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Report of Investigation: Brigadier General Norman Cooling, U.S. Marine Corps DODIG-2019-092

Administrative Investigations

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Publicly released: June 19, 2019

On February 27, 2018, the U. S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) sent a complaint to the Secretary of Defense stating the Committee had received information from “multiple sources” alleging that Brigadier General (BGen) Norman L. Cooling, United States Marine Corps (USMC), created a hostile work environment through disparaging treatment of personnel that led to a “general distrust” of his impartiality toward women and his overall leadership.

We initiated this investigation on March 15, 2018, to examine the six examples in the SASC complaint, as well as to interview witnesses about the SASC’s assertion about “general distrust” in BGen Cooling’s impartiality and leadership. We interviewed 37 witnesses who had direct and frequent interaction with BGen Cooling through the Marine Corps Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA), or other individuals whom witnesses told us had knowledge relevant to our investigation.

We substantiated the allegation that BGen Cooling’s overall course of conduct disparaged, bullied, and humiliated subordinates, devalued women, and created a negative OLA work environment that led to a general distrust of his impartiality and leadership.