THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Tuesday, November 21, 1995 TAG: 9511210273 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A8 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: STAFF REPORT DATELINE: WASHINGTON LENGTH: Short : 49 lines
The Pentagon has tapped Army Lt. Gen. David A. Bramlett to serve as at least an interim replacement for Navy Adm. Richard C. Macke as commander of American forces in the Pacific, a congressional source said Monday.
A formal announcement of the selection is expected today, perhaps along with a final retirement date for Macke. The four-star admiral announced Friday night that he will take early retirement because of an uproar over insensitive remarks he made hours earlier concerning the three U.S. servicemen charged with the rape and abduction of an Okinawan girl.
Macke called the attack stupid, saying the Americans ``could have had a girl'' for the price they paid to rent a car used in the abduction. He has apologized for the remark, but in addition to forcing his retirement, it could cost him thousands of dollars in pension benefits.
That's because a recommendation from the Pentagon leadership and a vote of the U.S. Senate are needed to permit Macke to retire with four stars. Without Senate confirmation, he will have to leave as a rear admiral, with only two stars, a demotion that would lower his pension check by about $1,500 per month.
Several senators took to the floor Friday night to denounce Macke, suggesting his prospects there would be guarded, at best. The Senate only narrowly confirmed the four-star retirement last year of Adm. Frank Kelso, then the chief of naval operations, who was accused of mishandling the service's response to the 1991 Tailhook scandal.
Though retirement nominations are made by the president, sources suggested that as a practical matter the decision about how many stars the administration will suggest for Macke rests with Navy Secretary John H. Dalton and Defense Secretary William J. Perry.
Macke's retirement comes as both houses of Congress are considering legislation that might have improved his chances of keeping all his stars. Under that proposal, a congressional staffer said Monday, a specific vote to confirm a four-star retirement would not be needed. Wayward admirals and generals could still lose one or more stars, however, if the Senate judged them unfit.
Bramlett is an infantryman who has been serving as Macke's deputy and chief of staff since September 1994. He is a West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran who returned to West Point to serve a term as commandant. by CNB