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Investigating the circumstances leading to the Brit Hostage situation
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, April 07, 2007

I'm glad to see the Brits are wasting no time investigating the circumstances surrounding the capture of their boat teams by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard:

Item 1:
One clear failure was the inadequate protection provided for the boarding party, which was equipped with only side-arms and travelling in two rigid inflatable boats (RIBs). The inflatables were no match for the six larger and better armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessels that surrounded them.
If not a match, then some sort of support which would have given them the protection they needed should have been on site.

And it was, which brings us to item 2 and probably the biggest screw-up of the entire situation, in my opinion, and the primary reason they were taken so easily:
The inquiry will want to know why the Lynx helicopter flying from HMS Cornwall, which was equipped with a heavy machinegun, had already returned to the ship before the mission was complete. It was scrambled when the ambush was under way but arrived back on the scene too late to save the Marines and sailors.
This is probably the most inexcusable portion of the entire situation. The Cornwall was 8-11 miles from the encounter. That means the Lynx most likely hadn't been in the air that long. Leaving it on station until the boarding had been successfully completed should have been SOP, especially given the fact that the boarding teams were very lightly armed as outlined in item 1 above. Had the Lynx remained on station, it is highly unlikely the Iranians would have tried what they did.

This speaks to something I mentioned before. I would almost bet that the air cover leaving the scene before the boarding parties had recovered from the searched ship was something that was done routinely. Complacency and poor procedure. I'd further bet that the Iranians had watched similar operations and had known it wouldn't return once it left the scene of the eventual capture of the boat teams.

Item 3:
The incident has also raised doubts about whether Britain has the right ships to conduct the operations required in the shallow waters of the northern Gulf. HMS Cornwall is a Type 22 frigate that was designed to combat Soviet submarines during the Cold War.

She is too large to operate in the confined waters of the northern Gulf coast. As a result she was several miles from the boarding party when they were ambushed and so was powerless to help.
What are needed are shallow draft warships which can maneuver in those waters. As EU Referendum pointed out, the UK has 6 minesweepers sitting in dock in England which would be very useful in such scenarios.

Item 4 and probably the most obvious problem:
The MoD will also have to review its interrogation training for personnel on active service. At the moment, only forces on the front line are trained to cope with capture and interrogation.

There was also some criticism of the behaviour of the captured sailors and Marines, who allowed themselves to be used for Iranian propaganda purposes.
This is as I suspected.

One of the things which should be obvious to anyone who has been involved in this fight for more than a few days, much less a few years, is that there are no "front lines" in this war. Or said another way, all forces are "front line" forces in asymetrical warfare. Consequently all forces should be trained on conduct after capture. The British military has nothing to blame for the behavior of the hostages but it's own short-sightedness.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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I suspect these errors are the result of England joining the rest of the E.U. in it’s detain for the military. If you don’t respect those who defend you, they will be shortchanged in everything from equipment to training. This is a good example of what happens when a nation takes that pacifist course.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
It was possited earlier today (ok, yesterday... get off my case) that not only had the Iranians observed the routine departure of air cover, but that they had been listening in on radio trafic, and had selected the group that was least ’professional’, and thus the better target for what ended up happening...

As I said before, it seemed more than mere chance the Iranians got the 15 weakest, most inept sailors in the british fleet...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Well perhaps we’ll learn more since the former hostages have been okayed by the MoD to sell their stories. Gee, never saw that one coming...
 
Written By: John
URL: http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com
I recall my German friends mocking American military people as being like automatons, following orders mindlessly and not standing up for their individual rights. They called them the Stepford soldiers. In any event, the big news in the Iran standoff is that the British won and Iran backed down. Some of the neo-con media seem to have missed that fact.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott, the whole thing boils down to "strong horse vs weak horse", as Osama put it. The Iranians violated Iraqi waters, took 15 sailors from the once famous Royal Navy, took them to Tehran, and got them to sign "confessions", parade in front of the cameras praising Ahmadinnerjacket, while he’s taking cheap shots at our being so lacking in cojones that we need women with children to fight for us. No action beyond granting the direct talks he’s been after is undertaken by our side. We concede a prisoner swap of at least one and probably more Iranians caught supplying weapons to be used against our troops. Then, at a time, place, and manner of Iran’s choosing, the prisoners were released, not in the uniforms they started out in, but in civilian clothes (including headscarf for the female sailor).

