Comment and Discussion

M. Richard Asher, former 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve— ColonelParks is quite a bit off line when he states, "I do not need antimilitary Hollywood personalities such as Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks to tell me—or the nation—what combat is like," and then goes on to criticize Proceedings for publishing a favorable review of the movie.

  • First, the nation probably does need realistic portrayals of what combat is like, despite the fact that Colonel Parks does not-and Hollywood filmmakers, as well as Colonel Parks, are entitled to try to give that to them.
  • Second, would the Mona Lisa be bad art if painted by an ax murderer? I suggest it is inappropriate to judge a film on the merits of its makers rather than on the merits of the film itself.
  • Third, Jane Fonda and Ted Turner are irrelevant and certainly the film should not be condemned for their sins.

Because the film was about a military subject and was seen by many millions of Americans, it would seem appropriate for discussion in Proceedings. The critical judgment of the reviewer, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Greenwood, seemed to agree with that of most Americans.

Captain Kevin R. Rice, U.S. Army— Ijust read Colonel Parks's comments and was dumbfounded. Calling Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks "antimilitary Hollywood personalities" and comparing them to Jane Fonda and the Operation Tailwind story smacks of a stereotypical military bias against the entertainment and news media, and does nothing but continue the divisiveness between our communities. I agree that the entertainment and news communities generally lean to the left, and sometimes are rabble-rousing in their treatment of the military, but where is it written that this is so bad? As an American professional soldier, I gladly will defend them any day of the week.

I also was puzzled where Colonel Parks got his information. I pulled filmography lists off the Internet for both personalities and discovered that neither man had ever produced, directed or starred in an antimilitary film. Hanks did a great job as an American flyer serving in the Royal Air Force in Every Time We Say Goodbye. His performance in Forrest Gump showed what we all know—that soldiers usually form their most personal and strongest relationships in the military. I think that Apollo 13 needs no further explanation. His other movies have been nonmilitary, usually comedies.

Spielberg's movies Empire of the Sun, Schindler's List, and his portion of Twilight Zone: The Movie all showed that, ultimately, the soldier's job is a tough one, merciless in its effects on the soldier and those around him, and that the soldier in the end tries to be a human being and to follow his leaders or conscience. Spielberg has said that his heroes as a child were soldiers, and he continues to have the greatest respect for what we choose to do as a profession. He recently was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Army's highest award for public service, by the Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff for his efforts in telling our story to the public.

The special effects and props in Saving Private Ryan made the movie what it is, not necessarily the story itself. I hope it will cause our civilian leadership to remember what the cost of war is to those who fig ht. And for the public to understand what the veteran has gone through, and why his sacrifice means what it does. I hardly think that Captain Dale Dye, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), who served as military adviser, and Dr. Stephen Ambrose, who served as historical adviser, would have been part of a movie that was "antimilitary" or worked with a director who was.

When increasing numbers of our citizens and civilian leaders have never served in the armed forces, we need movies like Saving Private Ryan to remind them of what we—as soldiers—and they—as families and friends—ultimately pay for because of man's inability to get along. We learn from what we see in the entertainment arena, and a thought-provoking, reasonably accurate movie is a great tool to get the message across to our country.

War is cruel, nasty, heart-wrenching, disgusting, mind-numbing business, and I want as many Americans as possible to see and understand what we do as a military. My greatest fear as a company commander was not that we would go to war, but that my soldiers would be sent into action as pawns, without a thought as to the consequences.

"The Chiefs Are Not Happy"

(See M. Butler, pp. 29-30, August 1998 Proceedings)

Vice Admiral D. T. Oliver, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Personnel— Mostof Master Chief Butler's proposed solutions are parts of our plan.

Retirement benefits continue to be major reasons many people stay Navy. At a recent hearing, our Chief of Naval Operations and his fellow service chiefs said we must review the retirement system and look at how Redux is affecting recruiting and retention. Many Department of Defense and congressional leaders agree, and we anticipate these issues will be addressed at congressional hearings in the near future.

The Navy also is working hard on advancements. As the drawdown concludes, promotions in the aggregate will improve overall. In fact, that trend already has started. Advancements in all rates this year have been at the same or higher levels than last year on average across all ratings.

As we continue to focus on shaping the force in overmanned ratings (which also was suggested by Master Chief Butler), and as we continue to bring the force into closer alignment with requirements, promotion percentages for all paygrades will continue to rise.

Harder to do would be to get advancement rates for all ratings within 2% or 3% of each other. This may never become reality because the simple fact is that many people want to be in some fields and may stay even when faced with slower advancement.

But the best news to pass on is that our personnel account has been funded fully, without decommissioning the FFGs. There have been few interruptions to permanent-change-of-station moves this year, and no interruption to tuition assistance or reenlistment bonuses. Navy leadership has committed to getting the personnel account right because our people are the Navy's most important asset.

