Comment and Discussion

Every CO comes to the ship designated as the commanding officer, by order of the Navy. Within days, perhaps weeks, of the change of command ceremony, they all should have become real captains. A few, however, somehow slip past the screening board. They may be the commanding officers of ships, but they never will have the respect of the crew, and therefore, never really be a captain. These people abuse their absolute authority, and actually abuse the very trust that the Navy has placed in them. They destroy morale. The crew still performs, and may perform well, but everyone grows to hate the commanding officer, and prays for transfer orders.

In today's Navy, it looks as if these few who slip past the screening boards are being found out, and are getting relieved of command early. A perfect example is the author of the anonymous letter published in the Navy Times last year urging Admiral Boorda to resign.

There is a great difference on a ship where the CO is part of the crew, and not seemingly against the crew. In fact, the captain can make or break the crew by his actions and examples. The crew needs the captain as much as the captain needs the crew. The object is to be part of the crew, not above the crew.


"Keep the Best"

(See R.D. Fricker, pp. 50-55, January 1997; R.G. Bagian, W.B. Hayler, pp. 117-118, March 1997 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Patrick A. Sullivan, U.S. Navy —Mr. Fricker is the latest in a series of former junior officers who claim to have all the answers on how to fix the Navy, but decided to quit (see H. Goetsch, "Keeping the Generation X Junior Officer," November 1995). The Navy has some serious problems with the way junior officers are led, but these problems never will be fixed if the people who want to fix them walk away.

I remember reading General Norman Schwarzkopf s autobiography (It Doesn't Take A Hero, Bantam Books, 1992), where he recounts how, as a frustrated young officer, he considered leaving the Army. He was told by then-Major Tom Whelan:

There are two ways to approach it. Number one is to get out; number two is to stick around and someday, when you have more rank, fix the problems. But don't forget, if you get out, the bad guys win.

Those words are as true today as they were then. If the people with ideals and energy to improve the Navy get out, then the "bad guys," the incompetent, self-serving officers who frustrate all of us will win.

If Mr. Fricker feels so strongly about the Navy's problems, he should have stayed in and done something about them. Whatever problems the Navy has, they will be solved in the wardrooms and the enginerooms, not in the classrooms. Mr. Fricker's cry that "almost all the well-regarded officers were leaving the Navy," is a mere justification for his own actions, and in at least one case, he is dead wrong. I'm a damn good officer, and I'm staying in!


"A Report from the Front"

(See J. Byron, p. 10, February 1997 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Commander William Kovach, U.S. Navy —Captain Byron makes the observation that national defense was not a concern among voters in the predominantly military district in which he ran for Congress. Clearly, the economy, education, and crime are at the forefront of both national and local politics. Perhaps this is because the military is doing its job, thereby allowing voters to concentrate on more important issues that affect them daily.

I do take exception to Captain Byron's assertion that military members are not engaged in their local communities. Members of the armed forces have been a big part of every community I have lived in. My co-workers and I are Little League coaches, PTA members, and Scout leaders. We have devoted countless hours to volunteer work, are involved in our local churches, and participate with vigor in the political process. This does not sound like a group which has "sequestered itself' from American life, as Captain Byron suggests.

The inability of a "squeaky-clean military retiree" to get elected in a strong military district does not necessarily mean that members of the armed forces are not engaged in their communities.

Lieutenant James "Jimbo" Lins, U.S. Navy —It is interesting to compare the words Captain Byron uses when describing his opponent, ". . . a weak Gingrich conservative . . ." and those associated with his side, "The Vice President . . . and the national party leadership campaigned for us." Then Captain Byron says he was surprised that he did not find the military community involved in his campaign, along with some belittling remarks about military personnel isolating themselves from American government. This kind of arrogance is staggering.

Military people have a good understanding and high appreciation of American democracy. Had Captain Byron attended one of his opponent's campaign rallies, he would have seen it.

Ken Doenges —John Byron's thesis that the military is isolated from the civilian population is right on target. The military is isolated from civilians deliberately because the military mindset promotes, cultivates, and nurtures a rigid discipline, imposed by a creed of officer superiority, which does not permit normal day-to-day relations with any general civilian population.

