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What Was Behind the Firing of Aircraft Carrier Commander?

April 3, 2020 (EIRNS)—Was Capt. Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, fired because his actions were questioning the underlying axiomatic basis for the geopolitical confrontations against China, Russia, and other countries mandated by the national security documents upon which Pentagon strategy is based? In a statement read out to reporters yesterday afternoon at the Pentagon, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly practically trashed Crozier, accusing him of bad judgment, causing panic unnecessarily, and going outside the chain of command by careless dissemination of his letter calling for evacuation of the COVID-19-infected ship, which allowed it to be leaked to the news media (Modly did not accuse Crozier of leaking it himself).

Most indicative of the underlying issues, however, was Modly’s response to Crozier’s assertion in his letter that the U.S. is not at war, and therefore the ship should not be deployed with a known virus infecting the crew and risking lives. “While we may not be at war in a traditional sense, neither are we truly at peace. Authoritarian regimes are on the rise. Many nations are reaching, in many ways, to reduce our capacity to accomplish our national goals. This is actively happening every day,” Modly said. “A more agile and resilient mentality is necessary, up and down the chain of command.” An agility which, it seems in Modly’s view, Crozier did not demonstrate.

Modly said that no one from the White House had influenced his decision to relieve Crozier, reported military.com. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was aware of his decision, Modly said, adding that he was told he had the secretary’s support. Adm. Michael Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, said he supports Modly’s decision.

The War Zone’s Joseph Trevithick reports, among other things, that Crozier’s letter was a source of embarrassment for Modly, particularly in the context of the reheated tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Trevithick writes that there had been a clear sense that Modly, in particular, had been extremely embarrassed by the letter and upset on various levels at its assertions. “Several sources say that the decision was not made in Hawaii [where U.S. Pacific Fleet is headquartered]. This is all D.C.,” U.S. Naval Institute News reporter Sam LaGrone wrote on Twitter.

A major factor in Crozier’s decision about his ship, however, may have been the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the code of law that covers the military. Crozier never referred to the UCMJ in his letter, but nonetheless, Articles 110 and 114 address the willful and wrongful hazarding of a vessel or aircraft of the armed forces and the reckless endangerment of the lives of others, making them court-martial offenses. If Crozier had continued to operate the ship as directed by his chain of command, the coronavirus would inevitably endanger the crew, and would come to affect the ability of his crew to man the nuclear reactors, safely navigate the ship, and conduct flight operations. Crozier was clearly not willing to put his crew and his ship at risk, with a known viral agent aboard, when, as he said in his letter, “we are not at war.”

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