Captain Crozier’s story is yet another grave, toxic example of U.S. Service members’ escalating mistrust of their leadership. This pattern of mistrust has been growing at an increasing pace for the past several years.
On April 3, 2020, the Navy blamed U.S Navy Captain Brett E. Crozier and relieved him of his command of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt after his plea for help to keep his crew safe from the COVID-19 went public.
The Department of Defense’s senior leaders, yet again, showed that they have two main objectives in any crisis: Protect the brand and then, protect themselves. In Captain Crozier’s case, it was to protect the Navy’s image and shifting blame to the hero, Captain Crozier, who refused to allow his sailors to continue knowingly be placed in harm’s way from an internal threat.
A further example of this appalling total lack of confidence in the chain of command and abuse of power was demonstrated these past months, when military spouses finally fed up having followed the “proper channels of command” decided they had go to Congress to force the Military leadership to finally hear their complaints and take action to (1) correct well known unacceptable dangerous problems; and, (2) punish vendors who knowingly had been lying to the military, service members and cheating the government out of public monies.
Now, back to Captain Crozier. The fact is someone, or some group, had no trust in the Navy’s current chain of command to respond in a timely manner with sailors lives at increasing risk/death. The acting Secretary of the Navy shot the messenger. Whether Capt. Crozier’s letter was sent by him, or someone else to the media is irrelevant. It is not a security breach, it is a trust breach. VERY DIFFERENT.
So, the pertinent question is, did the Capt. choose this course of action because he found that he didn’t trust his chain of command to take action?
Just two years ago, two hundred single soldiers who lived in the barracks (dormitories) on a large U.S. Army installation told us they would not report sexual misconduct if they witnessed it happening because they had no confidence that the chain of command would do anything.
In another example, during a Q/A session following a presentation on sexual assault and harassment prevention, a sergeant first class in the audience stood up and said, “Sir, I’ll tell you one thing, if a young woman comes to me and reports she had been raped, I’m taking her downtown (to a civilian hospital) because I don’t trust my chain of command.
This pattern of lack of trust for the Chain of Command is not new, but becoming corrosively more obvious. Even five years ago, three non-commissioned Army officers asked for my help. They said they knew I talked to people in high places and wanted me to pass on that the perception that in the ranks is, when it comes to sexual assault, higher ranking perpetrators get off while lower ranking perpetrators get hammered (defined as sent to jail). They didn’t trust the chain of command. I went to the Pentagon and relayed this message; I was blown off by the current Chief of Staff of the Army.
I know, and rightly so, all of our attention is devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic, but when it comes to National security, the biggest threat is lack of trust in senior military leadership by America’s sons and daughters entrusted to their care.