Navy Was Wrong and Right to Fire Captain

Obama: McCain called on America to rise above ‘mean and petty’ politics
Former President Barack Obama delivers a eulogy for Sen. John McCain at the National Cathedral on Sept. 1, 2018.

The Navy has relieved (read fired) the captain of the aircraft carrier housing dozens of sailors with coronaryvirus infections.

Captain Brett Crozier made headlines earlier in the week when he wrote what became an open letter to his superiors begging them to let 90 percent of his 5,000 member crew off the ship so they could avoid being infected.

The Navy responded by relieving him of command, saying his superiors have lost confidence in him.

This is both outrageous and completely justifiable.

It is outrageous because Crozier is being punished because he was looking out for the best interests of the crewmen who depended on him as a leader.

It is justifiable because Crozier was the officer in charge of one of America’s mightiest war machines. Announcing to the world – which, in effect, he did – that this war machine was not really ready to wage war is not the kind of thing commanding officers are supposed to announce.

It is inconceivable to me that Crozier didn’t know what awaited him when he sent that letter. He was sacrificing his career to protect those who depend on his leadership. He is a hero.

It’s also pretty clear to me that the Navy agrees. It relieved Crozier of his command but it did not punish him by reducing his rank. Those who made the decision knew full well that people like me would castigate them as mindless bureaucrats.

They did what they had to do.

The situation is somewhat analogous to that befalling General Stanley McChrystal when he and his fellow officers were overheard in a bar making nasty comments about former Vice President Biden.

President Obama fired McChrystal because, if senior military officers are seen belittling their civilian commanders, you get a big challenge to the legitimate chain of command.

Obama, I’m sure, got no pleasure from the controversy but he, too, did what he had to do.

Is there a moral to this story?

Not really. The lesson is that leadership comes at a price. I think the proper response to the Crozier decision is empathy for the price the leaders at all levels paid rather than outrage for the fact they paid it.