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Navy Shipyard Officials Blew $21 Million On Their Own Secret Police Force, Report Says
A cadre of workers at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard funded and operated a private, undocumented police force equipped with illegally obtained weapons, equipment, and vehicles totaling $21 million for more than a decade, according to an internal investigation conducted by Naval Sea System Command’s inspector general.
According to an explosive report from Federal News Radio published on Aug. 21, a group of unarmed guards and security officials at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, conspired to exploit cash to beef up security at government facilities deemed potentially vulnerable to terrorist attacks after 9/11, doling out cash to establish an “unauthorized law enforcement agency” outfitted with “firearms, boats, law enforcement badges, vehicles (complete with fictitious license plates) and an armored personnel carrier that they emblazoned with the word ‘police.’”
“These folks are not law enforcement, but they wanted to be, and all of their actions were done to become a law enforcement organization,” NAVSEA investigator Peter Lintner told the Federal News Radio. “The stunning thing is that this happened over the course of seven commanding officers, and not a single one of them put a stop to it or really even had any visibility on it.”
Sailors participate in an anti-terrorism security drill in the hangar bay of aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman during a condensed incremental availability period at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in May 2015.Photo via DoD
The group’s private arsenal included $4 million in ballistic combat armor, high-tech firearms accessories, thousands of rounds of ammo, and at least 92 vehicles liberated “illegally” up from a nearby Defense Logistics Agency depot “without any valid mission requirement,” including a $150,000 interdiction boat once used to chase down a random jet-skier and an armored personnel carrier that reportedly ended up stashed behind an impromptu wall of hedges and barbed wire, according to Federal News Radio.
Much of the property remains unaccounted for to this day, and according to Federal News Radio, NAVSEA only undertook its internal investigation after both military and federal prosecutors, including the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, declined to pursue the case. Even more alarming, the branch’s findings only became public in August 2017 despite the fact that the command concluded its probe and published its findings in 2014 (NAVSEA and NCIS did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Task & Purpose.)
So why are we only hearing about this now? Lawmakers want to know the same thing: On Aug. 25, Rep. Jackie Speier penned a furious letter to newly installed Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer regarding the branch’s apparent inaction in addressing the problem with the legislature. As of Sept. 5, Speier’s office had still not received a copy of the IG report despite inquiries to both Spencer and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. (The Naval Inspector General could not immediately provide the report in question when reached by Task & Purpose.)
“As a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, I have heard multiple urgent pleas from the Pentagon for more funding to address a 'readiness crisis,' with shipyard maintenance highlighted as an urgent concern,” Speier wrote. “It’s therefore particularly concerning that the Navy could allow such waste to continue for years, ignored by installation leadership and criminal investigators.”
Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Mervinross Ibanez stands security watch on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) as it departs Norfolk Naval Shipyard after completing a 13-month planned incremental availability in July 2016.Photo via DoD
The public revelations surrounding the ad-hoc militia at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard came a month after a Government Accountability Office report detailed a “sting” involving the Defense Logistics Agency in which the GAO managed to acquire some $1.2 million in military surplus equipment through a completely fictional law enforcement agency, from small arms and night-vision goggles to EOD robots and armored MRAP vehicles. Given the scope and duration of the $21 million Norfolk scam, it seems likely that lawmakers will turn up the heat on the branch over the improper distribution of military equipment.
“There is no plausible explanation for the egregious waste, misuse of federal property and outright theft that was allowed to occur under numerous commanding officers,” Speier said in an Aug. 30 statement to Federal News Radio in the aftermath of its initial story. “No one in the Navy appeared to demonstrate any concern about these abuses, despite obvious red flags. Seven different commanding officers were either oblivious to or complicit with what was going on.”
She added: “Either way, the public deserves accountability and I expect real answers to my questions about this violation of the public’s trust.”
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
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.