Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala (Photo: US Marine Corps)
A senior Marine commander has been removed from command of the California-based 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, Marine officials said in a news release late Tuesday evening.
Lt. Col. Francisco X. Zavala was fired on Tuesday by Maj. Gen. Robert Castelvi, 1st Marine Division commander, due to a "loss of trust and confidence" in his ability to lead, officials said in a brief statement.
Maj. Jeffrey Erb has been appointed as 1st Recon's new commanding officer, the release said.
The Corps routinely puts out vague news releases when commanders are fired that cite a "loss of trust," offering very little information as to why a commander was removed. But since this release was dropped on reporters on Tuesday evening at 8:06 p.m. Pacific time — a perfect time to bury bad news — we can certainly speculate that whatever Zavala did, it was probably pretty bad.
A native of Helotes, Texas, Zavala was first commissioned in August 2000 as an infantry officer, according to his official biography. He had previously served with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. In Feb. 2011, he moved into the Marine reconnaissance community with 4th Recon Battalion.
The removal of Zavala comes amid other high-profile firings of top Corps leaders in recent weeks.
Col. Douglas Lemott Jr., the commander of Marine Corps Cyberspace Operations Group, was relieved of command earlier this week after he was arrested on drunk driving charges in Virginia. Similarly, Col. John Atkinson, commander of Headquarters and Service Battalion in Quantico, Va., was relieved on April 26 over allegations he drove under the influence in Prince William County.
In a scathing letter, a top Navy legal official on Sunday expressed "grave ethical concerns" over revelations that government prosecutors used tracking software in emails to defense lawyers in ongoing cases involving two Navy SEALs in San Diego.
The letter, written by David G. Wilson, Chief of Staff of the Navy's Defense Service Offices, requested a response by Tuesday from the Chief of the Navy's regional law offices detailing exactly what type of software was used and what it could do, who authorized it, and what controls were put in place to limit its spread on government networks.
"As our clients learn about these extraordinary events in the media, we are left unarmed with any facts to answer their understandable concerns about our ability to secure the information they must trust us to maintain. This situation has become untenable," Wilson wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Task & Purpose on Monday.
Riley Howell, the Army ROTC cadet shot and killed while restraining an active shooter at UNC Charlotte on April 30, was posthumously awarded the ROTC Medal of Heroism earlier this month for his heroic sacrifice, the Army announced.
The head of naval aviation has directed the creation of a new process for approving and reviewing pilots' call signs after two African-American aviators at an F/A-18 Hornet training squadron in Virginia filed complaints alleging racial bias in the unit, from which they said they were unfairly dismissed.
In a formal endorsement letter signed May 13, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, commander of Naval Air Forces, said he found the two aviators, a Navy lieutenant and a Marine Corps captain, were correctly removed from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 out of Naval Air Station Oceana due to "substandard performance," despite errors and inconsistencies discovered in the grading and ranking process.
However, Miller said he did find inappropriate conduct by instructor pilots who did not treat the pilots-in-training "with appropriate dignity and respect," using discriminatory call signs and having inappropriate and unprofessional discussions about them on social media.