Comment and Discussion

Yes, in testing the F/A-18E/F, some unforeseen anomalies were discovered. This is why there is testing. If we could be guaranteed that there would never be any anomalies, the Defense Department would not have to go through expensive and extensive testing programs for every new weapon system. In fact, Congress insists on it; so should and do the taxpayer and customer in the operating forces. The good news is that these anomalies have been fixed without a complete redesign as advocated by some of Mr. Stevenson's more strident advisers. The Super Hornet will be a reliable mainstay of our Navy for many years to come.

Should the wing-drop anomaly have been reported up the chain of command sooner than it was? With hindsight, perhaps. But somewhere along the way a decision has to be made about how much information is to be passed up the line. Do we choke the boss with every detail or do we make the kinds of decisions we're paid to make, informing very top management of only the most important events?

“What It Takes to Go ‘Anytime, Anywhere’”

(See C. Home, pp. 82-84, January 1998 Proceedings)

Captain R. B. O'Donnell, U.S. Navy, Commander, Regional Support Group Ingleside-Admiral Horne's article on organic mine countermeasures was well done and on the mark. As more organic systems are brought into the mainstream of the Navy, we need to make sure that the fleet, battle group, and amphibious ready group commanders understand what they are getting and how to use it, and that they know the right questions to ask.

I liken mine countermeasures (mine hunting) to playing "Where's Waldo?"especially in the littorals. Mine countermeasures exercises over the last few years have shown that the ocean floor in the littorals is (no pun intended) literally littered with things that appear mine-like to our mine-hunting sonars. Fish traps, 55gallon drums, metal pipe and scrap, automobile engines, rocks, and so on all can display the same characteristics as a mine to a sonar (i.e., appear mine-like). In exercises, the mine countermeasures commander frequently has to sort through 200-300 mine-like contacts in a few square miles while he is looking for mines (Waldo).

The submarine, surface, and airborne systems that Admiral Horne speaks of need the capability to identify sonar mine-like contacts as mines or nonmines. If these systems cannot make this differentiation, then they merely will present the fleet, battle group, and amphibious ready group commanders with a problem they cannot solve. Bottom line: Any organic mine-hunting system must have an identification capability.

Our dedicated mine countermeasures forces also could benefit greatly from having an identification capability other than the mine-neutralization vehicles and divers that they currently use. If our mine countermeasures helicopters were able to use something like a laser line scan to identify the mine-like contacts previously located by their sonars, I believe the U.S. Navy could speed up mine countermeasures operations tenfold.

Marinized laser line scanners exist. We used one with great success in the U.S.U.K. CJTFX-96 (Purple Star) exercise in the spring of 1996. The laser line-scan images of mines were so clear that we could read the stenciling on the mines and see their sensor packages. Another laser line scanner was used to locate and identify the wreckage of TWA Flight 800.

We need not wait for some long research and development process to develop and test some kind of identification system. These laser line scanners exist, are not expensive, and are in use in the civilian world today. We merely need to adapt them for use with our organic and dedicated mine countermeasures forces and get them into the fleet now.

"Network-Centric Warfare"

(See A. K. Cebrowski and J. J. Garstka, pp. 2835, January 1998; J. Tonning, p. 6, February 1998; K. W. Estes, p. 16, March 1998 Proceedings)

Vice Admiral Alexander Krekich, U.S. Navy, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet-I've always thought that my greatest advantage in life also was my biggest weakness. I was a football lineman at the Naval Academy in the early 1960s, and that means I want to understand things in straightforward terms. I've fared pretty well through more than three-and-a-half decades in uniform, but now I am face-to-face with the Navy's latest technological concept: network centric warfare (NCW).

Art Cebrowski and John Garstka went into great detail to give us an inside look at what NCW is and how the same concept is used by Wal-Mart and the New York City Police. After reading the article a few times (which should qualify me for postgraduate study credit), I found it kind of interesting. Then after talking to a few people who are paid to understand this stuff, I've come up with a few thoughts that might bear sharing. I'm not sure the whole thing is all so revolutionary, but it certainly is a step forward in warfare evolution.

Life for humans is about communications and making choices. In warfare, this started the first time two cavemen looked at each other, nodded in agreement, and clubbed the third guy over the head to get him to stop taking their berries. We've come a long way since then-in most respects-and network-centric warfare simply is the maturation of the process that has traversed from nods to signal flashes to flashing light to voice communications and data transmission. Perhaps we should call it the evolution from "nods to nodes."

