'Toxic' Fort Carson battalion commander returns to job despite recommendation to fire her

"You want toxic? I'll show you toxic," Lt. Col. Tammy Baugh allegedly told soldiers in the 1st Battalion of the 25th Aviation Regiment, documents said.

The commander of a Fort Carson helicopter battalion objected when subordinates talked about a toxic command climate, according to documents obtained by The Gazette.

"You want toxic? I'll show you toxic," Lt. Col. Tammy Baugh allegedly told soldiers in the 1st Battalion of the 25th Aviation Regiment, documents said.

A 263-page Army investigation report released under the Freedom of Information Act portrays Baugh as a foul-mouthed boss who belittled soldiers, threw things during a meeting and sometimes stormed out of battalion gatherings.

Baugh and the battalion's command sergeant major were temporarily relieved in July, but later placed back in command despite the scathing report.

"Too many soldiers and leaders in the battalion, across all ranks, have been negatively impacted by her belittling, disrespectful and caustic interaction, and the results of that interaction have been detrimental to morale, effectiveness and climate of the organization and the morale and well-being of soldiers," the report says.

After complaints reached Fort Carson commanders, the investigation was ordered July 3 and Col. William McDonough was appointed to assess Baugh, Command Sgt. Maj. Derrick Merriwether and the command climate of the battalion.

Dozens of soldiers were interviewed, with most calling the climate bad, or worse.

Baugh told investigators she was misunderstood.

"My passion can sometimes be confused with anger," she wrote.

An 18-year veteran, Baugh earned the Bronze Star Medal during Iraq and Afghanistan deployments and was rated as a senior aviator in the 
AH-64 Apache attack helicopters used by the battalion.

Investigators found a climate of frustration and, to some degree, confusion in the battalion. One issue raised is the tangled chain of command above the battalion. The unit is technically part of the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division and falls under a brigade commander there. It also works closely with Fort Carson leaders and falls under the post's chain of command for issues including discipline.

In her statement, Baugh complained about her staff and that her unit has consistently had too few soldiers - with manning topping out at 86 percent.

"This not only generates stress, but has a negative impact on standards," she wrote.

Baugh's troops, though, say their commander was often near the boiling point.

"Her command style is toxic and it bleeds from the highest-
ranking to the lowest, promoting contention among all members of the unit," a captain whose name was redacted from documents wrote in a statement to investigators.

Investigators found that Baugh erupted during meetings.

"She did, in fact, throw a flight schedule at an officer and she does abruptly leave meetings when she is not pleased," the report said.

Baugh's use of foul language was repeatedly documented in the report. The colonel confessed to using dirty words, but said they were never directed at any soldier in particular.

More than 70 percent of the soldiers interviewed by investigators reported that Baugh routinely left meetings when she was unhappy.

In his report, McDonough said Baugh failed to treat soldiers with "dignity and respect." The report blames Baugh for fostering a poor command climate and chastises Merriwether for failing to confront the colonel on the issues.

In a rare step, McDonough called for the firing of Baugh and Merriwether. Fort Carson commander Maj. Gen. Paul LaCamera didn't dispute what McDonough found, but declined to relieve the colonel.

"Findings are approved, recommendations will be taken under advisement," LaCamera wrote in response to the report.

A claim of toxic leadership in the Army can be a career-killer. Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno in 2013 pledged to weed out toxic leaders who bring down morale and don't meet character standards.

Fort Carson confirmed that Baugh returned to command, but didn't respond to questions on what steps were taken to change the command climate in her battalion.

"The suspension imposed on the leadership has been lifted and both have resumed command responsibilities," Fort Carson said in a statement Tuesday. "Neither the commander nor the command sergeant major are facing any disciplinary action and have been cleared of any wrong doing."

In her statement, Baugh said her critics are slackers.

"It seems that those who cannot meet the standard have the loudest voice," she wrote.

And the colonel denies that she belittled troops.

"I have made spot corrections," she wrote.


Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

On Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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