Comment and Discussion

The Laboon performed as a true asset of the National Command Authorities when it delivered Tomahawk missiles on time and on target. That was the measuring stick for success-not the fact that no female sailors were relieved for pregnancy or that we had zero fraternization complaints. Measure a ship's success or failure by the ability to perform missions-not on the moot point that the ship has a mixed-gender crew.

The Sullivans (DDG-68) was indeed the first destroyer built from the ground up as a mixed-gender ship, but it did not solve the Navy's problems with fraternization or sexual harassment. It offers no new insight that several ships have not practiced already. Good leadership by the commanding officer, wardroom, and chief's mess is vital for any ship. The female-at-sea issue is nothing new. The fact that The Sullivans commissioned with female crew members is neither noteworthy nor relevant. The battles had been fought and their lessons learned.

Samuel P. Ginder-Commander Roncolato and Lieutenant Commander Davis are on target when they point out that gender integration on board combat ships involves extraordinarily complex challenges. Theirs is neither academic conjecture nor social-policy tinkering. Their lessons were learned over two and a half years with the crew of a new destroyer, The Sullivans (DDG-68).

They ask and answer two questions that are at the heart of the matter. First, "Are we mature enough as a society to have gender-integrated combatants?" To this they answer, "No, not yet."

I tend to agree. The United States, as a society, largely is not ready for gender integrated combatants. Why? Because Americans still view the warrior as male. That doesn't mean that we reject the notion of women going in harm's way to support their men. In the U.S. mind-set, women have a distinct role to play in field hospitals, logistical support operations, and staff functions. When it comes to pulling the trigger, we back away.

The authors also ask, "Do our young people have the self-discipline to serve together in a close, stressful environment without behaving in a way destined to have a profound impact on combat readiness?" They answer, "Frequently, no."

They found that young U.S. men and women often have neither the self-discipline nor the maturity to work together in this close environment without establishing unduly familiar and inappropriate relationships. As they point out, these intimate personal relationships on combatants tear at the effectiveness of a combat team just as ferociously as poor training, poor leadership, or lack of logistical support.

This is not a weakness in society. It is the way things are and always have been between young men and women. It's too much to expect that our young people will exhibit the self-discipline required for their coexistence on board without detrimental effects on combat readiness. That's more self-discipline than recently shown by their seniors in public life.

Politicians and social engineers may believe that they can create a new mankind to conform to the perfect society that they envision. They haven't done very well so far, and probably will fare no better in the next century.

In an assertion not supported by their facts, the authors state that integration of women in combatants is inevitable and right, and that it can work. What makes gender integration inevitable? It's not the inevitable result of some physical reality like the rising of the sun. Nor is it driven by military requirements. It's about social agendas in Congress.

Is it really the right thing to do? That's a debate that must be wrested from the hands of the activists and those with agendas far different from the requirements of military preparedness.

The destructive consequences are evident on board The Sullivans. These are not academic musings. These are real world experiences from a ship of the line that is trying under strong leadership to make gender integration work. The authors conclude that our society isn't mature enough to produce the young men and women with the self-discipline to serve together in a close, stressful environment without the inevitable attachments that destroy combat effectiveness.

This may be a bitter pill to swallow, but if an idea is bad or if we aren't ready for it, we should abandon it. Whether gender integration on board combatants is the right thing to do is a debate that must be joined seriously without the encumbrance of false assumptions, politically correct mind-sets, or ad hominem arguments. Whatever conclusion that debate might lead us to, we should follow. Let's face it, shipmates-all change is not progress and everything new is not necessarily for the better.

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

(See S. R. Kennedy, pp. 26-29, June 1997; S. B. Dietz, E. J. Brown, pp. 19-20, August 1997; E. C. Picken, p. 8, February 1998 Proceedings)

"Don't Call It Rightsizing"

(See B. Warfield, pp. 77-78, December 1997; E. Kotkiewicz, p. 10, February 1998 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Commander William J. Davis, Jr., U.S. Navy-Mr. Picken's comments on why junior officers (JOs) might be leaving the Navy are condescending. The point of his commentary appears to be that the JOs don't really know why they are leaving, despite their voiced opinion that the "lack of leadership from above" is a main reason for dissatisfaction. The "lack of leadership" intimated by previous articles is a true area of concern.

