Navy Fires Captain for Calling Attention to Navy Inaction

A public health crisis turns into a public relations crisis.

Capt. Brett Crozier, then-commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), addresses the crew during an all-hands call on the ship's flight deck on Nov. 15, 2019. US Navy Photo
Capt. Brett Crozier, then-commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), addresses the crew during an all-hands call on the ship’s flight deck on Nov. 15, 2019. US Navy Photo

The Acting Secretary of the Navy has lost confidence in the captain of an aircraft carrier whose plea for belp went viral.

Early last week, three sailors from the Teddy Roosevelt tested positive for COVID-19. Navy Times‘ David Larter (“Sailors on board carrier Theodore Roosevelt test positive for COVID-19“):

Three sailors aboard the carrier Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19, the Navy announced Tuesday, the first cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus on a ship underway.

In a press conference with Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, Modly announced the three cases, adding that the service was working on evacuating the sailors as soon as possible.

The spread of COVID-19 on an underway warship raises the frightening prospect of a new cluster of cases among 5,000-plus deployed sailors, and marks a new chapter in the Navy’s fight to contain the spread within its ranks. The service has documented nearly 90 cases to date, Modly said.

The Roosevelt was last in port in Da Nang, Vietnam, 15 days ago, Gilday said. The decision to go forward with the port visit in early March was made when Vietnam had only 16 total cases, all isolated in the northern city of Hanoi, he said.

Tuesday, the captain’s four-page letter pleading for more urgent action from his superiors leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle (“Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy“):

The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier with more than 100 sailors infected with the coronavirus pleaded Monday with U.S. Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.


“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

In the four-page letter to senior military officials, Crozier said only a small contingent of infected sailors have been off-boarded. Most of the crew remain aboard the ship, where following official guidelines for 14-day quarantines and social distancing is impossible.

“Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this,” Crozier wrote. “The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”

He asked for “compliant quarantine rooms” on shore in Guam for his entire crew “as soon as possible.”

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk,” Crozier wrote. “Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”

Within hours, the Navy was heading his advice. Late yesterday afternoon, he was fired.

USNI‘s Sam LaGrone (“Carrier Roosevelt CO Relieved Over ‘Extremely Poor Judgment’ in Creating ‘Firestorm’ Over COVID-19 Outbreak“):

The carrier commander who warned that his crew didn’t have enough resources to fight an accelerating COVID-19 infection aboard his ship, has been relieved of command, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) commander Capt. Brett Crozier showed “extremely poor judgment” in how he sent a message asking his chain of command for more resources to treat and isolate the sailors who had contracted the virus over the last month and continued to spread it amongst the carrier’s crew.

Crozier wrote a four-page letter and sent it over an unclassified network to not only his chain of command but also 20 to 30 other people in the service, Modly said.


Modly told reporters he didn’t know if Crozier leaked the letter to the paper, but the manner in which he handled the information called into question his ability to lead the carrier.

“I’m not trying to suggest he leaked information… What I will say is that he sent it out pretty broadly, and he didn’t take care that it couldn’t be leaked.”

The way he sent the letter “demonstrated extremely poor judgment in the middle of a crisis,” Modly said. “Because what it’s done is, it’s created a firestorm. It’s created doubts about the ship’s ability to go to sea if it needs to. It’s created doubt among the families about the health of their sailors, and that was a completely unnecessary thing to do in the midst of the crisis.”

Modly went on to say that the letter had caused “panic” on the ship with senior enlisted leaders unable to answer questions from sailors who saw the letter after it was leaked.

JD Simpkins for Navy Times (“Navy fires Theodore Roosevelt skipper following leaked letter pleading for COVID-19 assistance“) notes that the backlash has been swift:

Crozier’s hasty dismissal prompted immediate backlash from lawmakers in the House Armed Services committee who accused Modly of acting irrationally.

“Throwing the commanding officer overboard without a thorough investigation is not going to solve the growing crisis aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt,” the committee’s statement read.

“What’s more, we are very concerned about the chilling effect this dismissal will have on commanders throughout the Department of Defense. Dismissing a commanding officer for speaking out on issues critical to the safety of those under their command discourages others from raising similar concerns.”

While my initial reaction to the headline—and that of most of the national security professionals I follow on Twitter—was outrage, I’m less certain after reading the explanation.

If Crozier felt the chain of command was unnecessarily risking the lives of his sailors, it was his duty to get the word out. But if he literally didn’t talk to his strike group commander before sending out a four-page letter to dozens of people through open channels, that’s unconscionable.

