- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2016

Congress‘ lone former Navy SEAL is mounting a counteroffensive for his former battle mate and current top SEAL who the congressman says is a victim of vengeful whistleblowers.

Rep. Ryan K. Zinke, Montana Republican, told The Washington Times that the case of Rear Adm. Brian Losey, the retiring commander of U.S. Naval Special Warfare, shows that the federal government can destroy a warrior’s career if bureaucrats do not like his leadership style.

The congressman said Adm. Losey encountered payroll and travel corruption by federal workers when he arrived in Germany to head U.S. Africa Command’s special operations component.

Mr. Zinke, who has read two inspectors general reports on the matter, said Adm. Losey tried to end the malfeasance but the bureaucracy responded with complaints that he retaliated against whistleblowers who are protected by federal law.

“Adm. Losey was wronged,” the congressman said. “I think it’s outrageous. When you are in command and you see wrongdoing, you are obligated to take a stand. And Brian Losey did just that.”

Based on a confidential Pentagon inspector general’s report that substantiated the retaliation, and subsequent intervention by senators, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus denied Adm. Losey’s pending promotion to two stars.

Mr. Zinke, a retired commander, served with Adm. Losey over several decades, including in the SEAL’s most famous unit.

“I know Brian personally,” he said. “Brian and I were both with SEAL Team 6. Brian was my team leader. We have been teammates for over 30 years. Brian was wronged. I’ll say that Brian is a tough officer, is driven as he always has been. But the duty of an officer is, when you see wrongdoing, you take action. Brian did just that and was wronged by a bureaucracy. The system allows bureaucrats to hide behind the whistleblowing even through they’ve shown a pattern of misconduct.”

The Navy inspector general probed the whistleblower complaints and did not find retaliation, Mr. Zinke said. But complaints also were filed with the Pentagon inspector general, who reached a different conclusion.

The Navy ultimately picked Adm. Losey to gain a second star. The Senate confirmed the rank, and he assumed command of special warfare command, which focuses on training SEALs and other Navy commandos.

Mr. Zinke said the admiral became a target of those in the Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, who did not like the SEAL’s hard-charging style.

“You have the bureaucracy protecting the bureaucracy rather than protecting the ability of uniformed officers to command,” the congressman said. “This erodes the basic tenet of command. This is my concern. It’s larger than Brian Losey.”

Mr. Zinke said whistleblowers began their own retaliation by making false complaints against Adm. Losey, such as that the government funded a family member’s transportation. This sent the congressman on a mission to find out who was making false accusations.

“The IG from the Pentagon opened it up again,” Mr. Zinke said, “and then accused Brian of things like infidelity. Baseless accusations, to the point where they accused Brian of an inappropriate relationship with a captain who attended Thanksgiving dinner with Brian and his wife. That’s the level of accusations that the Pentagon IG leveled.”

Navy SEALs are among the most prominent warriors in America’s long struggle against Islamic terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The decision to retract the admiral’s promotion has rattled the SEAL community all the way to the top.

Retired Adm. William H. McRaven, a SEAL who headed U.S. Special Operations Command, penned an extraordinary public letter in Adm. Losey’s defense.

Without naming them, he castigated leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee — John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat — for urging the Navy secretary to nix Adm. Losey’s promotion.

“Certain members of Congress chose to use Losey’s case to pursue their own political agenda,” Adm. McRaven wrote in The Tampa Tribune. “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.”

Under the headline “A Warrior’s Career Sacrificed for Politics,” Adm. McRaven said: “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. 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.”

Adm. McRaven said Adm. Losey encountered a few employees who wanted to protect their “comfortable life” in Germany.

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

Mr. McCain and Mr. Reed told Mr. Mabus in a January letter that they saw the episode differently.

“After reviewing the investigations, as well as the Navy’s analysis of the inspector general’s findings, we maintain deep reservations over Rear Adm. Losey’s suitability to serve satisfactorily in the grade for which he’s been confirmed,” the senators wrote. “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 Rear Adm. Losey when you specifically found that he created exactly the type of negative command climate that is so harmful to our military.”

Mr. Zinke’s and Adm. McRaven’s fierce defense of Adm. Losey will not change the outcome of the case.

“I think it’s worth fighting for his reputation,” Mr. Zinke said. “His teammates and his nation owe Adm. Losey our gratitude for keeping us safe.”

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