I read the news feed when it first started on Tuesday. It sunk a hole in my heart that the USS Theodore Roosevelt had coronavirus.
However, while I had concern for the lives onboard her I had the confidence in the Navy to handle the situation. This isn't the first time that a ship has had contagious disease upon it. In the history of naval fleets they have dealt with outbreaks of disease. Even though this is a new virus there is still protocol to follow to help the sailors, to stay on mission and to keep our national security intact. The Navy does not stop because of illness. They take action.
That may sound cold to you. "I have a loved one onboard, how can you be concerned about the Mission and National security?"
I'm not trying to be cold and unfeeling...it's just that I have been at this a long time and I have had 35+ years of "training" (Husband full time Law enforcement for 35 years and 30 years of reserve military) and so the bigger picture pops into my head automatically now. Well, most of the time.
From Tuesday to Thursday I read and was concerned. Still am. I pray that they get this spread stopped and everyone recovers healthy and hardy.
Here was my thought Thursday night though as I was going to bed, “Should I be reading this? Is this safe for our country?" Think about it. This is how I am feeling and a question I am asking myself before the CO was removed from his position. I am not saying I knew what was going to happen. I am saying that based on my personal experience the way that the information was coming to me caused an alarm to go off on my radar.
Then Friday morning I see that the CO has been relieved of his command. My first knee jerk reaction was,” What?! Why?!”
Then I put my knee down and I read why. This is the why (an excerpt from the SECNAV’s statement):
"As I learned more about the events of the past week on board USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71), including my personal conversations with the Strike Group Commander, Commander, SEVENTH Fleet, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, the Chief of Naval Operations, and CAPT Crozier himself, I could reach no other conclusion than that Captain Crozier had allowed the complexity of his challenge with COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally, when acting professionally was what was needed most. We do, and we should, expect more from the Commanding Officers of our aircraft carriers."
(Bold and italics mine)
The SECNAV fleshed out “the why” in his statement to the press. He had much to say and I believe that he did it with integrity.
Now, I did not initially read the bolded line from the SECNAV’s statement directly from his statement. I was reading it from an article online. I also read that the CO’s letter had been leaked to the public and published. I have read it..
You want to talk about emotion.
I had a double-knee jerk reaction.
My thoughts: This is a document that I should not even have eyes on.
Let me be clear…it is not the letter itself that produce that reaction in me; it is the fact that I have access to it when I shouldn’t.
After seeing the initial article my husband and I sat down and hashed out our thoughts and feelings. I trust his reaction to this as he has been in it. He has been in extreme adverse situations with lives on the line while he was in a leadership position. He has the authority to speak on it as he has experienced it himself. I watched a man who has been in it…”in the sh!t” (it’s an expression) if you will because that is the only way to describe it, become overcome with emotion as he talked about the reason why it was necessary for the CO to be removed from his position. Let me be clear when I use the term overcome I mean just that, overcome not overreact. For me, that influences how I should react to this. I value his judgement. I have experience with it to help me come to a conclusion for myself. I don’t have blind reaction. I have information from outside and personal experience.
It is a great and weighted responsibility to act professionally when faced with great challenges. The Navy (military) knows this and they are prepared for this. This is why there are rules and regulations. This why they train. When they are faced with something new that training is what helps them to face the new challenge.
Take a moment and think about it. Have you ever had the best intentions to address a problem and went about it in the wrong way. I have (raises hand!). What happened next? It has the opposite effect. You are no longer dealing with just the initial problem; you are now dealing with taking the wrong actions to solve it along with the initial problem. You’ve added hurt to hurt.
There is no doubt that the CO was acting in the best interest of his crew. No doubt at all. I am also not saying that the CO leaked the information to the public. There is no proof of that. What there is proof of is that it leaked and he was the initial bearer of the information. It was his responsibility to act in a professional manner and take the care that was necessary in keeping that information in the right hands. Information goes up the direct Chain of Command, not to outside sources and certainly not to the public.
While the Navy doesn't need to ask you this I’m going too...take a moment and put yourself in the Navy’s shoes. You have seen and heard words such as, “trust and confidence” and the loss of it by the Navy in the CO of the USS TR. What does that mean?
Let me suggest that it means that up until the point that the CO pushed the “Send” button on his computer the Navy trusted in and were confident that he had the abilities to perform as the CO of the USS TR.
To go beyond that you have to think back to what it takes to appoint someone to this kind of a position. It’s not a walk in the park. To quote my husband, “You don’t just appoint (his name) to be the CO of an Aircraft Carrier!” I have no idea what the screening process is to be appointed but think about what it takes to just get a job today. Background checks, psychological tests, capability tests, past experience, references…and that is to just work in the fast food industry sometimes!
Now go forward and think what it takes to have to remove someone from that position. It is based on the trust and confidence that the Navy has in the individual to perform to their full ability within the position given to them. This is what they have to go by. It is not based on feeling. It cannot be and I wouldn’t want it to be. What a mess that would be! I trust in my Navy to be the fine-oiled machine I expect it to be for my welfare and this Nations welfare.
Some have said that the SECNAV acted too soon. Well let me suggest this. Let’s go back to the “problem” scenario mentioned earlier. Instead of addressing it (wrong or right) let’s ignore it. Give it a pass. What’s the outcome? You have left the potential (not saying it absolutely will happen) that it could happen again. The potential for more harm.
Let me ask some questions. In this situation is that a risk that could be taken? And, are those that are in authority over me not held to the same standard that I am asked to uphold? My answers would be: No and yes they are.
Many have posted their opinions on the net as to why they think he was removed. Many of those are one-lined ones with no fact to back it up. I’ve seen, “he’s a scapegoat”, “the Navy is using him as an example” to name a couple. Okay, if that is what you know then what evidence do you have to back that up? Explain it to me and we’ll talk about it.
Another is that the Navy doesn’t care about our Sailors. Again, back that up. What factual evidence do you have?
There is a bottom line here on why the CO was removed. I hope that along the way in my story I have been able to convey that. I am not in any way trying to discount anyone’s emotions. My point in bringing this up is not to stir the pot but to ask you to look at the contents.
We are retired now, but you never lose your connection. It may take a different position in your life, as it should, but it is never lost. The fact that I am writing about this tells me that.
I have a husband who has “been there, done that”. I have a son that is enlisted in the Reserves in the Navy. I have another that is working “the front-lines” as an EMT in an emergency room in a hospital. I stand where you stand.
**I finished this over the weekend but waited until today to post this out of respect for joyful Sunday.
I realize that there are still events unfolding in this situation but did not add them to my post.