Comment and Discussion

Warren C. Robinson, Senior Associate, Economic Research Associates -I read Captain Ryan's article with great interest. His highly favorable judgment about how "gender-integration" is working on ships was reassuring. But I was struck with his discussion of females who became pregnant while serving under his command. I am neither present nor past Navy but have a deep interest in naval affairs and am a professional demographer (population specialist). Captain Ryan reported that during "the past year" 71 out of the 375 females on his ship became pregnant. Several things follow:

  • Women can become pregnant during only a few days of their monthly menstrual cycle. Except in novels, pregnancy rarely results from a single occasion of sexual activity. Even when a couple wants a pregnancy, it may not be easy. A woman engaging in heterosexual sex several times a week typically does not become pregnant for three to six months.

Furthermore, unless the 71 female sailors all deliberately became pregnant, then those who became pregnant were a subsample of the larger female population on board who were also sexually active but who did not become pregnant. The notion that only 71 women were sexually active but all became pregnant in the same year defies common sense. The conclusion on this point is that the 71 pregnancies does not imply 71 sexual encounters, but instead a relatively high, sustained level of heterosexual sexual activity on the ship.

  • Seventy-one pregnancies among 375 women is a rate of 17%, a rate more than double that of the overall female population aged 18 to 40 in the United States-comparable to some Third World populations who practice little or no contraception. It is not clear why this rate is so high among the Sailors. Likely they do not have adequate access to and training in the use of modem contraceptives; surely this was not a part of the traditional Navy medical corpsmen's training.

Shipboard pregnancies can be viewed from two perspectives: that of the Navy and that of the women involved. For the Navy the question has to be: Are they disruptive to a vessel doing its assigned tasks with maximum effectiveness? In spite of his highly optimistic tone, Captain Ryan's article suggests that pregnancies are disruptive. His vessel lost twice as many women crew members to pregnancy as to all other causes, and Captain Ryan notes in particular the problems created in his communications division. Imagine this scenario in a wartime setting. For female Sailors, the goal must be to have pregnancies when they are truly wanted and the couple is ready to face the challenge of parenthood. This is the "family value" that public and private institutions attempt to convey to all segments of our population. The Navy should participate in these efforts.

Both goals may require a greater effort by the Navy at seeing to it that all Sailors have complete access to and education in the use of modern contraceptive methods. The planned and desired level of shipboard pregnancies will almost certainly be lower than 17%, and both the Navy and women will win. LI

"Warrior Training Must Be the Highest Priority"

(See R. Bowdish, p. 87, April 1997 Proceedings)

Commander J. M. van Tol, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, USS O'Brien (DD975) -Kudos to Lieutenant Commander Bowdish for arguing that each new levy on the amount of time that is available for tactical training should be balanced by a concomitant reduction in some other training requirement. I commiserate with him, however, for having to spit into the wind in doing so.

His point can be made even more broadly. Having recently returned to sea, I am appalled at the increase in required paperwork, administrative programs, and non-tactical training that has evolved in the three years since my last sea duty. While most of the administrative and other requirements indeed may be individually worthwhile, collectively they represent a grotesque demand on the scarce resource of time that is available to the crew of a ship. As Commander Bowdish rightly suggests, tactical and operational training generally lose out to most other demands because, although we may not have to fight tomorrow, the next inspection team will surely arrive right on schedule.

There is another important issue here, a psychological one. Those who levy various requirements do not act as if they value the time of those assigned to ships. The assumption has always been that the ships and their crews will just "suck it up"-because they always have. However, if we are going to take the fun and fundamentals out of our profession by thoughtlessly turning our young officers into administrative grinds who spend ever-increasing numbers of hours working on peripheral programs and reports rather than becoming tactically proficient seafarers, many of them will figure out that they can just as easily become paper pushing dullards by going to law school-and make five times the pay. As we start "defining accomplishment down" by the number of nonoperational requirements met, professional satisfaction-the main attraction for young officers deciding whether or not to stay in the Navy-becomes correspondingly meaningless.

The bottom line is that we urgently need to stop increasing the time tax on our people and to reallocate a much larger proportion of their time to things that really contribute to combat readiness and professional development. Unfortunately, what we have today is an insidious process of psychological disarmament, made worse-and perhaps harder to fix by the fact that there are currently no powerful advocates for those at sea who will-or can-resist new time demands levied by any senior officer or political appointee with a neat idea and the power to force it on the fleet. Unless we stop diluting the essence of the naval officers' profession as we are doing in many ways today, it will be that much harder to attract bright young people into the service in the future.

"Outsourcing Is Not a Panacea"

(See D. King, p. 69, July 1997 Proceedings)

John L. Byron -The Navy is shifting to outsourcing in a big way. Three reasons for this:

  • Outsourcing frees the Navy to focus on its mission.
  • It brings in free enterprise's aggressive innovation.
  • It saves money-30% is a good benchmark figure.

