You recall that the investigation into the cause(s) of the two Burke collisions revealed the extensive use of waivers to allow personnel with missing or lapsed certifications to deploy and operate equipment.
You recall that the Navy and Marines are using waivers to keep pilots flight certified even though they are receiving insufficient flight hours to remain certified.
Now, the investigation into the sinking of the Marine AAV last summer that resulted in the deaths of 9 sailors and Marines has revealed – surprise! – that waivers were involved. From the USNI News website article about the investigation’s report,
“We are going to be more directive,” he added. “Some things become non-waiverable.” (1)
So, two fatal ship collisions weren’t enough for the Marines to realize that waivers are a fatality waiting to happen? They continued to use waivers?
Unfortunately, I do not have access to a copy of the report so I can only comment on the items discussed in the website article but that is more than enough.
The mechanical failures did not cause the loss of life. This vehicle sank over a period of 45 minutes,” said the former MEU commander, who spoke on background to discuss the investigation’s findings and the service’s follow-on actions. “There were multiple opportunities to intervene and prevent the loss of life. That’s the sad story behind this mishap and this tragedy.” (1)
No sir, the sad story is that you allowed the continued use of waivers which have been found to be a contributing factor in almost every incident in recent times. YOU … ALLOWED … IT.
The long list of contributing factors included an absence of Marine Corps or Navy safety boats during the training event and the platoon receiving “deadlined” vehicles – AAVs that were set aside and in poor material condition. Marines lacked training and did not follow standard procedures, had inefficient flotation vests, and were operating in high seas – factors that raise serious questions about accountability at various units and senior commands, the investigation found. (1)
YOU … ALLOWED … IT.
“We often say what we do is a dangerous business, and it becomes more dangerous when you don’t follow directed procedures or standard operating procedures and approved [tactics, techniques and procedures] that are designed and trained to make you more effective,” said a former division commander familiar with the details of the investigation. (1)
No sir, it does not become more dangerous … it becomes negligent homicide when you willfully, knowingly, and intentionally ignore the safety training and procedures, as evidenced by the use of waivers.
There is no – repeat, no – repeat, no – repeat, no – place for waivers during peacetime. Waivers mean you failed to implement a REQUIRED certification, training, or procedure. There is no excuse for this. None.
If you can’t execute a task without waivers then you have no business attempting to do so. You stop until you’ve successfully met the requirements. It’s that simple. Waivers are an excuse for not doing something the right way.
Some military leaders try to rationalize the use of waivers as a means of accomplishing a ‘greater’ task or mission but this is just self-deception employed by people who lack the courage to do what is right; who lack the courage to take a stand against incompetent leadership; who lack the courage to say no to an unsafe task; who lack the courage to put their own career on the line to protect their fellow sailors or Marines. The reality is that there is no task so important in peacetime that it can’t wait for proper training and certifications to be completed.
“We’re a learning organization. We’re going to capture what we learn about this tragedy,” said the former MEU commander. (1)
No sir, you’re not a learning organization and you won’t learn anything from this. You’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn from recent tragedies across the military and you’ve refused. You’ve seen waivers repeatedly used and abused with fatal results and yet you continued – and still do - to use them.
YOU … ALLOWED … IT.
Peacetime waivers should be abolished. Pure and simple. There is no need or excuse for waivers of any type. Do it right to begin with and then you don’t need waivers.
(1)USNI News website, “Marine Corps Begins to Address Factors, Shortfalls Identified in Fatal AAV Mishap”, Gidget Fuentes, 2-Apr-2021,