And, yes, the letter being leaked to the press and causing panic among families back home as well as aboard the ship was inevitable. Given that Crozier is from down the road from San Francisco and the letter just happened to find its way to the newspaper there, I’m inclined to think he leaked it himself.

But here’s the thing. If the Navy’s senior leadership was doing everything it could before the letter leaked, why does it seem that they suddenly shifted into a more urgent mode once it did?

I’m sellable on the notion that getting most of the crew off an aircraft carrier in rapid fashion is challenging when it’s thousands of miles from home port. But why were they suddenly able to make that happen once the letter leaked?

UPDATE: Bryan McGrath, a retired Navy SWO who has commanded a destroyer offers some thoughts in a Twitter thread. I’m presenting them in paragraph form below:

A thread on the firing of the CO of USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71). I’m not sure any reader is going to be perfectly satisfied by what I write, but that’s the way the ball bounces.

Let’s start with what we know. An sophisticated, experienced, Naval Officer in command of anuclear powered aircraft carrier drafted a well-written four page letter laying out his assessment of the emergency facing his crew and desired actions of his chain of command to fix them.

We also know that this commanding officer was removed from command on the orders of the acting Secretary of the Navy as a result of the letter having found its way to the open press. We have heard from the @SECNAV, but we have not heard from the CO (CAPT Crozier).

So now, let’s move to things we assert, but which we don’t know.

First, I believe CAPT Crozier knew when he hit send on the email containing this letter that it could very well result in his being removed from command. Anyone who commands a Navy ship understands that it is not a birthright, and if you ask most who have (I’m one), they’ll tell you that they had more than one conversation with themself in which they acknowledged that there were circumstances in which you would take the command at sea pin and put it on your boss’s desk and say “I’m out”. I think Crozier reached this point. The interesting question to me is why?

Time and thorough investigations will tell, but the most logical explanation is that he HAD done all these things but that the Chain of Command wasn’t acting. I cannot judge this, but statement above indicates that prior to the letter being released, he had gotten assurances from the very top that his needs would be met. But I am not certain of the chronology.

But what I AM certain of is that the manner in which the letter was drafted and circulated (on unclasssified networks) without handling markings (at least For Official Use Only) virtually assured that it would be leaked. I am not saying Crozier leaked it. I’m saying the way he wrote and distributed it ensured its wide distribution.

When this matter is thoroughly investigated, it will be useful to understand the degree to which Crozier was or wasn’t being well served by the Chain of Command.

Bottom line for me: Crozier did what he thought was right for the safety and health of his crew, he determined that losing command was worth the risk of saving lives, and he let it ride.

Let us now turn to the institutional Navy. A word of insight–I consult to the Navy. What I am writing here is what I think, and if they asked me, which no one has, would have been what I told them. So, the letter hits the press. — and presumably others — are caught by surprise. It instantly becomes a global news story.

They are trying to manage a large and global organization’s response to a pandemic. While CAPT Crozier has unimpeachable and unmatched “on scene” insight, he has little or no understanding of the scope and totality of the problem facing Navy leadership. He is doing his job as he sees fit. And so was @secnav

This is the most important point I can get across here. Both Crozier and Modly have done “a” right thing here. I’m not saying there was only one course of action for either of them. I’m saying that among the right answers, each chose one. ‘

Crozier wrote his letter knowing it would likely mean his firing. Modly fired him likely knowing it would be an unpopular decision. Both men were right. Both men did their jobs. The Navy’s institutional reaction to Crozier and his crew’s plight was NOT working fast enough on scene.

Given that Crozier did not know what was headed his way or what the breadth of the response was going to be, Modly’s removal of him from this job was warranted. The country simply cannot have a Navy in which its commanders are freely communicating their concerns open source,

NO MATTER HOW RIGHT CROZIER WAS IN THIS PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCE. Crozier’s action got the attention he sought, good things are happening, and the crew is being taken care of. It cost him his command, but as I said, I suspect he knew it would.

I honor his sacrifice, and hope that the Navy continues to pick men and women for command who UNDER EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES do what is necessary to ensure the safety and readiness of their crew and their ship. But the NORM must continue to be using the chain of command and appropriate networks and transmission paths. The NORM must be the chain of command. That NORM must be protected institutionally by those entrusted with its upkeep…men like @SECNAV.

