The entire story revolves around the attempted delivery of the last seven submarines from Russia to China, and the U.S. response. The first three Kilos have been delivered before the United States can react. Unlike the actual delivery several years ago, which took place on a heavy-lift ship, in the book the Chinese crews—with Russian advisors—deliver the boats. This was the same method used by the Russians to deliver the Kilo to Iran in 1996.
The story line features the U.S. National Security Advisor, a submarine admiral with an unreasonable hatred of both the Chinese and Russian navies. The basis for this strong emotion is left unexplained. The admiral easily convinces the President that delivery of the remaining submarines presents such a clear and present danger to the United States that any measure of force is acceptable to prevent the Kilos from arriving in China. This plan has the endorsement of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—another submarine admiral—and the CNO, still another submariner! Such a perfect (and unlikely) situation.
Kilos four and five are taken care of as they exit Russian Northern Fleet waters. They are attacked with Mk 48 torpedoes and sunk on the high seas by the "Black Ops" submarine Columbia . The captain, Commander "Boomer" Dunning, is the perfect commanding officer, leading the perfect crew who are able to pull off this perfect attack. He even has a "perfect" wife—as do all submarine skippers—a beautiful ex-movie star and expert small-boat sailor. When the submarine returns to port, there is never a question of accountability or press leaks, as there are in the real world. The Chinese and Russians are convinced that the National Security Advisor is behind the loss of their submarines, but cannot prove it.
The next three Kilos are being built in the Russian shipyard at Nizhny Novgorod, deep inside Russia, and are to be transported in barges up the Volga River to the White Sea. The National Security Advisor puts a team together of four SEALs and one CIA agent, who sink the three transporters and the submarines with plastic explosives. As the last two Kilos are leaving their construction yard in the White Sea under heavy Russian escort for delivery to the Chinese, the Columbia is again sent north. In the very shallow water south of the Chukchi Sea, the Columbia threads the narrow opening between Russia and Alaska at high speed, and sinks one of the two Kilos. Again, no response—and the Black Ops submarine quietly undergoes refit in Pearl Harbor.
At this point, a subplot appears. Nationalist China has been building a nuclear weapons facility in the far South Pacific at Kerguelen Island. The facility has been built in total secrecy with supplies transported entirely by Taiwan's three Dutch-built submarines. The Chinese have learned what the Taiwanese are up to, and dispatch the Kilo to the remote, barren island to destroy the base. At the same time our hero, the Columbia , shows up to investigate the island for the same reasons. In the final scene, the inevitable showdown occurs between the Kilo and the Columbia .
All of this again occurs without any leaks or press inquiries. All too perfect. That is the trouble with Kilo Class ; it is all too perfect. It is interesting but not believable for the technically savvy reader. Minor technical distractions occur on Columbia for readers familiar with U.S. submarines. Transmitting on channel 31 from the submarine rather than from the sonabouy; or the surface, recovery of a package, and dive inside two minutes; or the use of British Navy procedures such as leaving port with the navigator on the bridge or the upward looking TV camera in the sail. These are little things, but not technically correct. The biggest hurdle by far is accepting that the U.S. President would order the attack on the submarines in the first place. This stretches the author's credibility from the beginning but is necessary to the story line.
The story may do well for the quick-- reading, adventure-loving, non-technical types, although it begs the issue of why they would be attracted to the book in the first place. It does not have the excitement, basic realism or even character development of something like Hunt for Red October , which appeals to a wide audience. For the serious military reader, it requires suppressing your background and knowledge to finish the book. And it just isn't worth the effort.
Preparing Future Leaders: Officer Education and Training for the Twenty-First Century
Hugh Smith, ed., Canberra: Australian Defense Studies Centre, 1998. 242 pp. Index. AS $20.00. Order directly from the publisher at tel: 62-06-268-8453, fax: 62-06-268-8440, or email at www.adfa.oz.au/ADSC .
Reviewed by Lieutenant Commander Will Hall, U.S. Navy
The Chief of the Army Exercise is an annual event in Australia. Experts in government, academia, industry, and public affairs from Australia, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region are invited to gather and participate in dialogue about issues of mutual importance to the military. In 1997, this convocation focused on officer education and training as a strategic emphasis . Preparing Future Leaders is a compilation of papers presented by these distinguished military and civilian leaders, practitioners, and academics.
Throughout this diverse collection of writings the conferees convincingly support a consistent theme that the education and training of today's military leaders are vital to the strategic strength and viability of the military. The Australian Minister of Defense, the Honorable Ian McLachlan, proposes broad reforms to improve Australian Defense Force (ADF) education and training in the areas of language skills and knowledge of Asian and Pacific affairs. Further, he discusses the ongoing (Australian) Defense Reform Program to argue for greater emphasis on management expertise. His call for greater general skills for all ADF officers is an interesting contrast to the typical response of creating limited specialized communities. As an extraordinary statement of commitment, the Minister of Defense summarizes, "In the next century there will be two types of military forces: those who put a priority on educating and training people, and those which are defeated in battle. The distinction will be as sharp as that."
The strength of his words certainly will shape one's perspective in reading the essays that follow. It adds to the effectiveness of some very distinguished experts as they discuss the needs of and the methods for preparing today's military for the uncertainties of tomorrow. The 19 papers in this compilation are very diverse in focus; however, each writer emphasizes the human element as the strategic factor in military preparedness. Consequently, each underscores the role of education and training in improving a military's potential for success in both peace and conflict. The range of topics includes how to develop leaders for roles in warfighting, policy making, and even social change.
Four papers in particular deal very substantively with the issues of "how" and "what" to teach in preparing future leaders of the military:
- Dr. Cathy Downes, Senior Research Officer of the New Zealand Defense Force since 1990, presents a compelling argument for creating an ethos-driven military. She presents the ethos approach in a context that adds practicality to the moral and inspirational dimensions of core values.
- Major General Michael Keating recommends changes in ways to educate and train in the dynamic environment of constant (technological) change. He advocates greater use of distance-learning methods and course modularization as means to achieve regional delivery (dispersed training) of formal training for officers. Interestingly, he also recommends greater use of leasing as a more affordable way to acquire new training technology and respond to constant changes in technology.
- Professor Hugh Smith of the Australian Defense Force Academy offers a three pronged approach to a comprehensive career continuum for the education and training of military officers. His discussion is both global and detailed on how to integrate academic education with both professional studies and military training. He also provides a helpful table that proposes a general schedule for attaining different levels of competency in each area.
- Major General Peter Dunn presents the most startling vision of the issues that might shape the education and training discussion. He frankly discusses strategic workforce planning, frames retention in terms of competitive remuneration, and offers personnel management plans such as clustering more units in the same locale and double crewing ships with a fly-in/fly-out option.
Readers also are treated to historical perspectives on Australian and Western armies and are given glimpses into training and education issues facing Germany, Singapore, and the U.S. Marines.
Preparing Future Leaders is a must for planners and action officers in manpower, education, and training. However, most readers should appreciate that these writings are well written, well reasoned, intriguing, and informative—reading much like a comprehensive briefing from a strategic working group. Field-grade and flag officers should find this book to be a valuable resource. Junior officers with limited service experience will find it interesting and educational as well.
Cigars, Whiskey & Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant
Al Kaltman. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1998. 241 pp. Appendices. $22.00 ($19.80).
Reviewed by Colonel John W. Ripley, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired.)
During a lifetime of leading, like most Marines, I feel I have encountered every leadership text known to man. Some have been great, all have been worthwhile, and a few stand out as classics. This book is totally different from all of them, and it easily falls into the classics category. The reader will be interested to know that this book was not written with the military leader in mind. To the contrary, it was aimed at the corporate executive or junior executive who aspires to practice those traits thought to be successful—indeed essential—to any good leader. The military reader will easily recognize many of the points made in this tidy, short, easily read book; it could pass as a field manual in any military venue. Every young officer can relate to the myriad of leadership lessons received from formal and informal training. The methodical accounting and listing of military leadership items would in most cases confuse the corporate executive. In the Marine Corps, for example, there are 11 leadership "principles," 4 leadership "techniques," 4 leadership "indicators," 14 "essential leadership traits," and then we list 3 leadership "qualities." We also follow 6 "troop leading steps." Not stopping here we even provide a list of "proper influences" by setting examples of obedience, courage, zeal, sobriety, neatness, and attention to duty. The lists never end, and seemingly every leader has a personal set. All of this points to a documented thoroughness in the military approach to teaching and practicing "leadership" of people, as opposed to the corporate "management" of things .
Of course, the management of things must draw on the qualities, principles, indicators, techniques, traits, etc., that each leader practices while generally not even realizing there are separate lists for each. It is here that Cigars, Whiskey & Winning breaks the mold of the standard leadership texts found at the service academies, OCS, ROTC units, the Basic School, and war colleges. For in this book Al Kaltman has done something quite different and refreshing. He has drawn from the biographers of General Grant (whom he acknowledges quite freely) and taken the actions, as well as many quotes of Grant, and turned them into simple lessons. There are 250 such lessons, each roughly a half-page, followed by 12 "overriding management principles." He summarizes the principles that Grant followed in getting things done at the end of the book. The military reader will easily relate these management principles to similar leadership principles that he or she may have personally experienced at some point. The real value of this short text is in these lessons. Each is absolutely brilliant in its interpretation and statement. A sample includes: "You Have to Earn Your Stripes," "Confronting Disaster," "Talk to Your Boss," "Cut the Red Tape," and number 247—sure to be a favorite—"Be Wary of Journalists."
Mr. Kaltman's interpretations are right on the money, some amazingly accurate considering his limited military background. Grant's own wife could not have climbed inside the general's head so well. Perhaps Kaltman did not have military leaders in mind when he wrote this compendium of common sense and bedrock leadership, but the military leader will benefit from it greatly. These 250 lessons do not fall tidily into the field manuals military leaders normally learn from, but the lessons are real, easily identifiable and, most important, every leader will relate to them. More than likely they will have a personal experience to match each lesson given.
Even the title is interesting. The first two items, "cigars" and "whiskey," are now looked upon disdainfully by our professional military; however, the third, "winning," can be the singular word for our raison d’être. President Lincoln's famous quote comes to mind easily. When asked if he was aware of Grant's supposedly heavy drinking habit he responded, "find out what brand he drinks and send a case to all my other generals!" Add to that a box of cigars—and this book—and clearly you have a winner.