The reason why the Navy should be concerned is exemplified by Commander Warfield's article. There is a serious problem with spare parts and aircraft availability. It appears to juniors that senior leaders feel what Commander Warfield describes is an acceptable manner of conducting business-when it actually is dangerous and unacceptable.

I also suppose that Mr. Picken never had to look a second class petty officer in the face after telling him or her that, despite the petty officer's 12- to 14-hour days on the flight deck in the heat of the Arabian Gulf, the Navy does not have enough flight-deck pay billets allotted to the squadron. This month the petty officer will have to go without flight-deck pay. Mr. Picken also probably did not have to explain to spouses why their husbands and wives were gone for more than 200 days the year prior to a six-month deployment when senior leaders continually beat the drum of quality of life.

These glimpses into some of the "leadership challenges" (the euphemism of choice for senior leaders describing problems caused by inept management that lesser individuals in the fleet must handle daily) that the JOs must face force any right-minded individual to ponder, "Who is running the store?"

The culture of the Navy (and I am part of that culture) can be summed up in two quotes-"We can do more with less" and "Don't tell your seniors if there is a problem, even if you offer a solution, because you might be perceived as the problem." The Navy always has been a culture full of "can-do" individualism. To say we cannot do something is unheard of, no matter what the reason. The most common response to problems pointed out by JOs is to "suck it up" or "quit whining." This is why our senior leaders are seen as absent.

The Navy has some serious problems with quality of life, under manning, spare parts, and so on. We need someone who is willing to admit there are problems.

So, Mr. Picken, the JO who must deal with the problems generated by absent senior leadership is more than qualified to state his or her reasons for leaving the Navy. If the reason is that they feel senior leadership is lacking, then let us not tell them to suck it up or that they don't know what they are talking about. Let us make a concerted effort to investigate the validity of their statements and see if the Navy must indeed change the culture of its senior leaders. Until we can change our "can do at all costs" culture, the exodus will continue.

Captain Diane J. Diekman, U.S. Navy-My compliments to Commander Warfield. His message needs to be heard and listened to in Congress and at the NavAir and CNO level. I am a maintenance officer and a former aircraft intermediate maintenance department (AMID) officer, and I've seen what he describes. It is a poor way to do business. We need officers like him who are willing to stand up and protest.

"Reserve Yard-Sale!"

(See W. K. Fogerty and T. Somes, pp. 64-67, February 1998 Proceedings)

Captain David LX Woods, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)-This article, urging the Naval Reserve to jettison most officer and enlisted TARs along with virtually all Naval Reserve physical plant (centers, air stations, and facilities), is the finest piece of commentary on the Naval Reserve ever published anywhere.

I've had an opportunity to observe the Naval Reserve firsthand from both sides for 40 years-via naval service starting with a 1949 enlistment as a seaman recruit to several post-1987 recalls, extending through 1989. During active duty, I worked for Admirals Arleigh Burke, Jim Thach, and Chick Hayward. Moreover, I've been active in leadership roles with several active reserve military associations-11 years on the executive committee of the Naval Reserve Association, plus six years on the executive committee of the Reserve Officers Association.

My one regret is that none of us drilling reservists saw the truth and value of these authors' organizational suggestions years ago. I suspect we were simply too busy trying to meet our missions, or we may have been too conscious of the deep fear within the Naval Reserve of the regular Navy.

As a group, only a dedicated handful of TAR officers or enlisted personnel have ever joined-let alone supported reserve associations.

So if the Naval Reserve faces the inevitable question of reducing itself to less than effective size, or eliminating our large infrastructure of reserve centers, facilities, air stations, and TAR personnel, the choice is clear.

While many close friends may brand me a traitor, I've never been able to accept the concept of a "separate" Naval Reserve force. A Naval Reserve can only exist if it supports the Navy-and by Navy, I mean the fleet.

