Editor-in-Chief-Andrew-Drwiega
Andrew Drwiega, Editor-in-Chief, Armada International / Asian Military Review.

Dear Readers,

Two discussions around the subject of COVID-19. The first discussed the decision made last week not to reinstate Captain Crozier as the commander of the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, while the second looks at the well meaning but seemingly toothless plans by NATO Defence Ministers to prepare for a second wave of ‘the virus.’

DEFENCE AND COVID-19

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT – A LACK OF LEADERSHIP?

USS Theodore Roosevelt
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) is moored pier side at Naval Base Guam May 15, 2020. Theodore Roosevelt’s COVID-negative crew returned from quarantine beginning on April 29 and is making preparations to return to sea to continue their scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Conner D. Blake)

US Navy Capt. Brett E. Crozier, the former commander of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, will not have his command reinstated, nor will he be eligible for future commands. This was the announcement made by Navy Adm. Michael M. Gilday, chief of naval operations said at a Pentagon news conference on 19 June.

Capt. Crozier wrote a letter to officers within his chain of command request assistance in dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 on board his ship on 30 March.

Capt. Crozier’s immediate superior Navy Rear Adm. Stuart Baker, the commander of Strike Group 9, has also had his pending promotion to two-star rank put on hold, while a further review is conducted.

Adm. Gilday said that a deep report into the incident, which was described as being thorough and fair, had meant that his initial assessment that Capt. Crozier should be reinstated was in fact wrong.

“The much broader, deeper investigation that we conducted in the weeks following that had a much deeper scope. It is my belief that both Admiral Baker and Captain Crozier fell well short of what we expect of those in command. Had I known then what I know today, I would have not made that recommendation to reinstate Captain Crozier. Moreover, if Captain Crozier were still in command today, I would be relieving him.”

He continued: “Captain Crozier’s primary responsibility was the safety and the well-being of the crew, so that the ship could remain as operationally ready as possible,” he said. “In reviewing both Admiral Baker and Captain Crozier’s actions, they did not do enough, soon enough, to fulfil their primary obligation.”

EDITOR’S COMMENT:
The military nearly always takes a hostile view to officers breaking the chain of command’s line of communications, especially when their comments leak into the public domain.

So is this a case of justifiable punishment for lack of the correct decision making and communication, or is it more a case of the US Navy closing ranks because its own procedures were not sufficiently adaptable and robust enough to effectively deal with the outbreak onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt. This outbreak occurred the week after US cases of COVID-19 had begun to surge, from 8,074 in the whole of the US on Wednesday 18 March to 121,105 cases ten days later on Saturday 28 March. With proven cases onboard his ship, and with the infection rate climbing steeply on the mainland, Capt. Crozier would have been very concerned about the rapid spread of COVID-19 among the over 4,800 crew and air wing crammed into the aircraft carrier, particularly as the disease had developed a fearsome reputation for its ease of transmission.

The in-depth report criticises both Capt Crozier and Adm Baker for their failure “to move sailors off the aircraft carrier as quickly as they could have, and failed to move them to a safer environment more quickly.” Adm. Gilday also states that Crozier “exercised questionable judgment when he released sailors from quarantine on the ship, which put his crew at higher risk and may have increased the spread of the virus aboard the Theodore Roosevelt.”

Adm. Gilday further stated: “In the end, the email and the letters sent by Captain Crozier were unnecessary. Actions were already underway to acquire [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]-compliant off-base hotel rooms for the crew before he sent that email.” But how urgently was this happening?

blood test COVID-19
US Navy Capt. Carlos Sardiello, replacement commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt about to undergo a blood to test for COVID-19 antibodies on 19 June, 2020. Capt. Sardiello commanded the aircraft carrier up to March 2020 when he was assigned as director, Joint and Fleet Operations (N3), U.S. Fleet Forces Command. (DVIDS – US Navy)

At the time, the Commander in Chief President Donald Trump had simply been referring to the virus as flu or ‘the Chinese Virus.’ Without the benefit of hindsight, at the time why would senior naval commanders see the need to take one of their nuclear powered aircraft carriers off-line to evacuate crew members? Indeed, by Wednesday 1 April, 93 crew members had already tested positive for COVID-19, representing around 10 percent of all cases within the US military at the time. Over two weeks later, with 94 percent of the crew tested it was revealed that 660 had a positive result for COVID-19.

Having been deployed with the USS America the week before docking in Guam, could Capt. Crozier have expected more urgency and guidance from his shore-based chain of command in helping him deal with rapidly escalating onboard emergency?

NATO PLANS TO MEET COVID-19 SECOND WAVE BUT PRECISE DETAILS ARE UNCLEAR

A meeting between NATO defence ministers on Thursday 20 June resulted in the announcement of a three part plan to prepare member countries for a second wave of the coronavirus.

The points agreed were:
1) To provide support to Allies and partners.
2) To establish a stockpile of medical equipment and supplies.
3) To establish a new fund, to enable the rapid acquisition of medical supplies and services.

Speaking after the virtual meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the organisation’s military members had already shown that they could support civilian authorities in responding to the virus threat.

Widening the group out, the meeting was also attended by the European Union’s High Representative/Vice President Borrell, the Australian defence minister and representatives from Finland and Sweden.

Stoltenberg stated that both the fund and the stockpile were “flexible” and would depend on the contributions of member states. He added that the next stage was “creating the framework, the mechanisms, both for the fund and for the stockpile.” However, he admitted that the size and nature of how the funding would operate “depends fully on the total amount of commitments from different NATO Allies.”

