As the Pentagon’s Director for Defense Intelligence and a senior executive in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security OUSD(I&S), Garry Reid was in charge of all counterintelligence, security, and law enforcement operations within the Department of Defense.
This, in addition to heading up the Afghanistan Crisis Action Group, the office tasked with evacuating Afghan refugees during America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Now, in an exclusive, The Debrief has learned that Reid was recently dismissed from his responsibilities within the U.S. government.
Before his ousting as Director of Defense Intelligence, Reid had been the subject of a nearly two-year-long investigation by The Debrief. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, multiple current and former Pentagon employees told The Debrief Reid had engaged in wide-ranging misconduct and corruption for years.
In the past four years, the DoD’s Inspector General’s Office had investigated Reid on numerous allegations, including maintaining a sexual relationship with a subordinate employee, sexual harassment, and fostering a hostile work environment.
In 2020, the IG Office found that Reid had violated Joint Ethics Regulations by creating an appearance of an inappropriate relationship or preferential treatment with a female subordinate and mishandling of Controlled Unclassified Information.
In May 2021, Reid was named in yet another formal IG complaint, this time involving former Director of National Programs Special Management Staff at OUSD(I&S), Luis Elizondo.
In his complaint, Elizondo accused Reid of playing a central role in obfuscating information regarding the Pentagon’s intriguing newfound interest in “unidentified aerial phenomena,” more commonly known as UFOs. Reid was also accused of maliciously misleading the public about Elizondo’s involvement with the DoD’s quasi-secret UFO program, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP).
It’s not entirely clear what led to Reid’s recent dismissal. However, multiple defense officials familiar with the situation told The Debrief they believed the weight of the numerous past allegations, the disastrous withdrawal of refugees from Afghanistan, and current investigations into misconduct were too significant, and ultimately led to his dismissal.
In an email, Senior Spokesperson for the Department of Defense’s Public Affairs Office, Susan Gough, did not refute that Reid had been dismissed. However, the DoD declined to provide any further comment on the matter at this time.
According to a “Report of Investigation” obtained by The Debrief via the Freedom of Information Act, in late 2019, Reid was investigated by the DoD’s Inspector General’s Office regarding four separate complaints of him having sexual affairs with subordinate employees, sexual harassment and creating a “negative work environment.”
Two of the complaints accused Reid of having a sexual affair and providing preferential treatment to a female subordinate, identified in the report as “Employee 1.”
Various witnesses told IG investigators they had observed Reid and Employee 1 engaging in questionable behavior, including kissing, hugging, and close personal interactions. “They definitely stand closer to each other than I would stand next to any of my [colleagues],” one witness told investigators.
In 2018 and 2019, Reid and Employee 1 took personal trips out of town together on at least two occasions. During a third official trip to Europe in 2018, investigators said Reid and Employee 1 took two days of personal leave to go “sightseeing.”
Daily lunches between Reid and Employee 1 also raised eyebrows among co-workers.
According to witnesses, Reid and Employee 1 frequently enjoyed office lunches together, with some accounts saying the door to Reid’s office was often seen closed. Several witnesses also described the lunchtime powwows as “very weird.”
“[There were] two place settings, like … a restaurant” complete with “salt and pepper shakers, a side table, and some sparkling water,” witnesses were quoted saying.
IG investigators determined that for more than a year, Reid and Employee 1 regularly commuted to work and went to the gym together. One witness described the couple’s carpooling as “odd.”
“He’s the boss, and she’s a subordinate,” said one witness. “[I have] never seen that type of relationship between a supervisor and subordinate.”
Out of twenty witnesses interviewed by IG investigators, only three said Reid and Employee 1’s relationship was “solely professional.” The remaining witnesses described the couple as “close,” “very close,” “perceived close,” or “inappropriately close.” Several witnesses told investigators the relationship between Reid and Employee 1 made them feel “awkward.”
Then-Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Kari Bingen told IG investigators she had heard “rumors” that Reid and Employee 1 spent a lot of time together and had even raised the issue with him sometime in 2019. According to the report, Reid told Bingen he was merely “mentoring” Employee 1.
Independent investigation by The Debrief revealed the perception that Reid and Employee 1 were involved in an inappropriate relationship extended far beyond just the offices in OUSD(I&S).
