Navy Fires Female Commanding Officer

( – The US Navy has terminated Captain Michel Brandt’s command of the USS Somerset, an amphibious transport dock, less than a year after she took command. The official reason given in a statement released on June 6 related to a “loss of confidence” in Brandt’s leadership abilities, but no specific reasons were given for the captain’s dismissal. The statement read that Rear Admiral Christopher Stone relieved Brandt of her duties due to a loss of confidence in the captain’s “ability to lead the crew”.

Captain Tate Robinson has replaced Brandt as the interim commanding officer until a permanent replacement arrives. Brand has been “administratively reassigned” to the command of the Naval Surface Force’s US Pacific Fleet. The statement stressed that the Navy holds its officers to the highest standards of professional conduct, responsibility and leadership. It added that those falling short of meeting these standards would be held accountable.

The move, branded a “DEI fail” by conservative commentators, follows the Navy’s decision to fire the female commander of its Peru-based biomedical research lab in April 2024. In a statement regarding the dismissal of Captain Abigail Y. Marter, the same reason was given: “a loss of confidence in her ability to command”.

In 2022 the Navy fired 13 commanding officers for the same reasons, without explaining why. One concern raised by a sailor at the time of the dismissals was the alarming suicide rate on his vessel. None of the officers dismissed served the USS George Washington, which lost five of its crew to suicide the previous year. Patrick Caserta, whose son killed himself while serving in the Navy in 2018, asked how many service members had to die before the commanding officer was held responsible.

Though the Supreme Court put a stop to affirmative action in college admissions in 2023, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies of the armed forces continue to face criticism. Eric Smith, an African-American associate professor at the York College of Pennsylvania, argued in January that the military’s current DEI policy is grounded in an ideology of “criminal social justice” contrary to the values of the civil rights movement. He added that the DEI initiatives pursued by the armed forces could reinforce rather than put an end to differential treatment.

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