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The Senate on Thursday confirmed Kenneth Braithwaite to be Secretary of the Navy—a bid to install permanent and stable leadership to the military branch that saw its last two leaders step down amid scandals in recent months.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired in November 2019 by Defense Secretary Mark Esper in the fallout from the controversy surrounding Eddie Gallagher, the retired Navy SEAL who was acquitted of war crimes and subsequently championed by President Donald Trump.
Spencer was replaced by Thomas Modly, who resigned from his acting position in early April after he was widely criticized for his handling of a coronavirus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Army Undersecretary James McPherson has been serving as acting Navy Secretary since Modly stepped down.
At his confirmation hearing, Braithwaite said the Navy’s culture was “tarnished,” adding that the Navy’s many scandals occurred because of a “breakdown in the trust of those leading the service.”
Braithwaite is a retired rear admiral who served as Trump’s ambassador to Norway.
The Navy has been in the spotlight since the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer said the Navy wasn’t doing enough to stem the coronavirus outbreak on board the shi in a leaked letter to the San Francisco Chronicle. After the ensuing scrutiny from the press and the public, Modly removed the commanding officer from his position and called him “stupid” during a speech, which was then also leaked. Modly resigned a day later.
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