TAMPA — A former Navy SEAL commander who said he was "embarrassed" by leaks in the ranks of the super-secret commandos has been nominated as deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, the Defense Department said Tuesday.
The nomination of Navy Vice Adm. Sean A. Pybus by President Barack Obama must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. SOCom is based at MacDill Air Force Base.
He would serve under Adm. William McRaven, another SEAL alumnus.
Pybus, 56, who graduated from SEAL school in 1979 and has served about 35 years in the Navy, is currently commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Special Operations headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
He would replace SOCom's current deputy, Army Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, though no announcement has been made about Mulholland's future.
The appointment sets up Pybus as a leading contender for the top job at SOCom should McRaven retire this year. McRaven's third anniversary as commander comes in August, and command stints in the military are often three years.
According to Pybus' Navy biography, he graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in economics before entering the Navy. He spent much of his youth in Oklahoma.
Pybus served at the Navy Special Warfare Command near San Diego, which oversees SEALs, taking over the headquarters not long after the SEAL raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in May 2011.
Pybus wrote a much-publicized message to special forces and support personnel around the world after leaks about the SEALs' secret work. SEAL stands for Sea, Air and Land.
"We do NOT advertise the nature of our work, NOR do we seek recognition for our actions," Pybus wrote.
"I am disappointed, embarrassed and concerned. Most of us have always thought that the privilege of working with some of our nation's toughest warriors on challenging missions would be enough to be proud of, with no further compensation or celebrity required.
"Today, we find former SEALs headlining positions in a presidential campaign; hawking details about a mission against Enemy Number 1; and generally selling other aspects of … training and operations. For an elite force that should be humble and disciplined for life, we are certainly not appearing to be so. We owe our chain of command much better than this."
In a 2012 interview with the Defense Media Network, Pybus said leaks posed a threat to future operations.
"I understand the importance of maintaining a well informed public, that's the reason we have military public affairs officers who work with the media and conduct community relations activities," Pybus said. "I support those kinds of efforts."
Pybus, who previously worked at SOCom from 2007 to 2009, is listed as co-owner of a home just north of Tampa, about a 40-minute drive from MacDill.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected]