Nearly two months after his name was first reported as interim superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, the Annapolis institution confirmed that Rear Adm. Fred Kacher will serve as its temporary leader.
Kacher replaces Vice Adm. Sean Buck, the 63rd superintendent of the Naval Academy.
The academy issued a news release Monday stating that Kacher, who graduated in 1990, “has taken the reins as acting superintendent of the United States Naval Academy.”
Although a retirement party for Buck was held on July 7, he will officially exit the military on Sept. 1, academy spokesperson Cmdr. Ashley Hockycko said. There will be no official change-of-command ceremony. Kacher was introduced to the midshipmen on Friday, when Buck bid farewell with “invaluable words of wisdom,” according to the academy’s Instagram feed.
The transition comes as Buck’s future and the Naval Academy’s permanent superintendent are caught up in parallel political dramas. In April, the secretary of the Navy nominated Rear Adm. Yvette Davids to take the helm in Annapolis, becoming the service academy’s first female leader. Her appointment, however, and that of more than 300 other high-ranking military officials, has been held up in Congress by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, of Alabama.
The former Auburn football coach says he is blocking the appointments to protest a Pentagon policy that provides leave and travel expenses for military personnel who must travel out of state to obtain an abortion or other reproductive care.
High-level military appointments are typically approved en masse by voice vote, one of few bipartisan traditions left in the Senate. While any individual senator can block a vote, the majority party can usually employ parliamentary maneuvers to override the objection. The only way around Tuberville’s one-man blockade of military appointments, however, is to hold individual hearings on each appointment, a process that would take months. And so, the list of military positions and installations with acting leaders continues to grow.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has called Tuberville’s blockade “a clear risk to U.S. military readiness.” Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican, has said he disagrees with the tactical maneuver.
Kacher was slated to leave a post at the Pentagon and become commander of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, a job that would take him to Japan. The academy’s temporary leader will commute to Annapolis while both he, Davids and hundreds of others await a resolution to the Senate stalemate.
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