Open your ears, for which of you will stop the vent of hearing when loud Rumor speaks? -- In what one retired naval officer called "unlike anything I've ever seen before," Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette was removed on Saturday from command of the Stennis Carrier Strike Group in the Persian Gulf and sent home to Bremerton, NBC 7 (San Diego) reported Monday. -- "The Stennis Strike Group entered the Middle East area of operations less than 10 days ago, but is now left without commanding officer Gauette," Lea Sutton said. -- Adm. Gaouette is said to be under investigation but has not been formally relieved of his command. -- The Navy revealed only that "inappropriate leadership judgment" was involved, but Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy's chief spokesman, declined to discuss the investigation," the Associated Press reported. -- The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Adm. Gaouette is a San Diego native and that his removal was carried out "unceremoniously," calling the move "very unusual." -- BACKGROUND: According to a Navy website, Adm. Gaouette is a little over 50. -- His early career was in the Submarine Strategic Weapons program and transferred to Surface Warfare in 1987. -- He holds a master's degree from the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama. -- SPECULATION: The Internet is rife with accounts purporting to explain Adm Gaouette's removal, some of them quite elaborate. -- They are, however, of uncertain origin and posted by unreliable sources. -- In the run-up to the Nov. 6 election, these rumors are being spread vigorously by anti-Obama zealots who maintain that Adm. Gaouette's real offense was to attempt to intervene in Libya during the Sept. 11-12, 2012, attack on the consulate in Benghazi. -- They also involve Gen. Carter F. Ham, who was combatant commander of AFRICOM during the Benghazi attack and who is now supposedly being forced to leave the Army because he tried to help those being attacked in Benghazi. -- Efforts to use events related to Libya to discredit President Obama include a nasty interview last weekend given by Charles Wood, the father of SEAL Tyron Wood, who died in Benghazi, in which he tells Glenn Beck that when he "could tell" that President Obama was "not sorry" about his son's death when he met him and that shaking Obama's hand was "like shaking hands with a dead fish." -- (No mean feat.) ...
NAVY COMMANDER UNDER INVESTIGATION
By Lea Sutton
October 29, 2012
A local Navy commander is returning to his homeport in Washington state mid-way through his deployment following an investigation into undisclosed allegations of inappropriate judgment, Navy officials confirmed.
The commander in question is Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette, commander of Stennis Strike Group whichs includes the San Diego-based USS Mobile Bay and two North Island-based helicopter squadrons.
The Stennis Strike Group entered the Middle East area of operations less than 10 days ago, but is now left without commanding officer Gauette.
Navy officials said the Admiral is being sent home to Bremerton, Wash., pending an investigation, but officials are not saying exactly what the investigation or allegations entail.
However, the Navy said Gaouette is not being formally relieved of command.
Retired Navy Captain Neal Zerbe -- who served for more than 20 years -- told NBC 7 that this type of move by the Navy is highly unusual.
“The particular commander being relieved, and you know translating that to just moving him back to a continental U.S. base while the investigation continues, is unlike anything I've ever seen before,” said Zerbe.
It's unusual for the Navy to replace a Strike Group Commander mid-deployment and Zerbe said it’s important to note how the Navy’s statement about Gaouette is worded.
"If there are improprieties or if there are bad errors in judgment for something that happened in an operational situation -- you usually see wording to that effect," added Zerbe.
The Stennis Strike Group deployed in late August and made two port visits on its way to the Middle East. Zerbe said that leadership is important, but he has full confidence the Strike Group will carry out its mission -- no matter what.
"This is at a very senior level. The guys that are delivering the bombs on target and supporting the guys in the field in contact, they're ready to go. They've got no issues; it's transparent at their level," he said.
An Admiral who commanded the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group will assume command until the matter regarding Gaouette is resolved. Gaouette's chief of staff will be leading the Strike Group until his arrival.
NAVY REPLACES REAR ADMIRAL CHARLES M. GAOUETTE PENDING PROBE OUTCOME
By Robert Burns
October 27, 2012
The U.S. Navy said Saturday it is replacing the admiral in command of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Middle East, pending the outcome of an internal investigation into undisclosed allegations of inappropriate judgment.
Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette is being sent back to the USS John C. Stennis' home port at Bremerton, Washington State, in what the Navy called a temporary reassignment. The Navy said he is not formally relieved of his command of the Stennis strike group but will be replaced by Rear Adm. Troy M. Shoemaker, who will assume command until the investigation is completed.
It is highly unusual for the Navy to replace a carrier strike group commander during its deployment.
The Navy did not reveal details of the allegations, citing only an accusation of "inappropriate leadership judgment" that arose during the strike group's deployment to the Middle East. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy's chief spokesman, declined to discuss the investigation.
The Stennis group deployed from Bremerton in late August and had entered the Navy 5th Fleet's area of operations in the Middle East on Oct. 17 after sailing across the Pacific. The Stennis made port visits in Thailand and Malaysia on its way to the Middle East.
It deployed four months earlier than scheduled in response to a request by the commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine Gen. James Mattis, to maintain two aircraft carriers in the Middle East. The Stennis replaced the USS Enterprise carrier group.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the Stennis and its sailors in Bremerton shortly before they departed. He thanked them for accelerating their deployment on short notice.
"I understand that it is tough," Panetta said. "We are asking an awful lot of each of you, but frankly you are the best I have and when the world calls we have to respond."
SD ADMIRAL REMOVED AS HEAD OF STENNIS STRIKE GROUP
By Gary Robbins
San Diego Union-Tribune
October 29, 2012
Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette, a San Diego native who has climbed the ranks of the Navy over a long career, was unceremoniously removed as commander of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group in recent days. His removal comes while the Stennnis CSG is deployed in the Persian Gulf region.
The Navy did not give a clear explanation for the change, other than to say that questions had arisen about his leadership judgment. He has been sent back to his homebase in Bremerton, Washington, to await the outcome of the investigation.
(We incorrectly reported in an earlier version of this story that Gaouette was commander of the cruiser Mobile Bay.)
It is very unusual for the Navy to remove such a high-ranking person from his post in the middle of deployment. The Stennis Carrier Strike Group, which features several surface ships from San Diego, has been operating with several San Diego-based vessels, including the cruiser Mobile Bay and the destroyer Dewey.
NavyTimes.com reports that, "Vice Adm. John Miller, commander Naval Forces Central Command, made the decision to reassign the commander of Carrier Strike Group 3, even though it’s deployed to the Middle East."
NBC News interviewed Neal Zerbe, a retired Navy captain, who told the news organization that “The particular commander being relieved, and you know translating that to just moving him back to a continental U.S. base while the investigation continues, is unlike anything I've ever seen before.''
The strike group's vessels include the San Diego-based Mobile Bay, which has had a mixed record in recent years. The cruiser was awarded the coveted Battle "E" in 2006. But in 2011, the ship failed a major inspection, due primarily to problems with her propulsion system, aviation, operations, and communication.
The Robbins Report
GENERAL AT CENTER OF BENGHAZI-GATE CONTROVERSY RETIRING
By James S. Robbins
October 29, 2012
General Carter F. Ham, the Combatant Commander of Africa Command (AFRICOM) and a key figure in the Benghazi-gate controversy, is leaving the Army. On October 18, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta had announced that General Ham would be succeeded at AFRICOM by General David Rodriguez. Later speculation tied this decision to the fallout from the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. However on Monday October 29 a defense official told the Washington Times that "the decision [to leave AFRICOM] was made by General Ham. He ably served the nation for nearly forty years and retires after a distinguished career." Previously all that was known was that General Ham would be rotating out of AFRICOM at some future date, but not that he was leaving the service. General Ham is a few years short of the mandatory retirement age of 64, but it is not unusual for someone of that rank to retire after serving in such a significant command.
The questions concerning General Ham's role in the September 11 events continue to percolate. Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, said that General Ham told him during a visit to Libya that he had never been asked to provide military support for the Americans under attack in Benghazi. Former United States Ambassador to the U.N. John R. Bolton also mentioned Mr. Chaffetz's account, and contrasted it with Mr. Panetta's statement that General Ham had been part of the team that made the decision not to send in forces. "General Ham has now been characterized in two obviously conflicting ways," Mr. Bolton concluded. "Somebody ought to find out what he actually was saying on September the eleventh."
No word yet on when General Ham's rotation or retirement take effect.
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