Vice Adm. John Stufflebeem, shown here in 2002 as commander, Carrier Group 2, was fired as director of the Navy staff March 21. (PH1 Michael W. Pendergrass / Navy)
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Vice Adm. John Harvey, who has already been confirmed to succeed Vice Adm. John Stufflebeem as director of Navy staff, assumed that role effective March 24. He will continue to serve as CNP until his designated replacement comes aboard. (Navy)
The three-star director of the Navy staff was fired last Friday for providing "false and misleading information" during a Defense Department inspector general investigation, the Navy's top spokesman confirmed Monday.
Vice Adm. John "Boomer" Stufflebeem was relieved by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead due to the testimony Stufflebeem gave during the investigation, said Rear Adm. Frank Thorp, the Navy's chief of information.
"As a result, the CNO lost confidence in Admiral Stufflebeem's judgment and his continuing ability to lead in the office of the CNO," Thorp said.
Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John Harvey, who has already been confirmed to succeed Stufflebeem as director of Navy staff, assumed that role effective Monday. He will continue to serve as CNP until his designated replacement, Rear Adm. Mark Ferguson, comes aboard. Stufflebeem had not yet been nominated for a new position prior to Roughead's actions.
The DoD IG investigation began after officials received an anonymous letter earlier this year accusing Stufflebeem of having an inappropriate relationship while serving as President George H.W. Bush's military aide in 1990. Thorp was careful to point out that Stufflebeem was relieved directly due to the misleading testimony, not because of the allegations in the letter.
Thorp said the findings of the IG investigation are still under review, and the case will be sent to Adm. Kirkland Donald, director of naval nuclear propulsion, "for appropriate review and action," he said. In the meantime, Stufflebeem is working on the staff of the CNO, he said.
An earlier anonymous letter regarding Stufflebeem was sent in 1999, but at the time, the Navy and DoD deemed there was "insufficient evidence to pursue the matter," Thorp said.
Stufflebeem's rank has reverted to rear admiral, which is typically done when an officer is not serving in a three-star billet. Officers need congressional approval to serve as vice admiral or above, and can only maintain that rank when actually serving in those jobs.
Stufflebeem, a career naval aviator, rose to prominence in the opening days of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, frequently briefing reporters as the deputy director for global operations on the Joint Staff. After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1975, Stufflebeem was a practice-squad punter for the Detroit Lions under a special program that allowed the NFL to carry military players in a reserve status while they are on active duty. The Lions asked Stufflebeem to join them full time, but the aviator opted to fly jets.