- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Kenneth Braithwaite to be the next secretary of the Navy.

Mr. Braithwaite, who most recently served as the U.S. ambassador to Norway, was tapped to the top civilian post in the Navy in November and will succeed Richard Spencer, who was fired following a dispute with the president over the fate of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq.

A former naval aviator and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mr. Braithwaite is set to face arguably the toughest task of his career after a host of recent scandals have generated near-constant negative headlines for the service.

Most recently, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, Mr. Spencer’s interim successor, was forced to step down following a public clash with Capt. Brett Crozier, who headed the USS Theodore Roosevelt as the coronavirus swept through the ship and forced the nuclear-powered carrier to dock in Guam.

Mr. Modly relieved the captain of his command after a letter Capt. Crozier wrote urging action to help his stricken crew was leaked to the press, and then flew to Guam to publicly and profanely scold the Roosevelt crew for cheering their fired commander.

Mr. Modly resigned in the public-relations firestorm that followed, and Pentagon officials now are weighing whether to restore Capt. Crozier to his post on the Roosevelt.

During his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month, Mr. Braithwaite vowed to set the proper tone at the top and work to restore the appropriate culture if confirmed as the next secretary of the Navy.

“It saddens me to say that the Department of the Navy is in rough waters due to many factors, but primarily the failure of leadership,” he told lawmakers.

Mr. Braithwaite, who served on Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, is stepping into his new role as the Navy is facing Russian power plays in the Arctic, Chinese expansion in the South China Sea and other key geopolitical priorities.

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