Dereliction of duty in the Persian Gulf

On the evening in which the capture by Iran of the crews of two U.S. Navy boats hit the news, I happened to be in the company of three retired high ranking military officials. The reaction of all three was the same: the crews were derelict in their duty; heads should roll.

The Navy, having wrapped up its investigation of the matter, has reached the same conclusion. Its report finds that the crews of the boats took an unauthorized shortcut through Iranian territorial waters because they were in a hurry. Moreover, they were not prepared to resist or evade the Iranian naval ships that surrounded them off the coast of Iran’s Farsi Island.

The report concludes: “The RCB boat captains and crews were derelict in performing their duties to expected norms and standards.” In announcing the report’s findings, Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said: “Our actions on that day in January did not live up to our expectations of our Navy.”

Three officers have already been fired from their jobs because of the incident. Six other service members will likely face disciplinary action, the Navy says.

The boats and 10 crew members were captured without any shots fired. Iranians boarded the U.S. boat, forced the U.S. sailors to kneel with their hands behind their heads and replaced the U.S. flag on the vessel with an Iranian flag, according to the report.

The crew was interrogated by the Iranians, who attempted to intimidate them by slapping the table and threatening to take them to the mainland, but did not physically harm them. The Iranians also collected passwords to the U.S. sailors’ personal phones and laptops.

The Iranians videotaped a crew member making an apology scripted by the Iranians. The report states that this action violated the code of conduct for servicemen who are held captive. Video also seemed to show some of the captured American sailors crying.

The report details a lax culture for U.S. Navy sailors who patrol the Persian Gulf. It seems to me that the conduct of the sailors once they were captured — some provided more information to their Iranian captors than they should have; they ate food while being filmed for propaganda purposes; and one disobeyed a direct order — suggests a lax culture that extends beyond the Persian Gulf. If a lax culture exists in a dangerous zone like the Persian Gulf, who would assume that it doesn’t exist in other areas?

In what I consider a related development, the Pentagon has ended its ban on transgender soldiers serving in the military. David French has the details.

French argues that there is no military justification for the decision; rather, this is about social engineering:

Many members of the military will spend their entire careers without encountering a single transgender soldier, but they will endure hour upon hour of diversity training and thought control. Every time the military makes a move like this, it follows its pronouncements with briefings — so very many briefings. I was a brigade judge advocate when the military lifted its ban on openly gay service members, and we were all treated to the full range of stern lectures about tolerance and diversity.

This will be worse. There will be members of the military (aided and abetted by its civilian leadership) who will take this opportunity to try to retrain the ranks about the very concepts of sex and gender, introducing radical LGBT theology as the government-approved, Army-mandated world view.

And God help the Army doctor or medical professional who refuses to facilitate a service member’s “transition.” Good luck being a chaplain preaching about the created order if there is a prickly leftist around. The administration is moving the military culture to Yale with guns just about as fast as it can.

How is this development related to the conduct of U.S. sailors when confronted on the high seas by Iran? It’s a matter of culture.

A culture that “protects” its young adults from speech they rather would not hear is soft. It likely will produce too many lax candidates for military service.

A well-functioning military would either reject such candidates or transform them. But a military that not only won’t stand up to the latest trends in political correctness, but instead embraces them with such gusto that it subjects service members to indoctrination of the kind French describes, will not be able to withstand the wider culture’s assault on the values that make for a military capable of meeting traditional expectations.

French assures us that “the warrior culture is resilient.” I don’t doubt it, even though that culture wasn’t on display in the Persian Gulf in January. But I also agree with French’s conclusion:

Infantry platoons aren’t likely to go full PC anytime soon, but the Left keeps chipping away. It will keep chipping away until the horrible reality of the battlefield reminds us all that our military isn’t a social laboratory.

Our enemies focus on war while we sidetrack our soldiers with social justice. Not even our immense technical and material advantage can save us forever from the consequences of our own folly.

The incident in the Persian Gulf suggests to me that the consequences of our own folly are already upon us.