"Let Us Dare To Read, Think, Speak, And Write."

By Captain Peter M. Swartz, U.S. Navy (Retired)

These are relatively short items that comment on previously published material or initiate discussion on a new subject. Originally, Proceedings articles were circulated . . . among Naval Institute members who might wish to comment on them. The comments thus solicited were published concurrently with the articles they discussed. In more recent years, the comments usually appear in issues following those in which the articles are contained.

Here, I tried to think of the important—indeed, timeless—topics of debate about our Sea Services. Then, I tried to think of articles and resultant letters I have used that not only framed those topics in the past, but also are relevant to them today—stuff that can help us think smarter, operate smarter, fight smarter.

Who we are

"Why a Sailor Thinks like a Sailor" (Aug. 1957, pages 811 to 817), by Rear Admiral J. C. Wylie, U.S. Navy. Admiral Wylie was arguably the Navy's most thoughtful Cold War strategist. Here, he explains the unique nature of strategic thinking as done by Navy Sailors, in contrast to Soldiers and Airmen.

"Why Sailors Are Different" (May 1995, pages 65 to 70), by Rear Admiral James A. Winnefeld, U.S. Navy (Retired). Sprightlier in tone than Admiral Wylie, Admiral Winnefeld tries his hand at the same problem. Note that he, too, contrasts Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen. (Hold that thought.)

What we should do

The debate on the most fundamental questions of U.S. Navy policy and strategy has raged on the pages of Proceedings since its inception. Should the Navy defend the nation off the coasts or far forward? Should the Navy operate as individual ships, as squadrons, or as battle fleets? Should the Navy focus on sea control or power projection? Is this a warfighting Navy, or a Navy for operations other than war, or a Navy for presence? Are these really choices or mere questions of balance? If the latter, what is the proper balance?

"Outline of a Scheme for the Naval Defense of the Coast" (Number Two, 1889, pages 169 to 232), by Captain William T. Sampson, U.S. Navy. A plea for a coastal defense Navy by the future Spanish-American War hero. Much too long and much too detailed for modern tastes. So only of antiquarian interest, you say? Not so. Compare Sampson to the advocates of Aegis cruisers parked offshore for national ballistic-missile defense, and to the proponents of more Navy assets to be devoted to the Drug War. Compared to current Navy thinking, this is not "Forward" and only partly " . . . From the Sea."

"Our Future Navy" (Number Four, 1889, pages 541 to 552), by Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, U.S. Navy. "Discussion" (same issue, pages 553 to 559including concurrence by a captain named Alfred Thayer Mahan). Countering Sampson (and advocates of a commerce-destroying fleet as well), a plea for forward fleet blue-water operations instead: "Forward . . . On the Sea." Pronounced Luce: "The role of a navy is essentially offensive." Luce has won the argument for more than a century. Should he still keep winning? Why?

"National Policy and the Transoceanic Navy" (May 1954, pages 483 to 493), by Dr. Samuel P. Huntington. Probably the all-time winner. (You did not know that the renowned avatar of Culture Clash in the 1990s had been a naval thinker in the 1950s, did you?) Every U.S. naval officer who thinks about his or her profession and institution should read this. This is the true conceptual basis for "Forward . . . From the Sea." Huntington argues for power projection over sea control as a function, and for current events over history as a driver.

"Missiles and Missions" (Dec. 1964, pages 38 to 43), by Lieutenant Commander Wayne Hughes, U.S. Navy. The counter to Huntington, by an officer who went on to "write the book" on Navy tactics ( Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice [Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1986]). Hughes sees sea control, not power projection, as the function, and principles of naval warfare—not current events—as the driver. This debate has been staged before and since, but never as well. As timely as today's arguments over the future role of antisubmarine warfare, and the place of blue water in a littoral era.

"What Goes Around . . ." (May 1992, pages 88 to 91), by Captain Kenneth Hagan, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired). A long-serving U.S. Naval Academy professor draws parallels between the l9th century and a vision of the 21st, and in so doing calls into question the paradigm of the 20th century: The forward-deployed battle fleet.

"Always the Sea" (May 1955, pages 497 to 503), by Admiral Robert Carney, U.S. Navy. Ten years after the end of World War II, the serving Chief of Naval Operations passes on the lessons of history as his generation of Navy officers understood them to the next generation—who, in turn, taught the leaders of today's Navy. This is the legendary voice of the World War II victory that has been influencing U.S. Navy thinking ever since. Admiral Carney had more sea and combat time during the war than most of his contemporaries, and before becoming Chief of Naval Operations, he had been tapped to do initial Navy postwar program planning as well as launch the Navy into NATO. Smart, tough, experienced, and razor-sharp, he became the truest keeper of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King's intellectual flame. (See "Principles of Sea Power," Sept. 1955 Proceedings , pages 967 to 985, advocating a Navy role in continental defense.) Does this thinking have any real meaning today, or has it become just boilerplate?

"Carrier Employment Since 1950" (Nov. 1964, pages 26 to 33), by Admiral David L. McDonald, U.S. Navy. Also C&D (Nov. 1965, pages 114 to 116); (Mar. 1966, pages 120 to 122). The serving Chief of Naval Operations and career naval aviator, with great honesty (and, perhaps, prescience), stresses the vital role of the Navy in . . . evacuations! He wrote: "It is striking that amphibious evacuation has been encountered about as often and as importantly as amphibious assault. Perhaps it is natural that this role has been overlooked. Few planners plan on disaster, and the recurrent occurrence of military and political reverses has been submerged by the generally successful results of the series of confrontations during the past decade." Admiral McDonald was writing a quarter-century before the recent rash of noncombatant evacuation operations. The C&D response here engendered some spirited Navy-Air Force rock-throwing, regarding who had done what to whom during World War II.

Where we should do it

An important body of work on this question was written in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The issues it raised were eclipsed largely by the contemporaneous debate on "The Maritime Strategy." But it was an important debate then, and it is an important debate now. Should the Navy continue to deploy to the three hubs of the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and the Western Pacific? If not, what should be dropped? What should be added? How long do we foresee these hubs lasting? What would cause them to change? Does the fleet need to be in all of these places all of the time? If not, what gets shaved? Why? Who decides?

"From Far East to Middle East: Overextension in American Strategy Since World War II" (May 1981, pages 66 to 77, by Dr. Thomas Etzold. On the need to make hard strategic choices, especially between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, by the Naval War College's resident political-military strategist of the era.

"Atlantic First" (Aug. 1982, pages 103 to 106), by Commander Bernard Cole, U.S. Navy. Also C&D (Dec. 1982, pages 86 to 87). The title says it all.

"Requiem for the Sixth Fleet" (Sept. 1982, pages 46 to 49), by Captain Peter Deutermann, U.S. Navy. Also C&D (Nov., page 14); (Jan. 1983, pages 17 to 20); (Feb., pages 80 to 81); (Mar., pages 12 to 17); (Jul., page 89).

"Reviewing the Conventional Wisdom" (Jul. 1983, pages 22 to 28), by Captain Andrew Jampoler, U.S. Navy. Also C&D (Dec. 1983, page 26). On refocusing the Atlantic Fleet from the Mediterranean to the North Atlantic. "Forward Deployments: Deterrent or Temptation" (Dec. 1983, pages 36 to 40), by Commander E. V. Ortlieb, U.S. Navy (Retired). Also C&D (Feb. 1984, page 22). On reducing the Sixth and the Seventh Fleets while increasing the Second and the Third.

"A Fresh Look at the Sixth Fleet" (Feb. 1984, pages 52 to 58), by Lieutenant Alan Maiorano, U.S. Navy. Also C&D (Jul., pages 28 to 33). On reducing the U.S. Navy Mediterranean commitment, with U.S. Air Force and Allied forces filling the gaps.

"Righting the Atlantic Tilt" (Jan. 1986, pages 64 to 71), by Lieutenant Commander Joseph Sestak, U.S. Navy. Once you have read this, read Commander Cole again. What do you think? Why? What has changed since the 1980s?

How we should do it

What operations? Patrols? Convoys? Strikes? Raids? Landings? Noncombatant evacuation operations?

What techniques? Antisubmarine warfare? Antiair warfare? Antisurface warfare? Strike warfare? Amphibious warfare? Mine warfare? Special warfare? Coastal warfare? Riverine warfare? Advanced bases? Underway replenishment?

What force packages? Squadrons? Flotillas? Battle Forces? Battle Groups? Task Forces? Special Service Squadrons? Amphibious Ready Groups? Surface Action Groups? Cruiser-Destroyer Groups? Striking Forces? Lone Submarines?

And who should decide? The President? The Secretary of Defense? The Joint Chiefs of Staff? The Chief of Naval Operations? The Joint Force Commander? The Fleet Commander? The Composite Warfare Commander? The Amphibious Task Force Commander? The Landing Force Commander? Doctrine writers? Staff officers? Ship drivers?

These are the essential questions of the profession. Answering them is Proceedings's bread-and-butter.

"The Role of Doctrine in Naval Warfare" (Mar.-Apr. 1915, pages 325 to 354), by Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox, U.S. Navy. Also "Discussion" (same issue, pages 355 to 365). Knox's prize-winning essay has been quoted approvingly for decades, but he seems to strike his most resonant chord in U.S. Army officers (see the endorsement by retired Army Colonel Harry Summers, Jun. 1998, page 10). Buried in the "Discussion," however, is a much more characteristically U.S. Navy reaction, put forth by Captain Roy C. Smith: "If we wish to play golf, we do not study books of rules, at least not immoderately, but we go to a golf course and after some preliminary instruction we play golf , every day if possible, and in course of time the average man can play a fair game. Something similar is the true policy of the fleet... "

"The Navy's Clouded Amphibious Mission" (Feb. 1978, pages 24 to 33), by Vice Admiral Robert S. Salzer, U.S. Navy (Retired). Also C&D (Mar., pages 23 to 26); (Apr., pages 19 to 21); (Jun., page 24); and (Jul., pages 90 to 93). A thoughtful piece by one of the Cold War Navy's top gators. Questions the real effectiveness of small Amphibious Ready Groups/Marine Amphibious Units (now Marine Expeditionary Units) operating routinely offshore. Two decades later, it is still an important question. The C&D here wound up segueing into a heated discussion of yet another "clouded mission"—convoy.

"The Maritime Strategy," Special Supplement (Jan., 1986). Also C&D (Feb., pages 26 to 28); (Mar., pages 18 to 21); (May, page 25); (Jun., pages 83 to 89); (Jul., pages 24 to 27); (Aug., page 10); (Jan. 1987, pages 25 to 30); (Apr., pages 22 to 27). Not only what and where, but also how: The mother of all strategy debates. The supplement established a precedent for vetting Navy White Papers in Proceedings (and calling them that)—a practice that continues today. Unlike its successors, however, the Maritime Strategy articles were declassified versions of documents already driving fleet plans and operations, not pieces written on purpose for open publication.

"Standby for Shotline" (Apr. 1985, pages 75 to 79), by Marvin 0. Miller. Also C&D referencing other Proceedings articles (Jul., page 26). Read this and you will understand why the permanently forward-deployed ready-to-fire battle fleet became the post-World War II Navy paradigm: It was not the carrier. It was not the amphib. It was not the submarine. It was the Combat Logistics Force and underway replenishment. How is the Navy sustaining this vital element today?

"A New Target for the Submarine Force" (Jan. 1990, pages 37 to 39), by Captain John L. Byron, U.S. Navy. With the Soviet Union still intact, one of Proceedings's most prolific and disputatious authors pushes his community and his Navy to offer more to the nation than simply the ability to clean the Soviets' clock. His challenge still stands.

What we should buy

"High-Low" (Apr. 1976, pages 46 to 56), by Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired). Also C&D (Jul. 1976 through Apr. 1977, in issue after issue). The classic Cold War debate on quantity and quality, launched openly by a brilliant, controversial, and newly retired Chief of Naval Operations. Based in part, said Admiral Zumwalt, on a Proceedings article he had written as a captain (see "A Course for Destroyers" in the November 1962 issue), this has it all: Dueling visions. Dueling "unions." Dueling admirals. It lays out all sides of several arguments, warts and all, and sets a standard for all future Proceedings debates. If you dislike the Zumwalt approach, just read the C&Ds. You are sure to find something to love there.

"It's Going to be a Bumpy Ride" (Jan. 1993, pages 23 to 26), by Dr. Thomas P. M. Barnett and Dr. Henry H. Gaffney. With C&D by a former Chief of Naval Operations (Apr., page 20). Three approaches to force-sizing in the 1990s. Still the best thing to read on the choices Navy Washington faces—or should face—today. Their "transitioneers" are today's "shapers"—the operators engaging on the front lines around the world and the logisticians who support them. Their "Big Sticks" are today's "responders"—the war planners, exercise schedulers, and POM (program objective memorandum)-builders. And their "Cold Worriers" are today's "transformers"—the "out of the box" innovators trying to think one step ahead of tomorrow's (unknown) peer competitors. Center for Naval Analyses analysts Barnett and Gaffney say choices and compromises are inevitable. Since this was published, has the Navy been choosing and compromising, or has it just been kicking cans down the road, hoping its budget will go up?

How we should lead

Above all, Proceedings is the journal of the naval profession. And the naval profession is more than a profession of arms. It is also a profession of people, of leading sons—and now some daughters—into battle and to victory. Few articles have inspired—or riled up—more people than articles on leadership.

