Straight From the Top

Admiral Johnson : With all due respect to Secretary Lehman, I do not concur. I can't see a time out ahead of us when the aircraft carrier's relevance is not very obvious. I believe that the platforms that we're putting on the decks of our aircraft carriers today—and the platforms that we're building for tomorrow—will keep us at the forefront of tactical operational excellence. I'm not worried about that at all. Roughly 75% of the world's population and 80% of the world's capitals lie within 500 kilometers of water. We can reach all of that, and that's relevant. So the systems that are in these new airplanes—in both the F/A-18E/F and the Joint Strike Fighter, as we see it—will be more than equal to anything we will be asked to do. We all loved the A-6 Intruder. I take nothing away from it. It was a fundamental anchor for the excellence of naval aviation for decades. I've flown it, and I love it like everybody else who has flown it.

But I would tell you that we've made some steps that have helped us a lot since the A-6 left. Naval aviation came up with a solution called LANTIRN. We borrowed it from the Air Force, and we put it on F-14 Tomcats, which are now deployed with the LANTIRN capability for precision weapons delivery. This has brought on a renaissance in the Tomcat community. So we have all we need to keep the carrier relevant as far into the next century as I can see.

Question : Does antisubmarine warfare still have a high priority?

Admiral Johnson : Yes. Antisubmarine warfare is fundamental—both to the Navy today and the Navy of tomorrow. We've changed some terms, and you'll hear of something today called undersea warfare. Undersea warfare is a combination of ASW, mine warfare, and everything else we deal with out there, but embedded right in the middle of that mixture is antisubmarine warfare.

My predecessor stood up a special shop in OpNav—a branch specifically focused on antisubmarine warfare. And we have no intention of ever moving away from that focus. One of the concerns that was articulated some years ago was that as we transitioned to the littorals, out of the big water, that our focus on ASW would go away. We may have been guilty of that to some degree—in perception, if not in reality. But I will tell you that today we're concerned a lot about antisubmarine warfare in the littorals, which brings its own set of unique challenges.

Question : Where are we going with the integration of women in each of the warfare communities?

Admiral Johnson : The answer to that is one word: forward. We're very proud of the integration of women in our Navy. Right now, 94% of our naval billets are gender neutral. It's the right thing do. We're little more than halfway through a six-year plan to integrate fully the surface combatant force of the Navy. The pace is being dictated by habitability changes and proper manning levels. It's also being driven by the realities that we've been learning as we've integrated, from Day One. There's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it, and we want it to be right every time. We feel very good about what we've done, and we feel very confident that the future is on track.

The aviation community is integrated fully. The Kitty Hawk battle group just came back from a wonderful six-month deployment in the Arabian Gulf, with a fully integrated ship, battle group, and air wing—no questions asked. There are two specialty fields that are not: One is submarines and the other is SEALs. Quite frankly, we're not there yet—and I don't know if we'll be there in the near term. But I feel very confident that career opportunities for women are dispersed throughout the force in such a way that they can be all they want to be-and we're very proud of that.

Question : When I first started flying F-14 Tomcats 20 years ago, we got 30-65 hours a month. Today, you're lucky to get a dozen flight hours a month. How do we maintain readiness?

Admiral Johnson : By design, we're a tiered readiness organization. When you go forward, as the Roosevelt is out there right now, you are at the tip of the spear, and you have more than 100% primary mission readiness hours afforded to you. That readiness is rock solid.

When you come home, you step off tier one and you go down to a lower tier of readiness, by design. You reequip, you re-man, and through the inter-deployment training cycle you work your way back up the readiness ladder. And you're good to go again by the time you deploy.

We're focusing a lot of effort right now on the back-home side of that, on the by-design lower tiers to make sure that we're not undercutting ourselves. We have some aircraft depot maintenance backlogs that limit aircraft availability for returning aviators early in their turnaround training. We're attacking that with a vengeance right now. There is no substitute for flight time.

Question : I have watched with interest the advent of the Arsenal Ship, which seems to me to be a very good target for submarines. What do you see as the future of fire support for Marines who have to go ashore?

Admiral Johnson : As you know, close air support is a primary mission for the Marine aviators. It's fundamental to Navy aviation, as well. All of our F/A-18 Hornet squadrons, all of our F-14 Tomcat squadrons today are very proficient in close air support, and that is not going to change.

I will tell you categorically—and I've told the Commandant this—that I can't see in my mind's eye a circumstance where we would ever—ever—put Marines ashore without every bit of combat power over their heads that we must have. We're committed to that. That's our job. We will be there.

Vice Admiral Richard D. Herr, USCG

Question : What is the status of the icebreaker Healy (WAGB-20)?

Admiral Herr : I heard just today that they had another delay of about a month or so; she is under construction at Avondale Shipyard. They had a small delay because they were not used to forming three-inch steel, which is required on the hull of the icebreaker, and also working in 15-inch frame spacing, which is rather unusual. The plan is that the ship will probably be launched in November or December, and we are hoping to get her operational possibly by the end of 1998.

