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Destroyer Captain Author Cleared of Wrongdoing – But Too Late.


Admiral James Stavridis, the author of the well-known book Destroyer Captain: Lessons of a First Command has been cleared of wrongdoing by a Pentagon commission that had been investigating allegations that Adm. Stavridis had been abusing his office as head of the U.S. European Command and Supreme Commander of NATO for personal gain. However, the clearing of his name comes too late for his nomination for Chief of Naval Operations, the top billet in the Navy.

Stavridis’ book, Destroyer Captain, is a memoir of his two years as the Skipper of the USS Barry. It has become a staple of Navy junior officer professional reading lists.

The report was sparked by an anonymous tip that Stavridis was taking improper advantage of his official position and abusing military travel rules. An IG report forwarded to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus suggested that of some 150 trips in question, four of them raised questions about propriety, including a trip to a wine tasting event in Dijon. However, Stavridis gave a prominent speech in uniform at the event to an audience of dignitaries, and spent several hours meeting directly with France’s defense minister. Secretary Mabus concluded that the trip was very much in line with Stavridis’ official duties as head of European Command and as the top NATO officer.

The anonymous tipster also alleged that Stavridis had improperly used his own credit card to pay for some expenses. DoD regulations do generally require that traveling servicemembers use the official government travel card for reimbursable expenses. However, Stavridis quickly reverted to using the government card when the error was pointed out, according to the Secretary’s findings.

No action was taken against Stavridis, though Mabus did have a conversation with Stavridis about tightening financial controls in his headquarters. Mabus has been cleared of wrongdoing.

The allegations tripped up Stavridis last year when he was being considered for the CNO job.

Said Mark Thompson of Time’s Battleland blog, “The IG report continues with reams of detail that can lead a sane person to come to only once conclusion: if this bookkeeping snafu can doom a well-regarded top U.S. military officer like Stavridis, the nation is doomed.”

We concur.

Kudos to Secretary Mabus for keeping things in perspective.


Contributed by Jason Van Steenwyk

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