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Navy Admiral on ship collisions: Those were tragedies, but what about the other 280 ships that didn't collide?
Navy Adm. Philip Davidson thinks recent ship collisions that left more than a dozen sailors dead were tragedies, but as he told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, we should also remember that 280 other ships didn't collide and that's gotta be worth something.
Seriously. He actually fucking said that.
"We can't forget one other thing," said Davidson in his testimony. "These two collisions were a tragedy, there's no doubt about it. And all of the senior leadership of the Navy feels an immense amount of accountability for that, I'll come back to it. But the fact of the matter is 280-odd other ships weren't having collisions."
With that, he took a breath, perhaps had a momentary thought of, hey should I continue with this? and then dove in headfirst: "More than a dozen of those other ships were performing exceptionally well."
The head of the Indo-Pacific Command, a four-star admiral, indeed put forth idiotic logic that sounded more like a bit from Stephen Colbert. Imagine for a moment, the superintendant at West Point: Well sir, yes we have a problem with sexual assaults rising 50% over the past two years, but let's keep in mind that there were thousands of cadets who didn't report sexual assaults.
The head of Naval Special Warfare: Well, yes sir, Senator, we've had a recent spate of disciplinary issues with SEALs and at least one currently stands accused of stabbing a prisoner in the neck. But please remember that there are so many other SEALs who haven't committed any war crimes yet.
As you can see in video of the testimony, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) wasn't buying it and cut him off.
"Airplanes are landing all over America and just because they aren't all crashing doesn't mean they don't need a high level of maintenance," King said. "To tell me that isn't very convincing. I think it was 40 years since we've had collisions of this nature? Are you saying that there were no failures that led to these collisions? Because there were 280 ships that didn't have collisions. Isn't that the standard? No collisions?"
"Yes sir, no collisions is the standard," Davidson conceded. Oh thank God. Because for a second there I thought they may have changed the regulations.
"It's not fair to say that. Certainly it's been 40 years since we've had loss of life to that extent, but there had been collisions in the recent past."
DAVIDSON: "The other thing that we have to remark about is the combat performance. We've had ships in the Red Sea shooting down anti ship cruise missiles. We've had extraordinary Tomahawk performance in this time frame. We had aviation squadrons shoot down a MiG aircraft from Syria. These units have been tested in combat and are doing quite well."
KING: "And I'm not suggesting otherwise. What I'm suggesting is, I urge you to read that study. We had a preventable problem. There were multiple warnings that were not acted upon. And I want to be reassured that it is being acted upon."
DAVIDSON: "But sir, this is where the Navy is feeling a huge amount of accountability for this. They tasked me to review those two collisions. I produced a 170-page report with 58 recommendations, and the Navy has moving out on those recommendations to provide the kind of unit personnel training, to provide advice and resources to the type commanders, the fleet commanders, the naval systems command. All with recommendations to improve this situation in a way that eliminates the variance that I'm talking about."
WATCH: 7th Fleet has a major mishap problem
While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.