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Iran & Britain: a lot of questions remain
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Telegraph, speaking of the 15 British sailors and Marines released by Iran says:
Relief at the freeing of the British sailors and Marines in Iran is tempered with dismay at the humiliation to which they and the country they serve have been subjected.
Frankly, I don't know how you can spin it any other way. Especially when the release came as such a surprise to the British government. That indicates they felt they were nowhere near the point where such a development could be expected. Or said another way, Iran took the hostages on its terms, got every bit of propaganda value it could wring from them (and lectured the British government about sending women into combat) and then let them go, strictly when they were ready and again on their terms.

What will now be interesting to those following this avidly is what the former hostages have to say about their captivity and how that is handled by both the country and the government.

Here are three things, again via the Telegraph, that I'll be interested in:
First, there is the apparent incompetence of the Royal Navy in providing insufficient protection to lightly armed inflatables, at a time when relations between Iran and the West were particularly volatile following the imposition of UN sanctions.
They were slack, they weren't prepared, they were taken by 6 while they numbered 15 and, at least in my book, that's unacceptable. The "they" I refer too is not just the 15 taken, but the whole operation. The supporting frigate, the HMS Cornwall, was 8 to 11 miles away, the air cover, an armed Lynx helicopter, left the scene after a successful boarding instead of staying on station and with other coalition forces in the area and willing to act, the decision was made to let the Iranians take the 15.

The fact that the Iranians swept in not long after the Lynx had left station and gone back the the ship says they've observed these operations before and knew it wouldn't be back. My guess is they were also aware of the ROE the British were operating under.
Second, the seized personnel lost no time in admitting to having trespassed and in apologising for their mistake. The old military practice of giving name, rank and number, and no more, has obviously been abandoned.
You know, there's something to be said for this. Yes, anyone can be broken. And no, we'd prefer our soldiers weren't tortured. But for heaven sake, was any attempt at all made here to resist? Any? As far as I can tell, and I'm sure we'll find out eventually, there was little if any such attempts. When you see two officers on video "admitting" to wrong doing you would think they were doing so only under severe duress and after weighing threats against themselves and those in their command against doing propaganda work such as that. I'd actually be heartened (and much more accepting) if that turns out to be the case. But I have a sneaking suspicion it's not.
Third, the dénouement of this crisis showed Mr Ahmadinejad in the most favourable of lights, whether in "pardoning" the 15, pleading on their behalf with Mr Blair, admonishing this country for separating a mother, Leading Seaman Faye Turney, from her child, or shaking hands and chatting with the newly besuited Servicemen after his press conference.
I'm frankly waiting for the feminist explosion on this. My guess is there'll be none. In situations like this, the feminist movement is usually notably AWOL. I'm also interested, once the 15 are safely back in British custody, to hear what the government of the UK has to say about all of this, to include being lectured about women in the military. Hopefully it won't be a lecture about how bad an example it sets for the young to have a woman hostage smoking on camera.
 
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Most shocking to me was that a CAPTAIN and a Lieutenant of the Royal Marine Light Infantry were so busy chatting about how they violated Iran’s sovereignty! So much for the vaunted "Bootie" toughness, "The Royal Marines training is the longest basic infantry training programme of any NATO combat troops." Hey, dudes whilst you were at Lympstone Commando Training Centre how about mentioning to the troops, or at least the OFFICERS, that you don’t cooperate with your captors! In that one year Feak’n training period did that just fall by the wayside?!?! "Oops, sorry Guv’nor completely FORGOT that portion of the training program, won’t ’appen again." At least McCain talked, as much as he did, AFTER some period of time and after some torture...It looks like this lot couldn’t wait to start cooperating
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Keep an eye out for Col. Jack Jacobs on MSNBC. If he had his way, those punks would all be swinging from a yardarm at Portsmouth before the day was out.

I’m reminded of an anecdote from Donald D. Engen’s very good autobiography, "Wings And Warriors: My Life As A Naval Aviator". A U.S. Navy jet driver managed to nearly blow himself out of the air while attacking a munitions train at very low level in North Korea. He spent a long time screaming on the radio about his condition before he finally drew a breath. Taking advantage of the break in the gibberish, a Brit pilot off HMS Triumph jumped on the channel with a bit of cool advice:

"I say, old chap, why don’t you just shut up and die like a man?"

