Earlier today the Army announced the immediate suspension of Brigadier General John M. Cho, the head of the Western Regional Medical Command located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. The command is in charge of Army hospitals in 20 Western states.
Cho is a cardiac surgeon who has held the position for less than a year. Maj. Gen. Thomas Tempel Jr. will serve as Cho's replacement pending the outcome of the inquiry.
The Army has declined to give details of Cho’s suspension saying only that they are conducting an inquiry centered on the “command climate of the organization.” Cho was suspended directly by Army Surgeon General, Lt. General Patricia D. Horoho, who is also based at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord facility.
Brig. General Cho will temporarily be assigned to the office of the Army Surgeon General with “duty assignment” until the inquiry is complete.
Sharon Ayala, spokesperson for the Western Regional Medical Command declined to make further comments on the suspension or to grant any interviews with the media.
While there was no indication of what the Army probe is about, a similar inquiry grounded the former commander of the Blue Angels. The allegations against Navy Capt. Gregory McWherter found “he repeatedly failed to stop sexual harassment and condoned pornography, homophobia and lecherous behavior in the workplace.”
Earlier this year, the Army suspended Col. Steven Brewster from his post at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., following two sudden patient deaths.
These inquiries typically don’t generate interest by the media until the investigation is complete, however an inquiry of this magnitude usually means the end of a military career. The Army will be thorough in their review; there is no timetable for the length of the inquiry.