Acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly removed Captain Brett Crozier as commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt because he has “lost confidence” in Captain Crozier.
While all of the details are not known concerning Crozier’s “blunt letter,” and his use of non-secured servers to plead the cause for his ship and sailors, I see this sordid act by the present administration as one more removable of any person who is not in lock-step with its dangerous decisions. Crozier’s blunt letter ruffled the administrations feathers, so he had to go.
Modly alleges that Crozier did not follow the proper chain of command and in his unaccepted manner of asking for help in such a dire situation, he is now not trustworthy to command the nuclear carrier. Yet, how can an officer such as Crozier, who was deemed qualified to command the vessel, suddenly make such a dangerous and un-military error of which he is accused. Crozier’s career record is stellar, so I must wonder what pushed him to such lengths.
I offer that Captain Crozier, like so many civilians, had become exasperated with a lack of honest leadership as he watched his crew become more and more infected with the COVID-19 virus. An officer such as Crozier would not, as a first move, step out of bounds. However, as the situation on his ship became more and more dangerous for the crew and the ship, he did what any of us would have done. But instead of trusting the judgement of Captain Crozier, the acting secretary dismisses him, in a time of crises.
In 1865 Walt Whitman wrote his lament following the assassination of President Lincoln. His poem, O Captain! My Captain expresses the national grief felt for the loss of Lincoln, the captain so needed to heal the Union following the Civil War.
The line, “The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,” from the poem so well describes the present state of the USS Roosevelt because it is now “safe and sound,” as is its sailors. Captain Crozier wanted his ship, so vital to our national defense, to be battle ready, but he knew that its crew had to be healthy in order to effectively operate the ship. Unlike our president, Crozier understood that the health of his crew was paramount and had to be managed first before the battle readiness of his ship could be addressed. Yet, his unjust dismissal by this administration makes him dead to his ship and the sailors he led. In a manner of speaking, his blood is spilled on the deck of the USS Roosevelt.
Modly, like so many members of this administration, is acting because he has not been approved by Congress. Not seeking Congressional approval is one more ploy giving the administration room to appoint anyone to a vacant post. Modly is just one more acting member in this administration, and the adjective acting is sadly telling.
Having confidence in someone is also trusting them. To hold a leader in such a light as to trust his or her judgement and decisions is paramount in the present crises. Sadly, the COVID-19 virus, as observed by Jon Meacham, has become a red/blue divide in America. Companies are now airing commercials about our united spirit and how we will come through this pandemic. I wish that were true, but I sense a lack of trust or confidence in leaders like President Trump. Trust is built out of truth, and he and his administration cannot speak the truth. Their goalposts are moved over and over. Their constant shifting makes it difficult to follow them. So much untruth exists that Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia admitted just this week that he did not know asymptomatic carriers of the virus could spread it. But we do have such leaders as Dr. Fauci, Captain Crozier, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan who we can have confidence in and trust.
So much unrest exists in a time that screams for calm wisdom. It is ironic in a sad way, that the captain of a vessel named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt is so unjustly removed because he spoke truth, a sparse commodity in this administration.