To conclude–I hope that in his place, I would have done what Crozier did. Had I, I would have known that it would be the end of that command. And if I were in Modly’s place, I would likely have done exactly what he did. Command is a unique position in the Navy, and an enormous amount of trust is placed in the CO. Crozier appears to have violated that trust. The optics and the narrative are terrible for the Navy right now, and it occurs to me that there were other “right” paths Modly could have taken. But I do not fault him for the decision he made.

That strikes me as right given what we know now. @JimBrown has a similar take in the comments below.

And it comports with my take Tuesday evening when the news of Crozier’s letter hit:

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    But if he literally didn’t talk to his strike group commander before sending out a four-page letter to dozens of people through open channels, that’s unconscionable.

    I’ve been assuming he had been up the chain of command, got no results, and so this letter was a last act of desperation.
    If, as you say, he blew by the chain of command, then I want to know why? It just doesn’t make sense.
    This story reeks of rotten fish.
    I suspect we are going to learn a lot more before we are done with this.
    This is Trump’s Navy…so nothing should be taken at face value.

  2. Stormy Dragon says:

    It says a lot about our Navy when it has room for Eddie Gallagher, but not Brett Crozier

  3. Jen says:

    I agree with @Daryl and his brother Darryl: –there is something that is not right about this story. It makes no sense at all that a career military officer would not even bother to go to his strike group commander and instead send an email out.

    I will note that the sailors know who had their backs. He apparently received a tremendous send-off.

    Firing someone for not taking sufficient care that an email might leak, when it likely saved lives just sounds so g*ddamn stupid.

  4. Tyrell says:

    Not surprising from what I have heard from people who were in the Navy.
    Admiral Rickover didn’t go with a lot of their b. S. They would not get rid of him because he was the genius behind their nuclear fleet.
    “Following the chain of command is for officers who lack initiative” (German Field Marshall Von Rundstedt)

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    When it all comes out I strongly suspect the captain did try to go through the chain-of-command but the chain-of-command didn’t have the balls to face Trump’s inevitable rage, while the captain put the welfare of his crew first. As a good officer should. As a matter of fact, I’d put money on it.

    When we rid ourselves of the orange baboon maybe we can make Crozier Secretary of the Navy.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Captain Crozier! Captain Crozier!’: Videos show sailors sending off ousted USS Roosevelt commander with cheers

    A cheering and applauding crowd of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt wished farewell to their captain, whom the Navy relieved of command after he raised concerns about the spreading coronavirus on his ship in a letter that was leaked to the media.

    Hundreds were pictured in the gathering in the ship’s hangar deck and many chanted Capt. Brett Crozier’s name in multiple videos posted to social media.

  7. rachel says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    McHale’s navy >> Trump’s navy

  8. Liberal Capitalist says:

    We here in the US were shocked, SHOCKED when we learned that the local Chinese leadership silenced Dr. Li Wenliang for attempting to communicate a possible outbreak of an illness that resembled severe acute respiratory syndrome…

    And here we are.

  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    Eternal Father — The “Navy Hymn”

    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!

  10. Mikey says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Our Navy didn’t have room for Gallagher until Trump forced it to make room.

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    When we rid ourselves of the orange baboon maybe we can make Crozier Secretary of the Navy.

    Saw a similar statement on your Twitter feed…and I agree.

  12. Richard Gardner says:

    Like James, I’m seeing lots on my military feeds (retired Navy sub officer here). Have any of you ever been to Guam? I have, spent a few months there. Small and incestuous, like a high school (population 160k). I guess the Federal government (Navy) should have just told the local government and business owners they were taking over (martial law) – um, nope. The locals were either against having possible infected Sailors on the island, or were trying to figure out a way to make money off the situation (needed, as the lower-class Japanese tourists weren’t visiting). And the Guam media?
    I’m able to recognize there is more to this story than the reports – in a few months the truth may come out but everyone will remember only the initial story. I’ll also note that this was Crozier’s THIRD command; he isn’t inexperienced and was likely to make Admiral.
    Meanwhile it was the (Acting) Secretary of the Navy that made the decision, after consulting with the SECDEF. I’m sure there is way more to the story.

  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    You can’t tell me this wasn’t politically motivated retaliation.
    This is what happens when a lobbyist runs the Pentagon.
    Drain the swamp…indeed.

