Report suggests Ranger commander was fired for “risque partying”

(FORT BENNING, Ga) Soldiers, families and friends gather at the National Infantry Museum Parade Field for the 75th Ranger Regiment Change of Command Ceremony July 25, 2013. Colonel Mark Odom relinquished command to Colonel Christopher Vanek. (Photos by: Patrick A. Albright/MCoE PAO Photographer)

New details are emerging about the allegations of misconduct by Col. Christopher Vanek — during his stint as commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

According to Army officials, Vanek received a general officer letter of reprimand – which can often be a “career killer.” Vanek — a career infantryman and seasoned combat vet who did multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan– relinquished command of the elite raid force  in June, according to Army Times.

An Army investigative report reveals several instances of misconduct, on his part, ranging from inappropriate costume parties and overpriced hotel room bills — just to name a few.

The 15-6 Army report outlines allegations against Vanek spanning from August 2013 to Sept. 2014.

The first instance of alleged misconduct reportedly took place during a regimental hail and farewell event in August of 2013 — that Vanek was hosting. During the event, guests played a risqué version of the Newlywed Game – which included very inappropriate questions.

Witnesses say they became very uncomfortable at times when asked questions such as: “Describe your husband in bed.”  The answer options were as follows:  “private, specialist, general or rear-detachment commander.”

Vanek claims he did not have a chance to review the questions being used in the game because he was too busy with the food and catering issues that were popping up during the event.

During another hail and farewell event in Sept 2014, at Ft. Benning, Vanek is accused of failing to take action when two officers showed up with no pants on.  The costume party theme was “Hollywood” and two officers came wearing the Tom Cruise outfit from the memorable “sunglasses” scene in Risky Business.  One officer wore “two pairs of white underwear briefs,” while the other wore “gray bicycling shorts,” the report said.

Then at a third hail and farewell event, in May 2014, “a group of staff officers and at least one spouse played a game of beer pong.”  It’s unclear if Vanek was held responsible for the drinking game — based on the “heavily redacted” report findings.

During a weeklong military freefall training in DeLand, Florida -Vanek was allegedly involved in a tandem jump with a female civilian. Based on the report it seems he was unaware he was violating a U.S. Special Operations Command directive that calls for “no mixing of civilian and military jumpers during the jump operation.”  The USASOC directive also states…”a lift can have a mix of military and civilian jumpers on board the aircraft, but during a pass involving military members there will be no civilian jumpers, nor will civilian jump equipment be utilized by military members.”

There were also allegations of using free passes to NASCAR events which is in violation of DoD rules about receiving unsolicited gifts.. Some work trips that Vanek took in August 2014 were also outlined in the report- calling into question his travel expenses. During a live-fire exercise at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia, the colonel reportedly stayed at the Mansion on Forsyth Park, in Savannah, Georgia. The report states that “the officer obtained Actual Expense Allowance adjustment that was within permissible thresholds, but they were obtained after the travel was complete.” The AEA memo did not meet USASOC requirements, which includes evidence that the traveler made ample effort to contact other lodging facilities within the “per diem allowance.”

The report went on to say that a USASOC inspectors were “highly concerned with the management and functionality of the Travel Program, including the lack of oversight, management and training of subordinate units.”

As a result of the 15-6 investigation, a series of follow-up actions were recommended for the 75th Ranger Regiment. They include: A command climate survey across the organization, improvements in the regimental finance manager’s office, additional training in areas such as sexual assault and harassment prevention and a separate probe into the 75th Ranger Regiment’s military freefall program.

Meantime, Vanek is hoping to remove the reprimand from his record and has submitted a request for consideration to the commanding general of USASOC. He’s currently serving as the assistant chief of staff for US Africa Command.

Author

  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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