- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2020

The culture of the Navy has been “tarnished” in the wake of several missteps in recent years, most recently with the handling of the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, President Trump’s latest pick to lead the military branch said Thursday.

In his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kenneth Braithwaite, the current U.S. ambassador to Norway, insisted that the force is not broken and vowed to restore the appropriate culture if confirmed as the next secretary of the Navy.

“So culture is the one thing that creates for an organization, a sense of belonging, a sense of good order and discipline,” he told the panel. “It is my No. 1 priority if I’m confirmed to restore the appropriate culture in the United States Navy.”

Mr. Braithwaite was tapped to the top civilian post in the Navy in November, but his confirmation process stalled along the way. If confirmed, the retired admiral and naval aviator will succeed Richard Spencer, who was fired following a dispute with Mr. Trump over the fate of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq.

Thursday’s hearing, which followed social distancing and sanitizing precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic, comes amid renewed calls for a permanent leader of the military branch in the wake of the resignation of acting Secretary Thomas Modly over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Roosevelt.

Mr. Braithwaite said that he plans to immediately set the right leadership tone “from the very highest level” and empower others “to understand their responsibilities along that chain of command.”

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