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Top Female General Retires

The nation's highest-ranking female general said goodbye to the Army Friday.

Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy recently drew national attention for accusing a fellow general of sexual harassment.

But her departure plans were set before her accusation of sexual harassment became public in March.

And Kennedy didn't mention the incident at a retirement ceremony attended by Army Secretary Louis Caldera and dozens of Army officers and Defense Department officials.

Kennedy remembered back to when she joined the Army as a second lieutenant 31 years ago. She noted, "I never dreamed there would be stars on my shoulders."

The 52-year-old Kennedy said she fulfilled the Army mantra to "Be all you can be", rising farther than she'd ever dared to hope.

And the three-star general said she was optimistic about the future of women in the Army.

Caldera presented Kennedy with the Distinguished Service Medal in honor of her accomplishments, and called her an "invaluable role model" for young women.

Kennedy accused Major General Larry G. Smith of sexual harassment. She has declined requests to comment on the situation.

Smith, was assigned last August to the post of deputy inspector general of the Army, but is now officially on hold and working as an assistant to the commander of the Army Materiel Command.

Smith's move into the deputy inspector general's slot has been on hold since last November, according to Army personnel records. That is around the time of the sex harassment complaint.

As deputy inspector general, Smith would be responsible for investigating wrongdoing in the service, including allegations of sexual harassment similar to those of which he has been accused.

Smith, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, had been commander of the Army Security Assistance Command in Alexandria, Va., until last October. Before that he managed the Army's modernization program for the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

Kennedy, the Army's first three-star female officer and deputy chief of staff for intelligence, complained informally to her superiors about Smith's alleged advances at the time of the incident in 1996. But she did not file a formal complaint with the inspector general until Smith's appointment to his new post was announced last Aug. 27, according to The New York Times.

Because of the timing, it is unlikely that Army Secretary Louis Caldera or the chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, knew about it when they appointed Smith to be deputy inspector general, a senior army official told The New York Times.

The incident could be a setback for the Army's efforts to lay to rest sexual misconduct issues since a series of sensational cases emerged in 1996 involving military trainers at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Several generals and admirals have been punished with demotion or forced retirement for breaking the sexual harassment code.

Within the ast year, two army generals have been demoted for having adulterous affairs—one of them with the wives of several officers under his command.

Kennedy, who is not married, served on a special task force in 1997 that examined the problem of sexual harassment in the Army and concluded that it existed "throughout the Army, crossing gender, rank and racial lines."

In an October 1997 interview published in USA Weekend, Kennedy said she had experienced sexual harassment in the Army and she spoke at length about how she and other women should respond to it.

The interviewer asked her how she dealt with it when she was younger.

"I dealt with it individually," she said. "I just said 'no' in the way I needed to say 'no,' and there were times when I had to say 'no' very forcefully.

"I can remember making an absolute threat to someone that if he ever did this to me, or said it or made me even think he was about to, I would be taking him in to see the person that was pretty high up in our chain (of command). So you have to come back like that sometimes."

In the interview, she made no specific reference to having been harassed as a general but she said men had made passes at her.

"But a pass is different from harassment," she said. "What's illegitimate is when you work for him, or he works for you, one of you is married and not to each other."

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