A recently released command inquiry found that a fired Navy commander’s offensive language and insults towards his underlings crossed professional boundaries and constituted harassment.
According to an investigation that was reported by Task and Purpose, Commander Frank Azzarello, who was relieved of his command of the Navy destroyer USS Forrest Sherman in January, routinely referred to his junior officers as ‘f-king retarded’, useless and stupid.’
One crew member said in the investigation, according to Task and Purpose that one second he could be asking about your family, and the next time he would be saying that he disliked the sound of your voice, that you’re f-king retarded, or threatening an LOI (letter of instruction) for calling him too many times for mandatory reports while he was getting a haircut and that the more pressure he was under and less sleep that he got, he was worse.
Task and Purpose reported that on at least one occasion, the verbal abuse almost became violent when Azzarello raised his hand to a junior officer but didn’t follow through.
Azzarello’s lawyer Timothy Parlatore argued the investigation’s findings and accused officers aboard the USS Forrest Sherman of making up stories. Azzarello’s age is unclear, as it wasn’t disclosed in the report.
According to Task and Purpose, an officer stated, at times it seemed that he just wanted to break people down to see how far he could push people before they would break and that once he found that limit, he would walk that line.
The officer continued that there were times where he felt sick walking to the bridge just because of his nerves and what he would be yelled at that day and that his actions were rough, but it could shape you, but sometimes it would destroy people, and that he’d seen numerous JOs (junior officers) break down and almost give up, and that some people got it worse than others on the ship or just because of his mood that day.
The command inquiry was also reported by the Navy Times, which said Azzarello disparaged some officers, mocked the voices of female members and overused letters of instruction.
Azzarello, who took charge of the USS Forrest Sherman in September 2019, was reportedly dismissed from his duty on January 27 for taking home a seized enemy rifle that he planned to turn into a trophy for his ship’s wardroom without following procedure.
This is what happens when someone isn’t ready to lead, and rank forced him into a situation he was incapable of performing, and it seems like he was seriously lacking emotional intelligence – perhaps he might do better at a desk job? Because he was clearly promoted well beyond his capabilities.
These people need to be tough, but they also have to be leaders, and leaders shouldn’t be treating their subordinates like that. Leaders need to be strong, but they also need to be respected, and this guy lost the respect of his crew by losing control of himself, but there are hundreds more just like him in the military.
His mental health problems should have been dealt with before his promotion, and his language was very unseemly, and this is no way to treat and disparage subordinates – there are other ways to show and tell subordinates they’re not meeting standards if you’re a good leader, but talking down to them isn’t the way and it serves no one.
And if he treats subordinates in this way, just imagine how he treats his wife or partner? I guess that he might be treating them worse, and it makes you question if there have been any reports of Family Advocacy for domestic violence because people who browbeat their subordinates might be doing terrifying things at home.