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Admiral Explains Academy Resignation

Navy officer's departure is called a leadership issue, not a 'politically correct' move.

June 06, 2003|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Navy's top admiral Thursday denied that the abrupt resignation of the elite Naval Academy's superintendent was a "politically correct" move driven by concern over public attitudes toward the military.

"This has to do with what we expect of leaders and the requirement for him to be able to lead that institution with 4,000 midshipmen in it," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark told reporters.

Clark answered questions on the Navy's announcement late Wednesday that Vice Adm. Richard Naughton had resigned after a Navy investigation found he improperly grabbed the wrist of a Marine sentry who asked for his identification during a New Year's Eve incident at the school in Annapolis, Md.

The Navy said the probe by its inspector general also blamed Naughton for "a general failure to promote good morale" after investigating numerous allegations by faculty and staff members of confrontational or demeaning exchanges.

Clark was pressed on whether Naughton's departure and his acceptance of the step at a meeting Tuesday was "politically correct" and perhaps unfair to Naughton even though Clark said some academy staff praised the superintendent as a tough but able leader.

"I choose not to link anything that I have said with that term," Clark said. "I don't know why I need to prove or disprove that it is a politically correct kind of a response."

Naughton's decision to quit and retire a year after he took the academy post followed the recent replacement of the head of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado amid allegations by a number of female cadets of sexual harassment.

"We're dealing with today," Clark said when asked whether he felt the departure would have occurred 10 years ago before a series of high-profile scandals, including sexual indiscretions by some senior officers, bruised the military's image.

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