After Crozier Comments, Navy Secretary Modly Must Resign

Originally appeared at The American Conservative.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly just made things much worse for himself and the Navy by delivering an attack on Capt. Crozier in a speech to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. It will come as no surprise that the contents of the speech have become public:

“It was a betrayal. And I can tell you one other thing: because he did that he put it in the public’s forum and it is now a big controversy in Washington, DC,” Modly said, according to a transcript of remarks Modly made to the crew, copies of which have been provided to CNN by multiple Navy officials.

There is a rough transcript of the speech here, and both Task & Purpose and The San Francisco Chronicle obtained an audio recording of the speech.

Modly’s speech was an attempt to justify his unpopular and outrageous decision to remove Crozier from command, and by giving such an inflammatory speech so soon after that decision he showed remarkably poor judgment. The “big controversy” that he complains about just became even bigger. Lecturing the crew about Crozier’s supposed “betrayal” is not going to persuade anyone, and it is bound to stir up even more discontent than there was before. It is deeply insulting to Crozier and his crew to cast the captain’s actions in such derogatory terms. Even if Modly genuinely believes Crozier to have been in the wrong, it is destructive and demoralizing to attack a well-respected officer this way. He was lashing out at the crew as much as Crozier because the crew gave the captain such a rousing sendoff. That’s unacceptable, and it proves that there needs to be someone else in charge of the Department of the Navy.

Modly’s original decision to relieve Crozier of command was a serious mistake, and this tone-deaf exercise in self-justification compounds the first error. Incredibly, Modly criticized Crozier for being either “too naive” or “stupid” for circulating his letter to maybe 20 people, and then he delivers a speech to a crew of thousands and somehow doesn’t think it was going to leak the minute after he finished. Whatever he hoped to achieve by berating the crew for their devotion to their captain, he has pretty much destroyed whatever credibility he might have still had with them.

The calls for Modly’s resignation began as soon as the speech became available:

It is worth remembering that Modly chose to remove Crozier over the objections of Crozier’s superior officers, including the chief of naval operations. He insisted on doing this despite their preference that they handle it themselves, and he owns the fallout from it. Modly has handled all of this about as badly as he could have. It is time for him to do the right thing and resign.

Update: There is enormous anger at Modly among lots of veterans because of this speech:

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.

8 thoughts on “After Crozier Comments, Navy Secretary Modly Must Resign”

  1. OMG one war monger fired another war monger and both of them were just playing “Cover your ass”. This newly sainted captain would gladly give his crew’s life and kill as many civilians as possible if given the order to attack Iran.

    The smuck let his crew go on shore leave and then he didn’t put in place any new protocols to keep his crew safe, he didn’t even manage to keep himself safe. He sent out these letters to 20 other people who were all pretty much in the know already, nothing he said was news to any of them and most of it was this guys own fault. He didn’t go full whistleblower and leak this himself to the press, so it’s not like he actually had guts or anything, lol.

    This Captain screwed up, he then tried to cover his ass with this stupid memo and now the war monger becomes a hero to anti-war people? Holy hell people, just because someone does something that pisses off the people you hate, it doesn’t automatically make them a good guy.

    Oh and not a single one of the guys I served with or who I know that are currently serving have a problem with this guy being fired, not one of them, so I honestly don’t know why the author thinks this should get Modly fired. Modly is saying what everyone I know of in the military is thinking, But maybe I don’t know enough of the officer class, all I mostly know are guys who would have been tossed in prison and given a BCD if they had done this.

    Just remember this, if you put this man back on his boat he will be more than happy to bomb the shit out of Iran and if ordered to he would send his men and women to their graves, that’s your big hero, A warmonger who screwed up his command and then tried to blame everyone else and while trying to cover his own ass.

    1. So, practically every single serving member will follow orders and attack Iran, what is your point ? “hero to antiwar people”…you presume much.
      To bring transparency to US militancy, someone has to go outside the chain of command, this is what is being cheered, nothing more. I know it is a quaint notion, but the military operates under civil authority.

      1. My point is that the anti-war movement should pick better hero’s than a war monger, is that really hard to understand?

        He didn’t even “go outside the chain of command” he stayed right inside it following orders and wrote one pissy memo that he didn’t even have the guts to leak himself. Big hero. He screwed up and was playing CYA and that makes him a hero how? LOL It’s exactly what I said it is, anyone who is shown doing anything that is bad for the service is a good guy, even when the guy wants his job back just so he can be in place to kill people.

        And transparency? LOL What? He didn’t whistleblow on anything anti-war related in the least. He didn’t dash off a memo to the press about an illegal attack he was asked to take part in. He wrote a memo to people who already knew about the situation and They leaked it. He didn’t even do that much.

        Please folks, don’t be so desperate to be liked by the top brass it’s like sucking up to your own firing squad. Ohhhh, it’s so cooool, one of the big shots might be on our side for half a second if you spin and tilt it just right.

        And now Madly is going down too, Good for him as well. I won’t shed a tear over him, even though on this one he was right and he’s getting fired for one of the least offensive things he’s done. But again, I couldn’t care less, just one more war monger, it’s like they are eating their own, which is again, just fine with me.

        The whole damn bunch of them are scum as far as I’m concerned. And yes “hero of the anti-war” movement. He’s being touted by pretty much everyone in the anti-war movement as some kind of ally. LOL That’s what’s funny. He’s not your ally, he is exactly what you should be fighting against.

    2. Not even sure if I agree with you, but it’s good to see you back on the board. Your commentary always pisses me off and makes me think, both qualities I greatly respect. I personally just like to see some insurrection in the ranks. Any question to any authority is well worth asking.

      1. Thanks. Often I’m just trying to shake people up, I have the luxury of not carrying too much what people think of me so I’ll say just about anything and I’m not always all that invested in what I say either. So I may change my mind, even about this one, but people haven’t convinced me to think of him as anything but a career officer who screwed up. IDK., I shared offices with these types when I was in S2, it takes a certain kind of smuck to rise that far in the ranks and I don’t expect them to change so when I saw this my first reaction was that the guy was trying to pass the buck, but WTF why doesn’t the Buck stop with the guy who was actually in charge of keeping his guys safe at all costs?

        I’m not exactly invested in this one either way myself. I just don’t buy into it that he’s one of the good guys.

        I haven’t been around much lately, busy with a number of things. I did a radio interview yesterday, it’s on youtube if you are interested. David Gornoski’s show, I’m on at 1:23. He’s in the Florida area on about six radio stations. Probably not your cup of tea but who knows he has some interesting guests, anti-war types. Jim Bovard was one three days ago, guys like that. Take it easy, I might come around more often just to say something to rile people up. LOL

        Have a good one and keep up the good fight.

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