GENERAL NEWS AND ITEMS OF INTEREST

FATALITIES AS INDIA AND CHINA CLASH AGAIN IN BORDER DISPUTE

Galwan-valley-map
A BBC diagram shows the Line of Actual Control in India’s northern border areas with China and Pakistan.

Heavy hand-to-hand fighting between the Indian and Chinese soldiers reportedly broke out on Monday 15 June in the Galwan Valley region of Ladakh, in the western Himalayas.
The disputed area is at the edge of India’s northern border, close to the Aksai Chin plateau. It is an area claimed by India but is administered by China, being part of the Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions.

Reports from India on Wednesday 17 June claimed that 20 Indian soldiers were killed and at least 79 injured. A later report published by Reuters (21 June 2020) added that “China lost at least 40 soldiers in a clash.”

The is understood to focus on India’s improvements to roads and airfields on its side of the disputed border.

On Sunday 21 June, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and three service Chiefs on the situation in Ladakh.

According to reports the armed forces were given “full freedom to deal with any aggressive behaviour by China’s People’s Liberation Army along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The military were told to maintain a “strict vigil” on all Chinese activities across all borders.

In 2017 Indian and Chinese troops clashed over China’s attempt to construct a road in the Doklam plateau region near what is referred to as the tri-junction border area, known as Donglang. Although this is not claimed by India, it is claimed by Bhutan whom India supports.

JAPAN CANCELS AEGIS ASHORE MISSILE DEFENCE PLANS

Missile Defence Test Complex Hawaii
Ashore Missile Defence Test Complex at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii.

The Japanese government has decided to cancel its Aegis Ashore missile defence project due to rising costs and because missile defence boosters could fall onto residential housing, according to reports in the Japan Times.

The Japanese Ministry of Defence had positioned two Aegis Ashore land based defence missile systems in the south of the country in the Yamaguchi Prefecture, and in the north in the Akita Prefecture. They were sited to protect Japan from ballistic missiles fired from North Korea,

However, the South China Morning Post reported on 15 June that the 30 year through life operating costs had risen to $4.1 billion, and that this was compounded by the inability of the Ministry to guarantee that rocket boosters would not fall on civilian areas, rather than on the local Ground Self-Defense Force training area which had initially been stated.

Romania and Poland already have fixed Aegis Ashore missile sites. Although Japan has already spent $1.7 billion on the project, not all of the investment will be wasted as the four
Kongō-class and two Agato-class guided missile destroyers of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force are all equipped with the Aegis Combat System.

US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS

Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 15-19 June 2020:

19 June
US AIR FORCE
Federal Resources; W.S. Darley; US21; Atlantic Diving Supply; and Tactical & Survival Specialties, have been awarded a $950 million contract to provide equipment, training and product support to approximately 3,500 Air Force Special Warfare operators, as well as authorised users in support of Special Warfare mission requirements. Contract through Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.

US ARMY
Airborne Systems North America of California; and Mills Manufacturing will compete for each order of the $150 million contract for the purchase of MC-6 personnel parachute systems. Via US Army Contracting Command.

18 June
No orders over $100 million. Largest order of the day:
US NAVY
BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services received an $85 million contract for in-service engineering activity and production services for various Navy identification and data link systems in support of the Combat Integration and Identification Systems Division at the Naval Air Warfare Center Webster Outlying Field. Contract through the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.

17 June
US AIR FORCE
Accenture Federal Services; Booz Allen Hamilton; Deloitte Consulting; Digital Mobilizations; KMPG; BCG Federal; Grant Thornton Public Sector; and McKinsey, have been awarded a ceiling $990,000,000 multiple-award contract to provide advisory and assistance services to support the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Office of Business Transformation and Deputy Chief Management Officer in managing and improving strategic transformation initiatives at the enterprise level. Air Force District of Washington is the contracting activity.

NORTHCON; Pro-Mark Services; Danner Construction; ABBA Construction; Bay Area Building Solutions; HCR Construction; OAC Action Construction; Frazier Engineering; Benaka; RELYANT Global; Polu Kai Services; Nisou LGC JV; KMK Construction; Burgos Group; A&H-Ambica JV; P&S Construction; Northstar Contracting; ESA South; and RUSH Construction, have been awarded a $500 million contract for execution of a broad range of maintenance, repair and minor construction projects affecting real property at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; and Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida. The 6th Contracting Squadron is the contracting activity.

US NAVY
Huntington Ingalls Industries has been awarded a $145 million contract for long lead time material in support of one Amphibious Assault Ship (General Purpose) Replacement (LHA(R)) and Flight 1 Ship (LHA 9). Work to be performed is the procurement of long lead-time material for LHA 9, the fourth (LHA(R)) America Class and the second LHA(R) Flight 1 variant. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

16 June
US ARMY
EA-Wood-2 MP JV; and Gsina-Gilbane JV will compete for each order of the $400 million hybrid contract to procure the services of small business firms to perform Military Munitions Response Program responses involving conventional munitions; environmental compliance and remediation services; and other munitions-related services. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.

15 June
No orders over $100 million. Largest order of the day:
US ARMY
Shimmick Construction received a $78 million modification contract for Chickamauga Lock chamber replacement. US Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.

EVENT RECONFIRMATION

No events reconfirmed this week.

EVENT CANCELLATIONS/RESCHEDULING

No events reconfirmed this week.

Keep safe and healthy everyone.

Andrew Drwiega

Editor-in-Chief
Armada International / Asian Military Review