Congratulations To The Navy For Charging Its Officers With Negligent Homicide

The Long March
Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

On Jan. 16, the U.S. Navy announced that it has charged five officers under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with negligent homicide, hazarding a vessel, and dereliction of duty in the deaths of 17 sailors who died as a result of the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain with commercial ships in 2017. A chief petty officer from the USS John S. McCain has also been charged with dereliction of duty. 


These charges follow a range of administrative and non-judicial actions the Navy has taken against those directly involved in the mishaps as well as those in the higher chain of command.  For example, the Navy has fired the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet; the commander of Task Force 70, which includes the aircraft carriers, destroyers, and cruisers in the 7th Fleet; and the commander of the relevant destroyer squadron. In addition, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet has been notified that he will not be nominated to lead U.S. Pacific Command and the Navy has recommended that the senior officer overseeing surface warfare service-wide be removed from his position. This will result in the forced retirement of these senior officers.

Some argue that it would have been better for the Navy to ease out the officers in question, avoiding the spotlight of cross-examination by defense attorneys. Those people think the Navy should have chosen to avoid such scrutiny.

I believe the Navy has taken the right course.  I think that this is a courageous decision by the our Navy to demonstrate to all — our political leadership, the American people and, most importantly, all members of the Navy itself — that those who are entrusted with the responsibility for the lives of our sailors will be held accountable for their failure to meet that responsibility.

In my opinion, a publicly announced court-martial proceeding that is open and transparent will have to be fair and will be seen as such. This, combined with the punishment, non-promotion, and forced retirement of others in the responsible chain of command demonstrates that the Navy holds its leaders accountable for their actions.

Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Bushell stands on the bridge of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain. Bushell was killed in the McCain collision.U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Mortensen

Furthermore, I think the Navy should be both praised and emulated by not only the other military services, but all government departments and agencies. While there may be some initial dismay at what conditions inside the Navy contributed to these tragic accidents, I believe the result will be that the Navy and its current leadership will be held in much higher regard across the board. If this causes any fearful Naval officers to retire or resign rather than take command of a ship, then the Navy and our nation will be better for it.

Lin Todd, Ph.D., is a former U.S. Army war planner, Middle East/North Africa foreign area officer and helicopter pilot. He was seconded by the State Department as a Deputy Head of Mission of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia 1997-1999 and served as Deputy Director of the MOD/Joint Staff Office of the Military Stabilization Program in Bosnia in 1996-1997. He also has served as an intelligence officer for DIA, the Joint Staff, and Central Command during Operation Desert Storm.

After more than a decade and billions spent developing the consistently troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Air Force is eyeing a new variant of the F-15 — much to lawmakers' dismay.

Read More Show Less
Islamic state members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 18, 2019. (Reuters/Rodi Said)

NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The Islamic State appeared closer to defeat in its last enclave in eastern Syria on Wednesday, as a civilian convoy left the besieged area where U.S.-backed forces estimate a few hundred jihadists are still holed up.

Read More Show Less
Russian President Vladimir Putin fires a fortress cannon. (Associated Press/Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin)

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that Russia will target the U.S. with new weapons should Washington decide to deploy intermediate-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to Europe following the recent death of a Cold War-era arms control agreement, according to multiple reports.

He threatened to target not only the host countries where U.S. missiles might be stationed but also decision-making centers in the U.S.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Wing walk to waiting family members and friends after stepping off of a C-130J Super Hercules at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 17, 2018 (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Air Force has issued new guidelines for active-duty, reserve and National Guard airmen who are considered non-deployable, and officials will immediately begin flagging those who have been unable to deploy for 12 consecutive months for separation consideration.

Read More Show Less
Pictured left to right: Pedro Pascal ("Catfish"), Garrett Hedlund ("Ben"), Charlie Hunnam ("Ironhead"), and Ben Affleck ("Redfly") Photo Courtesy of Netflix

A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.

Read More Show Less