"Special Trust and Confidence" (May 1956, pages 463 to 472), by Lieutenant Colonel R. D. Heinl, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps. Read it, and you will understand why the editors of 40 years ago wrote that it " . . . evoked more comment and interest than any article Proceedings has published within the memory of the present editorial staff' (at the start of "Discussions, Comments, Notes," Aug., pages 875 to 879). And you will understand why the editors of ten years ago saw fit to run it again (May 1989, pages 96 to 102, with an introduction by retired Army

"Get off My Back, Sir" (Aug. 1977, pages 18 to 23), by Commander Robert E. Mumford, Jr., U.S. Navy. And seemingly endless C&D: (Dec., page 77); (Jan. 1978, page 81); (Feb. 1978, pages 81 to 83); (Mar., pages 115 to 116); and (Apr., page 82). "Junior officers seem deeply troubled and turned off by The Problem. Many express their deep frustration and discouragement by exchanging the blue and gold for mufti at the first legal opportunity." Sound ominous? Sound familiar? Read on.

Who will join us

We started with "who we are." As we have seen, much of the literature on such matters defines us as much by "who we are not" as by "who we are" (remember, earlier I urged readers to "hold that thought"). And yet these other warriors—the ones we are not—are now inextricably linked to the Navy from here on. We are now joined at the hip in Joint Task Forces. For a U.S. Sailor to be successful from now on, he or she had better know why a U.S. Soldier thinks like a Soldier and why a U.S. Airman thinks like an Airman. And a Sailor surely had better know why a Marine thinks like a Marine and a Coastguardsman thinks like a Coastguardsman. The following few articles have tried to get the Navy to do just that.

"The Maneuvers Between the Navy and the Coast Artillery," by Major John P. Wisser, U.S. Army, and "The Army and Navy Maneuvers as Viewed from Afloat" (Dec. 1902, pages 787 to 834), by Lieutenant Commander Roy C. Smith, U.S. Navy. Yes, despite all you have read about jointness being the progeny of Messrs. Goldwater and Nichols, there were joint exercises a century ago. And what was the Navy exercising? Why, attacking "forward . . . from the sea." Commander Smith's concluding judgment: "The writer saw a good deal of the Army during and before the maneuvers, and realized, as we all should, that in any future difficulties, we have got to stand shoulder to shoulder, and the better we know each other the better we can do it." Not bad for 1902. Not bad for 1998.

"Two If by Sea" (Nov. 1983, pages 34 to 39), by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Wilkerson, U.S. Marine Corps. A Marine aviator and strategist (and later member of the Naval Institute's Editorial Board) calls for using the land-based Air Force in maritime war roles. This belies the legend that "The Maritime Strategy" meant the Navy would "go it alone." It shows the contribution the Air Force can make to the war at sea.

"NAVY-marine corps Team: Equalizing the Partnership" (Dec. 1995, pages 27 to 30), by General Carl E. Mundy, Jr. U.S. Marine Corps (Retired). Followed by Admiral Frank B. Kelso, II, U.S. Navy (Retired), C&D (Jan. 1996, pages 13 to 14). The former Commandant demands equal partnership. The former Chief of Naval Operations cites Marine Corps refusal to participate. The two most knowledgeable people on the planet on this subject debate and clarify Navy-Marine Corps resource allocation issues openly, forthrightly, and in detail. Such openness should breed understanding. Does it? For better or ill, the forum just does not get any more super-charged than this.

"Lessons Learned from the Marijuana War," C&D (Feb. 1998, page 8), by Admiral Paul A. Yost, Jr., U.S. Coast Guard (Retired). The former Commandant weighs in on the Coast Guard's friends and enemies, including his view of the enemy within. The never-ending search for the defining essence of the Coast Guard—made urgent today by the need to replace the deep-water cutter fleet. A "National Fleet," anyone?

"Time for a Joint Ship" (Jan. 1994, pages 57 to 62), by Lieutenant Commander Robert D. Gourley, U.S. Navy. Commander Gourley moves us away from the single-service points of view and into the new era of joint operations and resources—an era where the Navy has a lot to offer. This also is the wave of the future.

Putting it all together

Occasionally, the Proceedings editors and the Naval Institute Editorial Board fall short, and nothing in a particular issue is of any moment. (They would doubtless give a different interpretation.) But sometimes they outdo themselves and put out an issue that—page after page—well captures the whole scope of contemporary naval issues and debate. My most recent nominee: the July 1998 issue (the one with that clear-eyed Navy veteran on the cover).

