OSD PA, “You can’t handle the truth.”

What had been the imminent takeover of Marine Forces Reserve has been delayed for months, and service reps remain evasive on the details.

According to military sources with knowledge of the matter, Maj. Gen. Buck Sloane (not his real name), who is slated to take the helm at Marine Forces Reserve, might be the subject of an investigation stemming from what widely has been touted as a successful stint in the world of Iraq detainee operations. One source emphatically called the charges against Sloane “BOGUS!” and expected all to be resolved soon.

Sloane, a hit with Marines as well as U.S. Central Command Chief Gen. “King” David Petraeus, seems to have a “second coming” track record. He was a media darling as deputy commanding general, Multi-National Force — Iraq (Detainee Operations) and commanding general, Task Force 134, Baghdad, Iraq, discussing the work he was doing in the area of detainee operations in the post-Abu Ghraib world. Buck and the boys also seemed to have met with success in the crucial area of rebuilding trust in U.S. forces. After his return to the U.S., blogsters were abuzz about what he could do to assist in the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee arena. When we spoke with him earlier this year (an opportunity helped along by a mutual friend), Sloane was warm, funny, gracious, and refreshingly honest.

Sloane was tapped by Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway in early 2008 for the top reserve job. (We reported it April 4, thanks to a source.) On July 23, he was cleared by the Senate for his third star and for his waiting post as commander Marine Forces Reserve.

So, where’s Buck? Lt. Gen. John W. Bergman continues to honcho the New Orleans-based headquarters.

To confirm our information, we called the public affair offices of: Marine Corps Forces Central CommandMarine Forces Reserve, Headquarters Marine CorpsU.S. Central Command, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. It was the doe-eyed sounding and nervous captain at Headquarters Marine Corps who wrote two weeks after our initial query:

“Maj. Gen. [Sloane] is scheduled to be promoted to lieutenant general and assume command of Marine Forces Reserve in January 2009. A specific date has not yet been set. He is currently assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps while awaiting his next assignment. Questions about the timing between his
confirmation and assumption of command should be directed to [DoD].  Their phone number is …”

Actually the Sloane-Bergman swamp stomp originally was scheduled for Sept. 5, 2008. According to sources, Hurricane Gustav conveniently threatened the region around the same time, allowing the Corps to change of command without revealing details about the investigation. That date was later nudged to October 2008. It is now December.

It’s moments like talking to a hostile Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) that make one feel alive. We called, explained what we knew, posed our questions, and listened to the gentleman at OSD yell. He was, in fact, yelling at us, so we restated our questions and submitted them in writing. It seemed we had struck a nerve.

OSD’s official response: “We do not have anything for you on this.”

We thanked them for their efforts and decided to go with our sources.

The Sloane Affair is curious. Why the coordinated secrecy? It might have more to do with squashing anything but rose-petal-and-puppy stories in the world of detainee operations than it does with Sloane. It might have nothing to do with detainees in Iraq. So who’s pegged the Secr-O-Meter? Defense Secretary (and Occasional Superhero) Robert M. Gates? State? POTUS? (We love that acronym.) Add a beleaguered DoD IG (involvement unclear) to the mix and you get screaming OSD desk officers.

“BOGUS!” charges?  Delayed promotions? A denied “second coming?”

Buck Sloane, International Man of Mystery, we await.

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