In adopting an outsourcing strategy, the Navy complies with both policy and practicality. The policy part has two steps. Step One: Is the task or function inherently governmental? If no, Step Two: Are competitive sources available in the private sector? If yes, outsource. Basically, the government should not compete with its citizens.

Outsourcing replaces bureaucratic inertia with private sector initiative, government monopoly with energetic competition, bureaucratic inefficiency with the central strength of the world's most efficient economy. We understand all this on the hardware side-the practical case for outsourcing support services is, if anything, stronger.

It's silly to believe that outsourcing brings inordinate risk. This ain't rocket science. These are garden variety services, most listed in the phone book. If the Navy can rely 100% on American industry for its ships, aircraft, and weapons, surely it also can trust a competent contractor to provide support services, maintain facilities, and manage enterprises in a quality way.

Base support services is the major arena for outsourcing. Private-sector experience shows that the right way to do this is integrated facility management (IFM), the turnkey operation of an installation (or regional cluster of installations) by a single integrating contractor and the expert team he assembles. The IFM contractor does the work, manages it, and provides the quality assurance the customer deserves. This is how the giants of industry manage their facilities.

IFM is the right way-the only way to reap outsourcing's benefits fully. Shift from control to partnership. Share goals and the definition of success. Be succinct in your requirements. Tell your IFM contractor what you want, but don't tell him how to do it. And cut your own management to the bare bones-you've hired a quality contractor to do this work.

However, half-baked attempts at outsourcing would prove critics correct.

  • Out-tasking is the hiring out of stove piped functions in separate stand-alone contracts. It simply rebadges isolated elements of the workforce, doing nothing to improve management. Out-tasking leaves the base commander with a problem akin to herding frogs. Although many Navy installations are headed down this path (and higher authority seems willing to go along), out-tasking is a bad solution.
  • A bit better perhaps, but still well short, is base operating support. Here, the contractor performs several functions together, but is still handcuffed by the exquisitely detailed constraints of a contract specifying every action. Nor can he escape the army of government micromanagers, who add no discernible value to the outcome. This, too, is not the solution, not the model of outsourcing that has revolutionized U.S. business. You don't achieve intelligent outsourcing just by bringing the contractor in you have to take the government out.
  • You can also destroy outsourcing before you even get there by playing hide-the-ball. At a time when the Navy should be flooding industry with dates, details, and plans, it is instead keeping its potential outsourcing partners in the dark. There simply is no outreach to the private sector. Though the Navy has created many new jobs and organizations dedicated to outsourcing, not one of these has the responsibility to reach out to industry, to keep it informed, to bring this industry's expertise into the Navy. It takes two to tango-the Navy needs to start a new, open relationship with the outsourcing industry now.

Corporate America is five to ten years ahead of the military services in outsourcing. The Navy should go to the Fortune 500 companies for ideas and proof-of-savings, not to its own public works centers. The typical private-sector work statement is under 30 pages long, the contract a third that size, and the customer's oversight team never more than 1% of the workforce. The focus is on results, not process. The performance metrics are mutually designed. Transition management is an important element of the plan. Incentives raise the IFM contractor's profits for cutting the customer's cost. Perhaps the most compelling feature of commercial IFM is that most contracts allow either party to terminate for convenience on 30 days notice-a more powerful mutual incentive for success cannot be invented.

Let's look at a live example of intelligent outsourcing. Microsoft Corporation just hired an IFM contractor to execute its entire facilities budget, provide all its support services, and manage its four million square feet of buildings. Microsoft selected its IFM partner first, relying on past performance and reputation as its sole guide. It described its needs purely in terms of results required. Then Microsoft and the IFM contractor cooperated to design the work solutions, performance metrics, and contractual relationship. Microsoft has one person managing the resultant contract. Could you execute such a contract in the Navy? Certainly. In fact, federal procurement reform encourages you to make past performance the key selection factor, to express requirements in performance-based terms, to use negotiations to shape the contract, and to buy best value.

But won't the shift to outsourcing be painful? It could be. But no more so than what we've been through recently. The radical downsizing following the end of the Cold War and the associated four rounds of base closures were no day at the beach, either, but the Navy survived these essential cutbacks-we can handle outsourcing also and do it humanely.

The defense budget is short $20 to $30 billion a year in its modernization accounts, and that's if the top line stays at $250 billion. Without change, we'll be forced to continue the unhealthy tradeoff between current readiness, quality of life, and our future ability to fight. These are ugly choices.

At the end of the Cold War, the costs of readiness and support were split 50/50. Today's ratio is 30/70-more than two thirds of defense spending is on support and infrastructure. Outsourcing cuts 30% out of what has become the single largest spending item in the defense budget. We can no longer leave this money on the table-we need it to pay the bills. Outsourcing is not an option.

Sadly, Navy outsourcing could fail. The Navy's shore management culture stands in the way, fighting change, clinging to failed procurement models, and above all, refusing to yield turf. It's fascinating to hear conservative naval officers express a preference for socialism, but that's the vote they cast when they argue that goods and services can be more efficiently obtained from government sources.

