Ousted 172nd Infantry brigade commander not liked

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Col. Frank Zachar, relieved as commander of the 172nd Infantry Brigade, sounds like a real winner. Judging not by the Stripes article that broke the news–but by the anonymous comments accompanying it. Sure, anyone can say anything anonymously, but there is some consistency there.

“He was so bad that the soldiers nicknamed him the Fuhrer,” writes “Iron Ranger.” “CSM French was also terrible. When I was with the 16th he was a 1SG, and was easily the worst one I ever served under, he regularly micromanaged his company and consistently undermined his platoon sergeants. Believe me, the 172nd will be stronger for this.”

Zachar was in charge of 3,500 personnel in Grafenwöhr and Schweinfurt, Germany, and the Stripes story is a magnet for folks like “Iron Ranger” who just didn’t like this dude.

The comments paint a picture of a commander who was self-aggrandizing, played favorites and “would sell his men out for a tiny piece of ribbon. An absolute disgrace.” Again, Iron Ranger.

It gets personal. “Konails05” writes that while “Konails05” was going through an Article 15 for a drunk and disorderly charge, Zachar told his fiance she was dumb for standing by him.

“Instead of a solution he basically told her to abandon me and move on. Me and my fiance have a four month old baby boy and we haven’t let my article 15 hinder our dreams and desire to serve, but come on why would the leadership you look to for guidance discourage an “Adaptive Army Member” so to say not to readjust his/her attitude but just say quit& get religion. What he didn’t know is I have an excellent Religion and Faith and things seem to work in mysterious ways. I thank both of them for their closed minded attitudes, me and my family has grown closer and stronger. Hooah! Mysterious huh?”

SeeFCBee writes:

“Yes, he and his family need the Lord’s blessing, as do we all. But I must emphatically state that having known them for years on a personal and professional level, he DID NOT do a GREAT job. He was a monster to work for, unless you were one of his favorites. You got to be one of his favorites NOT by working hard and doing your best and being dedicated to the soldiers and the mission, but by kissing up to him. He always tried to be chummy with his peers and to grandstand as much as possible for his superiors. For his subordinates, however, he took a perverse joy in making life absolutely miserable. It was disgusting and disheartening to experience.”

“M” writes:

“As someone who has worked in close proximity to these two during their tenure as Commander/CSM I can honestly say that the 172nd is definitely stronger for this. When he told a field grade officer that his OER is directly determined by the amount of times he, him personally not the troops in the BDE, makes the paper or when he said he didn’t care how many people he had to put in an 8×15′ room that was designed for one, these are just a few of the things that made myself and several others lose all respect for that man. The fact that the CSM didn’t stand up for the troops or the training program speaks volumes more then I could ever say.”

“WolfHound2” writes:

“Zachar ran his troops into the ground, every morning I would wake up saying to myself “today is going to suck” He never let up, we had a Soldier get killed on the range and he had us finish the live fire saying thats what the fallen Soldier would have wanted. He was a typical officer who only cares about his OER. As a squad Leader in his Battalion I can honestly say I learned nothing because every FTX or Training excercise we did was so scripted you couldn’t think outside the box. I actually developed quite a drinking problem while under his regime as most of my platoon did, it was the only way to get some kind of release.”

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  1. Wanna see proof this guy was a nutbag? Check out his family website – http://www.zachar.net/index.php?p=1_7_Favorite-Links – there’s a link to his art gallery. Click on that, it goes to a page with some crazy looking paintings and an appeal for *donations to feed his family*. I can’t believe this O6 was painting himself as a starving artist and begging for canned goods and checks!

  2. It is so tough in the Army, this guy drove his Soldiers to drink and become drunks. How about self discipline and common sense and avoid writing stupid comments. Put some factual incidents that we can read.

  3. Values has everything to say in this issue. Frank was not of sound mind and body during his decision making process. If he has not already retired, he should. the civilian world can use him to manage one of there Warehouses.

