FORT HOOD — A 1st Cavalry Division brigade commander is under investigation after allegations of toxic leadership and violating coronavirus quarantines.
Col. Michael Schoenfeldt is the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team commander. The Fort Hood brigade deployed in November to Europe for Operation Atlantic Resolve, but Schoenfeldt departed Germany for Texas in February because of unspecified health reasons, division officials said.
The Stars and Stripes reported Monday that he now faces “numerous allegations by subordinate officers related to what they described as a bullying leadership style.”
The division has initiated investigations into various alleged concerns of counter-productive leadership and violations of COVID mitigation policy while in Europe, a division spokesman said.
“Col. Schoenfeldt has not been relieved or suspended but has returned to the United States while receiving medical treatment and an acting commander has been designated during his absence,” said 1st Cavalry spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam. “The brigade continues its activities in support of Atlantic Resolve and its participation in numerous exercises in support of US Army Europe–Africa.”
The death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen last year sparked an independent investigation that found a pervasive climate of abuse and sexual harassment at Fort Hood, leading to the relief or suspension of at least 14 leaders by December. Soldiers in the brigade told the Stars and Stripes that the toxic climate in their unit continued well after the findings of widespread dysfunction were reported to Congress.
They also told Stars and Stripes that upon arrival, soldiers were required to quarantine and restrict their movements to a designated camp to prevent the spread of the virus, per U.S. Army Europe and Africa rules. Instead, Schoenfeldt stayed at a hotel and made trips in and out of the restriction-of-movement area.
Brautigam said the division command takes the allegations very seriously.
“The 1st Cavalry Division prioritizes our troopers through initiatives that ensure we put our People First,” he said. “People First aims at eradicating harmful behaviors from our formations. These behaviors include, but are not limited to: sexual assault, sexual harassment, racism, extremism, and suicide.
“The Division has integrated these initiatives into everything we do, including our readiness training, our People First Focus Weeks and our Foundational Days, that focus commanders and staffs on army processes that affect our troopers and their families.”
Schoenfeldt became 1st Brigade’s commander in April 2019. He is a former commander of the brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.