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The current crisis aboard the USS Roosevelt lays bare the dangers of blind obeisance to President Trump.

TRUMP BROKE FAITH WITH CAPT. CROZIER AND ALL OUR SAILORS,  Crooked,  KEN HARBAUGH / APR.3.20  More than a dozen members of Congress on Friday condemned the U.S. Navy’s decision to dismiss the Commanding Officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Earlier this week, in a memo leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, Capt. Brett Crozier accused the Navy of jeopardizing the lives of his crew, by failing to take swift action to mitigate an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard his ship. “Keeping over 4000 young men and women aboard the TR,” he wrote, “is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.” ….

How did we reach this point, with the commanding officer of one of America’s most powerful warships pleading for the lives of his crew? The U.S. Navy, like the rest of America’s military, is rigidly hierarchical. It has to be. Deployed forces must be relied upon to carry out the orders of their commander in chief. From day one, every service member learns the importance of adhering to the chain of command. But what happens when the most unreliable link in that chain is its very first one?

President Trump has demonstrated, time and again, that he has no qualms about using the military to advance his personal political ends. He routinely stages uniformed personnel as props for partisan speeches. He treats deployments like political theater, as when he dispatched elements of the 82nd Airborne to the southern border to stoke fears of an immigrant invasion. And he undermines discipline and unit cohesion, pardoning war criminals convicted by military juries.

The rot may start at the top, but it reaches downwards………..

The current crisis aboard the USS Roosevelt lays bare the dangers of blind obeisance to President Trump. When the COVID-19 virus first began to impact the military’s overseas operations, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warned commanders not to take any action that might surprise or embarrass the White House, or challenge the president’s messaging about the crisis. For those on board the USS Roosevelt, the downstream effect of that order may well be deadly.  …….

How do we support these leaders, those with the courage to challenge blatantly political directives that needlessly endanger the lives of those they lead? To begin with, we must acknowledge what civilian control of the military actually means. It is not simply allegiance to the president. It requires Congress to perform effective oversight. Now, more than ever, America needs its elected representatives to hold military leaders accountable.

By law, every service member has a right to alert any member of Congress about issues within the military, provided no classified information is exchanged. For those in uniform who may not trust their own representatives, there are plenty of young veterans now in Congress (including one bad-ass female Navy pilot), who have no patience with the sycophancy infecting the Pentagon. Many of these representatives have come to the defense of Capt. Crozier.

Most importantly, the American public must do its part. We must remain alert whenever our armed forces are misused by the president. The American military belongs to us, not him. In his letter, Capt. Crozier alludes to the absurd politics behind the catastrophe unfolding aboard the USS Roosevelt. “This will require a political solution,” he writes, “but it is the right thing to do. Sailors do not need to die.” ………..

Ken Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives. Follow him on Twitter at @Team_Harbaugh. https://crooked.com/articles/trump-betrayed-crozier-sailors/

 

April 6, 2020 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

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