The (nearly forgotten) greatest hero of the Naval Reserve has to be the late Vice Admiral Damon "Hutch" Cooper, famed combat aviator. Admiral Cooper, who served briefly as the first Chief of Naval Reserve, was removed from office promptly after falling on his sword, testifying before Congress that the Department of Defense- and Navy Department sponsored manpower cuts would decimate the Naval Reserve he was leading and make the reserve useless in wartime emergency.

What more can any Naval Reservist ask of any regular Navy leader? So if the Naval Reserve cannot trust a Navy led by the Burkes, Thaches, Haywards, Coopers, Kidds, Macks, Watkinses, Holloways, Boordas, and Fettermans-perhaps we'd better just scrap the Naval Reserve once and for all.

I know from my 40 years that I always have found a lot more solid reserve support within the Department of the Navy (particularly the fleet) than from the majority of our erstwhile TAR community.

In Norwegian waters above the Arctic Circle during Teamwork '84, Rear Admiral Bob Rogers never asked me if I was a reservist. He just shook my hand and said, "Welcome aboard the USS Mount Whitney! Glad to have you with us. You know what to do, now go do it."

Bravo Zulu, Captain Fogerty and Professor Somes. Now I'll try to get some associations to agree with you.

"They've Shut Down the Fraternity!"

(See Y. I. Sos, p. 125, March 1998 Proceedings)

Captain Jerry B. Houston, U.S. Navy (Retired)-At first blush, Lieutenant Commander Sos's article elicits sincere head nods-everybody wants to have fun. Even the killing profession requires comic relief-and our profession (even when adorned in political correctness) remains a killing profession. The ability and willingness to kill-swiftly and efficiently earns us our daily bread.

The goal, Commander Sos, isn't to retire at 20 for 40%. Your duty, the obligation for which you're paid, remains to be sure that whatever you're tasked to do, you can do. That also entails standing tall and telling your boss-and even his boss-when the job can't be done, whenever it can't be done, and why it can't be done. Obviously, this requires expertise and guts.

Commander Sos doesn't like a zero defects environment; it's not fun. Impromptu low-level flying and ship fly-bys were commonplace and dangerous, but they sure were fun.

But, Commander Sos, there's all the fun in the world in naval aviation. One of the better carrier commanding officers put it best: "Don't give me a reason to court-martial you."

You and your peers earn a living assessing risks. The problem, it seems, comes from fearing the risks more than wanting the fun. Complaining because your senior officers won't give you a license to steal doesn't earn any "brass balls" award from this corner. Li

"Leave Our Flight Jackets Alone!"

(See M. J. Frattasio, p. 62, November 1997; C. E. Wortham, p. 22, February 1998 Proceedings)

Machinist's Mate Second Class Frank F. Haun, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)-I saw red after reading Ensign Wortham's comments. What is wrong with our Navy today is that "they" just keep killing naval tradition.

When I enlisted, there was a lot of pride and tradition. Ensign Wortham's remarks about Petty Officer Frattasio's contribution are arrogant. He should get a little sea time under his belt before he mouths off about tradition.

"Honor Is a Seamless Garment"

(See R. J. Phillips, pp. 43-46, February 1998 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Commander Robert Gillett, U.S. Naval Reserve-Captain Phillips makes an appeal for a more definitive approach to core values. I have an observation from a more abstract view. The model can be refined as a process rather than three independent virtues. The core of the core values is courage. Courage can exist with or without either honor or commitment. It is evidenced by willingness to confront and risk personal harm in order to accomplish an objective.

Commitment takes courage a step further. Commitment endures in spite of difficulties and injuries sustained. It takes courage to make a commitment. Commitment is courage over the long run.

Finally, honor is the virtue that seals a commitment. Honor is what brings us to fulfill our commitments, whether they be in personal relationships or financial or other obligations. Honor is a seamless garment in its breadth across all areas of life, and seamless in its depth because it presupposes courage and commitment.

Captain Phillips's assertion that honor is a seamless garment thus may be extended to include the other two core values-and, in fact, best applies when these other core values form the fabric into which honor is woven.

