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Lt. Col. in charge of Corps' 1st Recon relieved of command
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.
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.
For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."
Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
An airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday after a shooting at a Raleigh night club that killed a 21-year-old man, the Air Force and the Raleigh Police Department said.