Question : Does the Coast Guard have any presence in the Canal Zone at the present time—and what will you do after the Canal Zone is turned over to Panama?

Admiral Herr : The only presence we have there now is one liaison officer who works there on both the safety and security efforts in the Panama Canal Zone. We are available to assist, as requested, but after the Panama Canal gets turned over and the commission transfers to Panamanian control, we don't have any feel for what requirements—or if an invitation to participate—will be forthcoming. We've got a great interest, obviously.

Question : I have heard from active-duty Coast Guard personnel that they felt using the Eagle for training was no longer valid. Have you received any feedback from cadets or from active-duty or retired people about this subject?

Admiral Herr : You're talking about a very emotional issue. All of us who went through that training feel it was absolutely fundamental. We think it really provides a good grounding for our people to learn real grass-roots seamanship. And if you're not going to learn it on the Eagle , you're not going to learn it anyplace. When you come back from your first long cruise and you've raised blisters on top of blisters in finally figuring out that what you really want to do when they talk about sail stations is to get aloft instead of staying down and handling the lines on deck, you've learned a lot.

But we think that it provides a really good feeling for the sea and its lore, and we are looking at increasing the use of the Eagle as a training vehicle, not just for our cadets, but for our officer candidates as well. One interesting case: We had the Eagle in the Azores this year when the cadets had to come back to start classes, and we flew an entire boot camp class over to bring the Eagle back—and they're still talking about that experience. That's a lot better than sitting back in Cape May going through boot camp.

Question : You mentioned the need for replacement of the C-130. Would you address what the plans are in the aviation arena?

Admiral Herr : Part of this deep-water mission capability review is really looking at three different things: it's looking at aircraft; it's looking at ships; and it's looking at sensors, in trying to adjust the overall blend to meet our needs over the next 20 or 30 years out in the deep water, the long-range region that we work in. One thing of interest right now is that we've got one C-130 with FLIR—forward-looking infrared radar—that's down in Clearwater; its performance is every bit as remarkable as we saw when we put the F-137 radar on those C-130s. After we started getting the F-137 capability, we didn't even want to use the C-130 unless it had it. Now, we're in the same boat with the FLIR—so it's a matter not just of what we're doing with the aircraft, but of what sensors we're going to put on them. We're hoping to put a lot more FLIRs on there, and we're bringing out some of our HU-25s—the Falcons that were air-intercept equipped—that have the FLIR and F-16 interceptor radars on them.

We're also beefing up the H-65 helicopter, the small helicopter, and putting a better transmission on there in order to increase the hoist capability on that aircraft. So we're looking at a lot of different avenues besides procurement.

Question : This is not a question. Just a comment about the Eagle . Not only is she so important for training but also as a national symbol. She is a symbol of our national heritage and presence around the world as a famous tall ship, and I support her all the way.

Admiral Herr : Thank you. We aren't even talking about changing anything as far as the Eagle is concerned.

General Charles C. Krulak, USMC

Question : You and Admiral Johnson have given us a very clear view and vision of the strategic goals for the Navy-Marine Corps team in the 21st century, but unless you have a procurement system that supports you, they are all pipe dreams. Can you comment on any initiatives in the Marine Corps to get new equipment in the field in less than three years?

General Krulak : Absolutely. That's exactly what we're doing with the Warfighting Laboratory; that's exactly what we're doing with our Sea Dragon series of experiments. We have used R&D funds to develop—for example—a system called the Skyhook. It's for resupply of deployed forces by helicopter. We used to have a helicopter come by and pick up one item, carry it slung in an external load, and drop it at destination. This Skyhook now has the ability to pick up multiple packages, and store them inside the helicopter. When the crew chief pushes a button, it drops one portion of that resupply package and keeps the rest on the skyhook, redistributing the weight of the rest of the package so the helicopter doesn't fall out of the sky. The Skyhook idea was conceived about six months ago and will go out to the fleet with the Marine Expeditionary Unit that leaves the West Coast this summer. So in less than a year we've gone from a concept to hardware that we're actually fielding.

I believe in my heart that the current Secretary of Defense understands, as his predecessor did, that you are not going to be able to get to the future with a procurement program and procurement system that constrict your ability to reach out, see what you need, and get it. I think we're going to see some more changes in that. We're already experiencing them. But your point is valid.

Question : You've created the image of a Marine as a knight in shining armor; that commercial is really great.

General Krulak : Yes.

Question : That image evokes the principles of chivalry, gallantry, and all those good things. But is that knight now gender neutral? Are we now going to send women in that knight suit onto the field of combat? Is chivalry dead in the 1990s?

General Krulak : No, I don't think chivalry is dead at all. Let me just tell you what I think we've got to be prepared to do. I believe, in my heart and soul—and I think we're already seeing it—that you are going to need a Marine who can stand here holding an emaciated child in his hands, feed that child, wrap that child in swaddling clothes, and that's called humanitarian assistance. Then you will see that same Marine with his hands spread apart, keeping two warring tribes from getting at each other—and that's called peacekeeping.