Outsourcing is about far more than simply contracting out. It changes how bases are managed. The philosophy is wise and the policy sound. The mission focus, innovation, and large savings of intelligently done outsourcing are very real. But these benefits can happen only after the Navy becomes a smart customer, willing to capture its own culture and change it. For whatever motives, Commander King wants to go slow on outsourcing. I say speed it up.

"Somebody, PLEASE Rock the Boat!"

(See 1. R. Avella, p. 12, June 1997 Proceedings)

Commander J. A. Gattuso, U.S. Navy -Before I respond to Captain Avella's specifics, permit me to defend our professional journal. Surely Captain Avella has seen the controversy swirling around Jaeger Aviation. What about the article castigating today's fitness report system and the leadership responsible for it? What about the recent excellent article on lack of integrity in NATOPS evaluations in naval aviation? What about the superbly written articles passionately and trenchantly arguing the pros and cons of maneuver warfare applied to the Surface Navy? The Editorial Board and the professional staff at Proceedings have done everything they can to encourage and foster debate and criticism, and they are tireless and treasured supporters for the despised agents of change.

Back to the matter at hand: Why does our officer corps seem to be devoid of the moral courage and passion required to question and argue with the leadership? Officers today who think, who stretch, who question, who aren't "good little soldiers," who are aggressive, testing, pushing, fire-eating, difficult, passionate, just don't see the need to put up any longer with the foolishness that exists in today's careerist military. These officers simply don't see the future in this military that has no place for imperfection. Put it together: The party line says "we're getting people in the military who are better than ever, smarter than ever, etc." (We've all heard the blather.) Are we surprised, then, that these better, smarter people just don't want to put up with old-school-tie mediocre clubbishness, the drab, painful averageness of it all, and hence depart - in droves? So many people in the aviation community are leaving that the exit doors could be used as fans.

The only hope against this swelling tide that seeks to draw all people into the politically correct group is the courage, residing within each human breast, to nourish and feed the spark of individuality and accept the responsibility and accountability (and the heat) that comes with the fire it creates. It is by far the heavier burden-but much the richer life. While Captain Avella alleges that the "climate of fear" that exists is a professional disgrace (and I agree), I have little sympathy for his students who are afraid to submit their papers for publication. There always has been, to a greater or lesser degree, such a climate-only now there is such insipidness in our officer corps that we no longer have the courage to attempt to clear the hurdles erected by a timeless and unchanging bureaucratic mindset. The hurdles have-and will-always be there. We cannot change the nature of a bureaucracy but should look to building our own characters, which, when adequately forged, will conquer any bureaucratic obstacle, and the bureaucracy will burn away, seared by the flame of the fires in every belly.

We boat-rockers have our role to play; the Establishment has its own. If the Establishment continues to disregard the Maytag Principle-the washing machine won't clean clothes without an agitator-bad things are bound to happen. Tailhook and the rest are just the beginning. Soon people won't be losing their careers; they will be losing their lives. Captain Avella should tell his students that, should they permit society to extinguish their spark of individuality and courage, they will lose their souls.

Passionate enough?

James W. Clair -Bravo! Finally someone addresses an attitude that exists not only in the military but also in the corporate world. This attitude existed well before the "me" generation, although this generation has developed this attitude into a well-paying profession.

I'm sure Captain Avella is not suggesting flagrant disobedience but rather forthright assertiveness. After all, what we are really talking about here is perception. Somewhere along the way officers and managers were inculcated with the notion that perception, not reality, is the key to success. It is better to create and maintain an illusion and avoid attracting too much attention than to deal with reality.

Boat rockers face the same jeopardy as whistle blowers. Managers can ride roughshod over subordinates using a simple technique-fear. Performance reviews often are used as weapons. All management has to do to keep a boat rocker in line is a simple statement on the performance report-"not a team player." It's even tougher in the military. What goes on an officer's fitness report if he is a boat rocker? And if the performance evaluator fears his superior will see him as too soft on the people he supervises, he is more likely to give the person being evaluated a lower rating, in order to make points with his own seniors.

Many good ideas land in the circular file for no other reason than management fears that a good idea from the lower ranks will make management look bad. Egos are such that management will advance a poor idea and set up a scapegoat to blame for the anticipated failure of the plan. I worked for a company whose sales strategy was proudly phrased by the CEO as "Ready! Fire! Aim!" When this plan proved to be a dismal failure, the entire sales force was blamed for being inept. Can we really afford to squander our resources this way?

In an age when no career is safe because there is no longer any room in the budget, I doubt you will see any ripples-let alone waves-from people willing to expose themselves and get kicked once in awhile. Employees cannot afford to give management any reason at all to eliminate them. More emphasis is paid to today's bottom line than to where the organization is going to be in five years. Rocking the boat is not enough. Current thinking needs to change at the top.