While the money is there for our requirements, the people unfortunately are not. Recruiting has suffered a shortfall. This is because of a stellar economy, major competition for people by the civilian sector, too few recruiters in the field, and a low propensity for young people to enlist in the military. We are working to get the assets for recruiting in place. But a big part of the solution is retention. We must ensure that we treat our people right so they stay Navy and others see the Navy as a prized career.

While I know things have been difficult through this drawdown, I also know that those who choose to stay Navy will not be disappointed in their decision. The coming years will see improvement in quality of life for our fleet.

Master Chief, keep the ideas coming, and tell your shipmates to do the same; those ideas do make it up the chain of command.

"Air Detachment or Air Department?"

(See M. Lisowski, pp. 80-84, October 1998; 1. Barta, p. 12, November 1998; S. Stutz, p. 23, December 1998 Proceedings)

Lieutenant George Capen, U.S. Navy, Destroyer Squadron 21, and Captain George Galdorisi, U.S. Navy, Cruiser-Destroyer Group 3—Lieutenant Lisowski's topic is one that is constantly on the minds of both surface warfare officers and LAMPS aviators—just how does a LAMPS detachment fit into the life of the ship—are they an integral part of everything the ship does even when they are not flying, or are they a group of a dozen and a half aviation folks who fly the rotary machine and are narrowly focused on that single skill set?

He bases his arguments on what he admits is anecdotal information—a deployment on a Ticonderoga- classcruiser and another on a Spruance- classdestroyer. Unfortunately, like almost anything else based on anecdotal data, his account is too narrowly focused and attempts to extrapolate his singular experiences to a universal set. It just doesn't work and flies in the face of the reality of the LAMPS/ship integration story.

We are just completing a six-month deployment with the Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) Battle Group. This included three months of intensive operations in the Arabian Gulf: Operation Southern Watch enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq, maritime interception operations enforcing United Nations sanctions, National Command Authorities-directed strikes against terrorism, and other numerous missions.

It is not our intent to refute Lieutenant Lisowki's article point-by-point, for he is no doubt sincere, faithfully recounting his personal experience. Rather, the "mindset" that he describes does not square with the reality of what we experienced during three months in the Gulf operating with a peak of 17 helicopters on 12 surface combatants. What we found instead was seamless integration between all ships and all air departments/detachments (we didn't get hung up on the semantics). We also found seamless working relationships among the various warfare commanders and ships who shared the use of LAMPS helicopters among both those ships with organic aircraft and those (the Arleigh Burke destroyers) without organic aircraft.

Just a glimpse at the missions performed validates this integration:

  • During Operation Southern Watch, the radar coverage and HawkLink ability to relay that information to the battle group proved invaluable in planning and executing daily missions. LAMPS were flying almost around the clock to maintain a sharp tactical picture.
  • The Jarrett (FFG-33) was the first ship to incorporate a near real-time imagery transfer system into the LAMPS capability with HSL-43, Det 2. This will provide a tremendous improvement in battle damage assessments for strike warfare missions.
  • In anti submarine warfare, all of our LAMPS detachments had contact time on submarines. Combined, they accounted for 16 hours of tracking contact time and participated in integrated exercises resulting in nearly 100 simulated attacks.
  • In surface warfare, the Elliot (DD-967, a Spruance) and the Valley Forge (CG-50, a Ticonderoga) with HSL-43, Det 1, and HSL-45, Det 10, took the lead on developing new tactics for multiple armed helicopter simultaneous attacks.
  • Perhaps the most spectacular showing of the LAMPS capability was during the first-ever multinational maritime interdiction operations surge operations that shut down Iraqi smuggling efforts. The new forward-looking infrared radar contingency kit (FCK)-modified LAMPS provided real-time situational awareness to the on-scene commander to direct interceptions that captured smugglers at the unprecedented rate of nearly one per day.
  • And just to remind us of the more traditional capabilities, three detachments participated in a total of four search-and-rescue missions, saving 18 lives on foundering vessels during the deployment. The last of these was in the open ocean after departing Australia, hundreds of mi les from the nearest land. The Shiloh (CG-67) and HSL 47, Det 3, rescued two survivors of a ketch destroyed by a storm days earlier.

