Allegations of Toxic Leadership

In an unfolding story highlighting the military’s ongoing battle against toxic leadership, Col. Jonathan Chung, commander of the Army’s 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB), has been suspended due to allegations of creating a hostile environment for his subordinates. Chung, who held the command position at the 5th SFAB, headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, since July 2021, was suspended in April 2023.

Although the specific incident that triggered Chung’s suspension remains undisclosed, the Army’s reluctance to comment on the investigation has not stopped insiders from coming forward. reported that ten soldiers, who worked closely with Chung at both the 5th SFAB and his previous command with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, portrayed his leadership as abrasive and detrimental to unit cohesion and morale. However, none of the soldiers accused Chung of criminal behavior or sexual misconduct.



One officer went so far as to describe Chung as “the worst leader I’ve ever had, toxic, selfish, and egotistical.” Chung’s alleged perfectionism and micromanagement manifested in routine public berating of subordinates, a practice known among the ranks as “The Chunger Games.” Moreover, Chung reportedly required soldiers to listen to his leadership lessons podcast, at times even assigning reports or quizzes based on the material.

Talk of Micromanagement

Anecdotes from soldiers further illustrate the extent of Chung’s micromanagement. For example, during physical training, a soldier’s entire chain of command was brought into Chung’s office for a dressing down over mismatched socks. In another, a commander was grilled about a soldier leaving duty early for a scheduled dental appointment.

While Chung’s attorney has remained tight-lipped about the investigation, they confirmed that it revolves around accusations of counterproductive leadership. In an email to colleagues soliciting positive character witness letters, Chung admitted he faces allegations centered around “perceived counterproductive and toxic leadership issues.”