"Diving Deep"

(See W. J. Broad, pp. 39-42, June 1997 Proceedings)

Commander V. T. Boatwright, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired) -This article is an excellent treatment of deep-diving submersibles in our Navy. But it includes an erroneous caption on one illustration, identifying Captain Charles B. "Swede" Momsen, Jr., to be testing the "Momsen lung" that he invented. The "Momsen lung" was invented by (and named for) Captain Momsen's father, the late Vice Admiral Charles B. "Swede" Momsen, U.S. Navy, one-time Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic. The "Momsen lung" was developed in the late 1920s after casualties to S-boats.

This comment is in no way intended to denigrate the younger Momsen, a first rate naval officer who contributed significantly to the development of deep diving submersibles.

"Does Maritime Patrol Have a Future?"

(See S. Jasper, p. 74, April 1997; F. V. Klein, pp. 24-26, July 1997 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Commander Chris Collins, U.S. Navy -Any discussion of future maritime patrol aircraft is incomplete if the roles and capabilities of the SH-60R are not fully explored. The SH-60R must not be thought of only as an "extension to the ship's sensors and weapon systems," but as integral to the Joint Task Force. The SH-60R will have advanced sensors over the current SH-60B, including:

  • Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR)
  • Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
  • Highly accurate advanced electronic support measures suite
  • Second generation forward-looking infrared system (FLIR)
  • A new Advanced Low-Frequency Sonar
  • It also will carry a diverse weapons load for both antisurface warfare and undersea warfare. These weapon systems include:
  • Penguin missiles
  • Hellfire missiles
  • Mk 50 Advanced Lightweight Torpedoes
  • Mk 46 Torpedos and Mk 46 Hybrid Torpedoes

The SH-60R will carry an advanced integrated self-defense system, capable of ensuring survivability in the high threat littoral regions. It will have key operator-assist capabilities to include data fusion for all sensors and automatic classification for its ISAR, SAR, and FLIR systems. It will have endurance of greater than three hours, with increased on-station time with the addition of auxiliary fuel tanks (at the cost of torpedoes). And most important, the SH-60R will maintain its unique, highly directional, high-bandwidth, secure datalink with its own ship. This datalink will facilitate the downlink of ISAR, SAR, and FLIR imagery, along with standard radar, acoustic and electronic support measures information.

The capabilities of the next maritime patrol aircraft must complement those of the SH-60R in primary and secondary mission areas, and that both aircraft have the capability to provide a joint task force commander the vital tactical and strategic information he needs in an accurate and timely manner. Most SH-60Rs will already be on station with the surface combatant and can provide that support immediately. The SH-60R is a "revolution" over the current SH-60B, and the U.S. Navy needs to recognize the increasing role the SH-60R will play in joint operations in the future.

"Amphibious Redux"

(See L. F. Picotte and K. King, pp. 63-65, June 1997 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Glenn M. Hopson, U.S. Navy -For me, a surface warfare officer who is preparing to be a department head on an amphibious ship, the article by Admiral Picotte and Captain King was like food for a starving man. Their critical assessments of amphibious operations from World War II to the present were eye opening, but I cannot agree that a small group of officers with amphibious ready group (ARG) staff experience will reverse the erosion of amphibious warfare planning skills the authors describe. Decades of ARG staffs did not prevent the problems attributed to limited amphibious experience on the naval component commander's staff during the Gulf War.

The art and science of amphibious warfare is being lost because it is not taught like the other surface warfare specialties. Here at the Surface Warfare Officer School Department Head Course, the tactical action officer curriculum dedicates less than 10% of the classroom hours to expeditionary warfare. While the unit squeezes in an "Intro to Amphibious Operations," it is full of lessons on Tomahawk, strike aircraft, intelligence, and mine warfare, and it is the only warfare specialty that does not have homework or an exam. When the amphibious warfare lesson is a slide show ("this is an amphibious assault vehicle") and we simply rehash the "planning, embarkation, rehearsal, movement, assault" sequence, I can see why the rest of the Surface Navy sees 'Gators as taxi drivers.

When our country's next opposed amphibious assault comes along, it should come as no surprise when a generation of naval officers raised on nothing but the composite warfare concept do not understand the lessons in unified command spelled out by these wise old 'Gators. UL

Vice Admiral J. B. LaPlante, U.S. Navy (Retired), and Major General Harry W. Jenkins, Jr., US. Marine Corps (Retired), Commander Amphibious Task Force (CATF) and Commander Landing Force (CLF), respectively, during the Gulf War -We are responding jointly, largely to make a point: this is how we answered all our taskings during Desert Shield and Desert Storm and was our preferred mode of communication with the Naval Component Commander and with the members of the Amphibious Task Force (ATF). We are surprised to read that we had had problems with unity of command-no doubt others will be also.

While "Amphibious Redux" builds on the lessons of World War II, it both oversimplifies and misapplies the lessons. Command relationships in amphibious operations conducted during the war were neither doctrinal nor traditional, but evolved over time and varied across a broad range of operations. World War II amphibious operation command relationships differed because the tactical, political, alliance, strategic, and threat situations were different. These varied situations drove variance in the command and control arrangements, as they have in other wars. This constitutes the difference between combat and exercise conditions. The purpose of an exercise is to teach and practice doctrine and procedure. In exercise conditions, we quite properly impose doctrine as a precondition and manipulate the rest to fit. The real world isn't so easy to manage.