"Reinventing Sealift"

(See S. T. Connaughton, pp. 59-61, December 1997 Proceedings)

George D. Saunders-Commander Connaughton's message is a clear and timely warning that our sealift capabilities are not what they should be. And unless aggressive action is taken, we could find ourselves in a military operation lasting several months rather than several weeks.

Commander Connaughton reviewed the status of the Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF) and the large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off (LSMR) programs. That these conversion and construction programs are behind schedule is true-but not fatal.

It generally is not recognized that these 17 ships incorporate certain new design features and structural arrangements that are the product of lessons learned over many years. Both the shipyards and the Military Sealift Command (MSC) jointly-and sometimes not so jointly-worked their way through many problems to produce this new waterborne military capability. Other sealift assets must be brought into existence around this core, and made available when needed to meet contingency operations and warfighting requirements.

Far more serious is the decline of the U.S. merchant marine. This is a big problem, and temporary solutions will not do. One such solution is the Maritime Security Program, covering 47 ships in the foreign commerce of the United States to be made available to the government in the event of a national emergency. While this effort is laudable, it does more to point out the seriousness of the problem than it does to solve it. Financial support for an industry that is vital to our national security and world power position is more than justified, and in fact is downright mandatory if we are to maintain adequate sealift capability. It is cheap insurance compared to the price we might pay in view of the lethal potential and destructive power of the weapons we could face in a future conflict. The best and probably the least-complicated solution is to restore the capital construction fund program, through which shipowners can set aside funds for new ship construction that will not be taxed. It would be mandatory that the ships be built in U.S. yards, within certain time limits.

The services are familiar with existing commercial transportation equipment and infrastructure-ships, terminals, and containers of all types. Private-sector ship operators and container leasing companies are, for the most part, well aware of the needs of the United States Transportation Command. The National Defense Transportation Association does a creditable job in cross-deck training at the executive level.

Not too much more should be expected of containers and intermodal shipping. There will continue to be improvements and refinements in container hardware and management systems that will produce greater efficiencies-but nothing really dramatic. Military-owned (and leased) containers always have been built to International Standards Organization (ISO) requirements, making them compatible with private-sector containerships and intermodal transportation.

The success of the containership in commercial trade is well known. But the containership in military operations is a different matter. Only small numbers of the world's containership fleet are fitted with cranes, and none of them is currently under U.S. flag. To be deployed in a sustainment operation, a containership would have to be offloaded in an undamaged port nearest the operating forces' staging area. The containers would then be moved overland by truck or rail to their in-theater destinations. Should port facilities not be available (for political or geographical reasons), the only alternative would be to offload the ship over the shore, which would require portable cranes. There are ten crane ships in the MSC fleet, one of which is active; the other nine are in reserve. Pontoon causeways or lighters would bring the containers to the beach, where they would be mounted on chassis for final delivery.

In addition to existing sealift assets both the MSC inventory and the Maritime Administration reserve fleet-we must have additional sealift tonnage as a safety factor, in view of the many things that can go wrong in littoral warfare.

At least 50 ships should be designed and built for charter to civilian commercial operators on long-term contracts. They should be built as merchant hulls insofar as possible, with weight and space reservations for the installation of military equipment and modules when the ship is needed for government service. These 50 or more ships should be built over the next ten years-five or six ships a year, to preclude block obsolescence. They should be combination roll-on/roll-off containerships on the order of the Atlantic Container Line fleet. The military equipment and modules would be located strategically, relative to each ship's operating area.

When a build-and-charter ship is withdrawn from its commercial operator for government service, it should be replaced immediately with a ship of approximately the same size and capacity. The replacement ship could come from the charter market or possibly from the Maritime Administration reserve fleet. The replacement ship may not be as suitable as the ship taken away, but it will keep the operator in business until either a better ship is found or the withdrawn ship is returned.

