National Press Club

Scandals leave military with 'introspective' feeling, says Navy chief

November 16, 2012 | By Justin Duckham |

Admiral Jonathan Greenert

Admiral Jonathan Greenert

Photo/Image: Marshall H. Cohen

The scandals that have embroiled retired Army General David Petraeus and General John Allen have left the upper echelons of the U.S. military feeling "introspective," Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert told a luncheon at the National Press Club Nov. 16.

Greenert explained that the feeling applied particularly to the Navy, which saw more than 20 commanding officers expelled from the service this year, the majority of whom were found to have conducted themselves inappropriately.

"I don't understand why they're misbehaving, but I'm concerned about that," Greenert said. "What we've been doing, in this regard, is ... evaluate our performance and being able to develop and nurture our commanding officers."

Greenert pointed to a services-wide review ordered by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta earlier this week as a sign of progress.

He and the chiefs of the other military services will meet the week of Nov. 19 with the chairman and vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Greenert said, to discuss "how do we view ethics, accountability and behavior and where might there be weaknesses as we look across our four-star ranks."

Greenert also expressed concern over the continuing presence of sexual assault and suicide within the Navy.

Sexual assault, "will receive my full attention over the next year," Greenert said. "We have to treat it as a crime, because that's what it is."

As for suicide, which has increased from 13 to 15 per 100,000 Navy personnel in recent years, Greenert said that the service will focus on fostering a culture that will ensure sailors feel comfortable reaching out for help in confronting the pressures they face, and ensure they receive help.

Petraeus, who became CIA director after his Army career, resigned his post Nov. 9 after acknowledging an extramarital affair. The resulting investigation revealed that General Allen, the top U.S. officer in Afghanistan, may have sent inappropriate e-mails to a Tampa-based social planner.

Ensuing days also saw the demotion of a four-Star general to three-stars after he was found to have misused travel funds, as well as the release of a report detailing sexual misconduct at the hands of trainers at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.