As Friday the 13th drew to a close at the Pentagon, the excitement surrounding the possibility of U.S. military strikes against Syria enjoyed a post-coital smoke and went to sleep early.
Five days after President Trump vowed swift justice for an April 7 chemical weapons attack in Syria, cable news had given up waiting for something to happen and moved onto treating former FBI Director James Comey’s book about President Trump as the biggest news since Jesus rose from the dead.
A blip appeared on the Countdown to War Horizon when the New York Post reported Friday that an “armada” of 12 Navy ships was steaming toward the Middle East, representing “the largest US strike force since the 2003 Iraq war.”
Pentagon officials pointed out there are a few issues with the story. Firstly, the U.S. Navy does not have “armadas.” There is no armada forces command. There are no Armada Warfare Officers. The 6th Fleet is not responsible for converting the British to Catholicism. Most importantly, there is no “armada duty service ribbon” or associated special pay for armada deployments.
Although the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group with six U.S. ships and a German frigate left Norfolk, Virginia, on April 11, the deployment had been planned long before the chemical weapons attack and was not a result of the recent events in Syria, Navy officials told Task & Purpose.
The number of ships taking part in the strike group is standard for a routine, planned deployment, said Navy spokeswoman Lt. Liza Dougherty, who is presumably current on her armada quals.
Also, until humanity comes up with a matter transporter a la Star Trek: The Next Generation, U.S. military forces will continue to be subject to the tyranny of time and distance, so the Truman Carrier Strike Group is not expected to be anywhere near Syria for about a week.
The destroyer USS Donald Cook is in the Mediterranean – although not parked off the Syrian coast, as CNN Turk erroneously reported – and another destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill entered the 6th Fleet theater of operations on April 10.
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
U.S. troops rejoice — the midnight curfew for service members in South Korea has been temporarily suspended, as command evaluates if you can be trusted to not act like wild animals in the streets of Pyeongtaek.
Late last month Activision's Infinity Ward dropped a teaser trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — a soft-reboot of one of it's most beloved games — and just two weeks after the May 30 reveal, the game developer unveiled some new details on what's in store for the first-person shooter's multiplayer: Juggernaut and ghillie suits!