Now, who looked like the strong horse, and who the weak horse?

Yep, we didn’t lose a thing... if you’re a clueless libtard.

 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
I recall my German friends mocking American military people as being like automatons, following orders mindlessly and not standing up for their individual rights. They called them the Stepford soldiers.
That’s rather rich coming from Germans, although I imagine that those specific individuals held a similar opinion about their own soldiers.

It would be interesting to know where in Germany those friends of your lived.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
What are needed are shallow draft warships which can maneuver in those waters.
Litorally?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://qando.net/
Scott, The west didn’t win a thing. Iran chose to release the brits independantly of diplomatic actions. The UK was 100% surprised when the announcement came they were getting released. That isn’t a win for us.

It’s great the people are home and safe, but at no point did we have the upper hand here.

We didn’t win, we got lucky...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
"I recall my German friends mocking American military people..."

I am sure your German friends mocked Americans for many reasons, as I am sure you staunchly defended them. Of course, considering how they became familiar with the behavior of American soldiers, that mockery looks a bit foolish.

" In any event, the big news in the Iran standoff is that the British won and Iran backed down."

What, exactly, did the British win, and what did the Iranians lose? Given your choice of German friends, and their perspective, I can see how you reached that conclusion.

************************

"It would be interesting to know where in Germany those friends of your lived."

We know for sure it was the part conquered and occupied by either the Russians, British, French(*snort*), or the Stepford Americans.

******************************
"Litorally?"

LOL. Most excellent.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I’m glad to see the Brits are wasting no time investigating the circumstances surrounding the capture of their boat teams by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard:
The conclusion will be: It’s Bush’ fault

Withoit fail, right Erb?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
In any event, the big news in the Iran standoff is that the British won and Iran backed down
What world do you live in
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Erb, Given German history, I think your German friends were merely engaging in a bit of self exculpatory self denial.

And given that the Iranians effectively b*tch-slapped the UK with impunity, only in your world of illusion could the UK have been said to have "won" this. Even the UK knows that.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
The conclusion will be: It’s Bush’ fault
That Bush is so bad, he can even pull 9/11-style attacks in the fictional universe as well.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com
with media like this, why is all this a surprise?

"a positive story about the youngest VC winner was rejected by the BBC because it might alienate anti war viewers". You brits out there really need to get your priorities in order
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
I recall my German friends mocking American military people
Yes, from a country that idolizes David Hasselhoff. pffft. pardon me while I laugh.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
As Ace put it:
Remember, these are the people who are always calling for entertainment and art that "challenges people’s beliefs."

Except their own, of course.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com
Erb, Given German history, I think your German friends were merely engaging in a bit of self exculpatory self denial.
LOL!

At a minimum. It also shows how little his German associates and he know about our military.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Erb, Given German history, I think your German friends were merely engaging in a bit of self exculpatory self denial.
LOL!

At a minimum. It also shows how little his German associates and he know about our military.
I dunno. His friends might have a point. I recall a lot of people right after WWII using "I was only following orders" as an excuse for...

Oh, wait...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Scott—I’m glad for the honor of the name that there is at least one Scott present who is not mendacious and presumptous. But I suggest you attach a last name or some moniker so people won’t confuse you with Erb the idiot.
 
Written By: jeffrey smith
URL: http://
An excellent Idea. I’ve been toying with it myself... It shall be done, m’lord...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Hmmmmm... It won’t let me... Most interesting....
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Hmmmmm... It won’t let me... Most interesting....
Clear the cookie on your browser.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
" It also shows how little his German associates and he know about our military. "

My guess is, being friends of Erb’s, they don’t know much about any military.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I recall my German friends mocking American military people as being like automatons, following orders mindlessly and not standing up for their individual rights. They called them the Stepford soldiers.
The German army in the time period of WW1 and WW2 actually had a tradition of considerable individual initiative. The German command structure was lean, and field officiers were expected to make decisions on their own, since the "fog of war" required flexability in a command structure.

However, the US military also tends towards flexable decision making, due to American culture, etc.