And then you will see reflected in that same Marine's eye an Army helicopter that's been shot down, a tremendous firefight, and a dead soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. All of those scenes can take place simultaneously within three city blocks. Three city blocks! And we'd better figure out a way to recruit men and women of character who can go through things like that—and also train them to be able to function through the spectrum of conflict.

Do we, as a corps of Marines, believe that the person who is going to be on the tip of the spear with a rifle—bayonet in his teeth—is going to be a female Marine? No. But is it fair to put anybody who wears my precious Eagle, Globe, and Anchor into an environment that goes, in three city blocks, from humanitarian assistance to all-out conflict-and not give them the tools to at least defend themselves? I think it's criminal if we do.

Question : What can you tell us about the Marine Corps' Crucible concept?

General Krulak : The Crucible is a part of our extended recruit training. We looked at this battlefield that I just discussed—the three different types of conflict within three city blocks—and talked about how you prepare somebody—Marine or Navy, male or female—to be able to do that. First, you look at where our people are coming from—and that is what we call Generation X. Shortly after becoming Commandant, I brought in some psychologists, some psychiatrists, and some other doctors and said, "Tell me about Generation X. Help me understand what we must to do to prepare them to fight these battles."

First, they said, "Generation X looks for standards. Second, they want to be held accountable for those standards. Third, they don't mind following as long as, fourth, they get a chance to lead sometime. Fifth, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves, something that's recognized as special; and sixth, surprisingly, they believe in some of kind of overarching power. They don't necessarily call it God—but they believe in some overarching power." And then these doctors looked me in the eye and said, "So, General Krulak, do you know what they're doing?"

"No."

And they said, "They're joining gangs; they're joining gangs. In urban settings, they might be called the Crips and the Bloods. They've got structure; they've got standards. They are a part of something big. They are held accountable. They can lead and they can follow and, boy, it's tough. If they're not in the inner cities, they're in the suburbs where the gang might be called a clique, or a fraternity, or a sorority. But essentially the same rules apply."

And so, when you hear about this generation, you'd say, "If we can get them going in the right direction, this could be powerful—powerful!" And so that's what we are doing. We're going to make it tougher. That's what they're saying they want, so we're going to make it tougher.

We started appealing to Generation X. You've seen our commercial: a young man takes a sword and slays a dragon. Then he raises his sword, and it says, "Join the Marine Corps and you will be transformed, and the change will be forever."

Then the lightning comes down and hits the sword and he turns into a Marine in dress blues.

Well, I said, "This is the dumbest looking thing I've ever seen. What is this all about, what is this all about?" The recruiting people said, "Don't worry—we're not trying to recruit you . We're trying to recruit these young men and women of character who are joining gangs now."

And do you know what our recruiting has done? We've made our mission, 22 straight months—the only service that can say that. Not even the Air Force; the Air Force missed it last month for the first time. Not only have we reached our goal—we've exceeded it. We're at about 105%.

We also have extended the length of boot camp—and at the final defining moment, we have the Crucible. It is 54 straight hours of sleep and food deprivation. It cannot be accomplished by any single recruit; it has to be done as a team. As his platoon goes into the Crucible, the drill instructor takes off his Smokey Bear hat and puts on a regular soft utility cover, just like the recruits. The drill instructor becomes General John A. Lejeune's leadership model: teacher-to-scholar, parent-to-child. Then he takes his recruits through this very demanding time—and at the very end the recruit finally gets the shining emblem—the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. It's a tremendously moving time. It's phenomenal. I invite you to visit a recruit depot for a Saturday morning graduation ceremony, to see for yourself.

Everybody does it—male and female—everybody. I believe that this generation is seeking a challenge—a physical, mental, and moral challenge-and they can find it in the Crucible. We also have put the Crucible into our officer training. The final three days of Officer Candidate School at Quantico are, in fact, a Crucible.

While we're on recruit training, let me answer another question that's bound to come up. If the Corps believes that men and women are going to find themselves somewhere along this continuum of warfare, why aren't we gender integrated in our recruit training? The answer is very simple: We don't think it's good to do that.

I've talked to women down at recruit training and they've said, in no uncertain terms, "We want to look up to a role model that we can identify with. We want to look up and see that the battalion commander is a woman. We want to see that the drill instructor—whom we want to be someday—is a woman. We'll see enough guys in the next 4 years or 40, but during this very important socialization time, we want to learn what it is to be a Marine—nothing else." We think that's the right way to do it. We're not knocking the way anybody else does it. We're just saying that, for our Corps, it works for us—and we are not going to change it, no matter how much pressure is put on.

Question : Could you give us your definition of success as a military officer and a military member, and also as a human being.

General Krulak : Being able to look yourself in the face when you shave in the morning. I'm dead serious. I've been blessed to have been brought up by parents who really stressed the moral side of being a man, being a person of character. I've had great people to emulate—General Carl Mundy is one of the great leaders of character that the Corps has had in recent years. And so you can look to other people for inspiration. You will never be unsuccessful if you stick up for what you think is right. You've got to be able to take a different stand, when needed, without denigrating the stands of others or their right to make such stands. You just need to be able to disagree.

 

 
 

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