Former senior officials who worked directly for former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and in the White House during the Trump administration told The Debrief it was “common knowledge” that Reid and Employee 1 were involved in an inappropriate, assumed romantic relationship.
One official who worked within the Office of the Secretary of Defense said they had heard a rumor that Reid and Employee 1 had been caught engaging in some type of sexual activity in the Pentagon parking lot. The official, who still works for the Department of Defense, reiterated this was only a rumor
During interviews, both Reid and Employee 1 denied allegations of being in a sexual affair, both describing their relationship instead as merely a very close friendship.
Employee 1 told IG investigators that she referred to herself as the “[Reid] whisperer and [Reid] interpreter” because “people bring things to me first, and they make me deliver the bad news,” which is “kind of my role.” For his part, Reid described his interactions with Employee 1 as being akin to a mentor and mentee.
Both Reid and Employee 1 admitted that on occasion, they may have kissed on the cheek or briefly hugged each other, but in a strictly platonic manner. Employee 1 told investigators that all of the kisses she received from Reid were “never uncomfortable” and didn’t “feel aggressive or inappropriate or meaningful.”
Reid denied providing preferential treatment, saying any added responsibilities or inclusion on travel trips outside of Employee 1’s scope of employment were part of his mentorship. Reid said this was done based on guidance by Deputy Undersecretary Bingen to “build up a bench” as part of talent management efforts by the DoD.
Though unmentioned in the IG report, The Debrief learned in its independent investigation that Employee 1 was promoted to a high-level executive position with OUSDI.
Ultimately, the IG Office concluded that Reid had violated DoD Joint Ethics Regulations by “establishing and maintaining a close and unduly familiar relationship with Employee 1, creating a widespread perception of an inappropriate relationship and favoritism.”
In a rebuttal to the IG Office’s conclusions, Reid said his frequent interactions with Employee 1 were due to an administrative reorganization in February 2019.
Short of flatly accusing Reid of lying, IG investigators said his statements “minimized his interactions” with Employee 1 by failing to highlight they had taken personal out-of-town trips and were commuting, eating lunch, and attending the gym together daily, in at least 2018.
While there was considerable circumstantial evidence, the IG’s Office ultimately said they could not substantiate that Reid and Employee 1 were engaged in a “sexual affair.” Investigators, however, noted they uncovered “many instances of conduct by Mr. Reid and her that were unduly personal and not professional or performance-related.”
The report’s authors underscored their conclusion by highlighting that Reid kissed Employee 1 on at least one occasion in her office and “routinely in the morning and evening hours during their commute together.”
In 2020 the DoD Inspector General’s Office investigated Reid regarding another allegation that he was involved in an inappropriate sexual affair with a subordinate female co-worker, identified in reports as “Employee 2.”
The dynamics of the IG’s investigation quickly changed when Employee 2 denied that she had been in a sexual relationship with Reid, instead claiming she had been the victim of repeated sexual harassment.
According to the IG’s report, Reid had “kissed and hugged” Employee 2 in the workplace on multiple occasions, something Employee 2 said made her “uncomfortable” and was “unwelcome and inappropriate.”
Employee 2 said Reid kissed and hugged her “always in the context of some goodbye” or after a heated exchange as a “let’s make up [and] let’s hug it out.”
During hugs, Employee 2 said she would always try to turn her head away because Reid “would try to kiss her on the ‘cheek or closer.'” Employee 2 said Reid would kiss her on the “mouth, side of the mouth, or cheek, depending on how quickly she could move her head.”
Employee 2 admitted she had never confronted Reid, who was her supervisor, about the unwanted interactions out of fear of the consequences.
“If you tell Reid, ‘I’m really not comfortable with that, that’s really inappropriate,’ then you have Hell to pay. Your life is miserable. And it just wasn’t worth it. So you put up with it,” Employee 2 was quoted.
“I just felt like this is a real crappy thing that I have to put up with. … So, I don’t, I mean, it’s not like I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been violated. I need to call the sexual assault helpline,” said Employee 2 when asked how the kisses and hugs made her feel.
“Like, I’m so conditioned to just deal with it. [It] sucks that women have to put up with this, and I’m one of them, and it’s just part of doing business.”
Ironically, Employee 1 from the first IG complaint told investigators she had witnessed Reid “kiss Employee 2 occasionally,” but that it did not “make an impression on [her] as anything concerning or noteworthy.”
