PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The U.S. Navy will allow a senior officer who was removed as president of the Naval War College to retire at his current rank, the service said Tuesday, though the terms of his retirement could change depending on the results of an open investigation.
The Navy secretary approved a “conditional retirement” for Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley, effective Wednesday, pending completion of an ongoing naval inspector general investigation. That allows Harley to retire as a two-star rear admiral and receive the benefits of that rank for now.
Harley was removed as president of the college in Newport, Rhode Island, in June, days after The Associated Press reported he was under investigation for allegedly spending excessively, abusing his hiring authority and otherwise behaving inappropriately, including keeping a margarita machine in his office.
Harley told The AP that the college was under fiscal strain because the Navy hadn't fully funded new missions. He announced his departure to campus in an email, writing that he was stepping down due to “distractions caused by the unfounded AP article."
The Navy's top admiral at the time, Adm. John Richardson, called the AP report “responsible and balanced" and said he felt he had enough information to warrant removing Harley from his post. Richardson retired in August.
Harley was administratively reassigned to work for the director of Navy staff.
A small group of longtime college employees filed an anonymous complaint about Harley in April 2018 with the Navy's inspector general.
Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield assumed command of the school Aug. 1. She's the first female leader at the post-graduate institution, which graduates about 1,600 students each year and employs around 700 faculty and staff.