Marine Corps IG Eliminated, ‘Recommended’ for Failures as 1st MARDIV CO Following Deadly AAV Sinking Investigation

Maj. Gen. Robert Castellvi

The Marine Corps inspector basic – who final month was suspended from the position because the service’s watchdog – gained’t be returning to the job after Gen. David Berger final week formally “recommended” him for his “failure” to correctly practice and consider a platoon whose amphibious assault automobile sank throughout a coaching train off southern California final summer season.

Maj. Gen. Robert Castellvi was answerable for the 22,000-member 1st Marine Division when the 26-ton AAV sank July 30, 2020, after taking up water whereas returning to a ship following an amphibious raid drill on San Clemente Island. Eight Marines and one Navy corpsman died and eight different Marines escaped. The deadly mishap occurred through the first-at-sea integration train involving the Camp Pendleton-based fifteenth Marine Expeditionary Unit and the three-ship Makin Island Amphibious Prepared Group.

Berger “personally and formally recommended him for his failure to correctly practice the Marines and sailors for whom he was entrusted and for the insufficient analysis of the AAV Platoon earlier than it was hooked up to the fifteenth MEU,” the Marine Corps introduced Wednesday in a press release saying the commandant’s choice. Service officers had withheld the announcement till they’d notified and briefed the households of the Marines and sailor misplaced within the mishap of his choice.

Berger final month suspended Maj.Gen.Castellvi from his place because the Marine Corps’ IG, often known as “the eyes and ears of the commandant.” His choice to completely take away Castellvi because the IG from a lately accomplished investigation that the commandant ordered into the compositing of the fifteenth MEU.

Castellvi “won’t return to that place,” the Marine Corps mentioned. Furthermore, the “counseling” turns into a part of Castellvi’s everlasting file “and have to be thought-about if he’s evaluated for promotion, retention, or roles of accountability. This motion usually prevents an officer from being promoted or serving in a task the place he/she could be charged with the accountability of caring for Marines and sailors.”

It’s unclear whether or not Castellvi will request retirement or be reassigned to a different place. He “will not be offering a press release at the moment,” the service mentioned.

Castellvi had led the first Marine Division, primarily based at Camp Pendleton, from July 2018 till Sept. 22, 2020. He has commanded varied models over his 35-plus-year profession as an infantry officer. As a captain, he was the 1993 recipient of the Leftwich Trophy, an award given for “excellent management.”

The Marine Corps hasn’t but launched the command investigation into the fifteenth MEU, a report which Berger mentioned he ordered particularly to look into the formation of the MEU, which pulls collectively models from the division, wing and logistics instructions, and “every thing that led as much as the” mishap.

Berger informed reporters throughout a Could 26 media name that the investigation will look into what “management choices centered on the materiel situation of these amtracs… and reply the questions of who made what choices to do what” previous to the mishap. The investigation, he added, “appears to be like at it by way of the lens of” the first Marine Division and the division workers in addition to the fifteenth MEU and I Marine Expeditionary Pressure commanders on the time.

Shortly after the mishap, Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, the Marine Forces Pacific commander, ordered a command investigation into what occur. That 2,000-page investigation, finished underneath the Guide of the Choose Advocate Common Guide, concluded {that a} lengthy path of failures led to the ill-fated mission.

Blame and fallout from the deadly incident has been blended.

Stays of Marines and sailor killed in AAV incident arrive in Dover Air Pressure Base, Del., on Aug 12, 2020. US Marine Corps Photograph

Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, who took command of I MEF the day after the mishap, in October fired Lt. Col. Michael Regner, the BLT 1/4 commander, in addition to 1/4’s Bravo Firm commander. In his Jan. 14 endorsement of the investigation, Heckl additionally famous attainable administrative or disciplinary actions towards the AAV platoon commander and mishap automobile commander, in addition to an analogous evaluation of the previous 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion commander, whose unit supplied the mishap and different AAVs to the platoon a number of months earlier than the platoon joined the fifteenth MEU. The investigation discovered these automobiles have been in poor, largely non-working situation and required further time and work to get them operational for the rigorous predeployment coaching. That call on the time by that officer, Lt. Col. Keith Brenize, “had a direct bearing on the reason for this tragic mishap,” he wrote in his endorsement.

Heckl additionally wrote that Col. Christopher Bronzi, the fifteenth MEU commander, he had “acted appropriately” and didn’t warrant any administrative or disciplinary motion.

However Rudder, in his Feb. 25 endorsement of the investigation, wrote that he discovered Bronzi “additionally accountable” for the shortage of security boats in conducting the mech raid that day and would “take applicable administrative motion to deal with these failures.” On March 23, Rudder fired Bronzi because the fifteenth MEU was on the ultimate leg of its scheduled abroad deployment.

Neither Heckl nor Rudder determined any administrative motion or punishment towards Castellvi was warranted. Rudder, nevertheless, wrote that Castellvi, because the division commander, “bears some accountability for the failure to execute these duties.” These included conducting the division-level fight readiness analysis of the AAV platoon and “making certain all members of the mechanized raid pressure” have been Underwater Egress Coaching-qualified earlier than compositing to the MEU on April 20, 2020.

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