Navy replaces admiral in charge of Middle East strike group, cites ‘leadership judgment’

Stars and Strips is reporting today that Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette, who was in command of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Middle East, is being temporarily reassigned due to an allegation of “inappropriate leadership judgment.”

A spokesperson for the Navy declined to give details on the allegation, but Stars and Stripes reports that “it is highly unusual for the Navy to replace a carrier strike group commander during its deployment.”

The news comes just two days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the replacement for Gen. Carter Ham, who was serving as commander of U.S. Africa Command. Ham was one of two top military commanders Panetta mentioned during a news conference on Thursday at the Pentagon, during which Panetta said the commanders “felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk” in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11., “without knowing what’s going on, without having some real-time information about what’s taking place.”

Details are scarce, but some can’t help wonder about the timing of these military shake-ups.

Stars and Stripes says the USS John C. Stennis arrived in its area of operations in the Middle East on Oct. 17, after making port visits in Thailand and Malaysia.

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