Navy fires commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group Eight

Navy Capt. Richard A. Zaszewski was relieved “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.”
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Navy SEALs
FILE: A Navy diver and special operator perform SDV [SEAL Delivery Vehicle] operations with the nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine USS Florida for material certification. (U.S. Navy photo)

Navy Capt. Richard A. Zaszewski was fired as commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group Eight on Wednesday, service officials have announced.

Zaszewski is a Silver Star recipient and his many other military awards include three Bronze Stars, one with a “V” device for valor; the Combat Action Ribbon, Legion of Merit, Inherent Resolve Campaign medal, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal, according to his service record, which was provided to Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

Rear Adm. Keith Davids, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, relieved Zaszewski “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” a Navy news release says.

“Navy leaders are held to high standards of personal and professional conduct,” the press release says. “They are expected to uphold the highest standards of responsibility, reliability, and leadership, and the Navy holds them accountable when they fall short of those standards.”

NSWG Eight was created in 2021 to combine two other special warfare groups, NSGW Three and Ten. Based at  Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia, NSWG 8 oversees about a dozen secretive units that are manned by SEALs and other specialists that support the missions of traditional SEAL Teams, according to a Navy release. Those units include specialized miniature submarines used by SEALs known as Dry Combat Submersible (DCS) and SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV), along with Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV). The group also oversees Special Reconnaissance Teams and elements that focus on cyber, space and unmanned systems.

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Navy Capt. Stig Sanness, deputy commodore for Naval Special Warfare Group Eight, has assumed the duties as commodore of the group.

A Naval Special Warfare Command did not elaborate on why Davids relieved Zaszewski.

“The decision was made with careful consideration of the facts and the imperative to uphold the high standards of Navy leadership.” the spokesperson told Task & Purpose.

No further information was immediately available about why Zaszewski was fired. The military services often use the phrase “loss of confidence” to avoid providing the specific reasons why officers and senior enlisted leaders are relieved.

While media outlets can submit Freedom of Information Act requests to find out more information about why a commander has been relieved, the process can take months, if not longer.

The Navy fired 16 commanding officers in 2023. Because the Navy has historically been the most transparent military branch on relieving commanders, it is difficult to determine whether the Navy fires more leaders than the other services.

Military commanders can be fired for a number of reasons ranging from poor performance or leadership to personal issues not related to their work. In some cases, commanders are fired for legal issues like an arrest, well prior to a conviction. The Navy also has said it relieves a small number of commanders each year for medical issues that impair their ability to command. The service does not generally announce those medical-related reliefs as they occur but reports them in annual totals.

In the past month, at least five military commanding officers have been fired: The commander of the Air Force’s 628th Medical Group and a commanding officer of an associated squadron; the head of the U.S. Marine Corps School of Infantry-West and the commander in charge of the Reconnaissance Training Company, a subordinate unit; and the captain of the guided missile submarine USS Ohio’s Gold Crew

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