Metro-East News

Roger That: Navy SEALs drown after being told not to practice holding breath under water

A pair of Navy SEALs who drowned in a training pool at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, in Virginia Beach, Va., in April were practicing holding their breath under water after explicitly being told not to do so by the facility's manager, according to a Navy investigation, according to Military.com.

Documents released by the Navy in response to a Freedom of Information Act request said there were no witnesses to the drownings and a surveillance video at the pool didn’t show the deaths either, making it impossible to determine precisely what happened.

Petty Officers 1st Class Brett Allen Marihugh and Seth Cody Lewis were using the pool on their own time and not as a part of a command-sponsored training. No lifeguards were on duty.

The report’s conclusion is based largely on what witnesses saw before and after the men were found at the bottom of the Combat Swimmer Training Facility. The pool, just short of Olympic size, is used by Naval Special Warfare Group 2 for formal training and is open to SEALs and others attached to their units for workouts on their own time, although underwater breath-holding isn't permitted during individual swims.

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Military Times is reporting that cadet pillow fights like the bloody one that left 30 injured this summer will be banned, and actions are being pursued against many of those involved, U.S. Military Academy officials said Wednesday,

First-year students, known as “plebes,” organize the annual pillow fight as a way to build camaraderie after a grueling summer of training. But the pillow fight Aug. 20 escalated into a free-for-all with plebes being hit from behind and knocked to the ground. Injuries included a broken nose, a fractured cheek and 24 diagnosed concussions. One cadet was found unconscious, according to a report on the pillow fight released Wednesday.

“While never officially sanctioned, it is now officially banned, and we will take appropriate action to ensure that all faculty, staff, leaders, the Corps of Cadets and everyone at West Point knows that it will not be tolerated,” West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen said in a statement.

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Real estate magnate and celebrity billionaire Donald Trump has vowed to bring back waterboarding if he becomes president.

But that’s an order he would find much harder to implement than it was 15 years ago, when President George W. Bush allowed the Central Intelligence Agency to use the torture technique after the 9/11 attacks, according to Military.com

“If some future president is going to decide to waterboard, he’d better bring his own bucket — because he's going to have to do it himself,” former CIA Director Michael Hayden says in Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs, a Showtime documentary that airs Nov. 28.

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The Department of Homeland Security plans to fast-track the hiring of up to 1,000 new cybersecurity personnel by June, according to a notice set to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, according to Defense One

Positions OK’d by the Office of Personnel Management for special Schedule A hiring authority include personnel with job duties including:

Legislation approved by Congress last year allows DHS to speed the hiring of cyber experts, to set rates of basic pay, and to provide additional compensation, benefits, incentives, and allowances — all perks previously extended to the Pentagon to help boost the size of its information security workforce.

In March, the Defense Department was granted fast-track hiring authority of up to 3,000 personnel to build up military cyber teams.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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