A Navy two-star admiral and the Army's top civilian lawyer are under investigation for sexual harassment, the latest in what appears to be a flood of fresh allegations of sexual misconduct against senior military officials.

The Navy yesterday relieved Rear Adm. R.M. Mitchell Jr., a married man with multiple advanced education degrees, from his duties in Mechanicsburg, Pa., as commander of the Navy's supply system and its more than 10,000 employees.

He is alleged to have made repeated advances to a subordinate and created a hostile working environment.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr. "had lost confidence and felt that he {Mitchell} should not be in command at this time," said Rear Adm. Kendell Pease, the Navy's spokesman.

The probe is still open and Mitchell could face disciplinary action. But in cases involving top-ranking officers like him, whose behavior is not criminal but amounts to poor judgment, it is routine for the military to force them into early retirement, sometimes at reduced rank.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department confirmed yesterday that its inspector general is investigating allegations against the Army's general counsel, William Coleman III. Coleman, a longtime friend and Yale Law School classmate of President Clinton whose father was secretary of transportation in the Ford administration, is the Army's top legal authority.

According to sources close to the case, the inspector general has conducted more than 20 interviews based on an anonymous allegation made to a telephone hot line the Army set up in the wake of the sex scandal at its training base in Aberdeen, Md.

The allegations are that Coleman told offensive sexual jokes in public, listened to rap music with offensive lyrics and on one occasion touched a subordinate in an offensive manner at an office luncheon.

"My client is cooperating fully and we absolutely deny any allegation of sexual harassment," said Arthur B. Culvahouse, Coleman's attorney.

The two cases are just the latest examples of almost daily allegations about sexual relations in the armed services.

There has been no evidence that the misbehavior is affecting the military's ability to carry out its mission, but experts inside and outside the services believe it reflects the strains of a still-evolving acceptance of women in the armed forces.

"This is an extremely volatile moment in the gender histories of the military because of the consciousness and sensitivity -- perhaps oversensitivity -- to this issue," said Linda Bird Francke, author of "Ground Zero," a new book on gender relations in the military.

Just in the last several months, the Army and some of the young female recruits it had hoped to turn into its new generation have suffered through humiliating court testimony demonstrating a total breakdown of discipline at the advanced training base at Aberdeen Ordnance Center and School.

There, drill sergeants preyed on young women, passed their names around and covered for one another so they could have prohibited sex, consensual and not.

Just as the Army was winning the public relations battle in its effort to convince a skeptical Congress that the problem was only one of "a few bad apples," and not a failure of leadership, its top enlisted leader, Sergeant Major of the Army Gene C. McKinney was relieved of his duties. His preliminary hearing on charges he propositioned three women and had adulterous sex with a fourth is set to begin June 23.

Army officials, who have congratulated themselves repeatedly for their open dealings with the media over Aberdeen, have closed McKinney's hearing despite protests from McKinney's attorney and numerous news organizations.

Meanwhile, the Army on Thursday relieved from command a one-star general in Georgia for alleged sexual misconduct.

Yesterday, at the Army's base in Darmstadt, Germany, the first of three former instructors to face serious sexual misconduct and assault charges, some including rape, went to court. At least 22 women are alleged to have been victimized by the three.

Not to single out the Army, for the last several weeks, the saga of the Air Force's first female bomber pilot and her adulterous affair with a married civilian man easily won the competition for top news story over the massive Pentagon review of its future multibillion-dollar hardware and personnel requirements.

First Lt. Kelly Flinn won sympathy from many female members of Congress who believed she was being singled out for harsh treatment because she is a woman.

They urged the Air Force to grant her an honorable discharge even though she disobeyed a direct order from her commander and a friendly warning from a noncommissioned officer to stay away from her then-lover.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman stepped into the fray to defend the service, saying Flinn's case was really about dishonesty and that she could not be trusted to fly a bomber carrying nuclear weapons.

David Segal, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, who studies gender relations in the military, said the issue has gained more prominence with the increase of women in uniform and with the growing number of female officers who are now in positions, just like the men before them, to abuse their power.

"Men used to have fun doing this," he said, referring to the plethora of adultery prosecutions. "There's much less acceptance for women doing it."

None of the services keeps statistics on administrative punishments -- something short of courts-martial -- where most misconduct is handled.

It is therefore impossible either to confirm or challenge the general impression that there is more sexual misconduct now than in the past.

Army officials claim there is not, but say instead that many of the activities gaining attention now have gone on forever, although in quiet. They say that had Aberdeen not been situated near three major media markets -- Washington, Baltimore and New York -- the public would not have been given such a daily drumbeat of discouraging news.

"I wouldn't describe it as anything out of the ordinary," an Army legal official said. "These are indiscretions. People make mistakes. We're human. They come on the screen every once in a while."