We've communicated and shared data before, but the NCW concept will bring all the platforms together faster and more thoroughly, which should mean greater accuracy and precision. We will do this by fusing information from a wide variety of sources and helping use this information on time, in time. I think that rather than communication between each other, we will be communicating among everyone.

Because I'm a football guy, I think I understand it this way: You take the field against your archrival. Your players and the coaching staff know your playbook, your team's abilities, the opposing team's playbook, and their abilities, too. As the game is played, that information is updated and is known instantaneously and simultaneously by your entire team and staff. You can tell who has twisted an ankle, pulled a hamstring, or is out for the game. Your coaches still need to select the plays and the quarterback and defensive captain still may audible, but they will know right away the statistical likelihood of success given your opponent's roster and formation. Even in the midst of a play, your team will know where all the opponent's players are and may even have his headsets tapped so you'll know whether they're running or passing; whether they're playing zone or man-to-man.

That's the near future. Today the teams wait until the first half is completed and we hear the announcers state, "And now the teams will discuss the adjustments they will make for the second half." With network-centric warfare, adjustments start with the first play.

This is the beauty-and some would say the danger-that all players have potential access to the entire range of information. A warfighting commander-in-chief could sit at a desk on land, on board ship, or in the air and direct the action perhaps a scary thought.

Now, I don't think we're close to Nintendo yet, where one person lies on the couch with a bag of chips and a soda and figures out the fate of the world. There are still too many decisions for one person to make, and certainly the delineation of who makes what decisions and who controls what needs to be played out. But network-centric warfare will enable us to better fuse, filter, interpret, share, and direct than what we have today. Adjustments are made more quickly and with more harmony.

For our Surface Navy, it means more players tied together and focused as a network; not as a collection of individual platforms, but as a well-coordinated team. It will help us continue our transition to where we don't necessarily need to be the biggest on the scene, just the first to know and, most important, the first to act . . . and to act correctly.

"A View from the Gender Fault Line"

(See G. D. Roncolato and S. F. Davis, pp. 102104, March 1998; R. D. Brawley, S. P. Cinder, pp. 12-14, April 1998 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Randolph R. Weekly, U.S. Navy-Although Commander Roncolato and Lieutenant Commander Davis contend that pregnancy and strength are superficial issues in discussions about the presence of women on board combatants, the data seem to indicate otherwise.

The information in their article shows an unplanned loss rate of 13% for male crew members. Excluding pregnancy, the unplanned loss rate for female crew members is 14%. When pregnancy is taken into account, the female loss rate jumps to 26%. These numbers correlate fairly well with those shared by the commanding officer of the USS L. Y. Spear (AS-36) in the June 1997 issue of Proceedings. For the submarine tender's crew of 1,053 males and 389 females, the unplanned loss rates for the preceding year were 7% and 8% for males and females, respectively, not including pregnancies. When losses because of pregnancy were factored in, the female loss rate increased to 24%. Clearly, the issue of pregnancy is more than superficial.

There are fundamental differences between pregnancy and sports-related injuries. Pregnancy is a voluntary condition. A pregnant sailor will not receive a negative performance evaluation regarding her pregnant condition, regardless of the circumstances of that pregnancy or of its effect on the ship. In contrast, any sailor who willingly injures him or herself is guilty of malingering and can be punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Each pregnant sailor is nondeployable for the duration of her pregnancy. In addition, each pregnant sailor is permitted six weeks of convalescent leave after delivery of the child. Few sports-related injuries would render a sailor nondeployable for such a length of time.

When a sailor becomes an unplanned loss, there is a finite period of time (often several months) between the loss and the arrival of a replacement. Even if a replacement arrives immediately, an additional period of time is needed to qualify that sailor to stand watch. Depending on the watch situation, this too can take months. In the meantime, the rest of the crew must pick up the slack caused by the unplanned loss. High unplanned loss rates are detrimental both to crew morale and unit readiness.

The report by the 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces cited a study that compared the relative physical abilities of enlisted men and women. The study found that of the two-person teams attempting to carry a simulated victim in a Stokes stretcher, only 12% of the female teams (compared with 100% of the male teams) were able to complete the task successfully. Only 1% of the female teams (compared with 96% of the males) were able to transport successfully a P-250 pump to the scene of a simulated casualty. Further, women only have 4658% of the upper torso strength and 73% of the aerobic capacity of men.

