Day by Day

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Questions for Her Majesty's Sailors

I've been quiet. Not wanting to say too much while the crisis was going on. But, they have now been released and are back in England.

I first raised some concerns in a chat with a friend last week. She seemed rather shocked by some of my questions and statements, but I tried to show her where I was coming from.

I was surprised about how this all started. Really, a foreign navy takes fifteen sailors and Marines prisoner (* - let's get the lingo right, too... they weren't hostages; what Iran did was an act of war, and thus, the fifteen were Prisoners...) and not a single defensive shot is fired?

Not one?

Iran shows up, says, "You are my prisoner", and the Brits shrug and say, "Ok"?

No one got on the radio and said, "Hey, Captain... there are some Iranians here trying to capture us..."? There's a big FRIGATE over there... surely force could have been brought to bear to protect those sailors.

I can't imagine the betrayal to find out that no one's got your back when another country comes up, points weapons at you, and takes you away.

Something else that bugged me about this... how quickly the Sailors "confessed". This was a big debate between my friend and I.

In the United States, we have the Code of Conduct. Memorized it in Basic training. It's posted everywhere, and we even carry it around with us.

Article I
I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

Article II
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

Article III
If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

Article IV
Should I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

Article V
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

Article VI
I will never forget that I am an American fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

Article 1 is very simply put, and eloquent. It reminds us of what our mission in the military is, and the stakes.

Article 2. This is what I'm talking about above. There were means to resist. The Sailors were armed. Plus, there was that FRIGATE nearby.

Article 3. The reason for this is clear. You don't cease being in the military when captured. You're expected to still resist. And one of the means to resist is to not accept any favors. Accepting such favors is one way that captors can make inroads and begin to "break" you and divide the group.

Article 4. Basically, I won't cooperate. Remember, as a prisoner, you do not have the whole picture. You're separated, and unable to remain a cohesive unit. You must "keep the faith". Each prisoner must do their part and take comfort that all other prisoners should be doing the same thing.

Article 5. Very simple. Keep your mouth shut. (But, SCEagle... what if they are tortured? Or holding a gun to their comrade? See Article 1 and Articles 3 and 4.) You do not have the big picture. And your statements, or "confessions", can easily circumscribe whatever efforts your nation is trying to accomplish.

Article 6. Don't lose faith. Don't lose faith in your God, and in your nation to get you back.

Sure, it's easy to sit here in the comfort of my home and pontificate. *I* wasn't captured. Didn't go through what we didn't see on Iranian TV.


Being in the military, one has to accept certain terms. Part of it is covered in Article 1. I am prepared to give my life. It doesn't say under what conditions... (Well, if my helicopter is shot down, sure... but, if I'm a prisoner, all bets are off... nope, that's not the way it goes.)

It's not easy... maybe they're threatening to remove fingers of your buddy? Or have one of those big knives held to your friend's neck? Maybe you're not prepared to watch your fellow comrade in arms get raped? Keep in mind, they also have Article 1. Everyone has to stay strong.

Imagine how this would have turned out if one of the sailors had been hurt? Can you imagine the President of Iran getting the word that one of the sailor's had been mutilated or killed? How do you say, "Oh $!@*" in Farsi? He would have realized that a line had been crossed (in addition to the MANY other lines already crossed, but this one would be big and bold) and Iran may soon have wrath raining down on it. No way to cover that up.

The first "confession" came very quickly. And supposedly, all fifteen confessed. Shame on them.

I hope that all of Her Majesty's armed forces are not as weak, though I fear they are. There have been so many cutbacks, and reductions... they're a shadow of what they once were. Note, it was United States Navy carriers that were doing exercises off the coast of Iran, not the Royal Navy.

Still surprised the HMS Cornwall didn't intervene and allowed her Sailors and Marines to be captured. Without a shot.

There are a lot of questions that need to be asked now that the prisoners are home. Judging by how quickly they gave in to the Iranians, we should have our answers by Monday.


Andrea Shea King said...

Well said, Mr. SC. Well said.


Mary*Ann said...

The west...has gone...wimpy.

Anonymous said...

It could have been worse, the British soldiers could have cried on TV - like the blubbing US marine Seargent Ladell Maples who was forced to state his appreciation of the Islamic Reveolution following the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran. Perhaps he lost his guidebook.

Iain said...

Resisting "the enemy" by any means possible is well and good if you are already at war. But if the British sailors had fired on the Iranians, they might well have been starting a war, which is very different from continuing one.

War with Iran would have serious and unpredictable consequences, including the likely deaths of thousands of Iranians (who are not responsible for the stupidity of their government) and hundreds of Allied soliders, further destabilisation of Iraq, disruption of vital oil shipments from the Persian Gulf, and perhaps irreversible damage to the strategic positions of the USA and UK. Blundering into such a war, without adequate planning and preparation, would be playing into the hands of the most irrational elements of the Iranian government -- the very same ones who captured the British sailors and marines.

(Also, consider the recent war in Lebanon -- widely agreed to have been disastrous for Israel and beneficial to Hezbollah, and started in an uncompromising attempt to free a single prisoner. Or for that matter, another war, started in 1914 over the assassination of a single Austrian Archduke. Good ideas, in hindsight? I think not.)

Bearing all this in mind, I suspect the British were ordered to exercise the utmost restraint if confronted by Iranians. IMHO this could require as much moral courage as going down with all guns blazing. (Incidentally, I'd like to see you call a Royal Marine a coward and weakling to his face... you obviously don't know any of them personally...)

Just a few thoughts before you get too comfortable on your high horse.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The sailors had neither radio nor sight contact with HMS Cornwall, as the waters were too shallow for HMS Cornwall to be closer.

The faults lie at ranks above these sailors, in my view.

charles jaggers said...

The best possible outcome was acheived the 15 came home safe and sound. Overreaction gets people killed. I hope that lessons have been learned through this incident. I would say that we, in the west, should establish dialogue with Iran and do not tale a silly belligerant stance all the time!

David Moore said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Moore said...

"Questions for the US forces" What's the matter Yank, can't you take it? and you call the Royal Navy weak. Lucky they're not as weak as you. It's called criticism, but then you lot think your above that don't you?

SC Eagle said...

David Moore (and others),
Can take it. Your comment was removed, sadly, for the choice you made on the language you included. I don't mind a dissenting view. I just ask that it stay civil.

Clean, calm opposing comments stay; abusive, or offensive go.

You'll note that not all comments get deleted, even the ones which disagree with me vehemently.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah I forgot you're American, a people to whom the word's damn or hell are considered swearing. Yet war, violence and mass death and destruction are normal. I find it hard to believe that you could not have removed/replaced whatever offending remark there was (whatever that was), and left the essence of the message. So I think you are lying and as said before can't take it.....PS my cousin was killed, blown to pieces in Iraq by an IED, fighting in one of your precious wars. He was a member of the (wimpy) British army, he left a wife and 2 children under 8. So mate the hell to you and your lousy country, the whole world despises you and that retard you call a president. Get used to it. You will know no doubt remove this as well. PPS How many IED's in Virginia?

David Moore said...

D Moore wrote the above

Agent Orange said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SC Eagle said...

D Moore, Agent Orange, guy from Melbourne...

You are welcome to be angry. You can be mad about the war. Disagree.

Comments encouraging terrorism though... do you really want that?

You want more people flying more planes into buildings?

You really want to mock and belittle the latest tragedy in the US?

Somehow, I think you're better than that.

But, if not... start a blog. Share YOUR views.

I read everything you write, but I'm not going to have it up on the blog. It's not that kind of blog.

It's just invective, and there are plenty of places for it.

Anonymous said...

Gee thanks for letting me be angry about your lousy countries lousy war, so nice of you. Regarding terrorism, well the Yanks are the worlds biggest terrorists, have been for decades. As long as the buildings being flown into are in the USA then I couldn't give a #$%@ . The only people I see mocking and belittling are the ones who insist that their guns will only be removed from their cold dead hands. America and Americans stance on gun ownership serves perfectly as a reinforcement of world opinion. That being America is a violent, arrogant, selfish, greedy, bullying, ignorant warmonger that is never happy unless it is involved in mass bloodshed in some way. A nation that was born in a war for corporate interests, and has lived almost constantly in a state of the same ever since (gotta keep those profits up). A nation that has installed, trained and supported some of the biggest repressive dictators who have ever lived and have actively destroyed democracy wherever they find it. You have chosen, as indicated by your career, to not think but to mindlessly repeat the dogma espoused by the cretins who have always held sway in the good ol'US of A. So yes I am better than that while you on the other hand are most plainly not. As for the blogging, what's the matter? you can't deal with dissent, everyone has to agree with you I suspect. If you really can't stand to be disagreed with then why ask for comments? I suspect that this is another indication of your democratic credentials so if you can't take the heat then get out of the fire. I suggest you learn Chinese as that, love it or loathe it, IS the future and even that brainless alco' coke head in the White house (the one you're so willing to die for) knows that and is SCARED. This comment will now be removed, because the blogger, being American can't take a difference of opinion and can only handle AGREEMENT, and wants to stifle debate. He also thinks that as it's his site if no one else will play by his rules then he'll pick up his ball and go home. Get off the net mate you haven't got the psychology for it. PATHETIC.

Anonymous said...

Look at what you are 'fighting'for.,,2064157,00.html

Ned Kelly said...

Hey guess what, Dumb Dubya has just visited Australia for the APEC summit. While he was here he said how glad he was to be at the OPEC(?) meeting and he called Australia Austria.. Tell me what does it feel like to have a C in C and president who has an IQ smaller than his shoe size? How does it feel to be the laughing stock of the planet as a result? Are you happy to die to increase the profits of Halliburton, KBR et al? When will there be a return to US Isolationism? (as the rest of us can't wait). Are the US generals just whinging about the British Army (THE MOST PROFFESIONAL ARMY IN THE WORLD)withdrawing because now there won't be any real soldiers left in Iraq, or is it just because they are jealous and want to go home too? And what are Delta force going to do when the SAS have gone and there is no one to hold their hands, train them and show them what to do? Also are you satisfied with the bottomless pit you've dug for yourselves? However don't fret too much as when the pits full enough with US bodies you'll be able to step out. Oh yeah Austria (see above) is about to have a change of Gov't, and then we'll be going home too. You guys watch far too many John Wayne movies but tell me, do you also cross dress like he did?

Your favourite Aussie who isn't an Aussie said...


Ho ho ho, how the tables have turned, the mighty US Navy scared of a few box wielding motorboats. What a threat they must have been to warships festooned with missiles, choppers etc. How much braver they must have been than the vastly better armed US sailors who were obviously quaking in their boots when confronted by such a deadly foe. Those Iranian balls must be huge by comparison with the US version.
Shades of Tonkin or what?
Just the Septic Tanks trying to start another war as usual, against a country which gave up it's nuclear weapons programme 4 years ago, oh yeah but then again Dumb Dubya forgot to tell us that didn't he? Hmm I wonder why?