In any case, none of this is about "individual rights". The military is about self sacrifise, not rights, and a flexable command structure is about adopting to changing battlefield conditions. Throwing in the "individual rights" verbage suggests confusion.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Mark, I would if I could figure out where to find that button on the latest version of IE...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Here is how real sailors deal with propaganda ops.

despite severe torture and starvation too
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
Here is how real sailors deal with propaganda ops.
The Brits are familiar with the concept: John Moyse

They even celebrated it at one time:
The Private of the Buffs (or The British Soldier In China) by Sir Francis Hastings Doyle.
Excerpted from The Private of the Buffs on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Last night, among his fellow roughs,
He jested, quaffed, and swore;
A drunken private of the Buffs,
Who never looked before.
To-day, beneath the foeman’s frown,
He stands in Elgin’s place,
Ambassador from Britain’s crown,
And type of all her race.

Poor, reckless, rude, low-born, untaught,
Bewildered, and alone,
A heart, with English instinct fraught,
He yet can call his own.
Ay, tear his body limb from limb,
Bring cord or axe or flame,
He only knows that not through him
Shall England come to shame.

Far Kentish hop-fields round him seemed,
Like dreams, to come and go;
Bright leagues of cherry-blossom gleamed,
One sheet of living snow;
The smoke above his father’s door
In gray soft eddyings hung;
Must he then watch it rise no more,
Doomed by himself so young?

Yes, honor calls!—with strength like steel
He put the vision by;
Let dusky Indians whine and kneel,
An English lad must die.
And thus, with eyes that would not shrink,
With knee to man unbent,
Unfaltering on its dreadful brink,
To his red grave he went.

Vain mightiest fleets of iron framed,
Vain those all-shattering guns,
Unless proud England keep untamed
The strong heart of her sons;
So let his name through Europe ring,—
A man of mean estate,
Who died, as firm as Sparta’s king,
Because his soul was great.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Private_of_the_Buffs"
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
The Royal Navy Sailors and Marines disgraced their uniforms and all who preceded them in Her Majesty’s Forces. That is not the worst part however; the Brits put the lie to the EU and the UN as useful organizations. They are powerless lies and therefore less than useless.
 
Written By: CT
URL: http://
The Brits are familiar with the concept: John Moyse
Seems like that spirit is gone for the foreseeable future.
The Royal Navy Sailors and Marines disgraced their uniforms and all who preceded them in Her Majesty’s Forces.
yep, what a blow to that noble tradition it was.
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
Scott, The west didn’t win a thing. Iran chose to release the brits independantly of diplomatic actions. The UK was 100% surprised when the announcement came they were getting released. That isn’t a win for us.
You are kidding? Ahmadinejad was humiliated. Sure he tried a face saving "easter gift" out, but he got NOTHING from the Brits. They stayed firm in their resolve not to admit error, not to give Iran any sort of benefit, and ultimately the Iranians caved. Nobody was killed, the sailors returned uninjured, there was no war or crisis raging out of control, this was a pure victory for the British.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Right. Kidnap and terrorize our citizens repeatedly, with impunity, steal our boats, weapons, and equipment, get our people to confess on videotape to aggression against you, force us to cease our military operations in and retreat from the disputed area, but we win.

" there was no war or crisis raging out of control"

Because the British do not have the capability to wage a successful war, and everyone(except, evidently, you) realizes it.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
What would have happened if the Iranians had kept the hostages?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I published the two paragraphs below before I read your post. You have answered many of my questions.

Conduct of Prisoners of War

Much is being said in the media and in the blogs about the 15 young British sailors and marines taken hostage in Iraqi waters. As a combat veteran and a career military officer, I was troubled by the Iranian propaganda footage of these young people aired last week. While few, if any of us, know the details of their ROE, it appears that they made themselves unnecessarily vulnerable. I do not understand the failure of HMS Cornwall to take measures to protect the boarding party. Also, I do not know what direction was passed the Cornwall from MoD.

What I do know is that their demeanor on the video lacked the restraint and military bearing I would expect from a combat-trained unit or a collection of combat trained individuals. Extracting an admission of guilt or an expression of gratitude should have taken much longer than two weeks. The strength of a POW is discipline.


 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
Disciplined POWs are not powerless at all. No where was this more evident than in the North Vietnamese prison camps. The "old" guys, such as John McCain and Bud Day, suffered severe physical torture, solitary confinement and starvation for years. News of the outside world came only as new POWs were shot down, but they encouraged each other and continued to resist. It was, from their accounts, a lonely and brutal struggle for sanity and survival.