    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper has urged American military commanders overseas not to make any decisions related to the coronavirus that might surprise the White House or run afoul of President Trump’s messaging on the growing health challenge, American officials said.
    Mr. Esper’s directive, delivered last week during a video teleconference call with combatant commanders around the world, is the latest iteration of Mr. Trump’s efforts to manage public fears over the disease, even as it continues to spread around the world.
    Mr. Trump has said Democrats and the news media are stoking fear about the disease, even calling their concerns a “hoax” during one rally last week.
    The president has since tempered his words.
    Mr. Esper told commanders deployed overseas that they should check in before making decisions related to protecting their troops.

  14. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I agree that it makes no sense.

    @Stormy Dragon: The Navy acted swiftly to oust Gallagher. It was President Trump overturning the Navy. Indeed, the reason Modly is Acting is that his predecessor was fired trying to take away Gallagher’s SEAL trident.

    @Michael Reynolds: That’s a strong possibility.

  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Yes, I remember when the entire senior leadership resigned in protest. Oh wait, only one (Rear Admiral Green) did.

  16. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I’m honestly not sure what resigning would have achieved. As it was, Gallagher retired from the Navy almost immediately.

  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m honestly not sure what resigning would have achieved.

    I know.

  18. Mikey says:

    @Stormy Dragon: IMO there are better hills to die on. Obviously you think differently.

  19. Scott says:

    I don’t think it wuould happen for a multitude of cultural reasons but… I wouldn’t mind seeing a few very high ranking officers resign and state it is because they lost confidence in the civilian leadership of the military.

    BTW, with Esper and Pompeo, the West Point Class of 86 must be so proud.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    Nobody gets to captain a carrier without understanding and abiding by the stated and unstated rules governing the Navy. I would believe he tried the chain of command, tried quietly going outside the chain, and finally decided the situation was so desperate he had to risk his career.

    It appears the Navy has not issued “distancing” or other guidelines appropriate for a warship or procedures for an outbreak. It’s bloody unlikely the Roosevelt is unique. Hope to hell this doesn’t happen on a submarine.

  21. Mikey says:


    I would believe he tried the chain of command, tried quietly going outside the chain, and finally decided the situation was so desperate he had to risk his career.

    This wasn’t a matter of risk, but of certainty. He knew exactly what would happen, and proceeded with the full knowledge he would lose his command.

  22. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Let’s be clear–his boss, the Carrier Strike Group Commander was likely aboard the Carrier and was well aware of the situation. Its a deployed carrier–you can’t offload a bunch of sailors anywhere because you want. These are national level decisions between the US and the port country. There might have been some creative ways to quarantine in the Carrier hangar space but the logistics of feeding and care would have been challenging.

    The bottom line is that there was a disagreement between the Admiral commanding the Strike Group and the Captain Commanding the Carrier about what were appropriate measures. The Coordination chain would have been between the Capt, the Admiral, the Commander of INDOPACOM and the Commander of the Navy component to INPACOM–PACFLEET.

    The letter was, in effect, his resignation letter and CYA, because he believed that the measures taken where not appropriate enough and would lead the Carrier to being non-mission capable. It was addressed to the level of Command least able to help solve the problem. “The Navy” does not deal in tactical level decisions about Carrier movements and crew health–that’s what Commanders in the field do–and if they need more resourcing to carry those things out–you go to big Navy to write the check.

    I know everyone here likes to see things in terms of politics but this is pretty cut and dried–he disagreed with the Chain–which by and large ALSO do not want to see a catastrophe on board the Carrier, but also have to balance mission readiness into their decisions. When an Capt disagrees with an Admiral and above–guess who’s going to win? That the Admiral was not relieved as well shows that the chain of command backs the Admiral’s call that appropriate measure to balance Force health and mission readiness were taken. Make no mistake—a 1 star Admiral in the big scheme is really a nobody. Had the chain of command believed that Capt was right…they would have relived the 1-star. 1-stars are readily replaceable.

    The Capt was dealt and unfortunate hand–sometimes that happens in Command. He’ll retire with his Capt pension and likely show up on CNN as a talking head. Life will continue to be good for him.

  23. Barry says:

    @gVOR08: “Nobody gets to captain a carrier without understanding and abiding by the stated and unstated rules governing the Navy. I would believe he tried the chain of command, tried quietly going outside the chain, and finally decided the situation was so desperate he had to risk his career. ”

    This 10,000 times (‘Banzai Ditto!’?)

    He had spent a long career in the Navy, culminating in command of a capital warship. That’s not a guy who bucks the chain, but rather skillfully works within the system.

  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    I know everyone here likes to see things in terms of politics

    Yes, because that chain of command starts with an incompetent president who has made it absolutely clear that he will tolerate nothing less than slavish obedience. A fish rots from the head. Crozier’s sense of duty overrode his fear of retaliation, Esper’s did not.

  25. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I know everyone here likes to see things in terms of politics but this is pretty cut and dried–he disagreed with the Chain–which by and large ALSO do not want to see a catastrophe on board the Carrier, but also have to balance mission readiness into their decisions.

    You are missing the point…the Chain disagreed with him because of politics. Esper made it clear a couple weeks ago. Do not go against the Imbecile-In-Chief.

    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper has urged American military commanders overseas not to make any decisions related to the coronavirus that might surprise the White House or run afoul of President Trump’s messaging on the growing health challenge, American officials said.

    Emphasis, mine.
    This is Trump’s Navy. And everything with Trump, not just the Navy, is about his re-election. There is nothing else. Everything in Trumpistan is politics.

  26. senyordave says:

    @rachel: McHale’s navy >> Trump’s navy
    Please don’t sully Lt. Commander Quinton McHale’s good name by lumping him in with Trump. Unlike Cadet Bonsepurs, McHale served his country honorably, even if he didn’t always do it according to military protocol.
    Trump is so awful that it is unfair to compare him to anyone, whether real or fictional.
    I sometimes see people make the comparison to Thurston Howell III of Gilligan’s Island. This is very unfair. Yes, they are both greedy, but Howell is smart, an actual shrewd businessman, and has some level of human decency. Trump lacks all of these characteristics. If Trump were the main character in a sitcom it would never have gotten off the ground because no one could believe that a character could be so devoid of any positive characteristics.

  27. KM says:

    The new MAGAt talking point is Crozier is a villain for exposing “mission unreadiness”. I’ve seen them demonize him for trying to score “PR points” and that he did the treasonous thing to make the Administration look bad.

    Here’s the thing – anyone with half a brain, including our enemies, would understand that an outbreak on a ship means it’s going to be in a compromised position. I’m sure our intelligence agencies are keeping an eye out on all hostile nation’s navies for exactly this reason. Crozier’s letter and intent to leak would be confirmation of already known intel – nice to have but nothing new or incriminating. In fact, a ship that tried to hide such a condition would have been a juicier target whereas now the whole world is paying attention, rendering the likelihood of an attack moot. You pick off the weak ship when no one’s looking or around to help; it’s the limping zebra that keeps falling behind that catches the lion’s attention.

    He knew he was falling on his own sword but as @James noted, that’s his job. What’s not his job is compromising his ship, crew and mission to satisfy the CnC’s need to not be criticized. If it meant the end of his career to ensure the safety of the crew, so be it. Still, it’s some seriously bad optics and morale killer to have Trump pardoning Gallagher and letting Crozier be dismissed mid-crisis. This could have waited till later or disciplinary action taken another form. Trump need the military contingent to vote for him and frankly, being seen getting rid of the guy willing to sacrifice a career for his sailors leaves a bad taste behind.

  28. R.Dave says:

    I take Bryan McGrath’s point about preserving the norm of following the chain of command by disciplining Crozier for breaking protocol even if he was correct on substance and acted honorably by putting duty ahead of career. However, there’s also supposed to be a norm of valuing and encouraging substantively correct calls and honorable behavior. Given that, is there some measure of discipline short of relieving him of his command that might have been a better balance between the two competing values?

  29. Mikey says:


    Given that, is there some measure of discipline short of relieving him of his command that might have been a better balance between the two competing values?

    Not for an officer in his position, no. Any discipline at that level is a career-ender, and they certainly couldn’t leave him in place with that mark on his record.

    I think he absolutely did the best thing for his sailors, but he still had to be fired. To quote Picard, sometimes you can do everything right and still lose.

  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    There is no balance to be had here…Crozier went against Trumps messaging. Period. He had to go.
    There is nothing but absolute loyalty to the Dear Leader, and the slavish massaging of his fat orange ass with your lips.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I know everyone here likes to see things in terms of politics but this is pretty cut and dried–

    I have never been in the military, but I just want to point out that there is politics in the military too and that has a lot more to do with who gets cut and what gets dried than anybody likes to admit.

  32. Jen says:

    I don’t know how many of you have watched the videos recorded of him departing the ship, but they look like something scripted from a movie. Dismissing this Captain made him a martyr, and rightly so for prioritizing those under his command before his own career.

