Pentagon leaders at impasse about next steps for Capt. Brett Crozier: report
Top Pentagon officials have reached an impasse about whether or not to reinstate Capt. Brett Crozier, the former commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, after the nation’s top military officer called for a deeper probe into the events leading up to his removal, according to Politico.
The news comes following the Navy’s recommendation Friday to let Crozier return to his previous position.
Crozier was removed from his post aboard the Roosevelt recently after a letter he wrote pleading for help amid a coronavirus outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier was leaked to the press.
Though the Navy has recommended that Crozier be reinstated, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley wants a “full-blown investigation” into the events leading up to the Crozier’s ouster, a pair of Pentagon sources told Politico.
Milley’s push for further investigation would delay a final decision on Crozier’s reinstatement.
One Pentagon official told the publication that the Navy already conducted an “extensive” preliminary inquiry into the events that led to Crozier’s dismissal.
“Milley isn’t faulting Crozier,” the official said. “He wants more than just an inquiry … that’s the holdup.”
The Pentagon leaders are now at odds about the decision to reinstate the Navy captain. While Milley wants a deeper probe into the situation, top Navy officials are ready to welcome Crozier back to his post, according to the news outlet.
Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and acting Navy Secretary James McPherson both want to go forward with reinstating Crozier, according to Politico. They said that a final decision is expected next week.
Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement that Friday afternoon Defense Secretary Mark Esper was briefed by Navy leaders, who conveyed their recommendations based on the initial inquiry.
On Friday, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, voiced his support for Crozier’s reinstatement.
“The Secretary of Defense needs to reinstate Captain Brett Crozier as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, Smith said in a statement.
“While Captain Crozier’s actions at the outset of the health crisis aboard the TR were drastic and imperfect, it is clear he only took such steps to protect his crew. Captain Crozier should be reinstated to his command immediately.”
President Trump has signaled that he might step into the investigation, but the officials told Politico that has yet to happen.