Why Not an American Admiral Gorshkov?

James Holmes
Flickr / Official U.S. Navy Page

James Holmes

Security, Americas

By law a chief of naval operations is limited to four years in the post—and that's just not enough time to make any meaningful changes.

Why Not an American Admiral Gorshkov?

Last Sunday brought a shocker from the world of American naval affairs: Adm. Bill Moran, a highly respected naval aviator and budgetary and personnel specialist, announced that he would retire from the service rather than take up the post of chief of naval operations (CNO), America’s top naval officer. Details remain scanty, but Admiral Moran had remained in contact with a disgraced public affairs officer via email and USA Today had filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain their correspondence. Moran was probably worried that the press would sensationalize the contents of the email conversation. If so, then the ensuing scandal could have made him an instant lame-duck CNO.

A grave loss—but Moran’s retirement will leach the newsworthiness out of any story that does appear. That should spare the U.S. Navy a public relations ordeal at a time when it needs to stay serious about competing against the likes of China, Russia, and Iran. On Wednesday President Donald Trump went deep into the bench for a replacement, selecting surface warfare officer Vice Adm. Mike Gilday for the post. All full admirals and vice admirals are eligible for the job, but generally speaking the White House opts for seniority. It has been almost fifty years since a vice admiral, another surface warfare officer by the name of Elmo Zumwalt, was named to oversee the U.S. Navy. President Richard Nixon went deep into his bench in 1970, choosing the three-star Zumwalt over four-star candidates.

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