  4. I served under this guy in 116 Infantry out of ft.riley and hes ability to lead soldiers where also a question there . Along with SGM french.

  5. by the way the soldier that was killed at a live fire was my friend, and squad member. The way the situation was handled was an outrage, and should have been handled differently. Of course he was disciplined with nothing I just lost a freind thats all.

  6. This is unfortunate for the Soldiers in that command as well as the Solders the he managed over his 20+ years. This colonels style wasn’t new to his chain of command. The difference is that the command doesn’t care who is really jacked up, a poor leader, non-developer of Soldiers – his rater and sr raters should be scrutinized as well – what remarks and blocking did they give he over the years..wake up Big Army – there are many many of these types of “sr leaders” who are completely worthless – take your blinders off. Yes there are many good leaders as well but colonels and Command Sgt Maj shouldn’t be able to unmotivate and disinspire for so long w/o Army Sr leadership identifying this behavior…

  7. I believe this happens on a larger scale than people know of, and I honestly think we’ve come to a point that a lot of senior leadership, both officer and enlisted, are so corrupt and do things for self gratification no matter what the cost. With several years in the Army, I believe I’m assigned to one of the worst BDEs of my career. Fort Bragg, 18th Fires BDE. I have seen discrimination against Latinos, NON Airborne personnel, female Soldiers, and Soldiers with permanent profiles. Majority of the officers in command positions are white males, and the majority of the senior enlisted in leadership positions are black males. All others seeking a leadership role can look for a job elsewhere, however, each side will have 1 or 2 opposite of the majority for good measure. If CSMs would start appointing CSMs and 1SGs based on qualifications and experience, instead of skin color, friendships or EXTERNAL organizations they belong to, they might start to see a change. In reality it’s not enough to be a good, qualified, and experienced NCO anymore, it’s all about who you know. If your a Mason or OES, you might stand a better chance of being assigned to leadership positions, at least on the NCO side of the house.

  8. I remember this guy from Fort Riley. Real putz and pretty boy. Sad thing was, he was representative of many, but not all of the leaders in 1ID at the time.

  9. I served under this man when he was a company commander. I can attest to his unsuitability as a leader. He ran his troops harder than any other commander in the battalion, and pushed us harder than any other unit I had been in, I have been in for 20 years now and have yet to be treated the way he treated us. I did not deploy with this guy, and from what I seen of his 16 months or so of command at company level I am glad I didn’t deploy with him. I never seen the number of AWOLS, drunk driving incidents, suicides and homicides, and domestic issues in any command as much as I had in his. I can’t fathom what it would have been like being in his battalion or brigade. I remember one particular incident that we had with him and it involved being locked down for an extended period of time do his shortcomings, but with any one of his caliber he was able to justify his actions and avert the blame to his entire company. I am honestly not surprised he was removed, I am just surprised that it tooks this long. He was very Captain Queeg like. The fact that it took this long for it happen makes me question his superiors. I watched this man relieve good NCO’s and 2lt’s because of his personal conflict with their beliefs and morals. I watched this man tear families apart, with having soldiers put on orders for a year in Korea, or TDY to some armpit post just to put strain on a marriage. I witnessed this man attempt to punish his entire company for a barracks shooting we had, ironically enough over something he was doing to a soldier. The recollections are many, and the more I sit here and think about it, the more I recall how miserable this man made an entire company.

  10. After reading these posts, it is unfortunately gratifying to see the Army correct itself- an organization will never be able to crush all the dead weight like this o6 (I would address him as colonel but that title is reserved for competent leaders) but will, over time find those who are socially inept wrt other Soldiers. All too often these “leaders” are known, but are seldom disciplined, relieved etc. As LTC CWR stated – most all are interested in the results, not the 2nd and 3rd order effects on our greatest machine – the US Soldier! Torched earth policy will continue to reign as long as the GO/FO cabal fails to police its own.

