Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Army sergeant says suspension tied to bias

She has filed a complaint alleging sexism and racism, and is asking reinstatement to a key job.

Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King became the first woman to command Army drill sergeant training. (Mary Ann Chastain/AP file photo)
Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King became the first woman to command Army drill sergeant training. (Mary Ann Chastain/AP file photo)Read more

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The first woman to command the Army's drill sergeant training took legal action Monday to reclaim her job, alleging that she was improperly suspended last year because of sexism and racism and demanding that two of her superiors be investigated for abuse of their authority.

Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King still does not know exactly what her superiors were investigating when they suspended her Nov. 29, according to her attorney, James Smith. He said the Army has declined to say specifically what it was looking into, beyond a general statement that it involved her conduct.

Smith filed a legal complaint Monday with the Army against two of King's superiors, and wants to have King reinstated to her position. Smith is also asking for a congressional probe of King's treatment.

Army officials said they wanted to study the complaint before commenting.

King, who is black, made headlines in 2009 when the Army named her as the first woman to head the Drill Sergeant School at Fort Jackson, the Army's largest training installation.

Smith has statements from King's deputy at the school and an Army colonel who worked with King contending she is a victim of sexism and racism on the part of soldiers who resented her promotion and the national attention it drew.

"It's abundantly clear that there was nothing to warrant her removal. The Army should reinstate her and restore her honorable name," Smith said in an interview with the Associated Press.

The attorney said King, 50, has declined to comment on the actions, saying the complaint stands on its own.

Smith said the complaint is being filed against Maj. Gen. Richard Longo, who ordered King suspended, and his top enlisted aide, Command Sgt. Maj. John Calpena.

At the time of the decision, Longo was the head of the Army's basic and advanced military training at the Training and Doctrine Command, which has responsibility for the drill sergeant school. He now is serving in Afghanistan.

E-mails to Longo and Calpena were not immediately answered.