Stalled by a scandal, admiral is reassigned


Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, whose fast rise in the Navy stalled when he presided over the Naval Academy during its largest cheating scandal, has been assigned to a new Pentagon post that will chart the future of the Navy and Marine Corps.

The 52-year-old academy superintendent yesterday received his orders to become director of the Navy's roles and missions study group, under the chief of naval operations.

The admiral will oversee a staff of 10 that will study will review the types of military operations that may be required in the post Cold War era.

"I'm very excited about it. I think it's a wonderful opportunity," said the admiral, who expects to begin his new assignment in September and will move back to Great Falls, Va.

The Navy study directed by Admiral Lynch -- together with those from the other services -- will be used by the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces, a six-member panel formed last year by Congress. The commission is scheduled to present its finding to the secretary of defense next year.

"I think it's a very important assignment," said retired Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, a former academy superintendent. "The outcome is very critical for the future of all the military."

Admiral Lynch had hoped for a third star and command of a fleet. But that dream faded after the scandal involving an electrical engineering exam.

A third star for Admiral Lynch would have been difficult to get through the Senate Armed Services Committee. Several members have been critical of the admiral's leadership during the cheating scandal, which eventually implicated 134 midshipmen and led to the punishment of 88 and the expulsion of 24. Admiral Lynch admitted "failure" in not aggressively pursuing the investigation.

Asked what he will do once the commission reports to the defense secretary next year, Admiral Lynch said: "After that, I serve at the pleasure of the president. Whatever the Navy [decides]. I hope to get a fleet."

The admiral's "wealth of experience" will help him in his new post, said Admiral Lawrence.

Before arriving at the academy in 1991, Admiral Lynch led the first battle group into the Red Sea in August 1990 after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

He also served as a top aide to Navy Secretary John Lehman and his successor, James Webb.

Arriving at the academy in June 1991, Admiral Lynch was viewed as a "Mr. Fix-It" in the wake of a scandal involving sophomore Midshipman Gwen Dreyer, who had been handcuffed to a urinal and jeered by male classmates.

That scandal derailed the career of the academy superintendent at the time, Rear Adm. Virgil Hill, who also was offered a lateral move and later retired.

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