Rear Adm. Brian Losey, the head of the Navy SEALs, gave more than 30 years of stellar service to the Navy before members of Congress stripped him of the chance at a second star, effectively ending his career, legendary former U.S. Special Operations Command boss retired Adm. William McRaven argues in a Sunday op-ed.
Lawmakers in March effectively blocked Losey’s promotion after a Defense Department watchdog found he had retaliated against whistleblowers at his command.
In his op-ed, McRaven’s accused lawmakers of abusing and denigrating senior military leadership to advance their political agendas, with Losey as a prime example.
“My concern is that if this trend of disrespect to the military continues it will undermine the strength of the officer corps to the point where good men and women will forgo service — or worse the ones serving will be reluctant to make hard decisions for fear their actions, however justified, will be used against them in the political arena,” McRaven wrote.
Losey, who has served for three years as head of Naval Special Warfare Command, was selected for a second star back in 2011, but multiple substantiated complaints of whistleblower retaliation held up his promotion until he was cleared late last year, as first reported by The Washington Post.
McRaven was the head of SOCOM when those initial complaints were filed, he wrote.
“The investigation we initiated determined that Losey’s leadership style, while brusque and demanding, did not warrant his removal,” he said.
A Defense Department inspector general investigation upheld three of the five complaints against him, but his promotion was still on track — until Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other Senate Armed Services Committee leaders in February urged Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to review his promotion.
“Despite the Navy’s multiple endorsements, certain members of Congress chose to use Losey’s case to pursue their own political agenda,” McRaven wrote. “They held hostage other Navy nominations until Losey’s promotion recommendation was rescinded. The ransom for their congressional support was Brian Losey’s career and, more importantly, his stellar reputation.”
Losey’s nomination was withdrawn by March.
In the wake of McRaven’s op-ed, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told Navy Times in a statement that he was open to reconsidering Losey’s fate.
“Brian Losey is an outstanding officer who has sacrificed much for our Navy and nation,” he said. “I read Admiral McCraven’s piece with great interest; he raises a number of important issues that deserve additional consideration, and I welcome that conversation.”
Beyond Losey, McRaven went on to criticize the relationship between the Defense Department and lawmakers he observed during his last years in uniform. McRaven passed on command of SOCOM and retired in September 2014. He now serves as chancellor for the University of Texas.
“Although we in the military understand the absolute necessity to serve and respect our civilian leaders — and every good leader understands and appreciates the value of anonymous complaints to ferret out bad leadership — we also need civilians to understand that a strong military, particularly an all-volunteer one, needs the support of our civilian leaders, not the constant refrain of disrespect that seems so common in today’s political narrative,” he wrote.
McRaven did not immediately respond to a phone and email request for comment.
Though Mabus had the power to withdraw Losey’s consideration for a second star, nominations are made by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Staff reporter David Larter contributed to this report.
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