The four-star admiral, who is to become the senior naval officer on August 1, will retire instead, an extraordinary loss caused by what Marine Secretary Richard Spencer has described as poor judgment about a professional relationship. Admiral William Moran retires after continuing to appeal to a public affairs officer, a victim of censorship ending a career for sexual harassment.
Moran's sudden move, announced on Sunday, could add to the perception of turmoil in the Pentagon's highest ranks, less than a month after Pat Shanahan abruptly retired from his post as Defense Secretary after have been acting secretary for six months.
The heads of the various civilian and uniformed military services play a less important role in national security than the Secretary of Defense, and they are not part of the military chain of command. But they are responsible for ensuring that the armed forces are trained, equipped and prepared for combat and other roles.
Moran had been approved to be promoted to the highest rank of the Navy, appointed by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in May to succeed Admiral John Richardson as Chief of Naval Operations and a member of the Chiefs of Defense. # 39; Staff.
Instead, Moran said in a written statement Sunday night that he had told Spencer that he had decided to decline his appointment to the post of the next chief of naval operations and had asked to be allowed to take his retirement.
"As painful as it is to submit my retirement application, I will not stand in the way of the important services that you and your families continue to provide to the nation every day," wrote Moran.
Spencer said his vision of the navy included "an urgent resolution of all" to meet the highest standards.
"Admiral Bill Moran recently drew my attention to the fact that for the last two years he has had professional relations with a person held responsible and advised for not respecting the values and standards of the naval profession. Spencer said in a statement Sunday evening. "While I admire his faithful service and his commitment to the Navy, this decision on his part to maintain this relationship has led me to question his judgment.This is why I am I have today accepted the application for Admiral Moran 's retirement.
Senior navy officials said Spencer was not aware of this relationship until after Moran's confirmation in the Senate in May. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details.
Spencer did not provide any details about the unnamed person, but other officials said Spencer was referring to Moran, who had recently taken Chris Servello's public affairs lawyer, who had been resigned as Richardson's Public Affairs Advisor in 2017 and received a non-punitive reprimand letter for drinking and fraternizing with junior officers during and after a Navy Christmas party in December 2016.
Servello was accused of having made unwanted sex passes while he was dressed as Santa Claus at the party. No charges have been filed against him. He retired from the navy last May at the rank of commander. Servello had previously worked for Moran as a public affairs officer.
In an interview Sunday night, Servello said he was aware of Moran's decision to retire.
"It's hard not to feel disappointment and disbelief," he said. "It's a terrible news for the Navy, and beyond that, I have nothing to add."
Moran stated that his decision to decline his position and retire instead was also based on what he called an open investigation into "the nature of some of my personal email correspondence over the course of two years." last years". He also cited the Servello relationship, without using his name.
"To be clear," added Moran, "my decision to maintain this relationship was by no means an endorsement or tacit approval" of the type of fault for which Servello was punished. "I understand how toxic it can be to any team when inappropriate behavior goes unnoticed and is not controlled.Every sailor has the right to serve in an environment free from harassment or intimidation . "
After Moran's departure, Richardson will remain in office as Chief of the Navy and Spencer said he would recommend a new candidate for Trump's candidacy and for his consideration by the Senate. The official date of Richardson's retirement is in September.
Moran is a marine training aviator. He held the position of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, the No. 2 uniformed position in the Navy behind Richardson. He was appointed in April to succeed Richardson and the Senate confirmed it in May.
The fall of Moran adds to a long list of questions to the Pentagon leadership, which operates without a Defense Secretary confirmed by the Senate since the resignation of Jim Mattis in December 2018. There is no no longer confirmed Assistant Secretary of Defense, and several other senior management positions. are about to turn around.
Mark Esper, who was Secretary of the Army, is now acting Secretary of Defense, but Trump has not yet applied to the Senate.
Navy General Joseph Dunford is expected to step down as President of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the fall. His future successor, General Mark Milley, is scheduled to appear Thursday at the confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Also Thursday, General David Berger should succeed General Robert Neller as commander of the Marine Corps.
General Paul Selva, Vice President of the Air Force Staff, is due to retire on July 31. General John Hyten has been appointed to succeed Selva, but he has not yet had a confirmation hearing.