We agree entirely with the authors that current doctrine is adequate and does not require change. They miss an important point, however-that amphibious doctrine does not apply in all operations that employ amphibious forces. Amphibious doctrine was produced to govern those operations in which the mission and objective are decided on beforehand. CATF and CLF then proceed through the classic doctrinal steps: plan, embark, rehearse, move to the objective area, and conduct the assault. For these operations our doctrine is ideal. Operations in Southwest Asia, on the other hand, had none of these characteristics. During Desert Shield and Desert Storm, threat assessments, strategies, objectives, and force lists all changed, and did so often. As an example, an initiating directive tasked the Amphibious Task Force to conduct simultaneous planning for an amphibious assault just south of Kuwait City, two separate amphibious demonstrations in southern Kuwait and the Al Faw Peninsula, a major amphibious raid on Faylakah Island, and 12 smaller raids against soft targets between Kuwait City and the Al Faw Peninsula. At the same time, the ATF executed the noncombatant evacuation operation in Mogadishu, Somalia, carried out five separate ship takedowns as part of the Maritime Interdiction Force effort in the Indian Ocean, and planned and conducted air strikes with its embarked AV-8B Harriers as part of the air campaign. The preconditions for application of amphibious doctrine never existed, and adapting doctrine to a fluid set of circumstances became standard. Only organizations with a high degree of unity of command can accomplish this. There was only one ATF planning staff during the Gulf War and the buildup; it was joint, unified, and effective.

While we acknowledge the authors' comments on the unique organizational arrangement of the landing force, a word about compositing is necessary. The 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), 5th MEB, and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) [MEU(SOC)] were all under the control of the Naval Component Commander, and were not a tactical reserve for the Marine Component Commander in Saudi Arabia. The Naval Component Commander designated the Commanding General, 4th MEB as Commander Task Force 158, and placed both the 5th MEB and 13th MEU(SOC) under his tactical control when they arrived on station. Compositing was considered, but ruled out because of the potential loss of tactical and unit integrity of these Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs) already at sea, the lack of C4I assets to support such a move, plus the obvious lack of space on board ship for a reorganized staff. Instead, MAGTF elements were integrated where appropriate based upon the myriad of missions assigned to the ATF. The 4th MEB was the senior planning headquarters, while the 5th MEB command element functioned both as an alternate tactical headquarters and as an independent headquarters based upon the assigned missions from the 4th MEB. This was not conventional doctrine, but it worked well under the circumstances in which we had to operate.

Clearly, we must retain our assault doctrine, and we must continue to insist on proficiency in it. But in today's world, we must be capable of much more. We must be able to adapt doctrine to the increasingly wide range of operations in which we will find ourselves. The most difficult adjustments are, and will continue to be, command relationships: It is inconceivable to assume that in any operation that employs amphibious forces, the Navy officer who commands the amphibious ship or ships will command the entire operation. Amphibious forces always have been characterized by their versatility. In the foreseeable future, they will have to be more, not less, versatile. This is reflected in the design of the San Antonio (LPD-17) class. The ship will be capable of operating independently in situations not even remotely anticipated by doctrine.

"Retaining the JOs: Looking Up or Going Down?"

(See S. R. Kennedy, pp. 26-29, June 1997 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Commander Stephen B. Dietz III, U.S. Navy -Bravo Zulu for Lieutenant Kennedy's analysis of junior officer retention in the submarine community. He makes some good observations and poses constructive recommendations-more reasonably focused than Lieutenant Goestch's "Generation X" article (October 1995 Proceedings, pp. 6669). I further respect his opinion and efforts because, unlike Lieutenant Goetsch, who threw stones while walking out the door (resigning his commission), Lieutenant Kennedy has chosen to roll up his sleeves and be part of the improvement process while staying in the game.

I would like to comment on a couple of Lieutenant Kennedy's observations. First, with respect to operational tempo, senior leadership, well above the Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic/Pacific (ComSubLant/Pac) level, are seriously committed to keeping it under control (albeit for fiscal reasons as well as for quality of life). The vast majority of operational Navy personnel expect to deploy-in part, that is why they joined and why many decided to make it a career. In addition, submarine officers are no more entitled to a post-Cold War operational tempo "peace dividend" than any other group in the military. What does need to be better managed within the submarine community are the short-fused schedule changes, most often of a service nature, that disrupt leave and social plans.

Second, the submarine force need not "create a concise mission statement." ComSubLant/Pac and the Strategic Command have that covered in spades. What is missing is not the "mission," but the manner in which it is going to be executed-the "vision thing." Vision is a command responsibility, not something to be vested in the type commander. Walk the waterfront. Talk to the JOs. Wardroom attitudes vary widely from boat to boat, crew to crew. Shared vision and purpose make a difference. I am not proposing that every command needs a catchy written vision statement (although I personally believe it is beneficial, if to serve no other purpose than to keep the command leadership committed), but the crew needs to know the framework in which the mission is going to be conducted.

