With the success of Barack Obama‘s diplomatic deal that the Islamic Republic of Iran would eventually be guaranteed their own arsenal of thermo-nuclear weapons, the capture of a number of American sailors placed the much sought for agreement in serious jeopardy. And even though the top diplomat for the United States showered the Iranians with thanks for assisting the wayward Tar Jacks, the US Navy has effectively ended the career of one of the key officers responsible for the 10 captured sailors.
As reported by the staff of the Associated Press (AP) via Fox News and also by reporter David Larter of the Navy Times, both on May 12, 2016, the Navy has relieved of duty Commander Eric Rasch, the Executive Officer (XO) of the Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 (CRS-3), Coastal Riverine Group 1 (CRG-1), Navy Expeditionary Combat Command stationed at the time in the Persian Gulf. As it turns out, as the XO for the 400 man unit, Cmdr. Rasch was responsible for the training and readiness of all the sailors assigned to his Squadron.
And despite Secretary Kerry treating the January 12-13 incident essentially as the pilot episode for Gilligan’s Island, the Commanding Officer of CRG-1, Capt. Gary Leigh stated in an official Navy press release that CRS-3’s XO was sent packing due to “a loss of confidence” in his ability to remain within the unit’s command structure. That may be the official explanation, but there may be an unofficial official explanation.
According to the AP, an official speaking only on grounds of strict anonymity gave a few more specifics than were given in the official press release. In spite of the 15-hour incident taking place almost four months ago, the AP’s source divulged, “The official says Rasch failed to provide effective leadership, leading to a lack of oversight, complacency and failure to maintain standards in the unit. Rasch has been relieved of his command duties and reassigned.”
The 10 riverine sailors were captured and their two high-speed 49 foot special mission boats were seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) after they ran out of fuel and subsequently drifted into Iranian territorial waters around Farsi Island, a remote Iranian military outpost in the middle of the Persian Gulf. In what has been described as a moment of humiliation for the entire US Navy, when the mariners were taken into custody by the Iranians, the cameras were whirring along nicely as images were captured for all time of our people ostensibly ordered at gunpoint to their knees and place their hands behind their heads.
For his part, Secretary Kerry actually thanked the Iranians for eventually releasing the humiliated sailors. As noted by Breitbart.com at the time of the incident, he said in a short statement, “I want to express my gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter.” Not done yet, in what no doubt stung many sailors both past and present, Kerry painted the rather humiliating situation as some kind of Obama Administration victory, “That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong.”
As far as the Iranians are concerned, CNN noted, “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Sunday awarded Fath (Victory) medals to five commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps naval forces for the detention of 10 American sailors who trespassed into Iranian waters, according the official state news agency Press TV.” Perhaps the icing on the proverbial cake was reported by Britain’s The Daily Mail, “Iran is to build a statue of the US sailors it captured in its territorial waters earlier this year as a tourist attraction. Commander Ali Fadavi, the head of the Guard’s naval forces, said the monument would capture the moment the Americans surrendered to Iranian forces.”