When confronted with the allegations, Reid told investigators that he had “never sexually harassed anybody, male or female.” Reid did not deny, however, that he occasionally hugged or kissed Employee 2, but only on the cheek. Reid said Employee 2 never told him his kisses were unwelcome or gave a “negative response.”
“I sit here watching TV with Harvey Weinstein and everything else going on here, and again I’m still in shock that you came in here, and you told me of all the things you included, that I sexually harrassed [Employee 2],” said Reid. “But I did nothing of the sort and did everything to the contrary to help her, and she agreed with the help, and she would be the first to tell you I helped her.”
Reid went on to say he thought perhaps Employee 2’s allegations of sexual harassment were out of “revenge and retaliation” because he did not support her career advancement. “She took that very negatively – – that [I] didn’t have her back.”
During their investigation into the sexual harassment allegations, IG investigators said they examined text messages and emails between Reid and Employee 2. Investigators said messages showed Employee 2 “frequently engaging Reid in common interest conversations” and seemed to show “support for his work.”
In light of Reid admitting to on occasion kissing or hugging Employee 2, the IG office concluded: “Considering the totality of the relationship between Mr. Reid and Employee 2, we did not find sufficient evidence to determine that Mr. Reid’s conduct toward Employee 2 constituted sexual harassment or some other form of misconduct.”
The Debrief was able to speak with a female former Pentagon official who was familiar with the IG’s 2020 investigation into Reid for sexual misconduct and harassment. The former official requested anonymity out of concern for reprisal. The Debrief verified the former official was indeed in a position to comprehensively understand the workplace dynamics in OUSDI under Reid’s leadership.
According to the former official, Reid’s inappropriate behavior towards female employees was apparent and widely known amongst the staff at OUSDI. “He was extremely arrogant. It didn’t matter who was around, senior civilian staff, attorneys, military officials. It didn’t matter. He would still do completely inappropriate things.”
The career female defense official said she understood why “Employee 2” in the IG investigation didn’t initially report Reid’s behavior, and it only came to light due to another allegation of misconduct.
“As a woman working in the Pentagon, which is still largely a boy’s club, when you see someone like Reid blatantly behaving like he did, you say, ‘Why bother?’ Why speak out because all that is going to happen is you’re going to be penalized, but nothing will happen to someone like Reid. So you just accept it’s not worth it.”
“And look what happened,” the former female defense official added. “Nothing was done about him sexually harassing one co-worker [Employee 2], while the other co-worker [Employee 1] he was having an affair with got promoted into a senior position. What kind of message does that send?”
Another current female defense official who was not working in the Pentagon during the IG’s initial investigation, but whose current position put her in contact with Reid and OUSD(I&S) told The Debrief that she would like to hope things are changing for the better. However, evidence often suggests otherwise.
“Let’s be honest here. He [Reid] didn’t get run off until he screwed up Afghanistan and a man [ Elizondo] filed an IG complaint,” said the current female Defense official.
“As a woman, personally I look at his behavior and think he’s a pig,” the current female Defense official added. “Professionally, I’d consider him a huge CI [counterintelligence] risk. If I’m a foreign adversary, I realize all I need to do to compromise this guy is wave a skirt in front of him. It’s kind of remarkable he was the head of counterintelligence.”
[Editorial Note: During its investigation, The Debrief was able to determine the identity of “Employee 2.” However, the individual is no longer in public service, and their identity has therefore been withheld from this report.]
In yet another IG complaint during the 2019-2020 time frame, an anonymous co-worker accused Reid of creating a hostile and combative work environment. Of twenty-one witnesses interviewed by IG investigators, one-third gave unfavorable appraisals of Reid’s leadership, describing him as “nasty,” “gruff,” “moody,” “unpredictable,” “not very communicative,” or “incredibly inconsistent.”
One witness said Reid could get “angry” and “downright mean” when things weren’t going well, and he wanted answers.
“When he’s talking to you, like he’s interrogating you, [and] talking to you like you’re the gum on his shoe, bottom of his shoe. Just no, even basic human respect. I mean it was like he had no time for you,” said one witness. “If he was not happy with you, you knew it and felt it.”
Twelve witnesses offered a slightly more favorable appraisal, saying Reid was “firm” and “blunt” but also “smart,” “strategic,” and “successful.”
