Two Guard generals accused of ‘improper’ relationship

Before he was forced to retire last year, the head of Georgia’s National Guard was accused of maintaining an “improper” personal relationship with the Guard’s No. 2 ranking general, the first female head of Georgia’s Army National Guard.

The charge that the two had developed a bond “recognized and feared” within the Guard was leveled last August by the force’s No. 4 ranking officer, Brig. Gen. Larry Dudney.

Three weeks later, with personnel scattered across the globe, amid hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gov. Nathan Deal began an overhaul of National Guard leadership.

Dudney alleged that the relationship compromised the authority of the top two commanders of a statewide organization where structure, rank and trust are essential to the job of directing 14,000 personnel. It also harmed morale and fostered the “perception of favoritism and unfairness throughout the leadership ranks of the Georgia National Guard,” according to the complaint filed with the inspector general’s office of U.S. Department of Defense.

Adjutant General Terry Nesbitt, appointed four years earlier, was relieved of command last fall, replaced by former state Sen. Jim Butterworth, a former captain in the Air National Guard.

Major Gen. Maria Britt, who headed the largest and most powerful component of Georgia’s Guard, was required to retire from her command at the same time.

The two retired generals on Thursday dismissed Dudney’s complaint as spurious. “The lies and half-truth contained therein amount to defamation of character,” wrote Nesbitt in an e-mailed response.

Britt, a West Point graduate, called the allegations of an improper relationship “ludicrous.”

“I earned every promotion that I received,” said Britt, who is now associate vice president of operations for Kennesaw State University. She acknowledged Nesbitt as a rare mentor in a male-dominated profession, and attributed the complaint to “professional jealousy” in “an organization that has some small-minded people in it.”

Through a request filed under the state Open Records Act, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has obtained a copy of the seven-page complaint filed by Dudney.

Nesbitt and Britt “have maintained a long-standing personal relationship that has compromised or appears to have compromised the integrity of their supervisory authority and chain of command,” according to the complaint. “This situation has been exacerbated by the fact that Generals Nesbitt and Britt have traveled on numerous occasions together, and reportedly shared adjoining hotel rooms. On many occasions, [Britt’s] need to accompany [Nesbitt] was questionable.”

The complaint alleges that previous Army investigations “have failed to substantiate a sexual relationship.” Even so, the Dudney complaint states, “on several occasions, Generals Nesbitt and Britt have been seen by senior Georgia Army National Guard [non-commissioned officers] in questionable social situations that have resulted in a loss of confidence and respect for these senior leaders.”

The U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office declined to comment on any complaint or investigation involving the National Guard in Georgia, as did a spokesman for the state Department of Defense. Britt said she had not been contacted by investigators. Both Britt and Nesbitt said they hadn’t seen a copy of the complaint until given a copy by a reporter.

According to state records, Nesbitt earned $189,671 in fiscal year 2011 and Britt $177,373. They oversaw a $630 million-a-year budget and billions more in military assets.

After Nesbitt’s Sept. 4 announcement that he would give up command at the end of the month, the exiting adjutant general fired Dudney, who has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the state, charging that he was dismissed in retaliation for his complaint.

In an interview Thursday, Dudney acknowledged that he couldn’t personally vouch for every allegation in his memo. “This was a collaborative effort between me and several other officers,” he said. Although Army investigators accept anonymous complaints, Dudley said he considered it a matter of duty to put his name to the document.

“Something was wrong,” he said.

The complaint levels a number of other charges against both generals. Nesbitt is accused of making false statements to the National Guard Bureau in Washington, which coordinates state militia operations, in order to secure increased funding. Britt is accused of covering up an incident in which the son of a member of her staff was caught with drugs. Britt denies the allegation.

The governor’s office has insisted that Nesbitt’s retirement in September was required by a statute cutting off service at age 65 — the age Nesbitt would reach in October.

Britt said she was dismissed without any explanation, and Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, agrees. But Riley said that talk about troubles within Georgia’s National Guard operation had been bubbling for months.

