Six-months ago, ten U.S. Navy Sailors were taken captive by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Persian Gulf. At the time of the capture Iranian soldiers boarded U.S. boats, one of which reportedly had engine trouble, forced U.S. sailors to their knees at gunpoint and required they put their hands on their heads. Once sailors were taken into custody, they were forced to take off their boots and a female sailor was required to cover her head. The Iranians then recorded sailors issuing an apology for their actions and for illegally entering Iranian controlled waters. The Iranians used the apology and photos of the sailors on their knees, as propaganda for state television (a violation of the Geneva Convention).
This week, a damning report points to sailors being unprepared for the incident and a break down of decision making at every level.
Weak leadership, poor judgment, a lack of "warfighting toughness" and a litany of errors led to the embarrassing capture and detention by Iran of 10 U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf in January, according to a Navy investigation released Thursday.
Six officers and three enlisted sailors have been disciplined or face disciplinary action.
The trouble began even before the sailors left port in Kuwait aboard two 50-foot boats on a short-notice, 300-mile journey to Bahrain. They were delayed, unprepared, poorly supervised and ill-suited for the mission, the report said.
At least one sailor had been up all night with boat repairs. Their higher headquarters failed to arrange air or surface monitoring of the boats' transit. Such monitoring "would likely have prevented" the sailors' capture by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, according to the report.
The lengthy investigation concluded that while the boat crews erred in entering Iranian waters, the Iranians violated international law by impeding the boats' "innocent passage," and violated U.S. sovereign immunity by boarding and seizing the boats.
Further, new revelations show some sailors gave up passwords to sensitive cell phones, laptops and information.
Navy: some US Navy sailors gave up their passwords to their laptops, cellphones and sensitive data about their ships to Iranian captors.— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) June 30, 2016
Navy: US sailors captured by Iran violated “code of conduct”; “I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country."— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) June 30, 2016
Navy: Task Force 56 commander relieved of duty, commanding officer of riverine squadron also relieved, with officer in charge in Kuwait.— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) June 30, 2016
Navy: incident to be studied for some time, longstanding code of conduct violated. 3 US officers relieved, 6 others face punishment. #Iran— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) June 30, 2016
As Col. Ralph Peters noted this morning during an interview with Fox News, this should have never happened.
Iran has been found to have violated international law for actions of soldiers during the incident.