The current peacetime environment has allowed us the luxury of redefining and subdividing tasks to minimize gender differences in strength-related task performance. While the relatively benign environment of daily shipboard operations may result in "no job on a ship today that cannot be done by a woman because of lack of strength or stamina," the outcome would be drastically different were a ship to experience battle damage.

The tragedy aboard the USS Stark (FFG-31) serves as a grim reminder that physical strength and endurance do matter-especially when trying to save a stricken ship and crew in a hostile, smoke-filled environment. A case in point is that of Petty Officer Michael O'Keefe, who singlehandedly saved many sailors by pulling them out of a burning and flooding compartment and then spent the next 36 hours fighting the fires that resulted from the two Exocet missiles striking the ship. How many more U.S. sailors' lives would have been lost if Petty Officer O'Keefe and others like him did not have the strength and endurance that were needed to get the job done?

Commander Roncolato and Lieutenant Commander Davis have observed correctly that applying the head-in-the-sand technique to the problems of intimate personal relationships on combatants is a profound mistake. The same is true of problems related to pregnancy and personal ability. Senior leadership needs to recognize that pregnancies do have a deleterious effect on the readiness and morale of combat units and take steps to stop the abuse of the current pregnancy policy.

The effects that strength and endurance differences between males and females have on the ability of a ship and her crew to survive battle damage also should be evaluated seriously and appropriate corrective action should be taken. Lowering the standards is not the answer. If we delay or equivocate on the issue of physical ability, a future enemy likely will show us the error of our ways-when the first mixed-gender combatant takes serious battle damage.

"The Beach Family Tradition of Service"

(See Membership News, p. 8, March 1998 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Colonel Keith Oliver, U.S. Marine Corps-How appropriate that the Naval Institute's new quarters will be named after the Captains Beach. While most of us have been "too busy" to participate in the Proceedings forum, it was Captain "Ned" Beach who literally and figuratively wrote the book on finding time for professional writing.

The skipper has been my time management hero ever since the Naval Institute's Classics of Naval Literature version of Run Silent, Run Deep came out in 1985. I've shared on numerous occasions an insightful (and humbling) snippet from Edward P. Stafford's preface that then-Commander Beach wrote his bestselling novel "early in the morning, on weekends, on leave, and in whatever spare time was left to an officer serving as naval aide to the President of the United States...."

"Restoring Impunity to the 'Targets"'

(See G. S. Capen, pp. 41-44, December 1997 Proceedings)

Rear Admiral W. R. Smedberg, U.S. Navy (Retired)-Kudos to Lieutenant Capen for raising the issue of antisubmarine warfare (ASW) in general and torpedo defense in particular. The entire area of ASW suffers from not having had a torpedo fired in anger at a U.S. ship since World War II even though the subject received major effort for many years (indeed, ASW was the Navy's first priority) prior to the demise of the Soviet Union.

Torpedo defense needs to remain a high priority because, as the author points out, one unlocated submarine in the operating area can cause no end of consternation. We must recognize that an adequate torpedo defense cannot be the panacea unless someone figures out how to implement such a system for all ships, not just our more modern combatants. In the only war of this century where submarines created havoc, the targets primarily were merchant ships. The submariners' first priority always has been to avoid destroyer-type ships whenever possible to find more lucrative targets. It should not be forgotten, also, that there was a time when the most devastating part of the submarine threat was deemed to be the surprise launch of antiship missiles, and torpedo defense does nothing for this.

So once again a fundamental principle applies-the best defense is a good offense. The Navy cannot afford merely to defend against the arrows; we must destroy or at least completely neutralize the archer (submarine). Surface-warfare warriors must recognize this, for it is surface combatants, particularly those with their own organic air capability, which must be the spearhead and coordinating manager for all local offensive tactical ASW. The surface ship is the only platform that can integrate effectively the interfacing underwater, on-the-water, and over-the-water activities of ASW.

Granted, hunting enemy submarines is a dangerous business. The robust torpedo defense that Lieutenant Capen espouses surely is needed. But surface combatants cannot afford to be, as he calls them, merely targets. They are the protection for even higher-value ships (carriers, amphibs, troop and cargo transports, logistics ships) that are the enemy submarines' real targets; therefore, the surface combatants necessarily must be hunters.

This is precisely why we have a class of ships called destroyers. The author correctly notes that the very first such ships were called torpedo boat destroyers-not torpedo destroyers, but boat destroyers. A century later, the description still fits, and surface warriors need to reflect on how to keep it so. 

 

 
 

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