The Brits sure have come a long way, haven’t they?

Despicable.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
The odd thing is to compare that actions of Naval Party 8901 at Port Stanley and the actions of the RMLI in this "action." 8901 didn’t hop on Argentine Top 40 Radio & TV and proceed to thank the Argentines for their good treatment and castigate their own government for it’s illegal occupation of the Islas Malvinas. Arguably the Argentines didn’t have a tremendous "Human Rights Record" in 1982, either and some how the Brit’s managed to not spend a goodly portion of their time waving to world from captivity.

(Editorial Note: Never been a soldier and never been a PoW.)
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
My brother was at the USNA in Annapolis and served in the US Navy for several years. I spoke to him after the first of the videos were released showing the Royal Navy personnel thanking the Iranians for their generosity, apologizing for trespassing, etc. Not having served myself, I wondered what the rules were for this sort of thing (cooperating with your captors). It seemed odd to me, but I thought, ’maybe the Brits were told to do what was necessary to stay alive’.

He told me there was no doubt there was some duress in their statements, they were possibly tortured (either physically or psychologically). He also said they needed to get a grip and toughen up and not allow themselves to be used by the enemy. They were clearly used by the Iranians and in two weeks time, the Royal Navy has lost hundreds of years of respect from friends and foes alike.
 
Written By: David
URL: http://
The Brits sure have come a long way, haven’t they?

Despicable.
Yep, the whole thing really disturbs me. I won’t slam them because I don’t know the actual situation they faced but I feel disappointment nonetheless.
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
They owed it to resist. Because they didn’t, the Iranians had a bunch of footage of the Iranians looking like gracious hosts and not like kidnappers, violators of the Geneva Convention, and exploiters.

Now the 800 pound gorilla.

How much of the complicity is from the fact there was a woman in their midst. I’m not going to say the woman is indicative of all woman soldiers. She may be the exception. But the fact remains she did appear to quickly give them statements admitting guilt.

But men’s behavior, especially men in their late teens & twenties is typically affected by the presence of a woman. Complying by some of the others could have been an artifact of wanting protect the woman physically or protect her from shame. And in sometimes, men empathize with a woman in a misguided attempt to cozy up with her.

And if enough of the men started to comply because of that, the unity or peer pressure to resist could have been broken for the rest.

The problem is for men, that behavior may not be the exception.

Well, we can go back to ignoring the 800 pound gorilla.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
You mention the RN and RMLI at the start of th Falklands war. It is also important to remember the attitude of the islands governor and the islanders. His first reaction was to fight. 80 islanders (probably reservists) fought alsongside the marines.
 
Written By: davod
URL: http://
80 islanders (probably reservists) fought alsongside the marines.
Of course they did, as the benficiaries of an illegal, immoral neo-colonial relic they HAD to fight for their land, stolen from the people of Argentina....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I wonder if the Brits will continue to inspect Iraqi bound ships? If they do, how will British warship captains convince their sailors to do those inspections? I can see it now; “good luck boys, you’re on your own”.
 
Written By: Lou Bauman
URL: http://
I wonder if the Brits will continue to inspect Iraqi bound ships? If they do, how will British warship captains convince their sailors to do those inspections? I can see it now; “good luck boys, you’re on your own”.
I’d imagine they’ll use the Articles of War, stating the consequences for disobeying the direct legal order of a Crown Officer...assuming the RN can manage to fund a continued presence in the Gulf.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Out of curiousity does anyone know what the Royal Armed Forces have, if anything, that is equivalent to the US Military Code of Conduct? I’ve been out of the Army two years now (and almost 3 and a half years since my Pre-Deployment and SERE-A refresher training) and I still have almost all of it memorized, and I have to wonder what, if any, equivalent guidance from higher these sailors received. I’ve looked online, but haven’t managed to turn up anything.
 
Written By: Lysenko
URL: http://
You have a typo in the title of your article ("Britian" vs. "Britain"). Feel free to delete this comment after fixing it.
 
