report obtained exclusively by The Cable.
O'Reilly "engaged in a leadership style that was
inconsistent with standards expected of senior army leaders," in violation of
Army regulations on ethics and leadership, according to a May investigation
and report by the Defense Department's Inspector General's office that was
never released to the public. The IG's office is recommending that Pentagon
leadership take "corrective action," against O'Reilly.
The report found that O'Reilly regularly yelled and screamed
at subordinates, often in public, demeaned and belittled employees, and behaved
in such a way as to result in the departure of at least six senior staffers
from MDA during his tenure.
"We determined that LTG O'Reilly's behavior and leadership
were inconsistent with the [Joint Ethics Regulation's] emphasis on primary
ethical values of fairness, caring, and respect for all DOD employees and with
[Army Leadership regulations'] requirement to treat subordinates with dignity,
respect, fairness, and consistency," the report stated.
The IG's office gave O'Reilly a chance to respond and in
March, O'Reilly told the IG that he disagreed with its conclusions and denied
several of the specific allegations in the report. But O'Reilly couldn't deny
that senior staff have been fleeing his command. The IG's office said in the
report that it stood by its findings.
"We recommend the Secretary of the Army
consider appropriate corrective action with regard to LTG O'Reilly," the IG
The IG's office interviewed O'Reilly and 37 other witnesses
to his behavior before issuing the scathing report. The inspectors determined
that although O'Reilly has had a distinguished, multi-decade career in the
military and is known to be a hard worker who gets things done, his management
of the MDA office has been nothing short of disastrous.
Here are some of the
descriptions of his leadership given by subordinates and highlighted in the
The worst manager I've worked for in 26 years of
As a leader, as a director, whatever, he's the
In terms of leadership, bottom;
Absolutely last, out of all the generals I've
Without a doubt... the worst leader I've worked
for, the worst;
He has probably been 100 degrees out from
everything I've learned about leadership;
How not to act;
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger; and
Not the command climate I would have set.
In one incident, O'Reilly screamed at an employee for 10-15
minutes in a hotel lobby because the employee booked a hotel with the word
"resort" in its title. O'Reilly was afraid of news stories that would make MDA
seem like it was living it up on trips. The employee reported that O'Reilly
forced him/her to curse in admitting the mistake, even though that employee
didn't want to use profanity.
"You fucked up, you tell me you fucked [up], admit you
fucked up," O'Reilly screamed at the staffer, according to the witness. "This
is fucking unacceptable. I want you to tell me you fucked up."
"I fucked up," the staffer finally said, after trying to
explain him/herself in a more nuanced way.
Other witnesses said that O'Reilly often screamed and yelled
during video conferences and staff meetings, which discouraged staff from
speaking up at meetings for fear of being berated. One witness described
O'Reilly's personality as "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
Other witness statements about O'Reilly's leadership
described it as "condescending, sarcastic, abusive," "management by blowtorch
and pliers," and one senior official compared the senior staff's predicament to
"beaten wife syndrome."
A senior MDA official told the IG that "LTG O'Reilly would
‘berate you, make you feel like you're the dirt beneath his feet,' then pay a
compliment to rebuild the employee, and later repeat that cycle," the IG report
O'Reilly reportedly also at one time or another called
various employees, "a bunch of god damned idiots," "just a moron who he'd
gladly choke," "a dumb fuck," and an "ignorant ass." O'Reilly told the IG
office he didn't remember making those comments.
The names of the senior officials who fled O'Reilly's
command were redacted from the report, but some of their titles weren't. They
served as the former program director for sensors, the former director for operations,
the former director of quality, safety, and mission assurance, and the former
program director for target and counter-missions.
One senior staffer who left under duress was Katrina MacFarland, MDA's
acquisitions chief, who is now the assistant secretary of defense for
acquisitions following an interim stint as president of the Defense
In his response to the IG, O'Reilly wrote that the witness
testimony amounted to "subjective perceptions," and "extrapolations of
inaccurate perceptions of isolated incidents."
He is scheduled to retire this November but the IG office is
recommending disciplinary action now. MDA spokesman Rich Lehner declined to comment on the report.
The Missile Defense Agency received $8.4
billion in fiscal 2012. In 2011, MDA was ranked 228 out of 240 in the list of best places to work in the federal government, as compiled by the Partnership for Public Service.
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