A former naval leader says the controversial firing of an aircraft carrier commander illustrates the leadership failure in the Navy.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly submitted his resignation to Defense Secretary Mark Esper after the fallout that followed his firing of Captain Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt last week.
Modly said Crozier had shown "extremely poor judgment" in using email to widely distribute a letter calling for urgent help with the COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship. Modly then, at the taxpayers' cost of more tha $243,000, flew to the virus-stricken ship at port in Guam and delivered a speech lambasting Crozier, telling the crew he was either "too naive or too stupid" to be in charge of an aircraft carrier.
On Monday night, at Esper's insistence, Modly issued a public apology. But by then the calls for his resignation were already mounting among Democrats in Congress.
Though President Trump has shown interest in the case, Commander Kirk Lippold (USN-Ret.), who was in charge of the USS Cole during a 2000 terrorist attack, does not think the president should act on Crozier's behalf.
"Captain Crozier should not be reinstated back into his command," says Lippold. "At the end of the day … that letter should not have been sent out, and he paid a price for it."
But Lippold adds that the acting secretary should not have jumped the chain of command to get involved.
"He should have picked up the phone and called anyone down the military chain of command from him and said, 'You get out there to that carrier, Admiral. You take responsibility for what's happening with that captain, and you solve it,'" the retired commander contends. "He never did that."
Lippold says this situation shows a complete breakdown in the chain of command.