Navy 'moving forward' after 'difficult' week, top officer says

Navy 'moving forward' after 'difficult' week, top officer says
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Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, on Wednesday evening acknowledged the tough week the Navy has had but implored that the military branch must move forward.

"The events of the past week have been difficult for our Navy and our nation. We will learn from them. But make no mistake, we are moving forward," Gilday said in a statement.

It has been a tumultuous series of events for the Navy, beginning with then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly relieving Capt. Brett Crozier of his duties as commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt last week. Crozier wrote a letter pleading for help with a coronavirus outbreak on the ship that was leaked to the media.

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Then, on Tuesday, Modly resigned after transcripts and audio of an inflammatory speech he gave on the Roosevelt also leaked to the media. In the speech, Modly defended his dismissal of Crozier, saying that the captain was “too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this” if he didn't believe his letter would leak.

After the audio was leaked, Modly apologized, saying in a Monday statement, "Let me be clear: I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive or stupid. I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused."

Still, his speech caused several Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi scoffs at comparison between Trump and Churchill: 'I think they're hallucinating' Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump Pelosi joins protests against George Floyd's death outside Capitol MORE (D-Calif.), to call for his resignation.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump: 'I don't think we'll have to' send military to cities House chairman presses Pentagon leaders on use of military against DC protesters Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief says he opposes invoking Insurrection Act for protests | White House dodges on Trump's confidence in Esper | 'Angry and appalled' Mattis scorches Trump MORE tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he had accepted Modly's resignation that morning. Esper also said in the tweet that he was tapping Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson as the next acting Navy secretary.

In his statement, Gilday said that has three priorities for the Navy going forward.

"First, our health and safety. Second, ongoing fleet operations and our support to the coronavirus effort. Third, continuing to generate the enormous amount of support required to keep #1 and #2 on track," Gilday said. "I know much of that effort is behind the scenes and out of the limelight – but every bit of it is critical."

The Navy has been a part of the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE ordered two Naval hospital ships — the USNS Mercy and the USNS Comfort — to Los Angeles and New York City, respectively, to aid the two cities in their battles against the disease.