Monday, July 04, 2016

Don't Give Up the Ship

As China develops a larger and better equipped navy, we like to think our personnel will provide the decisive edge if it comes to fight. If that's what we count on, we have a problem.

You remember the American Navy boats that Iran captured right when our president was boasting of outreach to Iran?

Oh, Hell:

A devastating new report by military investigators released Thursday found that the 10 sailors captured by Iranians in January suffered from "failed leadership" at all levels on a mission that was plagued by mistakes from beginning to end. ...

The report found the crews were poorly prepared, their boats not properly maintained, communication almost entirely lacking, and their conduct after being captured by the Iranians wasn't up to military standards.

In a stunning finding, the report said the sailors veered off course almost immediately after heading out to sea and had no idea where they were when a mechanical failure struck one of the boats. ...

The report details a lax culture for U.S. Navy sailors who routinely patrol the Persian Gulf which ultimately led to a highly embarrassing incident for the U.S. military just as crippling economic sanctions were set to be lifted as part of the Iranian nuclear deal.

"The culture ... (was) characterized by informality. They conducted no patrol briefings, and missions were supported by no formal mission analysis, standard planning factors, risk assessment, or overwatch," investigators wrote.

This is a theater where the threat and history should inspire a sense of urgency to prepare for battle at any moment. Yet even here our Navy had a poor culture that led to surrendering their boats to Iranians? How widespread is this type of laxity?

A little Navy history might be in order for our personnel--officer and enlisted.

Those boat crews should have defended their vessels with the full confidence that overwatching American forces would reinforce them rapidly. This incident should have ended with several wrecked Iranian boats and a lesson that you just don't mess with the United States Navy rather than viewing our vessels as hostage bait.

This was shameful. Now we know how shameful. Is the Navy ashamed enough to actually fix this?