Americans deserve to know what went wrong

Following the chain of command can be imperative in the military. Failure to do so can have both fatal and national security implications.

Navy Capt. Brett Crozier is a hero to many sailors about the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which he captained earlier this year. After the Navy removed him from command, his crew gathered to cheer him.

Crozier’s offense was to bypass the chain of command, through at least one email pleading for help in battling COVID-19 aboard his ship. At this writing, more than 660 of the 5,000 or so crew members have tested positive for the coronavirus. About 4,000 have been quarantined on Guam.

Crozier bypassed his immediate superiors with his email, which somehow was circulated widely — enough so that, as military officers have pointed out, it alerted potential enemies that the Roosevelt’s combat effectiveness might be impaired. That is a national security risk.

Acting Navy Secretary Theodore Modly fired Crozier — then was forced to step down from his own post after he told the Roosevelt’s crew that their ex-captain was “too naive or too stupid” to command the ship.

Asked about Crozier, President Donald Trump expressed some sympathy for him, commenting that being fired for having “one bad day” did not seem right. Possibly not, but one bad day in the military can have terrible ramifications.

An investigation into the affair has been launched — and the results should be made public.

One key question is whether Crozier’s email indeed was unwise — or was, instead, a desperate attempt to help his crew after his immediate superiors failed to do so. If so, more heads than his should roll and, perhaps, he should be reinstated.

Clearly, something involving the Roosevelt went wrong. The Americans served by those in uniform aboard the carrier — and throughout the world — deserve to know what that was.


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