Report: 172nd CO's style was "toxic"

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Col. Frank Zachar, center. (U.S. Army photo)

Yes, we reported on Col. Frank Zachar weeks ago. But to pull back the curtain here, our site stats show a continuing interest in Zachar and his alleged antics–and I’m for giving the people what they want in this case.

Here’s a link to our most recent story.

A 15-6 found in Zachar brigade that four of Zachar’s six battalion commanders and four of his five sergeants major said they felt he had a negative leadership style. Brig. Gen. Jimmie Jaye Wells, who conducted U.S. Army Europe’s investigation, said Zachar “demonstrates arrogance, deception and threatening behavior.”

To add insult to injury — Zachar and his command sergeant major were removed — a lieutenant colonel said in a sworn statement that Zachar was nicknamed “s— finger,” because “everything he touched turned to crap.” Brigade leadership described him as manipulative, insincere, obsessed with personal loyalty and a font of confusing guidance.

“Too many times, the 14 of us are looking at each other and wondering what he means,” read a command sergeant major’s statement. “We don’t know what the hell we’re supposed to do because he changes from day to day what his focus is.”

Several statements agreed that Zachar threatened disloyal battalion leaders with violence, metaphorical or otherwise.

“He said that if we are disloyal … then he was going to take an ice pick and shove it in our left eye,” read one lieutenant colonel’s sworn statement. “He said this more than once and said it was exactly what he meant.”

Reached by Army Times, Zachar said, “I did nothing wrong.”

“There were some people [in the brigade]from the very beginning who were trying to twist everything I said,” he said in a Feb. 24 telephone interview from Washington, D.C. “They had some grievances with me, and they were not going to let them go, and it split the command. The more I tried to undo what they were saying, the more leverage I gave to them.”

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  1. Reading this blog and the attached article brings to mind a question: If COL Zachar was really as toxic as his subordinates seem to portray him, how did he not come up on the radar until BDE Command? This seems to be example of a situation in which the Army could benefit from a mandatory 360-degree feedback program to solicit feedback from subordinates, peers and superiors. It could augment the OER system as a way to evaluate candidates for Command Positions. Surely, 360-degree feedback solicited for Company Commanders and above could help Selection Boards build a broader picture of candidates than the OER alone. It would also help the officer evaluated gain self-awareness of the impact his or her leadership style is having on his or her subordinates and peers. The Army already has the tool, but it is on the individual to initiate the 360-degree feedback. I have used it and it was certainly valuable in making me aware of areas I could improve that could not be easily evaluated by my rater and senior rater.

    MAJ Ryan Keating
    Student, Command and General Staff College
    U.S. Army Combined Arms Center
    Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas

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