Leadership: American Admirals Reluctant To Admit Failure

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May 19, 2016: On May 10th 2016 the U.S. Navy revealed who had been held responsible for an embarrassing January 12th incident where two American coastal patrol boats and ten sailors manning them were seized by armed Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf. The Americans were accused of being in Iranian territorial waters. The American boats and sailors were released a day later but the U.S. Navy kept quiet about the investigation into how this improbable event actually took place. Increasingly threatening complaints from Congress (and the general public) finally forced the navy to reveal something.

The navy said it had fired the executive officer (commander Eric Rasch) of the unit (Coastal Riverine Squadron 3) the captured sailors were from. The navy would not reveal all the details of the investigation, but these are promised by the end of May. All the navy will say so far is that Rasch was the officer responsible for the mistakes (getting lost, multiple equipment failures, saying embarrassing things to Iranian cameramen) made that led to the ten U.S. sailors getting captured. What is worrisome about this incident is not that it happened in the first place but that is appears to have taken so long for the navy to sort it all out and report what happened and what is being done to prevent it from happening. That has turned out to be a more serious problem than the original incident although some suspect that the navy has just been trying to spin the failures to deflect criticism of senior military and political leaders whose decisions may have played a part in all this.

 


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