“There was enough verbal communication to raise a level of suspicion,” Riley said. “That was not a decision point, but the governor wanted a clean start.” Both positions serve at the pleasure of the governor.

Riley said the first indication he received of concern within the Georgia Guard came on April 15 last year. His phone log of that day shows that he received a call from the National Guard Bureau to discuss the “General Nesbitt issue” — a reference to a separate complaint that pre-dated the one lodged by Dudney.

Riley said neither he nor Deal saw a copy of Dudney’s detailed allegations until November, a full month after command of the Guard had changed hands. However, the chief of staff said the contents reinforced the governor’s belief that the Guard leadership needed a shake-up directed by outsiders he could personally trust.

In addition to Butterworth, a political ally, Deal appointed as the Guard’s No. 2 commander the son of a former law partner. Joe Jarrard is a retired Army lieutenant colonel with 20 years’ experience.

Military critics have pointed to Butterworth’s low rank – the U.S. military has officially designated him a major. Jarrard’s appointment required an act of the Legislature this month. State law had required an assistant adjutant general to have five years’ Guard experience. Jarrard has none.

The House and Senate recently passed H.B. 800, which amended the qualifications for the job, to include five years’ service in the active military.

Staff writer Shannon McCaffrey contributed to this article.

Updated at 8:05 a.m.: Commenting is now open. Please keep it clean, people.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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101 comments Add your comment


March 9th, 2012
8:12 am

The truth is better than a lie.

change we can only hope for

March 9th, 2012
8:16 am

with all the good work the soldiers do it’s a shame all of the nepotism and cronyism that occurs in the officer ranks of the Guard. Where the troops are treated as equals in the field, the officers are looked on with scepticism. It’s sort of like being an ambassador;’ it all depends on how good a friend you are with the gov or how much money you’ve raised.


March 9th, 2012
8:27 am

This “relationship” is something that has been known throughout the Georgia National Guard for years. A change was desperately needed.


March 9th, 2012
8:39 am

Why do otherwise intelligent people, in positions of authority, put themselves in awkward circumstances? Their indiscretions also affect the organization they serve. They should be dismissed.
And yes, the best jobs in any organization always go to the people who know somebody. Speaker David Ralston is the poster boy for ths.

Rhett Butler

March 9th, 2012
8:40 am

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Dr. C

March 9th, 2012
8:44 am

So the new political crony appointments will eliminate the cronyism within the ranks….I guess…


March 9th, 2012
8:47 am

any statement from the spouses?


March 9th, 2012
8:56 am

GEORGIA, GEORGIA, GEORGIA….when are you going to learn to get things right?


March 9th, 2012
9:01 am

Hope the Guard can get this corrected and move on. God Bless everyone of you.

Roger Smith

March 9th, 2012
9:02 am

No wonder the Governor chose Common Cause’s ethics award recipient as his new TAG. Sounds like a house cleaning was needed.

Double Zero Eight

March 9th, 2012
9:08 am

It’s business as usual in Georgia.

Just another day in paradise

March 9th, 2012
9:13 am

This situation is so common it is not even news. Deal at least corrected this situation. It may not have been the best solution but at least he did something about it. How demoralizing for the men and women who serve.


March 9th, 2012
9:28 am

Our state had rather change the laws governing qualification instead of finding someone qualified. Reasoning like ths is what makes our state backwards.


March 9th, 2012
9:30 am

Do you really think the Guard chain of command and rank and file soldiers will have more respect for two inexperienced, low ranking, political appointees being in charge than the West Point generals they had before? What a joke.

Concerned Georgian

March 9th, 2012
9:49 am

Here we are in a 10 year old war and Gov. Deal appoints a ‘political friend” with little to no ‘real’ military experience. General Dudney should have been commended for doing what he did, instead he got fired. Gov. Deal do something positive for the men and women in the GNG, reinstate BG Dudley now!! The troops want and deserve his leadership and experience.


March 9th, 2012
10:07 am


Everyone knows these two had to go. But why switch from Teflon Terry to Teflon Butterworth? …and that Common Cause award is not worth the paper it is printed on. Ask Habersham people about Butterworth’s ethics on the courthouse land scam.


March 9th, 2012
10:27 am

As a pair of boots on the ground, I don’t know any commanding officers who got to the top without political skill. From the first time man set foot on the battlefield there have been cases of idiots in command who cost soldiers their lives. Our Guard has suffered from this phenomenon and the past adminstration was chock full of examples of corruption at the top causing problems throughout our system. Now the retired Generals who stood with their hands out during the scandal years are now wringing mad that someone who doesn’t meet their definition of “qualified” sits on top of the castle. I can say that this foot soldier and many others in the Georgia Guard think it’s high time someone is on the top who hasn’t been corrupted on his way up. For a change – one of our’s is in command!

Habersham GOP

March 9th, 2012
10:35 am

Butterworth’s courthouse case shows why Common Cause awarded him their Ethics in Government award. Following election to the Senate, Butterworth refused to use his last vote in the Habersham BOC to buy land from his struggling campaign manager. Many politicians would have but he didn’t. Common Cause confirmed what Habersham County has known for years, that Jim Butterworth is a friend of taxpayers and a proven reformer.

Remember Iraq

March 9th, 2012
10:39 am

It wasn’t so long ago that our Georgia Guard was America’s only Guard unit rejected from service in Iraq. Our fighting men and women showed up embarrassingly under prepared and were sent home. We’re only now recovering from that black eye and soldiers across Georgia appreciate Governor Deal for taking seriously the problems we’ve long faced in our Guard.


March 9th, 2012
10:59 am

Remember Chin Strap Joe? A hardware sales from Macon , appointed General in charge of the
GANG Had no clue of what was going on. As stated these appointments are political.

OLD Guardsman

March 9th, 2012
11:04 am

Remember Iraq – of all the erroneous posts on this blog yours wins the prize as the biggest lie. It is the favorite falsehood of those who want to bad mouth the GA guard. If you’d like to know what really happened back then, call LTG Rosenblume (former CG of the 24th who now lives in Savannah) he’ll set you straight. Regardless of whether these allegations (and that appears to be all they are at this point) are true or false, Governor Deal has done a great disservice to the Georgia Guard by appointing two political hacks to leadership positions.

shape shifter

March 9th, 2012
11:04 am

Sound’s a little strange,the whole truth will never be known.


March 9th, 2012
11:05 am

i dont believe a word of it……..any more than jarrad is qualified. the beat does go on……..butterwoerth? adjutant general; thats a joke too. the business of his saying no to the incident above doesnt desercve an award; it was his job to do that……geez….awarding the obvious…….enuf already.

OLD Guardsman

March 9th, 2012
11:05 am

Chin Strap Joe – was a federally recognized BG when he was appointed TAG. So what’s your point?

Remember Iraq

March 9th, 2012
11:12 am

OLD Guardsman – It’s a fact the Georgia Guard was sent packing and not allowed to participate in Iraq. OLD, if you were there then perhaps you would like to apologize to your troops. And while you’re sharing your wisdom – 1) How does 20-years in the active duty military make you a “political hack”? It’s very petty to wait til a man has run his neck out for two decades protecting your freedom so that he can be called a “hack” for trying to clean up a mess that was an embarrassment to our state. And 2) Where were you when the bonuses were being handed out? Where were you in complaining about the scandals that have long dogged our Guard??

Lyin Lobbyist

March 9th, 2012
11:15 am

I am going to file a lawsuit because Guv Deal did’nt consult me before he appointed his unqualified political hack, CAPTAIN Butterworth as “GENERAL” of the GNG. Of course when you know that Deal was voted as one of the top 15 most corrupt U.S. congressmen I can understand why.

Who cares?

March 9th, 2012
11:17 am

Who cares about the Ga National Guard and their politics? Outside of natural disaster cleanups and riot control for KKK marches(the last one was in 1987 or 88) no one sees or interacts with them; so why is this situation of any concern to the civilian public?

What's Next

March 9th, 2012
11:19 am

The alternative is ask men to march into battle with tambourines.

The past leadership has been a joke on foot soldiers and taxpayers.

OLD Guardsman

March 9th, 2012
11:21 am

It starts with his qualification being the son of the governors former law partner. Then is has to do with the fact he was not qualified according to GA Code for appointment as the A-TAG. He may have been a fine solider but he retired as a LTC and never commanded a battalion. You want to compare those qualifications to those of numerous officers in the GA ARNG who were eligible for appointment? While I’m not going to respond to your personal attacks, I will state that I didn’t go to Iraq, but I did serve two tours in RVN as an infantry officer. How about you??

Nice Try

March 9th, 2012
11:22 am

This is clear character assassination designed to change the narrative. Butterworth and Jarrard are not qualified to serve as General Officers because they cannot be federally recognized. Jarrard never commanded above the company (120 Soldiers) on active duty and now he is in charge of a Division (11,000) sized element.

Generals Nesbitt and Britt while not perfect worked hard to put the Georgia Guard out front. The results speak louder that baseless mud slinging. When they left, the organization led the nation in nearly every area. This “relationship” allegation was made, fully investigated and found to be without merit. However, since Channel 5 has been revealing issues with the new “leaders” it is clear that WSB/AJC is helping Gov Deal by changing the narrative by using this baseless allegation to make a case that the Governor had a big problem to fix.

This is shameful political gamesmanship at the expense of not only those who are serving, but those who have sacrificed for our State and Nation. I cannot understand how anyone would publish an allegation like this against two former leaders without one substantiated finding of fact.

By his own admission, Dudney jotted down every rumor he could collect used it to form a complaint. All of this is being driven by those who serve themselves first.


March 9th, 2012
11:36 am

Hey – Deal supporters—can you, in a no-spin fact-based way, please set forth exactly how the current Natl Gd leaders are even remotely qualified? I am beggining you. The allegations were apparently investigated and found without merit. By the by, I love when Republicans play high and mighty with sex allegations. I won’t bother to cite the list that you guys have compiled in recent years. Also, how is that “conservation land” that Sonny forced the state to buy…..conveniently right near his own property…working out for the state? Back to the issue…we are dealing with peoples’ lives and the current Natl Gd “leaders” are, from what I am told, so underprepared for the job that the lower-ranking folks who are deployed actually fear for their lives. Hey, at least Deal got some friends into really neat positions with guns.

OLD Guardsman

March 9th, 2012
11:40 am

“Hey, at least Deal got some friends into really neat positions with guns.” you WIN quote of the day!

Ronald Roofer

March 9th, 2012
11:50 am

Before he risked his life defending the country, I bet Jarrard wishes someone had told him that jealous losers would say he was unfit from the start because of who his father was. I appreciate the freedom he worked 20 years serving up to me on a platter.

Geezer Watcher

March 9th, 2012
11:52 am

OLD and other tambourine fans ARE SO WILDLY JEALOUS IT’S DRIVING THEM INSANE! So funny to watch!! Keep up the great work boys!!


March 9th, 2012
11:56 am

How many Generals do you need for only 14000 soldiers?


March 9th, 2012
12:03 pm

Bo – It’s not the General count necessarily. You apparently just need one tambourine man to keep beat or the scandals get out of synch.

OLD Guardsman

March 9th, 2012
12:04 pm

Ronald Roofer – I guess it’s too much to expect that this doesn’t have anything to do with honoring Jarrard’s service. I honor all those who have served in harms way for our nation. But they all are qualified to be the A-TAG. The only reason that Jarrard was appointed is because of his father’s relationship with the Gov. Is that so hard to understand.


March 9th, 2012
12:11 pm

I applaud the efforts and sacrifices made by every member of our armed forces. These inappropriate and questionable activities concern me though. KSU – what DID you do?


March 9th, 2012
12:42 pm

Guess I’m confused.

How could Gen Britt be 65 and a West Point grad? I believe West Point has the same age restriction as Navy which is 27 max age for commissioning even for former enlisted.

First women graduated from Service Academys in 1980. Even if she was 27 then, that makes her 59 max. Most likely she was 22, which puts her at 54.


March 9th, 2012
12:47 pm

Never mind. On the re-read saw that it was Nesbitt (not Britt) who hit 65.

Sane Person

March 9th, 2012
12:58 pm

Kat — You are so transparent it is pitiful. Are you really so vile? Or did you get passed over for a job that went to someone more qualified? I daresay most of the political operatives defending the appointments of Captain Butterworth and LTC Garrard have little actual knowledge of the facts. Perhaps they think that Governor Deal is grooming Butterworth to be the next governor, at the expense of soldiers asked to risk their lives while someone only interested in political advancement watches from the rear, and have reason to believe that Butterworth’s election will somehow benefit them through the patronage process, just as patronage benefitted our current ANG “leaders.”

Military issues aside, how would you detractors of Nesbitt and Britt feel if people who knew nothing about you and your family’s character went public with previously rejected allegations of their inappropriate behavior designed only to embarrass and damage them? If you have any self-respect, please ask yourselves that question?

Telling Tom

March 9th, 2012
1:08 pm

OLD – That’s it with you. By your math, Jarrard could only possibly deserve promotion because of his daddy. It couldn’t have possibly earned it himself. Can you just admit that the jealousy is consuming you, seek counseling and move on? By your rule, 90% of West Pointers should drop out today because their parents weren’t unknowns.


March 9th, 2012
1:09 pm

Do you really think the Guard chain of command and rank and file soldiers will have more respect for two inexperienced, low ranking, political appointees being in charge than the West Point generals they had before? What a joke.
I agree with you. I mean it literally took an act of congress so to speak for one of the appointments. One problem may be solved, but it sounds like others could possibly be on the horizon.

Roger That

March 9th, 2012
1:14 pm

Could the rank & file respect two political appointees more than the corrupt clique that has run our Guard for so long? Absolutely. West Point or not, corrupt is corrupt.


March 9th, 2012
1:25 pm

I’m ashamed not only of the discredit these stories are doing to my home State and the GAARNG, but more of the obvious leaking going on to Mr. Galloway from both camps involved in these stories. I’m sure he’s spinning around in his creaky little office chair waiting for the next email. All of you should be ashamed of yourselves for fighting this out on the public domain. All these matters should be handled in a responsible and dignified manner as we were all taught as professional Soldiers and Officers. We have official venues and forums for the filing complaints of misconduct that should be used and kept confidential to protect rights of others. You not only do a discredit to our great State, but to our profession of arms as a whole, you should be ashamed of yourselves. So quit feeding this man your venom, ruck up and be professionals.

Steven Thornton

March 9th, 2012
1:25 pm

Georgia Guard was not kept out of Iraq. The 48th Infantry Brigade served a one year deployed there along with several other Georgia Army National Guard units. The Georgia Air Guard has deployed there as well.


March 9th, 2012
1:30 pm

Butterworth is a clown and a disgrace to the office he holds. It sounds like Jarrard is a good guy with a distinguished record who has gotten caught up in a huge political mess. I respect his service. He’s just gotten played here trying to give cover to a disgraceful and embarrassing appointment of an unqualified clown.


March 9th, 2012
1:46 pm

1: Gov Deal appoints proven ethics reformer to clean up scandalous Guard.
2: OLD Guard goes bizzerk trying to protect their turf and prevent long overdue reform.

Completely predictable.

And the Oscar goes to...

March 9th, 2012
1:47 pm

Hat In Ring

March 9th, 2012
1:52 pm

Apparently the critics believe becoming TAG has nothing to do with ethics and leadership and everything to do with hanging around the capitol. Qualifying is in May, so you boys should get busy knocking on doors and go get yourselves elected. I mean, if you really think that’s all there is to it.

If you don’t think that’s all there is to it, then a quick admission that Butterworth has a lot on the ball and backbone to burn would be a refreshing departure from your current game of tearing down the Guard that so many of us love.