Often, when the discussion comes up on the topic of retention, I think of why I decided to stay in. The first year I was married, as an ensign, I spent nine-and-a-half months at sea. Upkeeps were strenuous on our 27-year-old nuclear attack submarine. That boat took us to the North Atlantic, the Pacific (twice through the Panama Canal and as far south as Chile), and to the Mediterranean. My first daughter was born during that tour. These all fit quite nicely with Lieutenant Kennedy's analysis of today's dissatisfiers. Why did I stay? The command atmosphere, established by two commanding officers with exceptional leadership ability and vision, made it a fantastic and rewarding tour. Am I an exception in that wardroom? No. As of a year ago, more than 50% of the JOs with whom I served were still on active duty. Those two COs instilled a passion for submarining within their JOs, a passion that still exists within me despite subsequent deployments, upkeeps, overhauls, and a decommissioning, not to mention the emotional impact of the drawdown itself. They served as a driving force and inspiration in JO career decisions. There was professional risk involved. They could have micromanaged marginally better performance on inspections, but chose not to in pursuit of greater goals. They instilled the magic of submarining in all their JOs-officers who matured into exceptional leaders and warriors, confident in their ability and hungry for future tours as department heads, XOs, and COs. There is no greater testament to a CO's dedication and service than the legacy of the officers and enlisted professionals whom they have trained and sent on-someday to fill their shoes.

Unfortunately, not all COs and XOs today are as concerned about the future. Some are more focused on the next promotion and the connections to be made in fostering their personal careers than they are on their current jobs. My question to those in command, and to those aspiring to command, are these: Are you more concerned about your next assignment, promotion, or your current job? Do you micromanage your wardroom and inport duty rotation so tightly, in fear of mistakes, that you are robbing your JOs of increased responsibility and an improved quality of life? If you are, do not expect your commodore to come down and tell you to change the way you do business-it is your ship and your decision. But you must ask yourself if your personal vision (or lack thereof) is worth enough to mortgage the future of the submarine force.

Do not infer that I perceive there to be a major leadership crisis in the submarine community. I do not see it that way. A measure of leadership is based on much more than retention. Yet, having said this, leadership undoubtedly serves as a major factor in establishing a well balanced quality of life-the number-one dissatisfier noted by Lieutenant Kennedy. Leadership and vision at the command level are the key elements in solving JO retention problems. We can-and we must-do better.

Lieutenant Edward J. Brown, Supply Corps, U.S. Navy (Retired) -The detailed statistical analysis presented by Lieutenant Kennedy reveals the desires of today's dissatisfied Navy junior submarine officers. The first question that came to my mind was, "What motivated these officers to enter the submarine service or the Navy in the first place?" The survey, from this viewpoint, appears to demonstrate that these officers entered the service of their country solely to benefit from the experience. The popular reasons for departure-"quality of life, new career, graduate education, job dissatisfaction, and lack of interest"-are all subjects that can or should be known prior to making a commitment to a Navy career. I wonder what the responses would be if a survey examined why contented officers remain in the service.

While it is not uncommon, immoral, or illegal to join the workforce after college with aspirations for advancement, I believe the Navy could eliminate some of the costs of retaining officers who entered the Navy for personal aggrandizement by seeking those who are motivated by a desire to serve their country and are willing to endure the associated trials associated. Our society is amply supplied with such personalities, as witnessed by the medical, teaching, and other public-service professions. It may be a tough sell in today's job market and in an age when patriotism is a pejorative term, but potential officers should know up front what they're getting into.

"Battling Battery Boats"

(See W. J. Holland, pp. 30-32, June 1997; M. Klingler, p. 27, July 1997 Proceedings)

Rear Admiral Frank Rosenius, Commander-in-Chief, Royal Swedish Fleet- Admiral Holland writes that the challenge from conventional submarines in the littorals is no match for the antisubmarine warfare community if skills are learned and practiced. I have a few observations from a Swedish view with experience from the Baltic Sea and its approaches.

The Swedish submarine force now has four boats with air-independent propulsion (AIP). First, the Sterling engine does not radiate high structure borne noise. In fact, it is as silent as running electrical. Second, AIP gives us the option of cruising at low speed for more than ten days without snorkeling. This gives modern conventional submarines a significant increase in operational and tactical effectiveness. Moreover, even with a small sensor package compared to towed-array systems, we achieve sonar ranges in excess of 100 km in our shallow waters using flank-array sonar.

Furthermore, with wire-guided and homing torpedoes ranges in the 20-30 km region, we now conduct our surveillance, target acquisition, and attacks almost exclusively on sonar information alone. On Swedish submarines we very seldom use the periscope. This of course enhances the stealthy profile. Radar is never used except for navigational purposes.

