A NAVY court-martial found Capt. Everett Greene not guilty of sexual harassment and conduct unbecoming an officer last month. But despite that, Navy Secretary John Dalton reportedly is going to recommend that the officer be removed from the list of captains recommended for promotion to admiral.
Why? The Navy Times speculated before Secretary Dalton's decision, "Greene's nomination could again stir animosity toward the Navy among female senators, as did [two previous] nominations. Does Dalton want to revisit that hornet's nest? Of course not."
If that is the reason, it a shameful, shabby way to treat Captain Greene. He should never had been subjected to the ordeal of a court martial or even the lesser trial of a captain's mast in the first place. It was obvious to anyone (without an ax to grind) that Captain Greene's behavior never rose to that level of misconduct.
One junior officer who had complained of harassment testified that there was "nothing offensive" about Captain Greene's behavior. The other complainant, her own lawyer said, was "emotionally immature" and flirted with the captain. His offense, the lawyer said, was not to rebuff her more unequivocally.
Sexual harassment has no place in today's Navy. But harassment is being awfully broadly defined these days. Another captain was stricken from the admirals list because he had a consensual sexual affair with a junior officer. Another was removed from the list because he used salty language!
Obviously the post-Tailhook, politically-correct Navy is scared to death of being charged with insensitivity to women. So scared that the Navy would rather sacrifice the careers of three fine officers than fight in public women who bring (or might bring) charges of harassment, whatever the merits of the charges.
We support appropriate actions to curb sexual harassment and discrimination against women in the Navy, which in the past did not have a good record on that score. But this over-zealousness is a service-wide morale buster. "It's on the minds of every career officer and enlisted man," according to a journalist who has followed the story closely. The Navy has decided that it has a mission to fight sexual harassment. Of course it does. But its first mission is to train, keep and promote men and women who are best able to lead it in combat when that need next arises. Like Captain Greene, for example.