  11. This is only the tip of the iceberg. I have served 20 years as a commisisoned officer and have seen many of these “fast-tracking” “high-speed” toads like this guy shoot right to the top. I had a newly arrived battalion commander in Iraq attempt to coerce me (one of his veteran combat company commanders) into “forcing” my (wounded) men to pay for gear destroyed in close combat with the enemy. (he personally never stayed forward, but rather returned to the safety of Fort Bragg). In other cases, I have seen Division and JTF Chiefs of Staff personally destroy the functionings of well-oiled Division staffs with their idiotic GFIs, mangling the effectiveness of the staff to plan and conduct combat operations. At least in the case of this nutbag colonel the Army has seen fit to identify and shitcan this turd….an extremely rare occurance. There are about 3 of these characters on Fort Bragg, with similar character and leadership traits. BTW- Notice: he has all the right badges too! I have a long list of similar incompetent, drooling Capt Queeg’s just like this hero. By the way, when Secretary Gates begins culling the ranks, he needs to start with every Individual Augmentee officer and EVERY reserve officer who has “volunteered” and become “regular, active Army”. These officers have wiggled their way onto active duty with few qualifications, havent competed for their positions or rank, and get on the government dole. How is that a reserve/weekend warrior officer, say-a LTC, can hold a primary staff position when his experience and cumulative active duty time equates to that of a regular Army CPT? What moron came up with that system? Can them all.
    Next: dig deep into Fort Bragg, with the IG in tow, and root out all the Captain-Sobel’s serving there….

  12. Pingback: Is the Army Finally Getting Serious About Toxic Leaders? |

  13. I’ve just read the wikipeadia article about Vice admiral Arnold who rose to Surgeon General of the Navy by putting incredible lies on to his resume (he “earned a PhD and JD in one year” T urns out from a diploma mill. I’ve served under commanders like Zachar (haven’t we all) and am so happy he’s at last been found out. I really think that there needs to be an independent audit of all senior commanders (maybe 06 and above) that involves complete record checks AND interviews with those who served under them – down to the soldier level.

  14. When the Army went to a “top block” system, the Officers became outrageously competitive and cut throat. It’s all about their career, not the actual job. The CSM system has also been corrupt in that to get a Brigade you had to be a buddy of the Division CSM. That system has changed to a selection process at DA. No more golfing buddy selections!

  15. LTC_WM, hey there buddy, thanks for posting such degenerative comment about us IRR type guys who got called to active duty when the country needed us.. Thank you. I was transitioned after my second tour in Iraq. I really hadf no ambition to be Regular Army, and I still don’t, I like to thrive on our nations proud military history of citizen soldiership. I am staying on now because the Army kept me so long that I am now near retirement, wow, has it been ten years at war already. Hmmm. With all due respect, Your a douche, Sir….

  16. LTC_WM, with all due respect, your comments are unfounded and you obvioiusly lack any experience dealing with Reserve officers. I was one of those “Reserve” officers that you talk about that went on Active Duty. I can tell you this – even as a Reserve Offficer other Active Duty officers thought I was Regular Army. I was, as I am now, physically fit and technically and tactically competent. If I don’t know something, I admit it and try to learn what I don’t know. I work to earn the respect of my Soldiers every day.

    I would be glad to compete and share my full knowledge on your so called “board”. However, let us level the playing field. My civilian experience and education has allowed me to think outside the box and achieve success where the Army would not have given it to me. The Army right now promotes by time in grade, not ability.

    The problem with the Army right now is there is no accountability. Leaders are only held accountable when something bad happens and it becomes a witch hunt. Standards and discipline need to be enforced and officers need to understand they are held to the same standards as their enlisted soldiers.

  17. I served with this guy in the 172nd- I was surprised when he was relieved, only because I had never seend a Brigade Commander fired before. His leadership style was ridiculous. He created an incentive program around Master Resiliency Training, which gave you points for going to church and seeing counselors about your problems. He was also worried more getting his picture in the paper with the Germans than deploying the Brigade to Afghanistan. Thank god the Army fired his guy- he would have gotten good men killed in battle.

  18. I was having dinner with a friend tonight who was an OC when this officer was a CPT and said that he reported to the senior OC about how bad this officer was treating his people. This has been going on for a long time and I think the people who wrote his great OERs in the past should be investigated as well and help responsible because they too have poor judgement. I had a boss like this a couple of years ago ago at West Point and he was the worst leader I ever had in my 20 years of service and 4 years as a GS Employee. He destroyed the morale of everyone on the staff. The only reason he got away with it was because he wore the uniform of the united states Army and the rank of Colonel. If he was in a civilian job, they would have beat the crap out of him. He humiliated people and was just down right mean. Soldiers deserve better than this and why do the senior leaders who rate these officers allow them to get through the system. I know that the senior leaders at West Point knew exactly what this particular officer was like and turned the other way. All officers should be rated by some of their Soldiers and Peers before they are put in a key leader and command positions. Our Soldiers need the best and brightest officers and NCOs leading them.

  19. Major disappointed on

    First off let me say I completly understand what this unit went through ,incompetent and self serving leaders seem to be on the rise in the Army, I recently deployed with a national gaurd unit out of Illinois for a year to Afghanistan and from the sounds of it this colonel sounds like 90 percent of the senior officers who were running our brigade combat team. I have been in the army since the early 80’s and half of those spent with 82nd and 101st as an enlisted so I know a thing or two about good and bad leaders, I have never in my military career seen such a collection of cluster!@#$! leaders in the army as I have in the last 5 years. Senior leaders have no idea how quickly they can demotivate soldiers and rip apart units and the sad apart about it is nothing happens to them…they get there unearned bronze stars and their fake badges and completly use the enlisted as their stepping stones to reach the next level of their careers and ruining a few careers on the way out no doubt. I truly believe senior soldiers should be held accountable for thier bad decisions and incompetent leadership just as much as lower enlisted otherwise soldiers like this colonel will cause the foundation of what this army is built on ( the lower ranks) to crumble. I have been there and lived it the racisim, favortism, badge hunting, ribbon hunting, lying etc. It is sloooowly bleeding this army dry of good soldiers and leaving behind the selfserving types in some cases and unfortunately they are our future leaders and in some cases our current ones. And sadly the my state national gaurd is a prime example of all this

  20. I too have witnessed the success and accession of rank and power of the pretty boy types; senior NCO’s and officers alike. They sport the tabs and badges, run fast and look good. But when it comes to LBE, they don’t measure up. The fonts of a PowerPoint presentation are more important than Soldiers. These are the type that are more worried about a soldier getting a PT test in a combat zone than the fact that they don’t have sufficient ammunition to conduct sustainment training with their weapons.
    One constant that pervades the officer corps (active duty more so than Guard and Reserves but that’s changing for the worse) is the individual decision making process of the majority of field grade officers. One of the most important aspects of their individual decision making process is how does the act or action they are about to undertake impact their OER. They base decisions on whether or not what they do creates a great bullet statement for their OER.
    Candor doesn’t exist for all intents and purposes. If you are candid, you are crucified. Speak out against a plan or a process and see what it gets you. Why is the Army constantly reinventing the wheel in Afghanistan? Why does a Commander say that his number one mission is to get all of his people home safely? I thought the number one mission was to close with and destroy the enemy or support to the fullest those that are doing that. Why do senior NCO’s allow females to walk around with their hair below their collars or in a bun so big they need a patrol cap 4 sizes larger than normal and don’t say a word but want to fine you if you don’t have a safety reflective belt?
    And now this has crept into the ranks of field grade officers in the Guard and Reserves; the last bastion of the sanity check. They too as a group have succumbed to the lure of promotions and awards. You used to be able to count on Guard and reserve Officers to speak up because they had their civilian jobs to go back to and could afford to be open about things. But not anymore.
    I have witnessed officers get promoted below zone or with a waiver for Professional Education and refuse to deploy due to “family reasons” . How do you serve as a reservist for 20+ years and not go down range? How do you look in the mirror like what you see when you couldn’t even do a 60 day short tour? These are the officers who seem to get ahead along with those who deserve to. But they ran a sub 12 minute 2 miles on their last APFT; they took 5 times to qualify with their M9 but they sure look good in a photo.
    I started out as enlisted and progressed into the NCO ranks before being commissioned. I saw the political games and the cheese eaters and yes men. And I vowed I would never be one of them. And I pissed off a few senior officers in the process. But I was not reprimanded because what I said was true. And I watched a few others do the same, but we few, we band of s^!theads.

