(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sonja Wickard)

NORFOLK, Va. -- Few things can match training on a warship for a naval battle.

But the Navy believes it's created something even better on shore.

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(U.S. Naval Historical Center via Wikimedia Commons)

CONCORD, Calif. — In tandem with the approaching 75th anniversary of the Port Chicago explosion — the deadliest home-front disaster of World War II — an California congressman has added an amendment to a federal bill that would exonerate 50 survivors of the accident who were convicted of mutiny for refusing to return to work in unsafe conditions.

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(Associated Press/Gregory Bull)

SAN DIEGO — The Navy SEAL who raised nearly $750,000 from a community of supporters to successfully fight war crimes charges in a San Diego court-martial is again asking for the public's help for one more round with the Navy.

Chief Eddie Gallagher, through an attorney, is asking the public to help him persuade a Navy admiral to reduce his jury-imposed punishment for posing with the body of a dead Islamic State fighter in 2017.

Specifically, he's looking for other service members who have received punishment for taking photos with dead enemy combatants — and received a lesser sentence.

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(U.S. Navy/Chief Boatswain's Mate Nelson Doromal Jr)

In January 2016 two U.S. Navy river patrol boats accidentally strayed into Iranian waters near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. Iranian militia forces captured both Riverine Command Boats and the 10 American sailors aboard them.

After a day of intensive diplomacy, Iran released the boats and their crews. The incident was embarrassing to the Navy and its new river patrol force. Three years later, the riverine squadrons have new Mark VI boats and a new philosophy, as David Larter explained in July 2019 in an in-depth story for Defense News.

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(Associated Press/Carolyn Kaster)

A federal judge in the criminal case against Rep. Duncan Hunter ruled in an order filed Tuesday that a campaign-funded trip Hunter's family took to Italy was not legally-protected legislative activity, and neither were efforts to control political damage from a probe into his campaign spending.

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(IRIB News Agency via Associated Press)

Just before sunset on Jan. 12, 2016, 10 American sailors strayed into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, a navigation error with potentially grave consequences. On their way to a spying mission, the Americans had set sail from Kuwait to Bahrain. It was a long-distance trek that some senior commanders in the Navy's 5th Fleet had warned they were neither equipped nor trained to execute.

Surrounded by four boats operated by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the U.S. sailors, in two small gunboats, surrendered rather than opening fire. The officer in charge of the mission later said he understood that had a firefight erupted, it could well have provoked a wider conflict and scuttled the controversial nuclear deal the two countries were poised to implement in mere days.

The Navy dialed up an elaborate rescue mission to free the sailors from tiny Farsi Island involving fighter jets and a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group. But the return of the sailors was ultimately secured peacefully. The nuclear deal went forward with the U.S. providing sanctions relief and unfreezing billions in Iranian assets in exchange for Tehran's promise to curb its nuclear ambitions.

President Donald Trump explicitly invoked the 2016 incident last week as he weighed actions against Iran amid rising tensions. Trump told Time magazine that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had mishandled the high-stakes confrontation, a mistake he would not make. “The only reason the sailors were let go is that we started making massive payments to them the following day," Trump said. “Otherwise the sailors would still be there."

But a ProPublica investigation makes clear that Trump's repeated claims about the captured sailors – Obama's weakness; that the money was improper – obscure the more troubling realities exposed by the Navy's 2016 debacle in the Persian Gulf. The Farsi Island mission was a gross failure, involving issues that have plagued the Navy in recent years: inadequate training, poor leadership, and a disinclination to heed the warnings of its men and women about the true extent of its vulnerabilities.

Now, the Navy, and the 5th Fleet based in the Persian Gulf, are staring at the possibility of a military conflict, standing ready for a commander in chief who lacks a permanent secretary of defense and is thus more dependent on uniformed military leaders.

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