The United States Secretary of the Navy leads the Department of the Navy. Holders of the office oversee the Navy, the Marine Corps, and, to a certain extent, the Coast Guard.

For more than 150 years, the post was a Cabinet-level position. In recent decades, the office has been outside of the Cabinet. Instead, Navy secretaries report to the secretary and the deputy secretary of defense. Even despite a perhaps decrease in prominence, the office can still grab attention. As noted by The Hill, controversy has engulfed it in the last several months.

Kenneth Braithwaite becomes the newest secretary of the Navy

On May 29, Kenneth Braithwaite was sworn in to officially become the U.S. secretary of the Navy. A little over a week before, the U.S. Senate had confirmed Braithwaite's nomination for the position by voice vote.

On an official basis, there hadn't been an official Navy secretary since November of 2019. That was Richard V. Spencer, a former Marine Corps captain. Spencer left the Trump administration in a high-profile parting of ways. Spencer and Trump very publicly disagreed with Trump inserting himself into the prosecution of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher. After his departure, Spencer became a sharp critic of Trump's. He also endorsed Michael Bloomberg for president.

Under Secretary Thomas Modly, a former Naval officer became the acting secretary for the next several months. But eventually, Modly received a great deal of undesirable coverage. As noted by MSN, it stemmed from his highly controversial behavior involving COVID-19. In particular, the outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier.

Modly ultimately resigned in April.

James E. MacPherson, the former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, followed. His tenure was brief, but apparently without any major controversy. Also, a former U.S. Army soldier, MacPherson, had just been sworn in as undersecretary of the Army. Before that, he'd been the Army's general counsel.

MacPherson continues to hold the post of Army undersecretary.

Braithwaite was most recently the U.S. ambassador to Norway

A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Braithwaite was commissioned as an officer in the 1980s. After being selected for the Office of Legislative Affairs, he later became an aviator. He would serve aboard the aircraft carrier USS America and at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

He left active duty in 1993 and also became a local politician in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. And he became a staffer for U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. But Braithwaite would be a member of the Navy Reserve for nearly 20 years. He ultimately retired as a rear admiral with decorations, including the Legion of Merit.

In 2017, Donald Trump nominated Braithwaite for the position of U.S. ambassador to Norway. He was confirmed by the Senate in December, also by voice vote. In February, he was sworn in.

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