Witness the security at military bases and ships throughout the world. Witness the lack of civilian access to post exchanges, Veterans' hospitals, and similar military facilities. In fact, most of our civilian government facilities are now as secured from public entry as are military installations. Eventually, civilians likely will be isolated from all facets of our government.

Captain Byron's decision to try and penetrate the political arena is quite gratifying and is worthy of praise; however, as a marketing consultant and political dabbler, I could have predicted his defeat. The military has a bad fiscal reputation. Therefore, anyone from the military is regarded with suspicion. But more important, the military has created a group of citizens with special privileges, including its own pension system, retail facilities, medical system, educational system, and infrastructure, that functions as a de facto government beyond civilian control. It is quite obvious that the military people do not like civilians meddling in their affairs.

I read Proceedings to stay informed of military plans and opinions. However, the magazine illustrates the "tunnel vision" which permeates the military mindset. I am a retired civilian, a World War II veteran, and a very patriotic person who believes that all persons are equal. To my knowledge, the Constitution does not permit the branding of different classes of people, yet that is what the military has established: an elite group with separate facilities and benefits greater than those provided to the civilian population.


"It's What's Inside That Counts"

(See N. Friedman and S. Truver pp. 41-44, February 1997 Proceedings)

Theodore L. Gaillard, Jr., Independent Analyst —Well done for conceptualizing priorities for the New Attack Submarine (NSSN) design. Most welcome are projections of program cost savings stemming from a more efficient reactor whose core will not need refueling for the lifetime of the submarine; using off-board systems (unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles) to perform specialized missions, obviating the need for specialized hull platforms; a computer system designed to accept modularized commercial off-the-shelf technologies to simplify later updates; and the use of computer-assisted manufacturing. By themselves, even these would constitute a quantum leap in cost-effective design of a truly new generation of nuclear submarines.

But we need to go further. Computer-controlled/automated fabrication of modular subassemblies already is established practice in the automobile industry. Builders of the NSSN should take a leaf from Boeing's book in its computerization of the entire process in its recent introduction of the 777. Subsequent long-term weight and time savings—through efficient fabrication and mating of parts, routing of hydraulic, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning piping and wiring bundles—these cannot be emphasized strongly enough. Since they are in essentially non-competitive areas, Boeing should be asked to share some of its computerized production expertise with Electric Boat and Newport News. We also need to endow the appropriate "server" with computerized self-diagnostic readout capabilities to simplify both ongoing preventive and long-term maintenance. Both the F/A-18 and F-22 were designed with such capability—why not the NSSN?

And, of course, the NSSN needs to be modularized to simplify replacement of obsolescent modules with new ones containing specially dedicated (or simply new or improved) systems into appropriate blocs on the production line. The authors even mention a specialized strategic missile module that, if necessary, could convert the basic NSSN design to an SSBN version to replace aging Ohio (SSBN-726)-class SSBNs as they are decommissioned. What goes around comes around: This potential for modular design was clearly evident as far back as the launching of the George Washington (SSBN-598), the first of the Polaris ballistic missile-firing boats, in 1959. First in its series, it had been laid down as the first Scorpion (in the Skipjack series) only to have its hull split for insertion of the missile command and launching module abaft the sail.

Assuredly, "it's what's inside that counts." But it's not all that counts. Although the authors feel that "improvements in hydrodynamics (speed versus horsepower) . . would be prohibitively expensive, at least in the near term," there are some concepts that could, if included from the start, improve both speed and tactical maneuverability without breaking the bank.

Eliminate the sail . For years there has been discussion of maneuverability problems caused by vortex interaction with the sail during small-radius, high-speed turns. Advances in the technologies of fiber-optics, miniaturization, and sealing would minimize the footprint of the hull-piercing periscope. Some of the benefits include:

  • Lower weight and greater hull strength
  • Lower drag, higher speed
  • Improved tactical maneuverability
  • Roll reduction while surfaced in heavy seas
  • Reduced underwater vortex generation and wake

Use five-eights-inch boundary layer bleed plate forward of the shrouded propulsor . The main advantage is that the restored near-laminar flow would boost propulsive efficiency.

Employ variable-pitch propulsor blades . As with turboprop aircraft, these can be computer-controlled to change pitch according to hull speed. Their advantages include:

  • Greatly improved propulsive efficiency and decreased cavitation and wake signature
  • Greatly increased deceleration potential using reverse-pitch to cause overshooting by pursuers or torpedoes

Adopt propulsor blade tip-flow management . Adapt gas-turbine blade convection cooling passage concept to submarine propulsor blades so that pressurized outflow would exit from carefully designed orifices near the tips in order to minimize both cavitation and vortex formation. The primary advantages are:

  • Improved propulsive efficiency
  • Improved stealth

Rethink the control fin concept . Explore replacing the current diving plane/rudder control configuration with two cruciform sets (mounted fore and aft) of four variable-incidence fins each, all capable of both tandem and independent computer-coordinated movement. The advantages include vastly improved change-of-plane maneuvering capability

Eliminate parasite drag by application of anti-fouling coating over acoustic tiles . Unlike Teflon, Dow Chemical's recently introduced successor non-stick coating is much easier to spread and can be applied like paint. When compounded with parasite repellants developed at Britain's Holton Heath labs, it would offer the following compelling advantages:

  • Significant program-life savings in reduced hull scraping and painting
  • Retention of consistent top-speed capability
  • Maintenance of minimal hull noise signature

And, of course, both passive and active countermeasure capabilities need to be incorporated to defend against advanced torpedoes—such as the new Russian Shkval (or Squall), two years ago said to be capable of almost 200 knots. Such countermeasures might take the form of remotely piloted vehicles, decoys ,or high-speed, rocket-boosted, acoustic-homing anti-torpedo defense missiles—launched from permanently armed dedicated defense tubes.

Here's to the NSSN-more affordable to operate, easier and more affordable to build, and capable of generational improvements, externally as well as internally, if new concepts are explored from the initial planning stages.


"Do-As-I-Say Core Values?"

(See L. M. Tanner, pp. 68, January 1997; J.G. Dimmick, p. 12, February 1997; R.A. Lawrence, R.B. Pinnell, pp. 26-28, March 1997 Proceedings)

Captain Richard S. Reade, Jr., U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)— Commander Tanner is on target in wanting "to reemphasize Navy regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which define the standards we are expected to uphold." I wish that she would have gone further.

If there is cheating on unit evaluations, it should be stopped. I say "if," because much of the rest of her treatise is suspect for its double standard and for what it omits. She wants.those who leaked the mishap investigation report of Lieutenant Kara Hultgren's F-14 crash punished, but says nothing about those in high places who attempted to cover up the pilot error. She criticizes the alleged lying in regard to Tailhook, but not the fact that only male officers were investigated, while equally guilty female officers were not. And she criticizes a midshipman for putting in perspective the actions of a few bad apples out of a brigade of 4,000.

The common thread is the double standard, the same double standard that put Lieutenant Hultgren in that F-14, that cost Admiral Stanley Arthur his assignment as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, and that is ripping apart the military culture that has kept this country free. When summoning the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the "Uniform" must not be minimized—the same justice, the same standards, for all, regardless of sex. No gender-norming. Only then will "do as I do" have any import.


"Info War—The Next Generation"

(See J.L. Peterson, pp. 60-62. January 1997 Proceedings)

"No Premium on Killing"

(See A. Zinni and G. Ohls, pp. 26-28, December 1996; D. Auten, p. 20, February 1997; D.N. Early, p. 20, March 1997 Proceedings)

Commander Thomas J. McClane, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)— For a variety of reasons, I have known many people who have been involved in some of the more esoteric U.S. government projects—e.g., the Manhattan Project, nuclear submarine design and operation, special weapons, and the Aegis air defense system. Techniques similar to those mentioned by Mr. Peterson were used to protect those systems—i.e., counter-intelligence. Over time, the techniques leave a "trail," which should be considered in an analyses of their efficiencies:

  • A long-term result of using virtual-reality weapons in sophisticated technological societies may be very negative. When confidence in information received from the system is lost, it is never regained.
  • The techniques are of limited use on persons who have well-developed belief systems. Even if a target remains unaware of the source of confusing information or erroneous data, leaders who make decisions with a lot of conflicting information will continue to do so.
  • Targets can be saturated temporarily and may go along with disruptive information, but as soon as the manipulative material disappears so will the conformance with such material. The effort will have to be sustained over long periods of time.
  • When it becomes clear there is manipulation—if the target analyzes the situation correctly-he will start denying everything outside immediate experience and even some things within immediate experience unless there is direct physical evidence—a "show me" state-of-mind. Even without trust in immediate experience from one sense, corroborating information from other senses will have to be available to confirm belief. Usually, there are some anomalies in the virtual situation that permit retention of a questioning attitude, rather than complete belief.
  • The longest-term consequence is that if the techniques are successful and the target discovers what was done, there is the possibility that you will create a lifelong enemy. Those who have experienced the negative techniques have unpleasant memories of the experiences that do not dim over time.

Further, Mr. Peterson underestimates the result of inertia. The expectations of persons invoked in information warfare should be more realistic with regard to "memes" as he termed them.

A simple example of reasonable expectations, which we are all aware of, is religion. The proselytizing (marketing) associated with Christianity has occurred for approximately 2,000 years. Every imaginable form of communication—including miracles—has been used to get people to believe it, but there are still a lot of competitors and unbelievers. Thus, even against the indifferent, the techniques can take thousands of years. Against a dedicated enemy, no form of confusing information will work.

A description of a more sophisticated continuum like those described by General Zinni and Colonel Ohls would be more useful. Underneath what I think is a minor organizational problem in the article, Mr. Peterson only mentions techniques superficially and only hints that there may be a "continuum," which exists in almost all human activity.


"Are We Firing Tomahawks Too Easily?"

(See S. Tangredi, pp. 8-10, December 1996; D.A. Schnell, p. 20, February 1997 Proceedings).

Lieutenant Commander Carl R. Graham, U.S. Navy —Commander Tangredi's admonition to temper so-called "silver bullet" use demonstrates the danger of applying a one-size-fits-all doctrinal approach across the full range of conflict. His primary thesis—that using Tomahawks too often lessens their deterrent effect—may indeed be true, but also is irrelevant when looking at the lower end of the conflict spectrum. The fact that nuclear weapons have been delegitimized for limited conflicts does not inevitably mean that today's "silver bullets" have replaced them as primary deterrents.

Armed conflict, and particularly limited warfare, normally is about ends, not means. Nuclear weapons stood this principle on its head by introducing a "means" so destructive that no ends could justify the likely horrific costs inflicted by the weapons themselves. Precision weapons carry no such stigma. By definition, damage will be limited to specific targets. The "bolt from the blue" deterrent effect of precision weapons and virtual presence is limited exactly because their effects are confined and predictable.

Commander Tangredi has the relationship between big-ticket precision strike systems (Tomahawk, B-2, F-117) and lesser conventional alternatives backwards. Sending a couple of dozen Tomahawks or stealth aircraft against a target entails less risk to national treasure and blood than an air strike or land assault using less glamorous assets. Compare the message last September's 44 Tomahawks carried to Saddam to that which he would have received had we sent our nation's finest into harm's way. Low-risk systems should be weapons of first resort. If their utility is lessened by overuse, it will be because of policies too permissive of force in general—not because the tool employed is too familiar. Yes, this does invite neglect of other strike capabilities and may allow those on the receiving end to develop effective counter-measures. But holding back these conventional weapons, whose threshold has been crossed long ago, in order to send dictators ambiguous messages while needlessly risking American live, would be inviting a national tragedy.


"Time Is Running Out for Ship Low-Altitude Air Defense"

(See C. Myers and W. Howard, p. 8, January 1997; M.L. McDaniel, pp. 119-120, March 1997 Proceedings)

C. Henry Depew —The concept of an airship to provide stable, over-the-horizon detection of potential threats is a valid application of existing technology. Aside from internal politics and related obstacles to any such development, there are at least two potential problems for using such a detection/weapons platform. The airship's location will provide a designator for hostile forces as to the probable location of the fleet to which the airship is sending its information. More serious, however, are the operational parameters of the airship when it is in use. The Navy lost a couple of its earlier airships because of flawed command decisions, and the dependence on favorable weather conditions when the airship is deployed can not be ignored.


"Designing and Buying Warships: France, Great Britain, and the United States"

(See L. Ferreiro, pp. 57-60, March 1997 Proceedings)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Once again we learned the importance of correct punctuation. As printed, it appears that the British awarded the LPD contract non-competitively based on the Ocean experience, and that the French are doing Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analyses based on their experience with the La Fayette. In both cases, this is misleading and incorrect; the author had it right before we changed it. 



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