Vice admiral fired for lying in probe
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy fired a three-star admiral after a Pentagon investigation concluded that he lied during questioning about whether he had had an inappropriate relationship while working at the White House in 1990.
Vice Adm. John “Boomer” Stufflebeem, a career naval aviator, was relieved as director of the Navy staff last week by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Navy spokesman Rear Adm. Frank Thorp said Monday.
Naval officials told The Associated Press that the investigation began on the basis of an anonymous letter that accused Stufflebeem of having an inappropriate relationship while serving as a military aide to President George H.W. Bush in 1990.
The investigation’s findings, which have not been made public, are under review by the Navy.
Roughead told reporters Tuesday he would not comment on the substance of Stufflebeem’s statement to the inspector general’s office, saying he had tasked the director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, Adm. Kirkland Donald, with reviewing the facts and arriving at a disposition for the case.
But he did acknowledge that Stufflebeem made a statement to the inspector general’s office that officials considered to be false.
“I reviewed the material and lost confidence in his ability to serve in the position of the director of Navy staff,” Roughead said.
Before moving to Washington in the fall, Stufflebeem had commanded six U.S. Navy and NATO commands in Europe, including the Navy’s 6th Fleet from May 2005 until September 2007.
He served in Europe during the Navy’s streamlining of forces, which included moving the 6th Fleet headquarters from London to Naples, Italy, decreasing the number of sailors and civilians needed to carry out day-to-day jobs and merging three command elements into one.
He also served as vice commander of Naval Forces Europe, Joint Force Maritime Component Commander Europe, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO commander, Commander Joint Command Lisbon (Portugal), and Commander of NATO Response Force Five.
He spent most of his time in Portugal rather than Naples.
“[Stufflebeem] had no effect on morale, good or bad, from what I have heard, probably because he was in Lisbon, coming here maybe once a month,” said one Naples-based 6th Fleet enlisted sailor, who asked his name not be used because of the controversy now surrounding Stufflebeem. “I can’t say whether things got better or worse under him, he didn’t work here, so I don’t know what it was like to work for him.”
Pending the review’s outcome, Stufflebeem remains a member of Roughead’s staff, but at a two- star level, Thorp said. A vice admiral is junior only to an admiral, such as Roughead.
Stufflebeem served as deputy director for global operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2001 and appeared before reporters at the Pentagon as a spokesman in the early months of the war in Afghanistan.
He is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and was designated a naval aviator in 1980.
During his tenure in Europe, Stufflebeem temporarily held the title of commander of Joint Task Force Lebanon as the Navy took a lead role in helping evacuate U.S. citizens from Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
He also coordinated relief efforts for victims of a devastating earthquake in Pakistan in 2005.
Vice Adm. James Winnefeld Jr. assumed command from Stufflebeem in September in a low-key ceremony closed to the news media because Stufflebeem “wanted it to be low-profile,” a spokesman had said.
Stripes reporters Jeff Schogol and Sandra Jontz contributed to this report.