The officer tapped to lead the Navy SEALs is a combat veteran who has been the deputy commander of the storied and secretive SEAL Team 6. As controversy surrounds the next career move for the admiral leading the Navy's special operations forces, leaders have officially announced his replacement.

Rear Adm. Timothy Szymanski has been chosen to take over the Coronado, California-based Naval Special Warfare Command, according to a Monday release from the Defense Department.

The 53-year-old Naval Academy graduate is slated to replace current NSW commanding officer Rear Adm. Brian Losey, whose nomination for a second star is on hold amid a controversy over whether he retaliated against some of his staff.

Szymanski is currently the assisting commanding general of Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He earned his commission in 1985 and served as a qualified surface warfare officer before transitioning to the SEALS, where he served as a platoon and task unit commander for SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2 early in his career.

He later served as operations officer and deputy commanding officer at Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team 6, as well as commanding officer of Naval Special Warfare Group 2.

His joint and staff tours include Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan/NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan, as well as community manager for Naval Special Warfare and enlisted community manager for SEALs, divers, explosive ordnance disposal and special warfare combat crewmen.

His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, three Bronze Stars, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, a Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal and a Combat Action Ribbon.

A change of command has not been announced for Losey, who has served as the top SEAL since 2013.

Losey has been under investigation for retaliating against whistle blowers in his command, The Washington Post reported last year, and objection to his pinning on a second star goes all the way to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., sent a letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in January threatening to block the nomination of Mabus' deputy if the Navy did not review block Losey's promotion.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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