Navy to Resume Announcing Flag Promotions After Congressional Criticism

May 4, 2020 4:50 PM

The Navy will resume announcing flag officer promotions after more than a year of keeping the moves of senior leaders under wraps and claiming the move was in the interest of cybersecurity, USNI News has learned.

In a brief April 28 response to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), obtained by USNI News, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said the service would restart announcements of flag officers this week in line with a provision in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that requires public notification of senior promotions.

“I have reviewed our current procedures and concluded that the Navy must align itself with the rest of the Department of Defense. Based on this, I have directed my staff to begin issuing press releases next week in a manner consistent with [Section] 510A of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and with the practices of the other services,” Gilday wrote.
“I value the need for transparency with the American public and am grateful for your engagement in this matter.”

Gilday’s letter was first reported by Breaking Defense.

On April 16, Warren wrote to Gilday, saying the Navy was out of step with the law and that the service had an obligation to be up-front about its leadership.

“Navy flag officers are not undercover intelligence case officers. They occupy positions of public trust, in many cases responsible for the lives of thousands of sailors,” she wrote. “The public has a right to know which officers the Navy believes should be given billets with such important responsibilities.”

The Warren letter cited a late March USNI News story outlining a series of major leadership moves throughout the fleet that the Navy had not publicly announced. Those positions included the new leaders of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Naval Sea Systems Command, U.S. Naval Surface Forces and U.S. 5th Fleet.

As to how the Navy will proceed with the announcements, is unclear.

The now-defunct policy was pushed forward by former CNO Adm. John Richardson, who said senior Navy leaders risked cyberattacks if their positions were made public.

“I don’t know if you’ve been personally attacked in the cyber world, but our flags are,” Richardson told USNI News during a roundtable in 2019.

Keeping their names out of the public would give the flags time to secure their public profile.

“And again, this may not work out in the end,” Richardson said.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

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