The Navy has relieved the commander of Task Force 56 in the Middle East, days before announcing the results of a command investigation into an international incident in which two riverine command boats and their 10 crew members were briefly captured in Iranian waters in January.
Capt. Kyle Moses was relieved Thursday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, according to a Navy announcement. Moses has been temporarily reassigned to the staff of Naval Forces Central Command, officials said, and the task force's chief of staff, Capt. Richard Meyer, has taken temporary command of the task force.
Task Force 56 oversees some 1,300 troops operating in the Middle East, including, among others, riverine units, explosive ordnance disposal elements and expeditionary logistics support units.
The commander of NAVCENT, Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, decided to fire Moses after reviewing the command investigation into the Jan. 12 incident, NAVCENT officials said in an announcement. Defense officials told Military.com on Wednesday that the five-month investigation was complete and that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson was expected to announce its findings prior to the end of the month.
"Several weeks ago, I had initially taken what I felt was appropriate administrative and corrective action involving Capt. Moses based on the preliminary results of the investigation, which I began immediately after we recovered our Sailors," Donegan said in a statement. "However, after thoroughly examining the findings of the final, comprehensive investigation, I determined that this additional action was necessary."
Moses is the second senior officer to be fired in relation to the incident. In May, the Navy announced that Cmdr. Eric Rasch, who served as executive officer of Riverine Squadron 3 when the sailors were captured, had been relieved from his post. Up to seven other Navy leaders are reportedly under scrutiny in connection with the incident.
Defense Department officials have publicly said a navigational error was to blame for the riverine command boats straying into Iranian waters, where one broke down.
The 10 sailors were ultimately held by Iranian forces for 15 hours, until their release was negotiated by U.S. State Department officials.