Written By: bobdog
URL: http://
The British military has suffered a long period of demoralizing cutbacks under the Labour Government. The Royal navy is slated to be cut in half from it’s present strength of 44 ships this year. HMS Cornwall, the warship on the scene, is one of those to be mothballed. With this lack of support, it’s not surprising the captives acted as they did. They were just following the lead of their government, which seems to be returning to the days of Neville Chamberland
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
I just saw some pictures of these mighty warriors, smiling and waving, dressed in their brand new suits(courtesy of the friendly and benevolent gov’t. of Iran). Obviously none of them feel any shame or embarassment, much less anger, at the way they and their country have been bu**f***ed by the Iranians. They were even stripped of their uniforms, obviously without any resistance. Now, in addition to their new clothes and other gifts from their friends, the Iranian government, they get a trip home, business class, while their comrades back in Iraq work a little harder to make up for their abscence. Disgusting. No esprit de corps, not even any personal honor.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
All-in-all a thoroughly pathetic display of impotence. Carnval Cruise Line would have put up more resistance. After all, they have a reputation to protect.
 
Written By: russell
URL: http://
Well if the veracity of this story is accurate, this British Captain’s loose lips just stun me:
The captain in charge of the 15 marines detained in Iran has said they were gathering intelligence on the Iranians.

Sky News went on patrol with Captain Chris Air and his team in Iraqi waters close to the area where they were arrested - just five days before the crisis began.

We withheld the interview until now so it would not jeopardise their safety.

And today, former Iranian diplomat Dr Mehrdad Khonsari said if the Iranians had known about it, they would have used it to "justify taking the marines captive and put them on trial"...
He may have just signed the death warrant of any future British military personnel captured by Iran. This is the caliber of officer the Royal Marines are producing??? God please, no. The Great Lion appears to be not only dead but its putrid and rotting corpse is now stinking up the place.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com
", this British Captain’s loose lips just stun me"

Yeah, that amazed me too when I saw it. I am starting to wonder if the British are passing from irrelevance as a player in world affairs to liability. I am sure there are still a few officers and men worthy of the heritage of Nelson and Wellington, and I am sure they will conduct a valiant, if futile, rear-guard action as Great Britain sinks into dhimmitude.

It is a good day to be a public relations officer for Al Queda and the rest of the Muslim extremists. They have been saying that Britain and the west are decadent, corrupt, etc. for years, and now they have evidence. Even their armed forces have reached the point where they willingly, if not eagerly, surrender and strip off their uniforms and insignia for a new suit and a few trifling baubles, and they have the pictures of British servicemen in mufti grinning as they open their tacky little gifts to demonstrate it.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
He’s a Captain now,
but he won’t be Captail long
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
The captain in charge of the 15 marines detained in Iran has said they were gathering intelligence on the Iranians.
You can do that with a pair of binos or a signal intecept rig on your side of the border.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
You can do that with a pair of binos or a signal intecept rig on your side of the border.
Obviously, but that’s not the point. By saying that they were "gathering intelligence" this Captain just handed the Iranians full justification to their actions in capturing these 15 and any future British servicemen. If there’s one thing that seems to have been lost in much of the West it’s that words have consequences. For a Marine officer of all people to speak so foolishly just floors me. Were I his superior I’d find some shi’ite-hole and banish him there for the remainder of his tour.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com
He’s a Captain now, but he won’t be Captail long
If the British ever hope to recover from this militarily, that’s only the first officer in this mess who needs to be canned.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com
Well, is that the end of it? It there to be any follow-up in the UN regarding the legality of taking hostages on the high seas?

Like other commenters, I would hope that there were good reasons for the subservient demeanor of the captured. But like others, it is hard to see even a hint of embarrassment on the faces of the captured.

I’m sure that many of us wonder, ’What would I have done in that situation?’. In a Walter Mitty fantasy, I throw the gifts on the ground, rip off my gift-jacket, and demand my uniform back right in the middle of the filmed propaganda event. But in fact, I still wonder what I would have done. How about you?
 
Written By: jeff
URL: http://
The only remaining question is why jacka**es like yourself are so eager to see other people killed to prevent purely meaningless propaganda from being disseminated via TV.

The only people who aren’t happy about these soldiers being released without being tortured or killed are clowns like yourself looking for any pretext to attack Iran.
 
Written By: Xanthippas
URL: http://threewisemen.blogspot.com
The only remaining question is why jacka**es like yourself are so eager to see other people killed to prevent purely meaningless propaganda from being disseminated via TV.
Wow. Nice logical leap there Dilbert. Think things through very often?


 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
As I recall, the gist of SERE School training was that everyone has a limit and anyone can be broken with enough time/pain - your responsibility was to make them work, and work hard, for any piece of info they got. Twenty four hours doesn’t imply much of a resistance. If you’re going to star on a TV interview dissing your country’s policies, a black eye or at least a stilted manner doesn’t hurt. Not exactly a match of Mr Kipling’s description of the Royal Marines:

"We’re most of us liars, we’re ’arf of us thieves, an’ the rest are as rank as can be,
But once in a while we can finish in style (which I ’ope it won’t ’appen to me).
But it makes you think better o’ you an’ your friends, an’ the work you may ’ave to do,
When you think o’ the sinkin’ Victorier’s Jollies—soldier an’ sailor too!
Now there isn’t no room for to say ye don’t know—they ’ave proved it plain and true—
That whether it’s Widow, or whether it’s ship, Victorier’s work is to do,
An’ they done it, the Jollies—’Er Majesty’s Jollies—soldier an’ sailor too!"

Maybe they ought to revise next years training program.
 
Written By: A-10Pilot
URL: http://
"I’m sure that many of us wonder, ’What would I have done in that situation?’"

I have wondered a few times over the years, and one thing I do know, I wouldn’t be shuckin’ an jivin’ when I didn’t have to. I remember seeing a video of a captured British pilot during the first war with Iraq. The guy wasn’t grinning and waving, and he sure had more to fear than these guys did, judging from the swelling and bruises. Of course they didn’t give him a nice new suit.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
All around the internet, there’s lots of folks condemning these British soldiers and their immediate capitulation.

There’s one thing no one’s talking about: the Iranians had a female captive.

If I had a crewmate who was a woman (grim as that one may have been), and our captors said "Do what I say, gladly, enthusiasticaly and smiling, or I will bring in a division of my most savage warriors to gang, ehm, violate this woman..." well, I probably would have rolled right over too.

There’s a head-scarf-wearing elephant in the room everyone seems unwilling to acknowledge. You can threaten me and my male companions with torture, and even torture us. But once a guy is responsible for a woman being violated like that: fight over.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://
OK, Sean, maybe I’ll give the British points for gentlemanliness. But, you know, the Iranians could have just as easily have threatened to violate one of the other soldiers, in a portion of anatomy less well reinforced for such use. Would the other soldiers have reacted in the same way? The issue here is this: if having women in combat is going to cause guys to do stupid stuff in order to protect them (as, arguably, they should), then isn’t there a major problem with having women in combat? And do women really want the military, and society in general, to treat them as "one of the guys?"
 
Written By: Jeffrey Quick
URL: http://
"If I had a crewmate who was a woman (grim as that one may have been), and our captors said ’Do what I say, gladly, enthusiasticaly and smiling, or I will bring in a division of my most savage warriors to gang, ehm, violate this woman...’ well, I probably would have rolled right over too."
This is simply a matter of ethical integration from principles. The premise should be: "She knew the job was dangerous when she took it, just like I did."

No back-fills. If women want to play soldier, then they get to take the whole ride, as far as it goes.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
The current policy in the West about posting women in combat or even combat zones is folly. Who are we to think we can legislate changes in genetic human behavior?

We men know in our bones that our women are precious. Our instincts are to protect them at a sacrifice to ourselves. Dude, it’s fundamental biology!

That said, I would have hoped for some more, ahem, "reserve" in the Brits’ behavior in such circumstances. Looking at the Iranians’ presents like it was Christmas was a very bad move, one easy enough to avoid.
 
Written By: Whitehall
URL: http://
I never thought about having a women in the unit angle. jpm100 good thing you brought it out. I assumed when I heard about the thing that at least ROYAL MARINE OFFICERS, whose reputation is widespread in US armed forces circles, would keep their mouths shut. Sad day for the Royal navy. You know the RM officers and soldiers, with their very disgraceful and unprofessional conduct, will be shunned and disdained by their fellow marines when they get back.
 
Written By: PePeLa Puuub
URL: http://
We men know in our bones that our women are precious. Our instincts are to protect them at a sacrifice to ourselves. Dude, it’s fundamental biology!

====

No, it’s known as culture, dude.
 
Written By: juro smilkovich
URL: http://

 
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