General in Charge of Missile Defense Agency Accused of Outlandish Bullying of Staff

Saturday, July 07, 2012
Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly
To call Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly, head of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), a bully is putting it mildly. The MDA is tasked with developing a viable system for protecting the United States and its interests from ballistic missile attacks.
O’Reilly, who took charge of the agency on November 21, 2008, was the subject of a recent Department of Defense inspector general’s report after complaints surfaced about his leadership style.
Those who have served under him have described life at the MDA as “management by blowtorch and pliers.” Another compared O’Reilly to a “wife beater,” saying the general would save his verbal punishment for private moments—“you know, where the public can’t see.”
On the other hand, O’Reilly has not been above abusively berating people in front of others. In a public space at a hotel in Tucson, Arizona, O’Reilly spent about ten minutes screaming at a subordinate, ordering her to admit to an alleged mistake by saying, “I fucked up.”
In another incident, he “shredded” an Army colonel in front of an audience of about 200 people because of a typographical error in a chart.
Among the other more colorful remarks from those who have dealt with him:
·         “The worst manager I’ve ever worked for in 26 years of federal service.”
·         “He has probably been 180 degrees out from everything I’ve learned about leadership.”
·         He gave the impression he has “no respect for his workforce, that they are almost a bunch of robots that just come to work and get the job done, that they don’t have a life outside of work of a family outside of work and that their time is not really that valuable.”
·         He had “an attitude of instilling fear in people.”
·         He cussed “like a 1940s sailor.”
On different occasions he called various members of his staff, an “ignorant ass,” a “dumb fuck,” a “moron” he would “gladly choke.”
Not surprisingly perhaps, several senior staff members have left the MDA due to O’Reilly’s conduct.
O’Reilly denied just about everything in the report, but the inspector general’s office stated that “a preponderance of evidence” led them to “stand by our conclusion” that “corrective action” was needed in dealing with O’Reilly.
The IG report, based on 37 witnesses, including 4 requested by O’Reilly, was completed in May 2012, but not released to the public. It only came to light after Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy’s The Cable blog obtained a copy and wrote about it.
O’Reilly was born in San Jose, California, and raised as an Army brat, which included time spent in Kansas and Texas. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps. He later earned master’s degrees in physics, national security and strategic studies, and business. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College, the U.S. Naval College of Command and Staff and the U.S. Army War College.
During his career, which has included more than a decade working in missile defense, O’Reilly has served in both command and staff officer positions in a variety of operational units including the 1st Cavalry Division, the 3rd Support Command, Germany, and as an assistant professor of physics at the Military Academy.
As an acquisition officer, he served as program manager for the Patriot PAC-3 Missile and, beginning in July 1999, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Missile system,
His next position was the Army Program Executive Officer for Combat Support and Combat Service Support, in charge of buying and maintaining wheeled vehicles. In September 2005 he took over as program director of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.
Prior to becoming the director of MDA, O’Reilly served two years as the agency’s deputy director, beginning in January 2007.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Report of Investigation Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly (Department of Defense, Inspector General) (pdf)


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