By JENNIFER McDERMOTT, PROVIDENCE, R .I. (AP) — A helicopter pilot who moves a military command in Guam is going to be the first female leader of the U .S. Naval War College, the Navy declared Friday, days after removing the college president who came under investigation over questionable behavior.
Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield is going to be the new president, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer stated in a statement released after the school’s graduation ceremony, calling her a “historic choice.”
Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley was taken away as the college’s president Monday after The Associated Press revealed he was under investigation and more than a year after the initial complaint was submitted.
Spencer was at the post-graduate organization in Newport, Rhode Island, on Friday for graduation. About 550 students crossed the stage, and about 1, 000 students graduated from the distance education program. Spencer challenged them to be creative and act with urgency.
Shortly afterward, he launched the announcement about the school’s new leadership.
Chatfield served as commander of a provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan in 2008 and as an assistant professor of political science at the United States Air Force Academy from 2001 to 2004. She assumed command in Guam, of Joint Region Marianas, in January 2017.
“She is the embodiment of the type of warrior-scholar we require now to lead this storied institution as it educates our next generation of leaders,” Spencer said in the statement.
Each Spencer and Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, was involved in picking Chatfield.
The AP claimed Harley was under investigation for allegedly spending excessively, abusing his hiring authority and otherwise behaving inappropriately, such as keeping a margarita machine in his office.
Richardson told the AP that though the research into Harley isn’t yet total, he felt he had enough details to warrant removing Harley this week.
Richardson said he received reports from investigators around the same time the AP article was posted. He called the AP report “responsible and balanced.”
A little group of longtime college employees filed an anonymous complaint regarding Harley in April 2018 with the Navy’s office of the inspector general. The group contacted the inspector general again in January with additional allegations of Harley flouting Navy guidelines and norms.
Inspector general research, across the Defense Department, routinely take months or more than a year.
Emails obtained by the AP show the college has struggled to make payroll under Harley’s authority and spent about $725, 000 annually on raises while facing an annual shortfall of $5 million or more. Harley declined last week to answer a number of questions about the allegations, including his use of a margarita machine. He downplayed the complaints in a campuswide email, stating that they were from “a few individuals” and that all his decisions were subject to legal review and within his authority.