Allen B. West

We’ve just learned the fate of the US Navy commodore captured by Iran sailors…

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I’ll share the following story with y’all and allow you to make your own assessment. I have my own thoughts and will share those, too.

We all remember — well, I hope you do — the embarrassing Iranian seizure of two US Navy riverine assault boats. If you’ve forgotten this sad moment in US Naval history, I don’t know what to say. We shared several stories on this, including the awarding of medals to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Navy commander.

And now it appears we’ve made a decision regarding the future of the American Navy commander.

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As reported by Fox News, The commodore in charge of the two U.S. Navy boats that strayed into Iranian waters leading to the capture of his 10 sailors for 16 hours in January will be relieved of command likely putting an end to his career, Fox News has learned. 

Capt. [O-6] Kyle Moses, commodore of Commander Task Force (CTF) 56 was responsible for the two riverine boats and Kuwait-based crew. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, is set to release a long-awaited report on June 30th about the events surrounding the January incident now that the investigation is complete. 

Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces captured the two high-speed patrol boats near Farsi Island, a well-known Iranian base, hours after the boats left Kuwait on January 12 with the intended purpose of sailing to Bahrain. Five sailors were aboard each boat. 

The Navy crew was inexperienced and running late to make a rendezvous at a refueling point in the Persian Gulf when the capture took place, according to officials. 

The detention of the American crew came the same day as President Obama’s State of the Union address and came at a sensitive time for the administration days before formally implementing the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers led by the United States. 

Days after the incident, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Navy patrol boats had “misnavigated” into Iranian territorial waters. The second in command of the riverine squadron, Cmdr. Eric Rasch, was fired from his job last month.

So, what do y’all think?

Here’s my assessment as a former Commander. Nothing is ever routine, and any time you are to conduct a movement, there is a movement brief. The movement element goes through a route brief and a comms brief. Also, you conduct what is called immediate action drills in order to rehearse actions upon contact with the enemy, or any emergency situation. If you recall this story, we heard the excuse of “misnavigation” and then we heard about engine breakdown. Both of those situations would have been precluded with a proper mission/movement briefing.

The other perplexing point of order is what defines “inexperienced” when it comes to the crew? It would be interesting to know the number of hours the Officer-in-Charge had with the riverine patrol boats — and what were the certifications. In the artillery, one of the key training exercises was to ensure each howitzer crew or firing section for rocket/missile was certified. It was done by way of “dry” and live fire — then we did the platoons, and then the firing battery. And it’s the same across all the combat arms branches where we train from the individual to the collective level.

Therefore, I must ask, what training certifications had the two riverine assault boat crews undergone?

Multiple defense officials tell Fox News a “multitude of errors” led to the capture of the U.S. Navy crew;

– First, there was no navigation brief, a major violation of Navy protocol. When any Navy ship gets underway, even for something as minor as shirting berths from one pier to another, it is standard for a Navy crew to conduct a navigation brief discussing issues such as hazards to navigation or, in this case, an Iranian base near the planned course.

– Second, the chain of command was not well defined on the two boats. While a young lieutenant was the highest-ranking individual on either of the two 50-foot boats, when the order was given to evade the Iranian forces, the helmsman refused the order.

– Third, defense officials tell Fox News the Navy had become too complacent with the its treatment by Iranian forces in the months leading up to the January capture.

First, let me clarify: a Navy Lieutenant is the equivalent to a Captain [O-3] in the Army, Air Force, and Marines. And once again, during any movement brief, you specify who is the Convoy Commander and who is the second-in-command, and where they will be in the movement sequence. During an airborne operation, on each aircraft you have the primary jump master and the alternate, PJM/AJM. This is just standard military procedure.

But, what has me very perplexed is, why would the helmsman refuse the order of the Officer-in-Charge? Furthermore, how could it have been that the Iranian vessels were able to close with the riverine assault boats? Reason I ask is, what was wrong with the radar systems on these boats that should have registered “blips” on the screen?

I just have to ponder, how could this many wrong things go wrong? This report represents a total and complete breakdown of standard operating procedure and, frankly, you could not have written this tragedy. This is a cacophony of failures and errors, and I just find it hard to digest that no one stepped in and said standby. If all this happened, it indicates a systemic issue — perhaps not just in this unit, but maybe in the Navy as a whole. There are multiple levels of failure for this to have happened, if we are to believe this is what happened.

I’m not a conspiracy theory guy but if you remember, this all happened, interestingly enough, as President Obama was about to give his State of the Union address, and we were in the death throes of the Iranian nuclear deal. It would be a different thing if there were other instances of such failures of naval operations, but that’s not the case. No, I’m not saying that Barack Obama caused this, but it is kinda uncanny that this catastrophe happened when it did — that’s all I’m saying.

Regardless, it appears there’s a necessity for riverine assault boat retraining, and perhaps that’s already occurred. This incident should obviously be a case study at the brown water Navy training school — heck, it should be a leadership case study for young Naval officers.

So share with us your thoughts: failure of training or a very interesting coincidence?

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