Building the U.S. mariner pool is probably the most important problem facing us. Commander Connaughton seems to have come up with the only workable solution-permitting U.S.-citizen mariners to work on foreign-flag ships, a program that could and should be implemented within a year. Every effort should be made to create such a program. It should probably be under the administrative control of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The tax incentive in exchange for an agreement to be immediately available in an emergency for service on a U.S.-flag ship will almost certainly be a key element in the program. This is no more than fair, considering that foreign-flag wages are lower than U.S.-ship wage scales. Properly managed, and without needless administrative intrusion, the program should work well and should go a long way toward correcting a serious problem.

The standards of the International Ship Management Organization should be adopted by foreign-flag owners employing U.S. merchant mariners. This agreement sets standards for crew training, watch keeping, and other areas in the ISO 9000-series quality standards.

It is difficult to judge war and the logistics and transportation that will be needed. But we know we will need adequate sealift-and more importantly, we know what we must do to get it.

"There's Value in Diversity"

(See M. Tainter, pp. 38-40, February 1998 Proceedings)

C. Stephan Conrad-This is a very realistic approach to the problems and strengths of creating a diversified workforce. I am a B757/B767 captain for a U.S.-based major airline, and have formerly served as a check airman and FAA designated examiner on the MD80 and check airman on the A300 Airbus. I also am a former base chief pilot at this airline. Here, in my 18-plus years, I have evaluated and flown with many former, retired, and reserve naval aviators. These pilots are some of the best-trained and most-disciplined aviators I've ever had the privilege to know.

I had hoped to become a naval aviator, in part because of my love of airplanes and the military and having grown up with great admiration and respect for my father, who served on board the USS Iowa (BB-61) and the USS Bremerton (CA-130) in the post-World War II years. My hope never materialized because of the surplus of naval aviators in 1976 and 1977. So I chose the second-best career. Three characteristics of all the naval aviators I fly with are their leadership, organizational, and communication skills.

Diversity in the workplace, be it in the services or the civilian sector, is here. We can capitalize on its strengths, and most important - as Chief Tainter points out - the similarities rather than the differences among our cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. I equate it to what I see in the cockpit. It doesn't matter where you came from or how you were trained initially-but that the mission is completed successfully, effectively, competently, and toward common goals, while at the same time realizing and appreciating that we each have a uniqueness in how we accomplish these goals. Focus on the similarities we use to create a common bond-don't emphasize the differences.

If I allowed myself to concentrate on the differences in my crew, I would never leave the gate. Thank you for such an insightful essay. It helped me to understand what real diversity should be.

"A Tangled Webb"

(See P. A. Roush, pp. 42-45, August 1997; R. Hegemann, C. van Someren, R. Kuntz, V. M. Hudson, L. Marano, L. Stovall, pp. 12-22, September 1997; J. D. Lynch, D. E. Phillips, P. S. Edwards, T. M. Kastner, G. W. Anderson, pp. 10-15, October 1997; D. C. Fuquea, K. H. Moeller, M. T. Owens, pp. 21-24, November 1997; T. C. Greenwood, J. M. van Tol, pp. 2425, December 1997; E. Donnelly, J. A. Pidgeon, pp. 25-26, January 1998; T. M. Murray, p. 13 February 1998; P. A. Roush, R. C. Bowdoin, pp. 26-28, March 1998 Proceedings)

Elaine Donnelly, President, Center for Military Readiness-Professor Roush's March letter took issue with portions of my January letter, which discussed statements he had made to me and other members of the 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. Once again, Professor Roush has substituted personal attack for rational discourse, and disclosed his apparent obsession with former Navy Secretary James Webb.

Readers have been told that I had described falsely a conversation between Professor Roush and members of the commission during our two-day visit to the Naval Academy in April 1992. The panel he references occurred on the first day, but my reference was to a follow-up meeting (noted in the staff report) on the second day when, as I recall, Professor Roush spoke to us from behind a desk that appeared to be his.

Professor Roush contends that it was not he who compared James Webb to David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, but instead a student, quoted by an approving teacher. The verbatim transcript of the 9 June 1992 hearing of the full commission quotes Professor Roush saying otherwise. In particular, he made the claim that it was not he, but I, who had made the analogy in question. Which version are we to believe?

