- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The nation’s former top special operations officer has taken on the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee in defense of a fellow Navy SEAL.

Retired Adm. William McRaven, who headed U.S. Special Operations Command, penned a biting op-ed this week in The Tampa Tribune. Though he mentioned no politician by name, his target was clearly Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, Arizona Republican and an ex-Navy fighter pilot, and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the panel’s top Democrat and a West Point graduate.

They worked in tandem to stop the promotion of Adm. McRaven’s battle mate, Rear Adm. Brian Losey, currently the top SEAL as commander of Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego.

“Certain members of Congress chose to use Losey’s case to pursue their own political agenda,” Adm. 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 “They held hostage other Navy nominations until Losey’s promotion recommendation was rescinded.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 stellar reputation.”

Mr. McCain and Mr. Reed had written to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in January, urging him not to promote Adm. Losey to two stars. because the Pentagon inspector general said he abused whistleblowers while in charge of U.S. Africa Command’s special operations component.

Mr. Mabus sided with the senators. Adm. Losey, one of the more prominent players in the secret war against Islamic terrorists, will soon retire as a one-star admiral.

Adm. McRaven himself is a war hero. He commanded Joint Special Operations Command at the time one of its units, SEAL Team Six, infiltrated Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden. Adm. McRaven organized the nearly flawless mission whose operational security was never breached.

He is now chancellor of the University of Texas system. But he chose Tampa, Florida, home to U.S. Special Operations Command, as the newspaper location to air his grievance.

Under the headline “A Warrior’s Career Sacrificed for Politics,” Adm. McRaven makes a blanket allegation that Congress as a whole is mistreating the senior generals and admirals who lead major war-fighting commands.

“Over the past decade I have seen a disturbing trend in how politicians abuse and denigrate military leadership, particularly the officer corps, to advance their political agendas,” he wrote. “Although this is certainly not a new phenomenon, it seems to be growing in intensity I watched time and again how political correctness and pressure from Capitol Hill undermined command authority and good order and discipline.”

His example is the case of Adm. Losey: “He is without a doubt one of the finest officers with whom I have ever served. Over the past 15 years no officer I know in the SEAL Teams has given more to this country than Brian. None. As a young officer he was constantly deployed away from his family. After 9/11, he was sent to Afghanistan in the early days to help fight the Taliban. From there, Losey participated in the final march to Baghdad and then stayed in country as a SEAL Task Unit Commander. Afterward he served as the deputy and then the commanding officer of SEAL Team Six during more tough fighting in Afghanistan.”

Adm. McRaven said that upon Adm. Losey’s arrival in Stuttgart, Germany, headquarters of U.S. Africa Command, he found a startup special ops office that was not keeping pace with Islamic extremism in North Africa.

Losey is a no-nonsense officer who knows what it takes to get results. Combat is hard. Lives are at stake. Being genteel and considerate of everyone’s feelings are not the qualities that will engender success,” Adm. McRaven wrote. “But although Losey can be a tough taskmaster, he is a ‘by-the-book’ officer.”

His style rubbed some workers the wrong way, and whistleblower complaints ensued. Adm. Losey believed complaints should go up the chain of command, not to an inspector general, an investigation found.

Adm. McRaven said the Navy inspector general’s investigation found that “Losey’s leadership style, while brusque and demanding, did not warrant his removal.” He was subsequently approved by Mr. McCain’s committee and the full Senate for a second star in 2011. The Navy then named him top SEAL in San Diego.

But the Pentagon inspector general had not weighed in. Adm. McRaven said the SEAL command earned high marks the following three years, but back in Germany the whistleblowers were “routinely submitting new complaints to prolong the process and hold up his promotion.”

“They portrayed Losey’s actions as a case of the big guy seeking retribution on the little guy whistleblower,” he said. “In fact, it was a case of a few guys fighting to maintain their comfortable life at a time when others were at war and needed their support.”

Adm. McRaven issued bitter criticism of Mr. McCain and Mr. Reed.

“Despite the Navy’s multiple endorsements, certain members of Congress chose to use Losey’s case to pursue their own political agenda,” he 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.

“In today’s environment, when a leader challenges a whistleblower, there is an automatic indictment of the leader’s character. Questioning the whistleblower makes you guilty until proven innocent. And it is clear in this case that certain members of Congress didn’t care about Losey’s innocence,” he said.

“Nor did they seem to care that he has sacrificed more for this country than most members on Capitol Hill — or that the emotional strain of this investigation was devastating to his family. It is clear that all these lawmakers cared about was political leverage.”

The press offices for Mr. McCain and Mr. Reed did not respond to a request for comment.

But in their letter to Mr. Mabus, they depicted Adm. Losey as a persistent retaliator against whistleblowers, who are protected by military law against such action.

“The DoDIG substantiated allegations of unlawful reprisal by RDML Losey against one military officer and two civilian employees,” the senators wrote to Mr. Mabus. “We are especially troubled that during a time when the Navy is reportedly working to create a service culture and promote command climates that are free from threats of unlawful reprisal, that you would consider promoting RDML Losey when you specifically found that he created exactly the type of negative command climate that is so harmful to our military.”

Mr. Mabus had put the promotion on hold. He later revoked it.

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