Something fishy in the Arabian Gulf:
There is something fishy about how such a high-tech U.S. craft can “stray accidentally into Iranian waters due to a navigation error”, as Defense Secretary Ash Carter described it on Thursday to Univision. The Pentagon had previously claimed engine trouble for an incident that’s humiliated the U.S., as Iranian video showed to the world 10 American sailors on their knees at gunpoint.
From Investor’s Business Daily:
How can an advanced, ultra-agile U.S. combat boat suffer a “navigation error” that leads to a terrorist state capturing its sailors? Tehran just revealed military ineptitude warranting a congressional probe.
The Swedish-designed Combat Boat 90 can make the sharpest of turns at high speed, stop nearly on a dime, maneuver like magic and, with its Rolls-Royce jet-propulsion system, can speed along at over 45 miles an hour in rivers and shallow coastlines while transporting 18 amphibious troops.
But what good is any of that if it falls into enemy hands? …
A retired operations commander for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, Christopher Harmer, told CNN the capture constituted “a severe failure”, charging that “either the naval leadership put these sailors in an impossible situation, or the sailors are professionally incompetent”. Harmer has researched the increased lethality of Iran’s submarine fleet for the Institute for the Study of War.
That one of the sailors would appear in an Iranian video apologizing may have actually violated the military’s Code of Conduct, which requires that a detainee give name, rank, serial number and age, but “evade answering further questions” and “make no oral or written statements disloyal” to his country “and its allies or harmful to their cause”.
Harmer told the Washington Times, “The U.S. Navy looks extraordinarily incompetent. … In its ability to transit boats without violating Iranian waters, they look incompetent to know how to deal with a mechanical malfunction, and now that they’ve been taken into custody, they’re apologizing.”
Harmer told CNN there was “no reason for a small vessel to be out that far and especially without escorting ships around it”, and “the Navy has to explain why you have small ships transiting 300 miles of open ocean”.
Iran claims its Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the CB90’s GPS gear and that it revealed U.S. espionage. As reported in Defense News, House Armed Services Committee member Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a Marine who served in the Iraq War, claimed there was no way the Iran military “didn’t reverse engineer, or look at and copy everything that they possibly could” of the two commandeered boats’ high-tech equipment.
In the midst of this disaster did Secretary of State John Kerry make another bad deal with Tehran, following last year’s nuclear pact, to get the sailors released swiftly?
All of this warrants a high-profile congressional investigation. Sailors and valuable equipment get captured, are humiliated on video, and finally one ends up making a statement that serves terrorist propaganda purposes.
“Semper Fortis” — always strong [an unofficial motto of the US Navy] — hardly describes what this incident reveals about the U.S. Navy after seven years of Barack Obama.
When the captured crews were released the next morning, the two boats sailed away with no sign of “mechanical failure”. Had both boats been afflicted with it? Had it been hard or easy to repair? Who repaired it?
Here is more editorial comment from IBD:
Ten U.S. sailors kneel at gunpoint before Iran’s military, then actually apologize, and while held captive, merit no mention in the president’s speech to Congress. It’s American weakness illustrated.
We don’t yet have the full facts on how a U.S. naval vessel was allowed to be seized by the world’s foremost terrorist state. But as Desert Storm infantry commander Gen. Barry McCaffrey (ret.) warned in an NBC News interview, “this is an affront to our military presence in the Gulf and will unsettle our allies in the region.” …
Images can hurt a global power profoundly. … For Iran, images of U.S. sailors kneeling in submission, and video of one apologizing on behalf of the rest — and, by extension, on behalf of the U.S. — are priceless.
“It was our fault,” the sailor said on camera. “And we apologize for our mistake.”
What a comparison with the tortured crew of the U.S.S. Pueblo, captured by North Korea in 1968, who during their captivity discreetly extended their middle fingers when posing for propaganda photos.
Today, Secretary of State John Kerry says, “I want to express my gratitude to Iranian authorities. …”
As Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said, “Before we thank the Iranian naval forces and attempt to defend and normalize their behavior, as Vice President Biden and Secretaries Kerry and Carter appear inclined to do, we should demand answers” to questions that include:
“Where exactly were the sailors intercepted? Why were they detained instead of being merely escorted into international waters? What was the nature of the technical malfunctions on both vessels? … Was sensitive equipment compromised? (and) Why were the sailors not permitted to contact U.S. higher headquarters in the region for the 16 hours they were detained?”
Cotton also noted that the administration presumes that Iran conducted a rescue mission, “when Iran has characterized the incident as U.S. ships trespassing into its waters and ‘snooping’.”
He added: “Our sailors never should have been detained in the first place, and blithely accepting such action will only embolden the ayatollahs who wish to do harm to Americans and our allies in the Arabian Gulf.”
This humiliation of the U.S. comes less than a week before we lift sanctions unfreezing $150 billion for new terrorist activities, as promised in Obama and Kerry’s Iran nuclear deal — a pact that Tehran has not even been required to sign.
Our sailors were held as Obama stood before Congress on Tuesday night, but they weren’t deemed worthy of mention in the president’s [State of the Union] address.