  33. DrDaveT says:

    But what I AM certain of is that the manner in which the letter was drafted and circulated (on unclasssified networks) without handling markings (at least For Official Use Only) virtually assured that it would be leaked.

    What a fascinating assertion. It smacks a bit of blaming the homeowner and not the burglar, should the homeowner use shoddy locks.

    Out of curiosity, which FOIA exemption should Captain Crozier have asserted, in order to mark the document FOUO? I can’t think of one that applies, except by a pretty extreme stretch of the definitions. (“It would be embarrassing if it got out” is explicitly forbidden as a rationale.)

  34. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Both of you are wrong and are seeing Trump ghosts. Trump is not some overarching presence involved in every jot or tittle of decision. He’s ignored through most of the Federal bureaucracy because 98% of things the Gov’t does is not even on his radar. Donald Trump doesn’t even know what the Teddy Roosevelt is—its mission–or where it is. And frankly, Esper probably doesn’t either.

    The beautiful thing about coronavirus is–you can’t jedi mindtrick it away. What do you think is the more devastating media story for Trump? A few hundred sailors quarantined in Guam—or and entire Carrier non mission capable because the 70% of the crew is sick? Admirals get fired and retired for things like that. Our carrier and sub missions are no-fail missions–period. They will not be jeopardized because Trump might tweet something mean.

    You talk about listening to experts? Well that’s what this is–an disagreement between experts on what mitigation measures strike the BEST balance between the nuclear carrier mission and force health. Force health for the military cannot be the ONLY factor in decision making.

    The Capt is an expert who disagree’d with his superiors—who are also experts and have been in the same exact shoes as the Capt. They too— also have similar incentive NOT to have a floating catastrophe at sea regardless of what Donald Trump or Mark Esper think. This is a disagreement between professionals and should be thought of as such. Sailors were brought off the boat and quarantined on the boat–the Capt didn’t think it was enough. His superiors–who, I might add, also have Chief Medial Officers advising them, think that measure taken to date were enough.

    There is no need to insert Trump into a conversation that Im confident he never factored into. Ive been the guy that would have had to write the letter to parents that their son or daughter made the ultimate sacrifice. No Commander is going to write a letter for decisions they made in deference to Donald Trump.

  35. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: There is politics in every bureaucracy–period. My point is—there wasn’t Red/Blue or Trump/ Dem politics in this particular incident. There are different types of politics involved at the higher levels of the military.

    Also, the Capt is not blameless. He allowed the sailor’s liberty at an early March port call in Vietnam. I stopped shaking hand and started social distancing in early March and I believe DOD issued a Stop Movement order in early March. This guy let hundreds of young horny sailors go traipsing though the strip clubs, brothels, and markets in Vietnam. What could have possibly went wrong? He, in fact, sewed the seeds of his own problem. Im sure this also factored into him being relieved.

  36. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mikey: You’re absolutely right–as a Commander you have to prepare yourself that you may have to act in a way that will get yourself fired–but for the right reason. There is honor in that–some of his Sailors will name their kids after him. I’d by the guy a beer. He had no good options and took the honorable road.

  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    You’re thinking systems not humans. My wife has a deal with Disney. Has anyone at Disney ever told us to avoid criticizing Disney? No. Do Bob Iger the new guy have any idea who we are? No. Do we nevertheless avoid badmouthing Disney? Duh.

    Every single civilian in the Defense Department is terrified of being attacked by Trump. Do the math.

  38. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Friend of mine works for Disney…they are about to unleash major furloughs.
    Obviously won’t affect your wife’s deal.
    Just a sign of where we are in this debacle that never needed to happen.

  39. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    Esper is a lobbyist installed by Trump.
    The SEC-NAV is an appointee who has his position because the previous guy was fired because Trump wanted to over-ride him on the Eddie Gallagher Court Martial.
    You’re naive as all fuq if you think Trump’s shadow isn’t all over this.

  40. wr says:

    @Jim Brown 32: “Both of you are wrong and are seeing Trump ghosts. ”

    Funny, but the former vice-president of the United States disagrees with you. He says the captain was “faithful to his duty” and the firing reflected “poor judgment.”

    No offense, but I think I’ll take his word over yours.

    (In case anyone was wondering, that was Joe Biden…)

  41. sam says:
  42. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @wr: Joe Biden is a career politician and not a military man. You cant criticize people for not listening to experts….then go with the judgement of a politician…whose NEVER had experience in the subject being discussed (not even adjacent experience like I do) over the experts.