The Son Tay raid - a SOF attack on an isolated jungle camp - failed to liberate any prisoners, but it frightened the North Vietnamese into consolidating the camps in Hanoi. Internal communication became much easier and, with the international press there, the conditions improved slightly. The POWs organized into a POW Wing, with a distinct chain of command. They wrote effectiveness reports and kept order.

Back home the Johnson administration had a problem dealing with POW wives. Early on, they told the wives that the DoD was working "behind the scenes" to improve their husbands’ treatment and that conditions would worsen if the wives went public. Seeing their husbands paraded through the streets was too much, so they went to the press. These women were attractive, intelligent and articulate. It was the perfect media story - anti-war, glamorous women in mini-skirts, tragic POWs. A major complaint was that their husbands had been denied the right to send and receive mail. Word quickly got back to the camps.

In Paris, the peace talks had just gotten underway and the press was all over Le Duc To - the head North Vietnamese negotiator. He, of course, denied that the prisoners were being tortured or mistreated in any way. He promised to look into the "mail" problem. The next day, guards showed up in the prisons with writing materials and informed the POWs that they could write home. They said "no."

Le Duc To had a press conference in Paris and told the international media the truth - that the prisoners had been allowed to write, but had refused to do so. One can only imagine the laughter that his answer drew. The NV delegation was humiliated in public. The next day the guards at the camps called the prisoners together and directed them to write home. Again they refused, so the reporters continued to savage the North Vietnamese.

After extensive negotiations with their captors, the POWs agreed to write home if the North Vietnamese would agree to a list of their demands. The North had no choice.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
but he got NOTHING from the Brits.
Well that is not completely true. He did score a seemingly nice iPod from the happy sailors
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
Right. Kidnap and terrorize our citizens repeatedly, with impunity, steal our boats, weapons, and equipment, get our people to confess on videotape to aggression against you, force us to cease our military operations in and retreat from the disputed area, but we win.

" there was no war or crisis raging out of control"

Because the British do not have the capability to wage a successful war, and everyone(except, evidently, you) realizes it.
You’d have rather seen lots of dead people than all 15 safe and sound, and the British not giving in a bit to Iranian demands. You want blood, don’t you? Admit it, you’re a closet necrophiliac :-)

But this was an humiliation for Ahmadinejad, and it’s a shame that some of the right wing media paint it otherwise — they should be heeping ridicule on Ahmadinejad and Iran for their failed effort. Now they’re helping him save face. Astounding.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"You’d have rather seen lots of dead people than all 15 safe and sound, and the British not giving in a bit to Iranian demands. You want blood, don’t you? Admit it, you’re a closet necrophiliac :-)"

You are changing the subject or, as you would say, failing to engage, while throwing in a little ad hominem remark.

"But this was an humiliation for Ahmadinejad,"

This is called repetition, and is an avoidance of my question. It is not proof, nor does it make something false true. Another instance of failure to engage.

"they should be heeping ridicule on Ahmadinejad and Iran for their failed effort"

Their effort to do what? Take hostages with impunity? Show how powerless Britain and the west are, and how strong and bold Iran is?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Just as an aside, I have never in my four years serving in the US Army National Guard had any training or formal discussion about what to do when facing capture. I suspect this is largely because we expect to be executed on camera if captured. The closest I’ve ever come to really addressing the issue is an agreement among my team to keep a "contingency grenade."

Still, this should serve as a reminder that there are other possibilities out there, and we ought to be thinking about them.
 
Written By: Sig
URL: http://www.sigspace.net
Just as an aside, I have never in my four years serving in the US Army National Guard had any training or formal discussion about what to do when facing capture. I suspect this is largely because we expect to be executed on camera if captured. The closest I’ve ever come to really addressing the issue is an agreement among my team to keep a "contingency grenade."
So you’ve never seen the US Code of Conduct?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Show how powerless Britain and the west are
How on earth can you say that? If Britain and the West were powerless, the Iranians wouldn’t have caved! What do you want, dead bodies?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I have never in my four years serving in the US Army National Guard had any training or formal discussion about what to do when facing capture"
They no longer issue those wallet sized cards with the Code of Conduct, Geneva Convention, General Orders, etc?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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