Saturday, April 24, 2021

Ft. Jackson commanding general's statement on an explosive case

Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr., commanding general at Ft. Jackson, has issued an important statement concerning a recent disturbing off-base racial incident. The statement, which follows, is reproduced from this news report by ABC's Josh Berry.

“First, I want to reiterate that the command in no way condones the behaviors and actions depicted in not just one, but two recent videos posted to social media. Those behaviors are absolutely counter to the Army Values and professionalism expected of Soldiers, both on and off duty. For clarity, the Sumter, SC incident are the actions of a former Soldier, discharged from the Army in 2020, but the association to the Army and Fort Jackson obliges me to address each.

I remain in constant dialogue with the elected leaders serving our region at both local and national levels, sharing updates directly, and through my staff, in response to these recent incidents. Your Army is committed to confronting racism, extremism, and corrosive behaviors, but I must remain mindful of protecting due process in both the civil and military jurisdictions as this proceeds.

SFC [Jonathan] Pentland has been charged by Richland County for his actions on April 12th. While I have the authority to take action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or take other administrative actions, I have the utmost confidence in our civilian criminal system and trust that it will reach a fair and just resolution of this case. I do not want to take any actions now that could interfere with the fair resolution of civilian criminal charges.

For the incident in Sumter, SC, I have no jurisdiction, yet remain equally confident that our civilian system will apply due process as the case is reviewed and handled by officials in Sumter County. 

Your Army team at Fort Jackson are grateful for the professionalism and care afforded members of the Army family by our local law enforcement agencies. 

SFC Pentland was transferred to Fort Jackson’s law enforcement team last week and returned to his unit leaders. In accordance with our standards, he has been suspended from his primary duties and continues to serve his command in an administrative capacity, pending the next step in the civil process.

After speaking with Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, Columbia Mayor Steven Benjamin, and State Senator Mia McLeod in conference this week, we acknowledged that there is a desire for a community-level engagement as we work jointly to find the appropriate path to community healing. The reputation and esteem of your Army at Fort Jackson  has taken a terrible blow these past two weeks. I intend to work closely with them to reestablish the mutual trust and kinship engendered by years of determined cooperation.

I am aware that calls for patience and to wait for judicial processes foster additional angst in the now. Locally and nationally, we have-each and all-suffered with the COVID-19 pandemic, physical, emotional, and spiritual separations from family, friends, and people in general. I am not blind to national events that have stirred emotions for everyone.

In our isolation, some people have found greater access to more outlets and quickly give opinions publicly, often less worried about how those opinions impact others. We see your comments and inbox messages and you should know that your expressions are not going unheard. 

Your Army leaders will not allow the actions of a few to tarnish the reputation and selfless service of your Army’s most precious resource-men and women who’ve volunteered to serve honorably-nor to remove the spotlight from the members of our squad who are living the Army values.  

The Army Values are what we will live by. Please continue to hold us to those standards.”

The Sumter County incident is described here and involved a former drill sergeant. 

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