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OPINION | OTHERS SAY: No excuse, sir

by The San Diego Union-Tribune | June 14, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

The drowning deaths off the San Diego coast of eight Marines and a sailor who were just 18 to 23 years old in July reflected incomprehensible incompetence on the part of military leaders. It led to Lt. Col. Michael Regner, the commanding officer of the battalion landing team involved in the tragedy, being removed from command in October. A damning Marine Corps investigation of the tragedy released in March revealed those who died had received poor training on how to escape a sinking amphibious assault vehicle that was in "horrible condition" and should never have been used. That led to the firing of Col. Christopher Bronzi, the commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

On Wednesday, new consequences emerged. The commanding general of the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Division at the time of the tragedy has been permanently removed from his more recent post as inspector general of the Marine Corps. Maj. Gen. Robert Castellvi was subject to "adverse administrative action" by the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger. "This action typically prevents an officer from being promoted or serving in a role where he/she would be charged with the responsibility of caring for Marines and sailors," a spokesperson told The Washington Post.

That punishment seems appropriate. Safety concerns at Camp Pendleton have existed for years. Before he died in a 2019 training accident, Marine First Lt. Conor McDowell complained to his fiancée about the poor condition of the equipment he was required to use. Nine people might still be alive if Regner, Bronzi and Castellvi had better heeded concerns and trained those who trusted them.

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