One of the maxims we live by in the military is, “the first report is normally always wrong.” It’s vital that a good commander be able to do what we call “cross-fertilization” of reports and intelligence from multiple sources in order to assess the situation and develop viable and effective courses of action.
But when it comes to the Obama administration, it’s doggone hard to discern what the heck is going on, period. Case in point, with the captured U.S. Navy Riverine assault craft, we were initially told that one of the boats had an engine malfunction. Then it appeared to be both of the boats had an engine malfunction. Then the story became the boats drifted off course. And the latest has been that they drifted off course and only one had an engine malfunction.
Somehow two small Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boats came upon our heavily armored assault craft — then two more showed up. And the rest is embarrassing history — our Sailors on their knees, hands over their heads, guns pointed at them. Now, that’s hardly what I call friendly diplomacy, and certainly not a “good day.”
But now, there’s another awkward wrinkle to this whole episode. As reported by Military.com, “The U.S. Navy said Monday that the 10 American sailors aboard two patrol craft seized at gunpoint by Iran last week had “deviated” from their assigned route although Iran claimed that the sailors’ GPS devices were in working order.
A timeline on the international incident that threatened to unravel the nuclear deal with Iran and the swap of prisoners left unclear how the patrol craft became lost in the Persian Gulf on a routine daylight move between Kuwait and Bahrain.
There was also a “mechanical issue” aboard one of the boats but “it’s not clear the crew was aware of their exact location” when two small Iranian craft approached with Iranian Revolutionary Guards aboard brandishing weapons, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement.
Statements Monday issued by Iran’s legislature added to the mystery of how the sailors came to be stopped in the water three miles inside Iran’s territorial waters off Farsi island in the middle of the Persian Gulf.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and other high-ranking officials said last week that a “navigational error” appeared to be the cause and suggested that an equipment malfunction may have sent the boats off course.
However, a statement from Iran’s parliament cited Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officials as saying that the U.S. sailors should have been aware of their location.
“The coordinates recorded on the GPS devices taken from the 10 U.S. marines (sic) confirmed their trespassing” into waters off heavily-guarded Farsi island, the semi-official Fars news agency reported of the parliamentary statement.
The statement from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said, “A post-recovery inventory of the boats found that all weapons, ammunition and communication gear are accounted for minus two SIM cards that appear to have been removed from two hand-held satellite phones.”
How can anyone surmise what happened here? I know about the fog of war, but this is ludicrous.
I remember my battalion commander at Ft. Riley, COL John R. Gingrich, and what he did with all of the captains at the National Training Center during a leaders recon before a training evolution. He took us out all night and we each had to conduct a navigational leg using only a map and compass. You want to know what pressure is, be the captain, sitting in the battalion commander’s Hummer and get lost? Toast!
The important thing was that regardless of being in the hot seat, you had to follow what was happening not knowing if you were next in the hopper. And no, I didn’t get us lost on my leg. Why was that exercise so important? Because when the 4th Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Infantry Division was deployed to Operation Desert Storm, there weren’t enough of the new GPS devices for everyone — and you’d best not get lost out there!
“The two 49-foot Riverine Command Boats left Kuwait en route to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, a trip of about 290 miles, at 12:53 a.m. Iran time, the command said. “The planned transit path for the mission was down the middle of the Gulf and not through the territorial waters of any country other than Kuwait and Bahrain,” the command said. A refueling rendezvous with the Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy was planned for 5 p.m. local time.”
I find it perplexing that these boats heading south somehow drifted some 60 to 70 miles off course. Was no one checking compass headings? Was no one able to read charts? Now, I ain’t no Sailor but here’s my common sense assessment: when the coastal lights are no longer off my starboard side — ha, I knew that much — then I’m not heading in the right direction. Who would have given these boats a course that didn’t hug along the friendly coasts of the Gulf Cooperation Council states?
And then here’s the kicker questions. Did the Iranians tow the assault boats to Farsi Island? Did the boats start up with no problem and depart Farsi Island under their own power? Did our boats have escort from Farsi Island or were they able to “navigate” themselves out?
Folks, none of this makes any sense, and for all those liberal progressive detractors, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Force is listed as a terrorist organization. So taking defensive action was very well warranted — and it would have saved us from an international embarrassment, broadcasted the world over — and a violation of the Geneva Convention, with the videotaping of our Sailors in a submissive surrendering position. There were no malfunctions of the weapon systems of these assault craft I presume. And there’s something called a “blue force tracker” which means a command ship would have been able to track these craft. So how was it they were able to drift off course without communications? Is someone going to tell me the radios didn’t work either?
Well, based on what the Iranians just confiscated, the boats had SATCOM — satellite communications phones — which they could have used. Heck, even during the Grenada invasion, Operation Urgent Fury, the ground forces improvised and due to cross communications difficulties used the Ft. Bragg switchboard — that was in 1983.
Nothing about the U.S. Navy Riverine assault boat seizure incident makes sense, and as we all know the media news cycle, it has all but been forgotten. However, the image of U.S. Sailors kneeling with guns to their heads will resonate for months and years, until we restore our respect and regard in this world.
That’s not going to happen under the current commander in chief, and I can definitely confirm that intelligence assessment.