    The tell tale, as I said before, is that the Capt’s boss was not relieved. Once that letter was written and sent, one of them had to go. Had for once, it was believed that the Admiral jepordized the carrier and prevented the Capt from acting responsibly, that Admiral would have been canned. But hey, what do I know that Joe Biden couldn’t tell you?

  43. Mister Bluster says:

    @Jim Brown 32:..This guy let hundreds of young horny sailors go traipsing though the strip clubs, brothels, and markets in Vietnam.

    So this is why 58,193 Americans died in the Vietnam war.
    Not to mention four dead in Ohio.
    Fifty years ago tomorrow.
    I think I’m going to puke.

  44. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: You made my point….anything Trump injects himself into… he goes out of his way to take credit for it. Trump hasn’t uttered a word about the TR or its Capt.

  45. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mister Bluster: Its true…sailors do have more fun….

    But the larger point is that war is politics and there is institutional amnesia in the Armed Forces. Just like most of the Iraq /Afghanistan generation of warriors have retired and moved on…the Vietnam era warriors are senior citizens. The kids serving now have no scar tissue about Vietnam and see it as yet another fun port with beautiful women. And, whereas I will always loathe Iraq and Afghanistan, a generation of warriors to come will be an ambivalent about it…they’ll have their own enemy to hate.

  46. de stijl says:


    The Navy employs PR folks, yes? Were they consulted?

    The Message is very clear:

    Do Not Undercut The President In Public.

    (The message is very clear/

    I hate your answering machine)

    The Replacements’ Answering Machine is a kinda a throw away proto Guided By Voices thing song.

    Bob Stinson fucking rails on that song.

    There is a very strong line between Answering Machine and Guided By Voice’s Alien Lanes.

    Fragments of future songs

    Then full on Motor Away

    Utterrly devastating in effect.

  47. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @de stijl:

    You’re funny when you get high on a Friday night…

    The Lemonheads are great for that (in the same groove as The Replacements) :

    Don’t wanna get high
    I don’t wanna get high
    But I don’t wanna not get high
    I don’t wanna not get stoned

  48. de stijl says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    I’m not high. I’m not drunk.

    That’s just me being weird.

    Which is either super cool or very embarrassing.

    Basically a big ole nerd.

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Your first post appeared to imply that in the military the rules are the rules and they get applied regardless of who is who. I was pointing out that politics is a part of every human endeavor and the military is not immune to that law of nature.

    As to others assertions that the trumpvirus is the real reason he got fired and your repeated insistence that it has very little to do with it, I find a certain blindspot on both sides. For some folks trump is the original sin from which all of today’s evil is begat but there was plenty of wrong going on before him. Your refusal to acknowledge that his admins moral bankruptcy has without a doubt leaked into parts of the higher echelons of the military strikes me as naive. One does not become an Admiral or a general without ambition. Ambition makes people do a lot of things, including kiss a lot of civilian asses, one in particular.

    The truth is somewhere in the middle.

  50. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That’s a valid point but slightly mischaracterizes my position. Obviously there arent zero political calculations made by military leadership. What I’m stating, is those calculations apply to fewer scenarios than people think and there are fewer general officers and flag officers that are exposed to political forces that have to make those ccalculations. Most of the political pressure is about acquisitions and bases so congress critters can keep federal govt pork in their state/district. The rest is the bright shiny news of the day hotspot or bad guy the Administration wants military options for. This particular issue isnt one that rises to the beltway level.

    The good thing about Trump is he’s too stupid to move with stealth. Its pretty obvious what he’s meddled in (Solemani) because he tweets about it. I would hope that people understand that most military leaders, save a few sociopaths that uncommon to any bureaucracy, really do strive to strike the best balance between the mission, the troops, and the politics. At the mid level, which is where this Capt and his Boss are…leaders are mostly insulated from beltway politics and have a greater focus on striking that good balance between the mission and the kids accomplishing it.

  51. Mikey says:

    @Jim Brown 32: My problem with this isn’t that he was fired for the letter, it’s that he felt he had no choice but to write it and sacrifice his command. Why would Navy leadership downplay his concerns to that extent? Do you really think the atmosphere of minimization and denial of the severity of this new disease Trump created had nothing to do with that? Because my experience over my 20 years of service leads me to conclude it did. The Navy was slow-walking its response to Crozier’s request, because they wanted to avoid an affront to the President.

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jim Brown 32: You have a superior knowledge of military matters than I do but I still think there are more “general officers and flag officers that are exposed to political forces” than you think. When Mattis was SecDef maybe so, but Mattis isn’t SecDef anymore.

