News & Politics

New Charges Against Commanders Are a Good Sign for U.S. Navy

In this Aug. 21, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) steers towards Changi Naval Base, Singapore, following a collision with the merchant vessel. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton/U.S. Navy via AP)

Last year was not a good time for the United States Navy’s Seventh Fleet: the two collisions of naval vessels didn’t exactly inspire confidence that our Navy is the capable fighting force we need in the Pacific. Couple those incidents with the bizarre story of a sailor who managed to hide on board his own ship, and you had a branch of the military that seemed to have nothing going right.

So when news broke yesterday that the two skippers of the ships involved were being charged, this Navy veteran couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.

Commander Alfredo J. Sanchez, formerly of the U.S.S. John McCain, and Commander Bryce Benson, formerly of the U.S.S. Fitzgerald, are both being court-martialed for their roles in the two collisions that resulted in the death of 17 sailors. “The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide. Also, one charge of dereliction of duty … is pending referral to a forum for a chief petty officer,” the Navy stated regarding the John McCain incident.

The two incidents were most likely the result of leadership failures, as training wasn’t up to snuff on the ships. Whether he’s directly responsible or not, both of these incidents need to be included as a distinct part of the Obama legacy.

The Navy was specifically neglected by the Obama administration, and Obama continually appeared to view the entire military as a “social justice” testbed rather than freedom’s front line. Many servicemembers have indeed confided that part of the issue with the Seventh Fleet may have been the focus on progressive causes rather than warfighting capability.

You can bet that everyone was up to date on their micro-aggression and harassment training onboard the Fitzgerald and the McCain.

Now that charges are being filed, it may well be a signal that the civilizational necessity of warfighting preparation will no longer be allowed to slack. That training keeps our sailors and you alive, for crying out loud.

While a court-martial being convened doesn’t mean the accused deserves to be found guilty, it’s a signal to other commanders that it’s time to get their ships in line. It’s a warning that the behavior alleged to have taken place on these ships won’t be tolerated.

Now the commanders know they must fix it before more sailors die.