  21. Bandido Charlie White 4G on

    I served under Col. Z in the 16th Infantry. Never have I been appointed a more incompetent “leader” who cared nothing for the Soldier but only for himself. To see this happen is a sweet justice that unfortunately took far too long to occur. I was there when the Soldier from A co. was killed and the troops were forced to stay out instead of being allowed to cope with the incident. I was there for the horrid treatment of the NCO’s. Under Col Z’s rule, the Officer was the only word heard or spoken in that battalion, if you were an NCO, you were merely an object and a tool to force his will down the throats of the Soldiers in the battalion. The entire battalion deployed to Iraq and Africa without this guy, who had no problem “staying behind to begin the Advisor training mission”. The guy is rediculous, so glad he’s gone and being placed somewhere he can’t ruin anyone else.

  22. Really sad to see this all go down and really understand how long people suffered with this type of leader. Let me just say that he did not choose to stay behind and develop the MiTT mission, he wasn’t allowed to deploy forward. When the companies of 1-16 IN went forward they were farmed out, not under the control of any single unit. He did not rate any of his officers or NCO’s once they deployed. He was always bitter and did not acknowledge his deployed companies as part of 1-16. I worked for and with some of the previous and later men who held the title Iron Ranger 6, please don’t confuse him with them, they were men of honor.

  23. While I never met this officer(?), I know him. I think the first time I met his ilk was from the classic movie “From Here to Eternity”. Remember the incompetent, self-centered CPT whose primary concern was his boxing team and promotion? Mission first, subordinates a close second, and self a distant third!

  24. To hear that a soldier was accidently killed on a firing range isn’t uncommon but to hear that the firing range continued after the death strikes me as completely unethical, immoral and unprofessional. To think that no one in his senior command wouldnt and didnt reprimand or relieve this leader brings questions of serious dereliction of duties. No one from the IG’s office or division staff at the time stopped this man?

  25. Glad to see so many Soldiers of all ranks agree – it is good to get toxic leaders removed.

    I’ve been on active duty, and am now a Reserve LTC. As for LTC WM’s comments – hey, if the Active Duty wants to fill all the Staff jobs – you got it! I personally enjoyed my successful company command in Baghdad and hated the staff time that went with it.

  26. I just checked AKO and this guy is listed as still being on active duty! Why? If this information is correct, then the Army is not moving very fast to eliminate Toxic Leaders and is only giving lip service! I am not surprised!

  27. 1SG Greenwalt (Ret) on

    I was transitioning out of 1/16 as he was coming on board as a Bn Cdr. After a difficult tour in Ramadi/Falluja the men had a lot of relearning to do just about life in general at home, let alone new skill sets for a transitioning army. I recall the climate of the soldiers upon his arrival until I retired changed from confidence and pride in a job well done to a unit that simply did not want to perform. This, as I knew it, was a direct result of this mans performance as a leader. He should have been removed from command then but instead he was given top blocks and moved on to higher positions of command.
    The previous statements were correct, LTC Zachar is not the only one who should have been investigated, he is not alone in the fault for this.
    Iron Rangers!

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