Admiral Holland states, "Shallow water is a dubious haven for submarines and not one sought by submariners." As a submariner myself I know from our experiences that the opposite is the game of the day in the littorals. Temperature layers, bottom topography, and limited depth (50-150 m) make ASW extremely difficult from May through October, and very difficult during the rest of the year. For many of Admiral Holland's statements, we do the opposite. We construct our submarines and train to go for the bottom to hide. We use inshore attack positions, especially when the bottom topography is rugged. All this proves again and again being extremely difficult to handle by our ASW forces. And I rate them very high. For more than ten years we have invested heavily in shallow-water ASW and consider ourselves experts in this area.

Of course ASW can be improved and Admiral Holland's recommendations about active-passive tactics and how to handle the sensors coincide with our experiences. To further enlighten Admiral Holland on Swedish submarine operations, I can say that we always test our new submarines against depth-charges nearly to the point of required shock resistance, and all submarines "on the line" will be depth-charged annually at rather "close quarters" to give the crews such an experience.

All in all, the littorals, like the Baltic, are still a submarine haven and an ASW nightmare. It has been proven in national exercises as well as in Partnership for Peace exercises with U.S. ships present. A conventional submarine with sonar ranges of 100 km and torpedo ranges greater than 20 km in a confined area like the Baltic makes it a lethal weapon. It is a deterrent that is hard to overcome if you are on the wrong side of a conflict.

Captain John P. Prisley, U.S. Navy (Retired) -Admiral Holland's latest campaign against diesel-electric boats contains a great deal of misinformation and selective discussion. There is no argument that the nuclear-powered submarine is outstanding in the open ocean and far from home. It has no match for secure speed or endurance. There is also no argument that U.S. naval antisubmarine warfare forces do not practice against diesel submarines in a littoral environment enough to maintain proficiency or understanding of this target.

There is no longer any reserve of operational diesel experience within the active-duty force that can be used for training, and making a nuclear submarine simulate a conventional boat is just not practical, for truly cultural reasons. Nuclear submariners have grown up on unlimited power and resources.

The German Type 209 series can operate at patrol speeds for at least two days and remain above 50% capacity. The Argentine TR-1700 is equally competent none of these with air-independent propulsion (AIP), but only with 1980s state-of-the-art batteries. With this capability, the commanding officers do not spend every waking moment worrying about batteries. Air-independent propulsion is giving conventional boats even greater endurance. AIP is not a future technology; it provides submarines an additional two to four weeks of patrol time without a charge. This translates into mobility and on-station time.

With the quieting achieved in these boats by the German acoustic rafting construction and modern sound-isolation mountings, snorkeling-especially in the vicinity of diesel-powered merchant and fishing traffic in the littorals-does not represent serious indiscretion. In this type of environment, there is little risk of detection, even with some masts up although only a high frequency whip, the scope and the snorkel head (coated where possible) are likely.

The discussion of diesel boats being unable to move far or fast, and needing to charge batteries every 24 hours, is a red herring. In the littoral, diesel boats are the ones waiting for U.S. forces to come their way, remaining in their own waters, with little movement required, except to close a visual or radar target. The most likely regions for such operations are in such confined areas as the Baltic, Red, Yellow, or South China Seas, and in such choke points as the Straits of Sicily, Hormuz, Malacca, or Tsushima. Each of these can be reached with a surface or snorkel transit through noisy shallow water from the bases of potential enemy submarines. The enemy can choose the time and place for a covert patrol and surprise attack.

The idea that "national sensors" will infallibly tell us what is in port ignores the real world of disinformation, and deception practiced by the Russian- and Chinese-trained folks we see. Any threat nations could deploy all operational submarines without being noticed by these sensors. Because of either underground facilities or decoys, we would have little chance of detecting missing boats.

The "command-and-control complexities imposed by communications limitations" also rings hollow. Most threat nations will use their submarines within 100 miles of their coast lines, and nearly all use very low-frequency and high frequency broadcasts. Therefore, there are no real communications limits.

Besides, in real numbers we are talking about a U.S. submarine force of about 50 nuclear-powered boats, roughly 25 in each ocean, 25% of which would be in home waters for training or upkeep or overhaul. Discounting the boats assigned to the carriers, amphibious forces, and special-mission boats leaves few assets to patrol an enemy's coast.

The notion that conventional boats continually will be running from our forces is silly. The best evasion tactic today is to bottom, and be quiet. Admiral Holland should be aware of the exploits of friendly submarines during joint operations in Operation UNITAS over the past four to five years, and those cases where certain very competent friendly submarines worked with our forces in a training capacity and left many red faces. Fighting a diesel in its own waters, in the face of minefields and shore radars, is not a simple exercise. Once hostilities begin, diesel boats will be used differently, and will be even harder to find and kill.