It opened with a blast at optimizing future Navy surface combatants for power projection. It closed with the Coast Guard wary of taking over Navy patrol craft and the Marines taking over Navy mine countermeasures training. In between, it tore away at alleged wonders of the Information Revolution on the battlefield; tried to narrow the gap between the U.S. military and society; broke loose a long-classified submarine disaster story; called for one computer per officer and one for every three or four chiefs; argued that men treat women differently than they treat other men—including in combat; decried the lack of understanding by many active-force leaders of the nation's reserve components; recommended a design for the Navy's next carrier; lamented the demise of Marine air-naval gunfire liaison company (ANGLICO) units; chronicled the Marine Corps' largest live-fire exercise; called for the award of more Navy ribbons; argued for a better way to buy complex Navy systems; chewed out a former Navy lieutenant for appearing nude in Playboy ; proposed a new military retirement plan; explained—and lamented—the postponement of the CVX; and more.

Not only that, it showcased the views of four fresh-caught young officers on humanitarian assistance operations; dysfunctional intolerance of mistakes; uninhabited combat air vehicles; and psychological operations. It spotlighted a midgrade officer's call for moral courage on the part of the Navy's leadership. And it published C&Ds that placed the nation's rejection of casualties at the feet of the military leadership; opposed NATO expansion; boosted the Navy's General Medical Officers; argued against giving prospective surface warfare officers further grounding in tactics and naval history; condemned the Navy temporary active reserve (TAR) program; damned the F/A-18 E/F; accepted the F/A-18E/F; pushed for Coast Guard control of all counter-drug operations; advocated use of non-lethal weapons; condemned lowered standards that led to the death of a female naval aviator; and more.

Whew. That is a naval professional journal at its finest. And the C&D on that issue has only just begun.

Hogwash

There is, of course, one last important category of Proceedings articles. Every Proceedings reader knows this category well. Every ex- Proceedings reader knows this category even better. The category is "hogwash" (to be gentle)—articles that never should have seen the light of day—in the opinion of the reader. My own two favorites in this category include:

"Should Naval Officers be Strategists?" (Jan. 1982, page 27), by Berend D. Bruins. Also C&D (Mar., page 27); (Apr., page 20); and (May, page 39). Bruins (author of a justifiably widely acclaimed and cited dissertation on Navy cruise-missile development) and the letter-writers all decry the Navy's alleged inattention to developing strategists. This surfaced while the captains and colonels of Bob Murray's new strategy-developing Strategic Studies Group at Newport, the nine line officers and one intelligence officer (six with Navy-sponsored Ph.D.s) assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP-603), and many others were busy laying the groundwork for "The Maritime Strategy."

"Reflections on a Naval Career" (Aug. 1995, pages 8 to 10), by Larry DiRita. Also C&D (Sept., pages 13 to 14); (Nov., pages 16 to 21); (Jan. 1996, pages 14 to 19); (Mar., page 30); (Apr., pages 25 to 26); (Jul., page 90); and (Nov., pages 21 to 22). This cleverly written but wrong-headed screed opposed use of the Navy for operations other than war, inter alia . It attracted a lot of attention for peripheral reasons, but its core strategic policy argument was flawed fatally.

What did I do about these miserable pieces? First, I told everyone within earshot what I thought of them, and of the Proceedings editors and the Naval Institute Board for allowing them to be published. Then I sat down and wrote letters to Proceedings . How did I make out? I batted .500: C&D's bull-headed editors never did publish my brilliantly argued letter rebutting Derk Bruins, but more than a dozen years later, they saw the light and published my second missive, taking on DiRita.

Comment! Discuss!

Okay, that is my list. In keeping with the theme of this article, I am grateful to several colleagues at the Center for Naval Analyses and elsewhere who debated the content of earlier drafts with me, especially Ambassador Linton Brooks, Captain John Byron, U.S. Navy (Retired), Dr. Henry Gaffney, Thomas Hirschfeld, Dr. Thomas Hone, Jerome Kahan, Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, U.S. Navy (Retired), and Adam Siegel. Almost all are past Proceedings contributors.

True, this review is idiosyncratic, but what else could it be? So you dislike it? You have a better list? You think there are much more important articles and debates in past Proceedings that can help the Sea Services of today and tomorrow think smarter, operate smarter, fight smarter? Well, yet untypeset C&D pages beckon to you. Fire off your letter.

Captain Swartz has been on the research staff of the Center for Naval Analyses since retiring from the Navy in 1993.  He is a Naval Institute Life Member and an occasional contributor to Proceedings . His most recent article, “Navy After Next: Past Is Prologue” appeared in May 1998.

 

 
 

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