No communications firm, pressed to design a case study on public-relations disasters, could likely top the Navy’s recent bungling of a coronavirus epidemic on the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the firing of the aircraft carrier’s outspoken commander, Captain Brett Crozier. Crozier gained fame for his three-and-a-half-page memo pleading for the service to evacuate its crew from the ship, where safe isolation of the crew was impossible. His civilian boss, then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, gained notoriety for relieving Crozier of command, making an ill-advised quarter-million-dollar trip to board the Roosevelt dockside in Guam, trashing Crozier to his crew as “too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer,” and ultimately resigning his own post amid the backlash.
As the number of infected sailors among the Roosevelt’s crew rose this weekend past 550, a majority of the blame for the saga’s most ridiculous moments continues to fall on Modly. But this crisis was ultimately not of his own making. He merely brought to light the deepening dysfunction within the Department of Defense brought about by collapsing norms of civil-military relations.
Read the full article in The New Republic.
More from CNAS
CommentaryHow Zoom has Reduced Barriers to Entry in National Security
The shift to the virtual environment assists those who may have been overlooked in the past....
By Katherine L. Kuzminski
CommentaryThe Trans Ban Is Gone but More Needs To Be Done
Simply lifting the ban isn’t enough to counteract the discrimination transgender service members and veterans continue to face....
By Nathalie Grogan
CommentaryNow Is a Bad Time to Weaken Civilian Control Over the Military
The mob attacks on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are a sudden reminder of just how vital a nonpartisan military really is—even in the United States....
By Jim Golby
CommentaryBiden Inherits a Challenging Civil-Military Legacy
Joseph Biden and his team will inherit a civil-military relationship as tenuous as any in recent memory....
By Jim Golby & Peter Feaver