The Navy has cashiered nearly a record number of commanding officers in the past year. The officers were fired for inappropriate personal conduct involving sex and alcohol, and some claim the high numbers stem from women serving aboard ships, The Washington Post
The near-record rate of dismissals follows a similar round of
incidents last year. Nine commanding officers were let go in the last 18 months for either sexual harassment or inappropriate relationships, and three for alcohol offenses and another two on unspecified instances of personal misconduct, the Post reported.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead told the Post the high number was “bothersome.” “The divide between our private and professional lives is essentially gone,” he said. “People can engage in the debate — does it really matter what a commanding officer does in their personal life? We believe it does, because it gets right to the issue of integrity and personal conduct and trust and the ability to enforce standards.”
One of the officers was having an affair with another officer’s wife and another received a DUI. In this year alone, the Navy has dismissed a dozen commanding officers and removed another pending an investigation. If the pace continues, the Navy will match the record of 26 firings in 2003, the Post reported.
Naval historian Norman Polmar told the Post, “It’s a phenomenally high number. There is something seriously wrong.” Not all the offenders were men. Three commanders let go in the last year were women, one for inappropriate relationships with other sailors, the Post reported.
Some analysts and officers allege that the inappropriate relations stems from the Navy’s decision to place women on ships, the Post reported. The surface combat fleet was opened to women in 1994 and women are now being trained to serve on submarines. Roughead rejected the idea, telling the Post, “I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘I wouldn’t have strayed if there were no women on this ship.’ ”
Nonetheless, the Navy is not alone when it comes to command problems. The Army has removed or disciplined three brigade commanders this year. One case involved a colonel whose wife accused of having a long-term affair with an Iraqi mistress, the Post reported.
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