A colonel deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, received a formal reprimand in recent months after an inquiry found that he stole a pair of shoes from the post exchange, Army officials confirmed.
The unnamed colonel received a permanent general officer’s memorandum of reprimand, an administrative punishment often considered to be career-ending. The officer was assigned to the Army Reserve’s 811th Hospital Center, which played a critical role in providing medical care to thousands of Afghan evacuees.
According to a military justice summary posted to Reddit, the senior officer pulled a classic shoplifting trick: he put on a new pair of shoes, placed his old shoes in the box, and then he put the box containing his old shoes on the shelf before walking out of the store.
It’s not clear from the report — or from a statement provided to Army Times by the 1st Theater Sustainment Command — how far the colonel made it in his new shoes, nor is it clear when or how he was caught.
“The Army profession requires all Soldiers to serve honorably,” said Maj. Jessica Rovero, a spokesperson for 1st TSC. “Reports of misconduct are investigated and adjudicated according to applicable laws and regulations. In this case, the officer committed misconduct and received a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand in his permanent file.”
One thing is clear: the $45 shoes likely would have been covered by his paycheck as a colonel. In fact, he could have bought at least 191 pairs of the same sneakers on his lowest-possible monthly pay alone, thanks to the AAFES sales tax exemption.
Let’s do the math, based on fiscal 2021 pay tables.
An Army Reserve colonel deployed to Camp Arifjan would have the following pay and entitlements, totaling a minimum of $8,598.10 per month in the unlikely event that he has less than two years of service and lives in Lawton, Oklahoma without any dependents.
Kuwait deployments also currently grant troops combat zone tax exemptions that prevent the government from collecting income tax on the money.
- Basic pay between $7,139.10, if the colonel were a brand-new medical officer with a direct commission, and a maximum of $12,638.40 for colonels with 30 or more years of service.
- Basic allowance for housing based on his home of record, ranging from $1,311, if he were living in Lawton without dependents, and $5,913, which is the with-dependents rate for a colonel living in San Francisco.
- Hardship duty pay, which is $50 per month in Kuwait.
- Travel incidentals costs of $3.50 a day, totaling at least $98 per month, since there’s only 28 days in February. This money doesn’t come until he signs a travel voucher at the end of his deployment, though.
- Family separation allowance of $250 per month, if he is married or has other registered dependents.
In the slightly-more-likely-but-still-unlikely event that this officer lives in San Francisco, has dependents, and has 30 or more years in service, he could have purchased 421 pairs of the shoes in question with his August paycheck of $18,959.90. That doesn’t include any special pays for which the 811th Hospital Center officer could potentially be eligible.
Despite either his insatiable urge to shoplift or poor financial management, the colonel seemingly won’t face a court-martial on larceny charges.
Only one officer has gone to a court-martial for larceny alone in 2021, according to the court-martial docket. A captain stationed in Korea was fined $700 after he pled guilty to larceny in April, according to trial results available online.
Our unnamed colonel has made it home safely, though, according to Rovero.
“The Soldier committed the misconduct at the end of the deployment and his case was adjudicated prior to his departure from theater,” she said.
It’s not immediately clear whether the shoes redeployed with him.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.