The forced resignation of Adm. William Moran stinks.
The strains of almost eighteen years of continuous war, Obama’s massive budget cuts, and a tide of damaging politics have eroded critical parts of our military. What has held together, until last week, was the most critical element: the trust that must exist between the civilian leadership and the military of all ranks.
A huge blow to that trust has just occurred on Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s watch. Another failure of leadership, both similar and different, is taking place about the nomination of Gen. John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, to be the next vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
On May 24, the Senate confirmed Adm. William Moran to be the next Chief of Naval Operations, the top officer in the Navy. On July 7, after a meeting with Spencer, Moran agreed to retire instead of taking his new post. What happened between those two dates to force Moran out?
Last week, Air Force Gen. John Hyten was accused by an anonymous “senior military officer” of sexual misconduct toward her. Will Hyten be forced out, too?
What is being done to Hyten is the same political smear that Democrats used to try to prevent Justice Brett Kavanaugh from being confirmed to the Supreme Court. What was done to Adm. Moran is vastly different and goes far beyond political correctness. It appears to be a breach of faith between the civilian and military leadership of the Navy.
Part of any senior officer’s job is the mentoring of junior personnel. Adm. Moran was reportedly the mentor of Commander Chris Servello for about a decade. Servello served for a time as Moran’s public affairs officer, his link to the media.
Servello was accused of sexual misconduct after a boozy Christmas party for public affairs officers in 2016 when he portrayed Santa Claus. The misconduct cited was making passes at different women and slapping one on the backside.
The Navy’s investigation concluded and no charges were brought against Servello. He was not court martialed or given non-judicial punishment — not even a letter of reprimand. Nevertheless, he was forced to retire from the Navy.
Perhaps Servello chose to retire rather than face court martial or lesser punishment. And perhaps the Navy wanted to get out of the incident without exposing any more of its media mavens to investigation.
After Servello retired, Moran stayed in touch with him. When he was nominated for CNO, Moran reportedly asked Servello for advice on handling the media during the confirmation process. That consultation led someone, perhaps a senator, another admiral, or Spencer himself to accuse Moran of showing bad judgment. That was Spencer’s rationale in apparently forcing Moran’s decision to retire rather than become the next Chief of Naval Operations.
Stop there. Moran was never accused of misconduct. Servello evidently misbehaved at the Christmas party, but not badly enough to be disciplined for it. Put plainly, Servello wasn’t guilty of any crime, even “conduct unbecoming,” the catch-all provision in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
h/t Forcibly Deranged.