Contrary to Professor Roush's insinuation, there never was any question that James Webb, a former Navy Secretary and notable author, was welcome to testify before the commission at any time. He chose not to do so.

Professor Roush also complains about questions I asked following his testimony before the commission, even though they were related to one of the primary points stated at the beginning of his presentation, and reprised more recently in Proceedings. Had he asked, I would have been happy to repeat or provide a copy of the brief statement I had read-an excerpt from the 1981 Supreme Court decision upholding women's exemption from draft registration. The answer to my question should have been easy for any self-styled "expert" on bigotry.

Professor Roush also claims to be an expert on the motivations and actions of other people, even when he has no firsthand knowledge of what happened and why. His revisionist account of a conversation I had with two midshipmen at the Academy is quite amazing, given that he was not there and clearly missed the point. People in uniform must follow lawful orders, but as stated in the Navy's own core values, superiors are expected to "Be willing to make honest recommendations and accept those of junior personnel," and to "Encourage new ideas and deliver the bad news, even when it is unpopular."

"Leave a Legacy"

(See J. Snell, pp. 36-37, February 1998 Proceedings)

Master Chief Carl L. Berrier, U.S. Navy (Retired)-Congratulations to Senior Chief John Snell on winning the Naval Institute's Enlisted Essay Contest. His challenge to chiefs on leadership could not have been put better.

Chiefs always have had the responsibility for leadership. The course of leadership changes over time to meet the goal. As liaison with the USS Yorktown (CG-48) and currently with the USS Normandy (CG-60) for the Richmond Council of the Navy League, I have seen nothing but top-rate chiefs. I am positive that if there is a needed course change for leadership it can-and will-be accomplished by our Navy chiefs.

"Semper Paratus in the 21st Century"

(See C. B. Frank, pp. 26-29. December 1997 Proceedings)

Master Chief William R. Wells II, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)Lieutenant Commander Frank has made many correct and thoughtful assumptions that reflect his experience and insight into the capabilities-or lack thereof-of the Coast Guard's aging fleet. True, better hardware would help, but it is not the only solution to his rather gloomy picture. No one has dared to approach the potentially more destructive causes of the Coast Guard's current and future hardware and organizational difficulties.

Software-that matter between the ears-holds the key to the problem. Neither Commander Frank nor any others address the Coast Guard's steady loss of cohesiveness. As Commander Frank noted, the Coast Guard has lost nearly 50% of its sea-going fleet since 1950. Although the majority of these cutters were used for the long-dead ocean station patrols, they provided platforms on which junior officers cut their teeth at sea. The loss of this fleet and its culture have prompted many discussions of whether the Coast Guard is a seagoing service or a "maritime service." At-sea experience in the Coast Guard has become widely diluted, because during the same 195097 period the Coast Guard's officer corps increased by more than 275%, and it will may increase in the future if attempts to remove the permanent ceiling for commissioned officers-as was attempted in 1992-are successful. Indeed, it is now possible for a person-a possible decision and policy maker-to reach the grade of admiral with little or no sea experience. A cursory review of today's admirals shows that fewer than half have the permanent cutterman pin, which designates five or more years of sea experience. This is not an enviable statistic for the "world's premier maritime service."

Sea experience is not the only factor. This is demonstrated in the shortcomings of the 270-foot Bear (WMEC-901)-class cutters, illustrated by Commander Frank. The slow speed of this class of cutters stands in sharp contrast to the quest for speed 100 years earlier. The cutters constructed during the 1890s were both warships and patrol vessels, and could reach speeds of 17 knots-speed was a requirement. An old Coast Guard adage holds that its cutters are designed around their towing bits-and this has created a vessel that can neither tow nor shoot. In essence, the Coast Guard has constructed ships that have gained either no or very little-speed advantage over their 100year-old counterparts. It is likely that the 1890s cutters could outgun and outfight their 1990s successors.