  53. wr says:

    @Jim Brown 32: :You cant criticize people for not listening to experts….then go with the judgement of a politician…whose NEVER had experience in the subject being discussed (not even adjacent experience like I do) over the experts.”

    Again, with all respect, Biden worked hand in hand with the commander in chief, while you are a pseudonymous poster on the internet about whose claimed experience I know nothing. So again, I’m going with the veep here.

  54. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @wr: I dont need you’re validation for anything so dont mistake the purpose of my post. I dont care who you go with…believe, or dont believe. If I wanted credibility, I would simply reveal who I am and you could look me upon the web and evaluate my bonafides yourself. I post to enlighten those open to an “insiders” view. You can take it or leave it.

    BTW…Biden was pretty much out of the loop on the machinations of almost every National Security issue that came up during his time as VP. But I’m just a internet poster so that’s probably a lie.

  55. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mikey: Thanks for your Service. My Pops did 20+ in the Navy as well. Having read the letter only once and briefly I believe his position was that he wanted 90% if the crew offloaded and quarantined with 10% keeping essential function going onboard. I don’t see how that’s possible seeing the scale of a carrier crew. None of those small pacific ports can take quarantine ~3000 sailors. That would require host nation support and I don’t think those nations like Guam have the ability to do that. We didn’t even do that with cruise ships wanting to offload a similar passengers and crew in America. I did hear some talk of the troops stationed in guam building some makeshift quarantine quarters but there was concern that their wasnt the medical personnel and PPE to guam to quarantine that many sailors. There undoubtedly is more to the story from what I’m hearing from former colleagues but the real story hasn’t hit the whisper circuit yet.

    My gut…I think the PACOM and PACFLEET gave the guy all the help they could without exposing their own people to exposure and he felt that it was better to take the fall now as a hero than later as the goat should the virus ravage out of control and, heaven forbid, he loses a sailor or 2.

  56. Michael Reynolds says:

    David Ignatius writes:

    By Wednesday, Modly told a colleague he was thinking of relieving Crozier and that Trump “wants him fired.” He was advised by several current and former colleagues, reportedly including Gilday, that such a dismissal would be unwise, and that the matter was best left to the military.

  57. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Wow. That is fucking infuriating. Everything Trump touches makes America less safe, less powerful, less…well, less America.

    He is the first truly anti-American President.

  58. Mister Bluster says:

    …nations like Guam…

    Guam (Where America’s Day Begins) is an unincorporated organized territory of the United States and the people born there are American Citizens.

    (I know you knew that.)

  59. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mikey:..He is the first truly anti-American President.

    The way his sycophants worship him he could be the Anti-Christ!

  60. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mister Bluster: Yes, I did…. they get even less support from us from Puerto Rico so their facilities and capacity is extremely limited there.

    As an aside, I did a little reading up this afternoon and it appears that before Crozier wrote his letter, approximately 45% of the crew was tested and the 155 positives along with over 1000 other sailors were offloaded from the ship. Croziers position was that he needed closer to 90% offloaded–which is an incredible ask. A colleague told me they are flying the TRs previous Capt back out and he just departed last fall and will still have familiarity with the Ship.

    The old Capt is going to do things the way the chain of command wants them to be done….. so it will become crystal clear over the next month if Brett Crozier was right…or if his bosses were right. This issue wont have room for subjectivity.

    IMO I think what occurred before the letter was appropriate provided the testing and quarantine was combined with contact tracing. It’s not zero risk but its alot lower… I think the Capts energy would have been best served by shaking the bushes to get his hands on another 3000 tests to cover the rest of the crew and arrangements to bed down any further positives and their contacts which could have been another 1000 or so sailors tops…which would have still left you with a crew of 60% onboard. Time will tell who judged the situation correctly.

  61. An Interested Party says:

    The way his sycophants worship him he could be the Anti-Christ!

    You would think the Anti-Christ would be smarter than this chump…

  62. Coleen Wedge says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: The measure of a commander is found in the response of the men and women who he/she leads. I applaud you Captain Crozier as do your sailors. You are the hero who put his troops ahead of his self interest. Shame on Trump and all his Trumpateers who fall at his feet for their own self interest. Shame on You secretary of the navy. I am the wife of a career military officer who always put the welfare of his troops above his own. That’s the military officers code of conduct. Trump and all his Trumpateers are a disgrace to our nation@Daryl and his brother Darryl: