The former commander of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and two junior officers will not face negligent homicide charges for their role in a collision off the coast of Japan that killed seven sailors last year, USNI News has learned.
Instead, ship commander Cmdr. Bryce Benson and Lt. Natalie Combs will face charges that include negligent hazarding a vessel and dereliction of duty resulting in death at general courts-martial, according to a Tuesday Navy statement. Lt. Irian Woodley, who was on duty with Combs, had all criminal charges against him dropped and will instead likely be separated from the Navy following a board of inquiry.
In an 11-hour hearing, prosecutors painted a picture of Lt. Irian Woodley, the ship’s surface warfare coordinator, and Lt. Natalie Combs, the tactical action officer, as failing at their jobs, not using the tools at their disposal properly and not communicating adequately. They became complacent with faulty equipment and did not seek to get it fixed, and they failed to communicate with the bridge, the prosecution argued. Had they done those things, the government contended, they would have been able to avert the collision.
That two of the officers — Coppock and Combs — involved in this fatal incident were female suggests that discipline and training standards have been lowered for the sake of “gender integration,” which was a major policy push at the Pentagon during the Obama administration. It could be that senior officers, knowing their promotions may hinge on enthusiastic support for “gender integration,” are reluctant to enforce standards for the women under their command.
This was the story of Kara Hultgreen, the Navy pilot who died in a 1994 F-14 crash. Investigation showed that Hultgreen had been allowed to proceed in her training after errors that would have meant a washout for any male pilot. But the Clinton administration was pushing for female fighter pilots, which resulted in a competition between the Navy and Air Force to put women into these combat roles. It is not necessary to believe that (a) women shouldn’t be fighter pilots, in order to believe (b) lowering standards for the sake of quotas is a bad idea. Of course, you may believe both (a) and (b), but it is (b) that gets people killed.
It seems obvious that the Pentagon (and the liberal media) sought to suppress full knowledge of what happened to the Fitzgerald in the immediate aftermath of the June 2017 incident that killed seven sailors, in the same way the details of Kara Hultgreen’s death were suppressed. It took investigative reporters like Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times a lot of hard work to find out what actually happened to Hultgreen. Let’s hope other reporters will dig into what’s happening in our military with the “gender intergration” agenda at the Pentagon now.
The Navy has followed the usual pattern. Declare that women are just as good as men. Discover that they’re not, for one reason or another. Deny that this is true while simultaneously lowering their standards. Dissemble about the reasons things are no longer working the way they should.