The idea that little diesel subs can't carry big arrays or the people to handle towed arrays also is misleading. The 209s, the TR-1700, Kilos, and all new construction diesel boats have flank arrays that significantly enhance sonar capabilities. They are not in the business of "long-range detection and localization," but in short-range detection and kill. Crew size in these boats has been reduced by automation-something we seem to be afraid of in SSNs-and it works just fine for their missions.

Shallow water is not a dubious haven for submarines; it is their friend. They can bottom in their own backyard, reduce the probability of detection by presenting zero doppler, merge with bottom reverberation and bottom irregularities, become extremely quiet, and render torpedo attack against them almost impossible. And a bottomed diesel can shoot torpedoes without moving.

The article noted the stress of submarine combat. I don't see Iranian submariners becoming basket cases worrying about getting caught. They are not faint-hearted, and they are learning how to operate their boats. It is misleading to say that diesel submariners are afraid to leave port. As far as I know, this applies only to a single nation, and is because of operational unreliability of their old boats.

Admiral Holland harks back to the "successful combined arms operations . . . by Task Force Alfa." I was there, and it was not always so successful, once the COs had a chance to work against them. The boats I served on never had a terribly hard time shooting carriers. Moreover, it is a long time since we practiced "Combined Arms" ASW.

Modern diesel submarines are extremely potent adversaries in conducting antisurface warfare against U.S. forces and merchant shipping in particular. They will not be doing ASW, except when cornered-when they will have the Russian 200-knot torpedo being sold openly to use in snapshots!

"Man (and Woman) Can Live on Bread (and Water)"

(See B. Filbert, pp. 76-78, June 1997 Proceedings)

Dwight H. Sullivan, Staff Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland -Having served as the appellate defense counsel in three bread-and-water cases heard by the Court of Military Appeals in the past decade, I disagree with Lieutenant Commander Filbert's analysis and recommendations.

Naval historian James E. Valle has observed that major changes to the naval justice system "have been forced upon the Navy from without. Traditional opinion within the service has always held that each successive reform would bring ruin and collapse." Commander Filbert provided a case in point by bemoaning the abolition of confinement on bread and water as a court-martial punishment. In fact, this punishment's demise presents no cause for alarm. Professor Valle went on to note that "the Navy itself, after more or less uncomfortable periods of adjustment, has always been able to reconcile its disciplinary system and survive the changes." The same will be true of confinement on bread and water's abandonment as a lawful sentence.

Civilian courts have long condemned confinement on bread and water. In 1971, a federal judge in Virginia found that such punishment constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and that it was therefore forbidden by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Since that ruling, federal judges in Georgia and Wyoming have reached similar conclusions. Professional corrections officials have joined these judges in condemning confinement on bread and water. The American Correctional Association specifically forbids "the use of food as a disciplinary means." Thus, this nation's leading experts reject confinement on bread and water as a legitimate correctional tool.

Nor is confinement on bread and water necessary to maintain military discipline. Tank battalions, aviation squadrons, and entire infantry divisions have managed to preserve good order and discipline without resorting to confinement on bread and water. Naval vessels' officers, chiefs, and petty officers are no doubt just as capable of maintaining discipline as their landbased counterparts. Any notion that confinement on bread and water is necessary for shipboard discipline is belied by the experience of Britain's Royal Navy, which abandoned confinement on bread and water in 1953 without any apparent ill effects. The U.S. Coast Guard has also managed to maintain discipline despite a long-standing regulation prohibiting confinement on bread and water or diminished rations.

Furthermore, Commander Filbert is wrong when he claims that confinement on bread and water is "safe" punishment. In one of the three confinements on bread-and-water cases to reach the military's highest court over the last decade, a Sailor was subjected to confinement on bread and water despite a medical officer's certification that such punishment would seriously injure his health. This episode hardly inspires confidence that the punishment is being imposed safely.

While confinement on bread and water has been eliminated as a court-martial punishment, it remains an authorized non-judicial punishment for shipboard Sailors and Marines.

Rather than lifting the ban on confinement on bread and water as a court-martial sentence, as Commander Filbert suggests, Congress should make the Uniform Code of Military Justice truly uniform by abolishing this punishment throughout the U.S. military.

Cliff Anchor -One must remember that the Russian Revolution was sparked aboard the Potemkin by sadistic officials who mistreated sailors along the same lines as proposed by Judge Advocate General lawyer Filbert. No wonder we have so many problems with the Uniform Military Code of Justice today when officers like Lieutenant Commander Filbert run the show. The government is not entitled to special privileges outside a wartime scenario-and even then, is required to treat people with respect, decency, and consideration for their privacy.

 

 
 

Conferences and Events

Maritime Security Dialogue

Tue, 2014-10-14

Please join us for the launch of a new Maritime Security Dialogue series, featuring: Admiral Jonathan Greenert, USN, Chief...

Defense Forum Washington 2014

Newseum - Knight Conference Center

2015 WEST Conference

View All

From the Press

Featured Dinner Speaker & Book Signing

Thu, 2014-10-23

Featured Dinner Speaker & Book Signing

Thu, 2014-10-23

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 135 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership