Comment and Discussion

In the future, ASW must recognize that passive acoustic data will not be available. Only active sensors will detect the submarine. The two sensors that will work—airborne radar and active sonar—provide localization at the moment of detection, and success will be determined by the ability to transition immediately from localization, through classification, to attack. The most effective attack platform, normally an aircraft, must be present, and if not already weapon-free, must have immediate access to attack authorization. The fundamental tactic will be to fill the sky with ASW aircraft and attack, attack, attack while aggressively applying the complementary tactic of run, run, run . (Thanks to Kevin Peppe for those catchy phrases.)

The real battle will not be that simple. There may be no place to run. The rules of engagement may not allow attack. Active sonar combined with tactical oceanography and sufficient on-board computing power may allow some tracking or even some reliable analysis of negative information. Network-centric information management certainly will help, particularly in classification. But if the sky is not dark with maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters, the ASW battle will be lost.

"Kara Hultgreen Quals at the Boat"

(See S. Spears, p. 63, October 1998 Proceedings )

Lieutenant Commander F. J. Slyfield II, U.S. Naval Reserve —Why Proceedings is running excerpts from Sally Spears's self-serving book Call Sign Revlon (Naval Institute Press, 1998) is beyond me. No aviator can feel anything but sadness at the death of another pilot behind the ship, but the harsh reality about naval aviation is that it is an equal-opportunity killer. An F-14 does not care one whit about social equality or whether the hands at its controls are white, female, black, or male. Incompetence and neglect always lead to disaster.

When will the front office of the U.S. Navy come to terms with the fact that lowered standards for women pilots and congressional meddling killed Kara Hultgreen? She was a pilot of modest ability who conceivably could have qualified successfully in an aircraft less of a challenge to bring aboard the carrier than the Tomcat. But because of intense pressure from the media, personal intervention from female members of Congress, and pusillanimous Navy leadership, Lieutenant Hultgreen was allowed to kill herself, while destroying a valuable asset.

Until naval aviation is again allowed to train aviators as it did for 87 years without different standards for women, she won't be the last female pilot to be killed by affirmative action.

"Forward. . . From Long Island"

(See R. McCord, T. Schoene, pp. 56-59, November 1998 Proceedings )

Lieutenant Commander Edwin Ebinger, U.S. Navy —Applause assuredly is due for the individuals and organizations involved in the recovery operations of TWA Flight 800. The efforts exerted displayed the highest levels of professionalism of our diving and salvage community.

These accolades are well deserved for this specific operation, but they do not substantiate the conclusive justification for expanding or even maintaining active duty salvage platforms. Captain McCord and Mr. Schoene state that the lessons "confirm traditional Navy strengths and capabilities ...." This may be true, but these lessons also illustrate the weaknesses of the salvage fleet in our current and future Navy. As the authors explained, the operation appeared slow, but in fact it was conducted at an extremely high pace for salvage efforts. What present or foreseeable tactical environment will enable this "traditional," protracted evolution to make any contribution to the warfighting mission?

The authors contend that the Navy has an unmatched capability to conduct sustained operations without shore support. This is true, but it does not apply to the salvage navy. The authors provide the evidence when they note that the civilian vessels had to return to port every two to three weeks to resupply. The fact that the USS Grasp (ARS-SI) could not have conducted the operations without the support of the "coastal" civilian ships means that the navy operations are not truly blue-water sustainable.

The authors make a blatant plea to bolster the salvage navy. The truth is that civilian assets could have conducted this operation without the participation of the U.S. Navy. At present, the highest levels of salvage technology and assets reside primarily in the civilian sector—not in the U.S. Navy. It would be interesting for the authors to provide a comparison between the salvage operations conducted by the Navy without civilian involvement and those conducted worldwide by civilians without Navy involvement.

Most damaging to their argument: in praising the contributions of the amphibious ships sent to support the operations, the authors provide evidence that U.S. Navy salvage efforts conflict directly with operations in the tactical environment. In what warfighting arena can we dedicate two amphibious warfighting units to support a salvage effort? The authors claim that the assistance of the USS Trenton (LPD-14) and the USS Oak Hill (LSD-51) was "invaluable." The price for their support was huge in terms of PersTempo and OpTempo and in terms of training time for their warfighting mission. As far as valuable training for secondary mission, the complexities and intensity of conducting a noncombatant evacuation operation or disaster relief were approximated only marginally.

The Navy needs to be able to interact with civilian agencies, and we should have policies and procedures in place to ensure that—when needed—interdiction occurs as smoothly as possible. The ever-increasing terrorist threat and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction dictate that the armed forces and civilian agencies need to be mutually supportive in responses to national emergencies. The weakness of this point, as presented in the article, is that it is based on the previously stated premise that the TWA event was a national emergency. It was a national tragedy, but it neither challenged the authority of the Constitution nor threatened our national security.

The argument that the possibility of terrorist involvement constituted a national threat is countered by the fact that initial efforts by the naval assets to recover the deceased were more for public affairs reasons than for any constitutional purpose. This is evident in current Department of the Navy salvage policy. As described by Public Law 102-637 (10 USC 7361) and promulgated in ALNAV 020/98, it is policy "to deny requests for recovery from other agencies and individuals (when the possibility of saving lives does not exist) in order to preclude competition with commercial enterprises." The memorandum of understanding with the National Transportation Safety Board for accident investigation is authorized under this policy; however, as Captain McCord and Mr. Schoene attest, all initial efforts were directed at recovering the deceased. I am not being callous in using this argument, only fair; it is the Navy's policy to refuse requests to recover bodies even when units with the requisite capabilities are available.

The article illustrates the risk of our current focus on public affairs and media endearment. Capitalizing on the front page attention of the TWA incident rather than through a tactical and/or cost-benefit analysis, this article attempts to justify emotionally the continuance and expansion of the Navy's salvage program. Instead of worrying about giving the media what they want, we should concentrate on what our country needs.

I do not want to detract from the heroic efforts and professionalism displayed by all involved in the TWA Flight 800 recovery operations. But I do not believe that it is a solid platform by which to examine the future of Navy salvage. A more worthwhile discussion would be made along the lines of what the mine countermeasures community is undergoing as it examines the balance and transition between organic and dedicated forces. While I would certainly support salvage ships in a 600-ship Navy, I doubt that a thoughtful analysis would justify a strong salvage presence in our present and future 300-ship Navy.

"The Battleships Are Back!"

(See N. Polmar, pp. 87-88, August 1998 Proceedings )

"Troops Ashore Deserve Better Fire Support"

(See T. Ralphs, pp. 69-72, June 1998 Proceedings )

Commander Robert W. Selle, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)— Mr. Polmar's article restates the old negative shopworn arguments why the U.S. Navy should not retain battleships, much less reactivate the Iowa (BB-61) and the Wisconsin (BB-64), now that these formidable and effective combatants have been returned to the Naval Vessel Register. But the article does uncover a most significant and elemental reason to begin—right now—to wipe the slate clean and take a fresh look at the battleships and their applicability for today's manifold defense/offense requirements.

In our accepted littoral warfare concept, the battleships can play a primary role as serious and survivable weapon platforms capable of moving inshore toward the forward edge of the battle area. With their invulnerability and dependability, they can bring their guns and missile systems to maximum effectiveness and they are able to launch company-size infantry units and larger elements for variety of incursions and rescue missions.

When we can visualize and then develop strategies and tactics to work closely with special forces operating inland—for example, a special forces unit employing satellite-communications radio to talk with the command-and-control unit of a battleship giving global positioning system (GPS) coordinates to order fire day or night, under all weather conditions—only then will we begin to understand the new and profound role the battleships can assume today. Given the nature of guerrilla and terrorist warfare of low-intensity proportions, battleships are ideal for this new role.

Making the case for close-in fire support even more compelling is the fact that for years the Navy has worked effectively in developing submunitions (smaller caliber rounds) that can be shot out of a 16inch gun using nylon sabots for precise positioning in the chamber. At Dahlgren, Virginia, a full body of knowledge and experience has been developed that has proved convincingly that ranges of 75 to 100 miles, using GPS, infrared, inertial guidance, and other systems can be attained with accuracy. It only remains for production to begin of 13- or 11-inch rounds—among the largest in the world and which carry a menu of 12 different types of explosives in their warheads.

On an inspection trip three years ago, I was told that this system could be ready for shipboard installation within three years. Also with regard to the development of sabot rounds: On her around-the world cruise in 1989, the Missouri participated in highly extensive firings near the Cook Islands, sinking four towed barges from ranges in excess of 45 nautical miles.

With sabot rounds integrated in the battleships, the littoral ribbon all over the globe becomes five times deeper—a factor of absolutely unparalleled importance from both strategic and tactical standpoints, especially along unfriendly shores. The entire doctrine of force projection and going into harm's way takes on new significance.

Thus the Navy has at present a gift provided by an earlier generation. All of the battleship skippers from the 1980s' reactivations have said that these formidable ships—young in terms of operational use—have from 10 to 20 years of active useful life ahead of them, and it is for us to learn how to use them now. Their finest hours may yet be to come, and they can be a bridge to the capital ship of the 21st century.

In reacquainting ourselves with these magnificent ships we should not forget their speed—in excess of 35 knots—and their utility as command-and-control centers with extensive medical and machines hop facilities and more. In addition, their ability to transit the Panama Canal gives them advantages and, in effect, doubles their usefulness.

Also, Iowa -class battleships carry 2.5 million gallons of fuel oil and can readily provide refueling as demonstrated in the Gulf War. They were constructed to steam 14,800 nautical miles and then turn around and steam back without refueling! This certainly is a most considerable advantage today, when we are limiting overseas basing for political and economic reasons.

"Listen to the JOs: Why Retention Is a Problem"

(See J. Natter, A. Lopez, and D. Hodges, pp. 58-62, October 1998; J. Crosley, J. Byron, p. 10, November 1998 Proceedings )

Pruitt Hall —Having just read this commentary, I can assure you, I am a frustrated civilian. I am the antithesis of the conventional Proceedings reader or writer. I have never served in the armed forces. My local dentist is retired Navy and always keeps Proceedings on his waiting-room table, and having found myself there all too frequently, enjoyed the articles in this fine forum. I joined the Naval Institute five or six years ago, and always have enjoyed the lively conversation, interesting dialogue, and unique ability to have a forum all the services can use to improve understanding among themselves. Not once have I failed to enjoy each issue from purely a curiosity and military-interest standpoint.

Enter the topic of junior officers and retention. I was fascinated by the authors' total openness on a topic that has seen some mileage in this forum in the past. Appalled does not even begin to summarize my feelings for some of these junior officers with their current situation within the Navy.

I can't relate to what would increase job satisfaction from an aspiration-to-command viewpoint in the Navy. But I can lend credence to a supportable cause-and-effect I see all too frequently in the civilian world, and the military services should listen to civilians and officers alike, for we're saying the same things. I manage more than 30 networking and data-processing professionals in the personal computer and midrange computing industry. Listen to my words carefully: I love cannibalizing military personnel . They are some of the finest employees in the fast-paced computer networking world. They bring many desirable traits to the table:

Respect . The civilian world has no equivalent for learning discipline and respect. I have to stop some of my ex-Army employees from saluting me—it's that pervasive. I will take former military over a recent college graduate just about any day, skill sets being comparable. I can hire the ex-service professional and know I'll be dealing with a minimum of customer-service hassles.

Commitment . The ex-service professional will bird-dog the problem to completion. Period. I don't care how the military does it, but they do it well.

Complete disillusionment with all or part of the military establishment . Harsh words indeed, but I have hired four ex-service in the past year. What do I hear on this side of the fence? Poor medical care, lack of benefit coverage, no advancement, low pay, and lack of a clear cut direction the military is taking. Three of them were disappointed in their choice of military service and noted that, if they could do it again, they would pursue college and sidestep the military.

So imagine my knowing this and reading the article on JO retention. I read of exactly the same behavior quoted by my ex-military personnel. People—I've seen the results of the services not being able to keep them. I can request a headhunter to do a search for me, for any network discipline, and I'll get a 5-to-1 ratio of military to civilian prospects, ready to pack their bags.

Two disturbing trends have developed over the past few years that I have seen in real life and read about in Proceedings . First, the pay scale. The military pay scales are utterly beyond my comprehension. I haven't started a single professional at less than $20,000 a year more than he was paid in the military. And that's just to get them at the minimum civilian scale. Want to know how grievous the situation is? Most of these poor guys have needed an advance in order to secure civilian clothing.

Second is the fact that I have read similar articles—though none as pointblank as this—but nothing is being done with enough impact to matter. I see many great ideas, rumblings, and posturing, but I don't see anything serious enough to stem the outflow of personnel.

Is mine a sad commentary with a defeatist undertone? Hardly. I wouldn't have wasted your time or mine in writing this if I had thought so. I am proud of the men and women serving this country to allow civilians the liberty of pursuing the American dream. I grieve when I read an article such as this. It is my fervent hope that somebody, somewhere, in some capacity of power reads it, and then reads my letter here.

I speak for the civilian employers of this country when I say, "send them, we'll gladly take them." Make no mistake, I will out pay you. I will make it worth their while, and empower them in ways they wish they had seen in the service. I will guide them, direct them, and allow them growth to become the very best employees they can be.

Micromanagement is a problem as pervasive in civilian life as it is in the military. But you can work around it. Encourage subordinates to drill down with problems, absorbing the load of those under them so that micromanagement is kept to a minimum. The comment made in the article about naval aviators being regulated on the patches they could wear—including the U.S. flag—was incomprehensible to me. A $50 million aircraft, a $2 million training program, and they're being told they can't wear the American flag on their jackets? I'd love the name of the genius who authored that one, so I could write to the President and complain. The services may be too cover-my-butt to do it—but I'm not. That had to be one of the low points in naval aviation history.

Please realize, I'm not down on the article or the services. I'm on your side and want the services to retain these fine young officers, and—more to the point—everyone else they can. I'm sending you a clear signal, and I hope it helps initiate some dialogue by somebody who can do something. If you do not change it, and the flow continues, you will lost talent of irreplaceable dimensions.

"When It's Time to Pay Their Dues. . ."

(See J. Hull, pp. 44-46, September 1998 Proceedings )

Commander David J. Kern, U.S. Navy —I applaud Major Hull for a frank discussion of junior officer retention. He has captured an idea that has been missing in our continuing retention debate. The retention of ambitious, capable, "exceptional junior ground officers" is not a problem unique to the military; it reflects a change in our society. In a recent analysis in the Harvard Business Review (September/October 1998), Sarah Cliffe provides an interesting perspective. She reports that "U.S. companies have had trouble filling key positions at all levels, and the competition for talent promises to become even more intense in the years ahead." Sound familiar?

How are companies in the real world advised to confront this issue? Ms. Cliffe reminds companies that it is people who possess knowledge. If you cannot retain your best people, inevitably your organization will lose a key resource in today's economy. This rings true in my military experience. We load up our best junior officers with the most demanding tasks. As a result, they develop outstanding operational skills. If we do not retain these people, our department heads will be those officers who did not have the opportunity to reach the same level of operational skill.

Ms. Cliffe also notes that while in the past, companies could "cruise for years" on a good product and a solid market share, this no longer is true. Fierce competition in the marketplace has made it imperative for every company to think continually and work smart at all levels. A company that rests on its laurels is bound to fail. When I started driving submarines, we enjoyed a large tactical advantage that did not require extensive training to maintain. Today, we face a complex environment with many threats that requires the best of every person in the team in order to maintain the tactical advantage. We must retain the best people if we are to keep our competitive advantage.

Ms. Cliffe's most significant point was that employees today have learned as a result of the downsizing and layoffs of the 1980s that there are advantages to not staying with one company for life. They could "have more fun and make more money by being loyal to their own professional development rather than to any single employer." Civilian employers then are taken to task for not taking care of their most promising employees. Her suggestion is to develop business strategies that emphasize the unique values that companies provide their employees. Many articles on junior officer retention in Proceedings already are calling for Navy leaders to reemphasize the value in military service. Officers are asking for more responsibility and less micromanagement. Officers are calling for more shipdriving/flight hours and less paperwork. Officers are demanding more care for the husbands, wives, and children of our servicemembers.

What I take away from this comparison of civilian and military retention is that we are on the right track. This is an issue important to the future of the Navy, and we must fight hard to retain our best junior officers. We must look through the eyes of our brightest junior officers and ask ourselves, "In today's world, with the many exciting challenges and opportunities available in the civilian sector, why should I continue my naval career?" 

Rendering Honors

Machinist's Mate Second Class Robert W. Fellingham, Jr., U.S. Naval Reserve —On 3 October 1998, we laid to rest a shipmate. He was a World War II veteran and a survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was loved by his family and was a well-respected member of his community.

His first love was the Navy, from which he had retired as a chief. His dying wish was to be given full military honors by the shipmates who had followed him in service to our nation.

His family worked hard to fulfill his wishes. They contacted several commands in the area asking for their help. I am proud to say that the Commanding Officer of the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center, Houston, said "yes" to their request, without hesitation. This even before he knew what the family had gone through to give the deceased veteran his due.

We represented the U.S. Navy well. Even though we were organized hastily and had never done this before, our efforts reflected the pride we felt in carrying on our traditions and honoring our shipmate. The sincere expressions of gratitude and tears of joy from his family and friends—overiding the grief—were all the thanks we really needed.

In this era of small budgets, declining manpower, and doing more with less, it is easy to say that we do not have the manpower or the time to meet such requests. These denials are remembered by the living, for whom we stand ready to fight. These are the people who pay our bills, to ensure that we do have what we need when we need it, to meet any threat.

A funeral is a public event. Is it not in our best interest to show the public that we do care for our shipmates and their families?

I was proud to serve on this detail, which reflected our core values: honor, courage, and commitment. I hope that my family will be able to find someone who will accord me the same honor, because I know that for all of us—sooner or later—our time will come.

"Change the Work-Up Cycle"

(See T. R. Kramer, pp. 75-76, November 1998 Proceedings )

EDITOR'S NOTE: The date of the GAO report referred to on page 76 should be 1997 rather than 1977.

"Air Department or Air Detachment"

(See M. Lisowski, pp. 80-84, October 1998; J. Barta, p. 12, November 1998 Proceedings )

Lieutenant Scott S. Stutz, U.S. Coast Guard —I agree with some of the points that Lieutenant Lisowski makes. The U.S. Navy, like the U.S. Coast Guard, does not have the luxury of being able to rely on any single sensor, shooter, or interdiction platform. Instead, we must use the strengths of all our platforms working together.

It's hard to believe that the tactical action officer (TAO) on the Aegis was not aware of the capabilities of the airframe. Could it be that the TAO mentioned didn't like LAMPS pilots, and it carried over into his or her performance during workups? Did Lieutenant Lisowski reap a harvest of discontent from seeds sown prior to his embarkation on that particular cruiser or destroyer? The answers lie in attitude, not capability.

Having served on board a FFG-7 as part of the very small Coast Guard/Navy officer exchange program, I became aware of the pains of bringing aboard a two-bird LAMPS III helicopter detachment for a deployment. The first impression those pilots created for us was that most junior officers were moved out of the officer berthing spaces into what might be called a substandard berthing arrangement. If we had put enlisted personnel in there, someone would have hung. But AirLant insisted that their pilots must live in officers' country, so the ensigns and most of the jaygees went below. Lacking any real collateral duties or a real watch schedule, and with little else to do, the pilots took over the wardroom. When two pilots embark on my cutter and sit in the wardroom, it's manageable; when a gaggle of LAMPS pilots takes over the wardroom by sheer number and seniority, it becomes unmanageable, especially if many of the pilots display an attitude of entitlement.

The detachment/department that embarked on the FFG was capable and very useful to our operations. We were more successful as a ship, a task group, and a Navy because of the LAMPS presence. But the lasting memory of that group of aviators makes me cringe at the thought of taking a LAMPS detachment on board my cutter today.

Lieutenant Lisowski calls for teamwork. But to be part of a team, one has to be a team player—not just a talented one. The roots of "us" vs. "them" come from rules and attitudes that promote separateness. It will take time and effort to break down those walls; in the end, it will be worth it. But the wall must be torn down from both sides.

 

 
 

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