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Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I have nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines, including JAG.
Sure, it is possible to send an email request for leave, but that is typically only done when the person is already on leave and you are simply asking for an extension or emergency leave.
It is NOT normal practice for someone to apply for leave, in general, through their commanding officer....certainly not a Lt General, who could care less about leave.
The people that will be dealing with leave applications are MUCH lower in rank and are right there with the soldiers.
I think you already suspect what is most likely happening here.
It is so difficult to make this sort of determination. They military can not disclose to you information concerning members of the military who are deployed and that is what a person stationed in Africa would be. It is simply not legal for them to do so.
You can report the situation to the Department of Justice, fraud investigation division. They can likely cut through all the red tape of Facebook and figure out who this person is.
Otherwise, you're going to have to press the person to come up with some way to prove to you who they are. Skyping live with the person, which is available during deployments, can help. Asking him to send you the forms for leave that he uses.
You can set him up by asking him questions that a scammer won't know the answers to. Like "how much would it cost to buy your retirement, so you can get out now?" That's actually not legally possible, but scammers don't know that.
"Can we buy you some extra leave, so that you can spend more time here?" Also not something that is legally possible, but a scammer won't know that.
No problem. Take care and good luck.
If you are ever asked for money or for personal information about you that could be used to obtain your identity, you will have your answer.