One-star Marine general suspended

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Marine Corps suspended a top adviser accused of creating a “hostile work environment,” officials said Wednesday.

Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, said in a written statement that he took action against Brig. Gen. Norman L. Cooling pending the outcome of a Defense Department review. Cooling has served as Neller’s legislative assistant since July.

“We are committed to being an organization in which every Marine has the opportunity to serve at their full potential, unimpeded by discrimination, bias, or hostile working conditions,” Neller said.

Neller said the Senate Armed Services Committee had asked Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to look into allegations of a hostile work environment. Neller did not elaborate on the allegations. An official said Cooling is alleged to have made disparaging comments about women, thereby undermining trust among those working in his office, including female Marines. The official was not authorized to discuss details and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Cooling is a native of Baytown, Texas, and a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He has served at least two tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He also is a former deputy commander of Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa.

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