The usual refrain is that the Coast Guard is a multimission service and must allot its short funding in the widest possible scope. This was substantiated by a now out-of-date General Accounting Office report, which said it was more cost efficient to build multipurpose vessels. There is some reasoning in this, but are the cutters actually "multipurpose"? Even the Cold War-engineered 378-foot Hamilton (WHEC-715) class, once hailed as an innovation, has been regulated to the function of being only a platform to extend the legs of a helicopter. It no longer carries an effective gun system, nor can it perform any antisubmarine warfare mission. At best, it could detect mines or other targets only by running into them.

Commander Frank warned that if "new assets and new operational concepts are not employed, the Coast Guard will go the way of wooden ships, sailing ships, radarless ships, and battleships." This dire prediction depends upon the Coast Guard being able to convince Congress that it needs a large expenditure for better, faster, and technologically improved vessels on which to base better, faster, and technologically improved concepts. The missing ingredients include the will, desire, and collective experience of the Coast Guard in actually asking for the funding. There have been few questions on this topic raised in the annual appropriation hearings-and then largely from the special interest groups that need the Coast Guard's civil services to operate their merchant fleets. It does not appear that the Coast Guard has any of these risk-taking qualities. It would be a large gamble that would require a Coast Guard leadership endowed with daring and possessing the willingness to accept the risks involved. These are the same risks undertaken in the past by men who did not put their vision statements on paper but acted on them. They had the resolve to push for the particulars that made their Coast Guard a true maritime service. The question remains: Does the Coast Guard have the leadership with the will to rebuild the seagoing core of its organizational culture?

If Commander Frank wishes to help develop a 21st century fleet to assist in "low-threat" sea control, he may first attempt to convince the Coast Guard that ships, and the men and women who serve on them, are not integrated deep-water systems but extensions of the service's culture.

Naval Institute's Constitution up for Change

Colonel John C. Scharfen, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)-What a pleasant surprise to find the 1998 official ballot of our U.S. Naval Institute in our mail drop. On the ballot is an opportunity to vote for a change in the Naval Institute's constitution, which would provide for a change in the elected representation of a retired and an enlisted representative on the Board of Directors.

In the "Nobody asked me, but . . . pages of the April 1989 Proceedings, I recommended such changes. But my recommendations met scant enthusiasm. After that, I would decline to vote, noting on my ballot that my nonparticipation was to protest the undemocratic composition of the elected members of the Board.

It took us almost a decade to get there, but we all should be encouraged that there are great prospects for a Naval Institute that can have a Board of Directors that is more representative of its membership. Congratulations!

"Connecting Land & Sea"

(See D. M. Verzera, pp. 60-63, January 1998 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Commander Steven S. Aronson, U.S. Naval Reserve-Lieutenant Colonel Verzera's case could be strengthened by using innovative tactics balancing the capabilities of air-cushioned and traditional landing craft units.

Let us replace the traditional role of the LCAC with the primary mission of the MCAC to provide force multiplication. We can use the V-22/antiaircraft artillery/MCAC triad to establish quickly a relatively secure area to bring our supplies into effective utility landing craft (LCU) range. LCUs will deliver most of the equipment and supplies. We will achieve relative security quickly, as the MCACs will defend the operational area flanks, harass coastal enemy reinforcement attempts, and provide critical point supplies. We must use our energetic thoroughbreds to fight and our stout reliable mules to carry the supplies.

"Courts Can't Enforce Recruiters' Health-Care Promises"

(See T. Philpott, p. 90, February 1998 Proceedings)

Commander M. J. Stewart, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)-Mr. Philpott states that one of U.S. District Court Judge Patrick M. Duffy's added arguments was "Retirees are uninjured by loss of free military health care because they can still use military-sponsored health care programs such as Champus and Tricare Prime or, if over 65, Medicare."

I retired in 1975 with almost 34 years of service. In 1997, health-care expenses for me and my wife were $4,932.39. This was an average health-care year for us. Simple mathematics reveals that $4,932.39 times 22 years equals $108,518.58-and we're not dead yet. When, in 1950, we made the decision to make the military our career, we were promised free lifetime health care. That was a large factor in making that commitment. We kept our part of the commitment and expected the government to keep its part. It hasn't.

 

 
 

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