Reid’s then-boss, Deputy Undersecretary for Intelligence Kari Bingen, described him as a “pit-bull as in if you give him something and he will kind of be dogged about getting it down.”
Bingen admitted there had been “several, or a handful of individuals” who said it had been “really hard to work for him” during exit interviews upon leaving the Pentagon. Bingen, however, told investigators she had seen “flashes of him doing his job very well, him building relationships, [and] him getting things done effectively.”
Ultimately, the Inspector General’s Office said the negative comments about Reid’s leadership “did not rise to the level of violations of the JER,” concluding Reid had not fostered a negative work environment.
During their overall investigations in 2020, the DoD IG said they uncovered that Reid had at times used his personal email account to conduct “official DoD business.” On 65 occasions, investigators found Reid had used his personal email to share Controlled Unclassified Information.
Reid claimed he had only used his personal email for “rare and extraordinary” situations but agreed, “I probably should have known better.” In their final conclusion, the IG Office said Reid violated DoD policies regarding email use, highlighting his later remarks and agreeing “[He] should have known better.”
In October 2017, the then-Director of National Programs Special Management Staff at OUSD(I&S), Luis Elizondo, resigned from the Pentagon following a lengthy career in which he had served in various senior intelligence roles.
Elizondo’s reason for suddenly departing his employer of over 20 years involved UFOs, or in contemporary parlance, unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).
Elizondo says he headed up a secretive working group within the Pentagon for over half-a-decade investigating UAP encounters by members of the U.S. military under the moniker of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP).
Elizondo’s sudden October 2017 resignation was in protest after it became clear that some in Pentagon leadership were preventing senior defense officials from being briefed on these concerning UAP incidents.
In December 2017, Elizondo revealed the existence of AATIP in an expose by the New York Times. Following the feature article–which thrust Elizondo, AATIP, and UAP into the limelight–was the release of three DoD videos captured in 2004 and 2015 by the targeting cameras of F/A-18 fighter jets. The Pentagon has since begrudgingly admitted the objects seen in the videos are characterized as UAP.
In the ensuing years, Elizondo has become one of the most prominent and vocal advocates for the formal investigation of these mysterious incidents.
To their credit, the Pentagon and Congressional leadership have backed up Elizondo’s most extraordinary claim: That devices of apparent intelligent control and unknown origin are flying in our skies with impunity.
Current Senators, former directors of the CIA, Office of National Intelligence, Deputy Secretaries of Defense, Naval Secretaries, Presidents of the United States, military fighter pilots, and a newly formed and congressionally mandated DoD Office specifically tasked with investigating UAP – have all substantiated Elizondo’s core claims.
Perhaps unsurprising given the taboo nature of UFOs, that’s not to say there hasn’t been some controversy regarding Elizondo’s claims.
Specific to the well-known UFO whistleblower, after initially confirming Elizondo ran AATIP since the spring of 2019, the DoD has been steadfast in claiming he had no “assigned responsibilities” in the program. In fairness, over the last 5 years, the DoD’s position on AATIP or UAP has been, at best, indecisive.
According to Elizondo and several current and former defense officials that The Debrief spoke with, the Pentagon’s inconsistent messaging on Elizondo’s involvement in AATIP and general aversion to being open about its interest in UAP is in large part due to one person: Luis Elizondo’s former boss at OUSD(I&S).
Or as one current senior Intelligence Official worded it when speaking with The Debrief, “Garry Fucking Reid.”
According to documents related to a May 2021 IG complaint filed by Elizondo, which was reviewed by The Debrief, shortly after resigning on October 5, 2017, Elizondo received a call from his former boss Garry Reid.
A “clearly upset” Reid wanted to know what he should do with Elizondo’s resignation letter and demanded he come to see him at the Pentagon. When Elizondo declined the invitation, Reid reportedly threatened him, saying he would “tell people you are crazy, and it might impact your security clearance.”
By November, Elizondo said he received several phone calls from former colleagues at OUSD(I&S) warning him that Reid and “Employee 1” (from the IG complaint) were “coming after him.”
This could be written off as an apparently emotional and volatile former boss blowing off steam. However, it would seem, Reid indeed did attempt to make good on his threats.
On December 22, 2017, five days after Elizondo and AATIP made headlines in the New York Times, an investigation into Elizondo and the release of the three DoD videos depicting UAP incidents was launched by the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI).
A copy of the final report obtained by The Debrief via the Freedom of Information Act indicates AFOSI’s primary task was to investigate the release of the three UAP videos under the presumption these videos were classified. The report notes the videos were classified as Secret/No Foreign.
The fact that AFOSI investigators initially thought the videos were Secret is intriguing.
The DoD has since admitted the three brief clips were never classified. Additionally, emails obtained through FOIA show that this was abundantly clear as far back as the summer of 2017, when Elizondo was trying to get the videos cleared for public release.
Given that they were indeed unclassified, Elizondo could have, at most, potentially committed an administrative violation for publicly releasing the videos before they had been cleared by the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review (DOPSR).
From the onset, had AFOSI been aware of this, they would have known that an investigation was pointless since Elizondo was no longer working for the DoD. Nevertheless, the impression that the videos were classified caused it to become a criminal matter, which allowed AFOSI to initiate the investigation.
After over four months of investigation, AFOSI arrived at the same conclusion that should have been abundantly clear from the beginning: “The three videos obtained by the SUBJECT were confirmed to be UNCLASSIFIED.” Both AFOSI and the Unauthorized Disclosure Program Management Office considered the matter closed on April 13, 2018.
Copies of AFOSI’s final report were forwarded for “Action” to OUSDI, acknowledging OUSDI as the office initially requesting the investigation.
The person working out of OUSDI in charge of all counterintelligence, security, and law enforcement operations for the DoD at the time had been Garry Reid.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a senior defense official who had firsthand knowledge of the incident told The Debrief they knew for certain that the 2017-2018 AFOSI investigation was done at the behest of Reid as a way of retaliating against Elizondo.
Reid’s aim, reportedly, was to try and get Elizondo’s security clearance revoked. Treating it as a counterintelligence matter only ensured increased scrutiny.
“OSI all but came back and told him [Reid] it was improper use of their resources. Based on his position, they couldn’t actually say that, but if you read between the lines on the report, that’s what you see.”
According to the Defense official, this was far from the only act of retribution Reid took against Elizondo.
“Reid had USDI Security put an entry in Elizondo’s file on Scattered Castles, which is the clearance system used for IC interagency clearance passage, so that if he tried to go to any SCIF in the IC, Reid would get a call and be able to cause questions so that Interagency partners would come to believe there was a ‘problem’ and not let him in,” the Defense official explained.
“This is a stealth administrative way to block someone’s access without overtly putting anything out there. These types of admin dirty tricks were perpetrated by Reid against Elizondo over and over again.”
Multiple former and current Defense Officials familiar with the matter told The Debrief that going after Elizondo’s security clearance had been only one of the administrative dirty tricks Reid played.
Initially, when news of AATIP came to light in 2017, then-Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White acknowledged Elizondo had run the program.
By Spring of 2019, however, the DoD did an about-face, releasing the boilerplate statement that “Mr. Elizondo had no responsibilities with regard to the AATIP program while he worked in OUSDI [the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence].”
A former senior advisor to Secretary of Defense James Mattis told The Debrief they had been briefed at the Pentagon by Elizondo several times in early 2017 on UAP incidents and were dumbfounded when they saw the DoD’s new “no responsibilities” position.
“I actually called PAO and said, ‘How can you say that? I was read into this and [was] briefed by him [Elizondo].'” The former advisor says they never provided an adequate explanation for why the DoD was now denying Elizondo’s role with the program.
Two current Defense officials told The Debrief they knew that senior leadership at the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), who at the time was managing the DoD’s officially sanctioned UAP Task Force, had provided clarifying statements to the Public Affairs Office reflecting Elizondo had been the senior ranking official in the joint working group investigating UAP known as AATIP.
Documents reviewed by The Debrief show that on June 3, 2020, Elizondo emailed the DoD’s newly appointed UAP public affairs czar, Susan Gough, requesting a correction to previous statements that more correctly reflected his involvement with AATIP. In the email, Elizondo provided 14 names of individuals ranging from senior Pentagon officials, private contractors, to members of Congress who could verify his involvement.
Each of Elizondo’s attempts to correct the record on his former s role with the AATIP program went unrecognized.
Several current and former Defense officials tell The Debrief that the DoD’s steadfast denial regarding Elizondo and often inconsistent and confusing public statements on UAP can be traced back to Elizondo’s last boss, Garry Reid.
After three years of attempts at clearing his name and setting the record straight, Elizondo finally filed a formal complaint with the DoD Inspector General’s Office in May 2021.
In unclassified documents reviewed by The Debrief, Elizondo accused Reid of “malicious activities, coordinated disinformation, professional misconduct, whistleblower reprisal, and explicit threats.”
In the cover letter to his complaint, Elizondo said, “I am fully aware of the magnitude of my allegations against certain individuals in the Department, and I am able to substantiate these claims.”
Speaking with The Debrief, Elizondo said part of Reid’s vendetta against and misleading statements about his involvement with AATIP are likely related to the fact he was never made aware of the program. “Since I could not trust him, I never indoctrinated him into the program, and instead was working with echelons within the Department above him,” said Elizondo.
“I was aware of his perceived misconduct and could not risk the integrity of the program by involving him. Last I heard, he was coaching Pentagon Spokesperson, Susan Gough how to respond to inquiries by the media about me. This would explain the obvious inaccuracies provided to the media about me by Ms. Gough,” surmised Elizondo.
The Inspector General’s Office declined to comment on Elizondo’s complaint.
Just before Elizondo filed his complaint, the IG’s Office announced they were launching an evaluation “to determine the extent to which the DoD has taken actions regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).”
Both the investigations into Elizondo’s complaint and the evaluation of the DoD’s handling of UAP are still ongoing;and when it comes to the DoD’s handling of UAP, once again all roads lead to Garry Reid.
In August of 2020, the DoD officially announced the establishment of a UAP Task Force to “improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs.”
However, copies of emails obtained by The Debrief via FOIA show that senior DoD leadership, as high as the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of the Navy, were being briefed on UAP at least a year earlier in 2019. Lawmakers on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Armed Services Committee were also receiving briefings on UAP by 2019.
And while all of these efforts in 2019-2020–including those by the UAP Task Force–were being managed by the Office of Naval Intelligence, the cognizant authority for the DoD’s UAP investigations was the Defense Intelligence, Collection, and Special Programs Office at OUSD(I&S), which fell under the direct control of the Director of Defense Intelligence: Garry Reid.
So while Congress was passing legislation requesting preliminary evaluations of UAP incidents and establishing a formal UAP investigative office in the Pentagon, the principal executive overseeing these efforts was Reid.
The same Reid that multiple defense officials say has not only maintained a years-long vendetta against Elizondo but also played a central role in obstructing efforts to formally investigate purported UAP sightings going back to at least late 2017.
Notwithstanding all of this, in November 2021, when the DoD decided to get ahead of an upcoming Congressional mandate, Reid was named as the Executive Secretary of the newly formed UAP investigative office, the verbosely titled the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG).
With Reid’s sudden departure, the Director for Defense Intelligence (Warfighter Support) Air Force Major General Aaron Prupas will likely take over leadership of the AOIMSG, at least for the time being.
But Wait, There’s More…
In light of having been named in multiple past IG complaints; in violation of DoD Joint Ethics Regulations; ” and the subject of a still ongoing IG investigation involving allegations of “malicious activities”; miraculously, in July 2021, Reid found himself named as the Director of the DOD Crisis Action Group for Afghanistan.
In this role, Reid served as the lead DoD official overseeing the relocation of refugees and transportation of U.S. embassy staff, American citizens, allies, and other partners during the U.S.’s frantic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Horrific images of desperate Afghans clinging to the landing gear of massive C-17 cargo planes as they took to the sky would suggest that Reid’s Afghanistan Crisis Action Group was a complete disaster. And the data would concur.
In a joint press conference with Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on August 16, Reid said while working closely with the Department of State, the Crisis Action Group was focusing on relocating Special Visa Applications (SIV). “To date, nearly 2,000 Afghans have passed through this process,” said Reid.
According to a February 2022 report issued by the Association of Wartime Allies, of the 81,000 SIV applicants who had pending visa applications on the day of Reid’s press conference, on August 31, when the final U.S. cargo planes went wheels up, 78,000 were left behind.
Six months after America’s withdrawal, AWA collected data on 10,803 of the 78,000 Afghan refugees left behind. Of those surveyed, 30% had been imprisoned by the Taliban; 88% reported loss of employment; 94% reported economic hardship; 70% said they went without food at least once in the last month; 84% reported going without medical care due to angst about leaving home and facing reprisals from the Taliban; and 77% said they had witnessed some form of physical violence against others for their service to the United States.
The State Department has disputed AWA’s figure that 78,000 Afghan refugees were left behind, saying in early August 2021, there were about “18,000 SIV applicants.” Both organizations agree that only 3,000 SIV applicants were ultimately evacuated by August 31.
So while the State Department’s total figure of SIV applicants is considerably smaller than AWA’s estimate, it still reflects the U.S. didn’t get out nearly 84% of Afghan refugees.
According to some senior Defense officials, including those from the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and Intelligence Community, Reid and Crisis Action Group out of OUSD(I&S) bear a large part of the blame for the U.S. not being able to get more refugees out of Afghanistan.
Officials tell The Debrief that all evacuation of refugees had to go through Reid’s office in OUSD(I&S), which created a bureaucratic bottleneck that often brought operations to a standstill.
Frustrated that some military agencies were still doing everything they could to get refugees out as the Taliban swooped in and seized control of Kabul, Defense officials said OUSD(I&S) ordered all U.S. military helicopters grounded, with permission to fly having to be granted by them.
“JSOC folks and some other agencies were already working to get people out, but USDI and Reid suddenly came in and put everything to a halt. They repeatedly held things up, for no other reason than they just wanted to say they were in charge,” one senior JSOC official speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Debrief.
“The military, JSOC, and other agencies, were getting it done. I can’t overstate it enough how much USDI and Reid’s group just came in and screwed things up.”
The bureaucratic ineptitude of the DoD’s evacuation process was so incredible that an ad hoc group of former U.S. special operators, aid workers, and intelligence officers with experience in Afghanistan banded together in what was dubbed “Task Force Pineapple” to save as many of their former Afghan allies as possible.
An Afghan SIV applicant who was ultimately left behind told AWA, “We are suffering the worst days of our life. I never go outside my living area. I have [not] left my home since the Taliban took over the country… I have lost my job furthermore, I cannot walk freely in the city/village because the Taliban will arrest me.”
Unusual Problems Seem to Always Surround Reid
Since Spring of 2020, The Debrief had been investigating claims of misconduct by Reid after a current Pentagon official reached out and expressed concerns.
The individual said they knew of the past investigations, and because Reid “had friends in high places,” they had little faith in the DoD’s formal oversight channels. Hence their decision to turn to the media.
In examining the claims against Reid, The Debrief reached out and spoke with numerous current and former Pentagon and Intelligence officials who had either worked with or were familiar with Reid over the following nearly two years.
Of these individuals, the only remotely favorable evaluation was from one former Senior Advisor who said they “knew about rumors” of past misdeeds, including the alleged affair with Employee 1, but their interactions with Reid were always generally good.
The remaining persons The Debrief spoke with painted a picture of an arrogant and spiteful senior public official, who some seemed afraid of due to his significant power in the DoD’s security and law enforcement apparatus.
Being judicious in our investigation and not mischaracterizing someone based merely on others’ subjective opinions, The Debrief attempted to further evaluate several individuals’ claims about Reid.
On May 18, 2020, The Debrief filed a Freedom of Information Act Request for copies of various communication records, including all of Reid’s emails, calendar invites, real-time communications on government cell phones, Blackberry devices, or messages using SameTime or similar computer-based real-time messaging.
On July 27, 2020, The Debrief was informed by OSD’s FOIA Office that OUSD(I&S) had replied that our “request is overly broad, unduly burdensome, and does not reasonably describe the documents being processed. Further, based on the scope and terms of your request, the component is not able to reasonably suggest an appropriate, more narrow search/request.”
The Debrief was informed it had until the close of business on July 7 to clarify the scope of our request, or the matter would be closed. The cutoff date was twenty days before we were ever initially asked to clarify the request.
OUSD(I&S) ‘s claim that the original FOIA request was “overly broad” was odd. Initially, The Debrief’s legal counsel had drafted a 19-page FOIA request that explicitly indicated what records were sought and exactly where these items could be located.
Adding to the confusion, on the same day The Debrief had filed a FOIA request for Reid’s communications, it had made identical requests regarding two other senior DoD officials, one of whom worked in OUSD(I&S) for Reid. The two other exact requests were being processed. Only the one for Reid had faced problems.
When reminded of this, OSD’s FOIA Office told The Debrief to disregard the previous concern, and the records request was now being processed.
For more than a year, The Debrief didn’t hear anything until October 19, 2021, when OSD’s FOIA Office sent the exact same response that OUSD(I&S) claimed our response was “overly broad.”
Ultimately, it is unknown why repeated problems have arisen in seeking copies of records pertaining to Garry Reid. The other two identical requests have continued to be processed without issue.
At the time of his dismissal, The Debrief was engaged in legal efforts to facilitate the release of Reid’s communication records.
“It’s a HUGE Deal”
The ultimate reason for Garry Reid’s dismissal from his responsibilities at the DoD remains unknown.
When The Debrief reached out to Public Affairs to clarify if Reid had been reassigned, suspended, voluntarily resigned or was terminated, the Department of Defense declined to comment. Seven current Defense officials, however, confirmed to The Debrief that Reid is no longer in his position and his Deputy, Tara Jones is currently serving as acting Director of Defense Intelligence.
Current and former Defense officials familiar with the situation said the official claimed reason for Reid’s ousting remains a mystery to them as well. However, out of the Officials who spoke with The Debrief, all universally said it was likely from a combination of factors and that investigation into Lue Elizondo’s formal complaint by the IG Office likely uncovered all sorts of nasty skeletons.
“Although I cannot confirm what ultimately led to his termination, I can surmise that it was caused, in part, by information contained in my IG complaint,” Elizondo told The Debrief.
When asked how they felt on hearing the news, officials The Debrief spoke with said that Reid’s departure as Director of Defense Intelligence was long overdue. Many also expressed surprise at his ousting.
“The guy was part of the system for a very long time. To fire him is no joke!” said one former Defense official. Another current senior Pentagon advisor said, “The guy ran all counterintelligence, security and law enforcement for the entire DoD, worldwide. This is a huge deal!”
Some who had known Reid for years expressed disappointment in the overall situation. Prior to going to work in the Pentagon in 2007, Reid had served nearly 30 years in U.S. Army Special Operations, including as the Command Sergeant Major. By all accounts, even those who spoke poorly of Reid’s Pentagon behavior, said he had been a respected member of the Special Operations community. “He just lost his way when he got to the Pentagon,” said one long-time JSOC official.
Assuming past allegations of misconduct and Pentagon Official’s descriptions of his behavior are any indication, Reid’s fall from grace will likely have an immediate positive impact on OUSD(I&S).
When it comes to former Pentagon officials turned advocates for formal scrutiny of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, they say Reid’s departure will have a significant positive impact on Government’s investigations into UAP.
“It’s a really big deal,” said Elizondo. “He was one of the biggest obstacles to the DoD’s investigations and public transparency of unidentified aerial phenomena.”
Given that he was on the receiving end of Reid’s ire for several years, The Debrief asked Elizondo how he felt about Reid’s removal as Director of Defense Intelligence.
“While I profoundly respect his past military service to our country, obviously in his later career, he forgot his promise to the American people,” Elizondo said.
“This action by the Department is significant and should be taken as a warning to others in the Department who continue to obfuscate the UAP topic and deny our previous efforts and findings in the AATIP program as they relate to a legitimate potential threat to the National Security of the United States,” Elizondo added.
Before publication, The Debrief sent several unanswered requests to Reid for comment.
“As I indicated before, those involved in the purposeful and deliberate obfuscation of the truth will be held accountable,” added Elizondo.
“We are now seeing this process in action.”
(Correction: An earlier version reported Reid was formerly the Command Sergeant Major for the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment, “Delta Force.” While it is confirmed he was a Command Sergeant Major in U.S. Army Special Operations, subsequent questions arose regarding whether this was with “Delta Force.” The Debrief has amended the article until this can be further verified. Additionally, it was incorrectly reported that “Employee 1” had left OUSDI for a position within the newly formed Defense Counterintelligence & Security Agency (DCSA). This should have been attributed to “Employed 2” from the DoD IG’s 2019-2020 investigation. )
Tim McMillan is a retired law enforcement executive, investigative reporter and co-founder of The Debrief. His writing covers defense, national security, and the Intelligence Community. You can follow Tim on Twitter: @LtTimMcMillan. Tim can be reached by email: email@example.com or through encrypted email: LtTimMcMillan@protonmail.com