At the risk of overstating the obvious, when a ship and a LAMPS detachment come together it is incumbent on everyone—but perhaps most importantly on the LAMPS det officer-in-charge/Aviation Department head to "sell" the utility of his platform to the ship's commanding officer. We have no first-person knowledge of any ship commanding officer who didn't come at the problem wanting to maximize the warfighting effectiveness of his ship. In fact, we saw quite the opposite. All COs wanted to use their LAMPS in integrated tactical roles, many of them exploring new and innovative possibilities. If an Air Department is not an effective part of the life of the ship a few considerations come to mind:

Does the LAMPS det really try to integrate in the life of the ship? Do det members go through I division, damage-control personnel qualification standards, and other ship's functions or hold themselves aloof? Do det officers take the time to stand a few bridge watches to learn what surface warfare officers have to deal with to "find the winds" and simultaneously keep station, maintain point and intended movement, and otherwise take total responsibility for the safe navigation of the ship? Do they take the time to learn as much as possible about the ship's combat systems so that they can more effectively employ their part of it? Do they shore-base to do vital maintenance or is it a good deal for the det bubbas to see the sea?

Is the Air Department the standout, top-performing, most dynamic integral part of the ship, or a group of temporary additional duty folks counting the days? Do they wear squadron ball caps or ship ballcaps? If there's a concurrent squadron and ship party, which one do they attend?

These are not trivial questions or issues. As Lieutenant Lisowski correctly points out, the LAMPS weapon system brings a quantum increase in capabilities to the ship's sensors and weapons, but the LAMPS professionals can add so much more to the life of the ship. Shame on all of us—of both designators—if that contribution is marginalized for any reason.

"Semper Fidelis"

(See S. Richmond. p. 22. November 1998 Proceedings)

Lou Marano— Iwrite to commend Lieutenant Colonel Richmond for the poignant account of the death of one of his Marines in Vietnam. Colonel Richmond points out that while the man he memorializes was not a model Marine by today's standards, "he died a Marine, facing the enemy, rifle in hand." And by paying tribute to him, Colonel Richmond exhibits a virtue that is fast fading from the U.S. officer corps—loyalty down.

The senior members of the defense establishment who denigrate the draft-driven forces of the Vietnam era by invidious comparisons with today 's all-volunteer force ("the best we've ever had") show disloyalty and distort the truth. When I took the enlistment oath in 1965, I joined the best military the United States ever had. Man for man, before or since, that force harvested the broadest range of the best America has to offer. Small-unit maulings aside, it went on to win every battle it was sent to fight in Southeast Asia, Feckless politicians and compliant brass failed to provide a winning strategy against a tough and determined foe. Nor did they make much effort to explain to the American people why the war, and our service, was important. This set a precedent for disloyalty down that persists to this day.

Why, after all these years, does the defense establishment continue to be about the men I was entrusted to lead? Why do U.S. functionaries, in effect, dishonor our dead? My guess is they do it to put distance between themselves and the "taint" of Vietnam and to curry favor in the current climate, where protecting subordinates against political correctness takes the kind of moral courage these careerists don't have. This leads to the recruitment and retention problems the services now face.

Thanks again to Colonel Richmond for helping to keep the flame alive.

"Trident Can Fire More than Nukes"

(See J. Pallon. pp. 36-38. August 1998 Proceedings)

Major Randal L. Marbury, U.S. Air Force (Retired)— I applaud Captain Patton'sconcept of a submersible launcher for various nonnuclear payloads (which parallels the efforts of at least one commercial space consortium), but there is at least one major obstacle to its practical implementation.

Despite the dearth of funding for most of the former Soviet Union's space efforts, its military side continues, and the surveillance systems for missile warning (part of that military system) are likely to be kept at some state of readiness. It is not unlikely that an otherwise "covert" launch (no public announcement) would be detected and reacted to with possibly grave effect.

There is worldwide concern over who has the trigger for the former Soviet ICBM fleet. Imagine how much more concern there would be for "random," unannounced launches. While "snapshot" launches could give an increased measure of flexibility to the battlespace commander, the possibility of precipitating an inadvertent nuclear exchange would seem to militate against it.

Where Is Navy Log?

M. E. Rosania— Asa secondary-school history teacher, allow me to suggest the importance of the Navy providing examples of leadership, inventiveness, determination, and courage for today's youth.

The Navy did an admirable job of accomplishing these goals in 1955 when an outstanding television program, Navy Log, was shown to a fascinated and appreciative public audience. Those of us who were young in 1955 remember some of the 55 black-and-white motion pictures, each 29 minutes long, which not only wove together a colorful picture of U.S. history with a true story, but did so in a captivating and inspirational way.

My efforts to locate this series so that I might share it with my students produced the following information: The Navy Office of Information said that the Navy Log series was produced privately, but probably had received assistance from the Navy Department. While U.S. Naval Institute catalog listings of the series indicate they are for the internal use of the Navy only, the films themselves appear to be in the film depository at Norton Air Force Base, California.

All of these findings add to my apprehension about how a valuable educational resource can be discarded. Perhaps those of you who are interested in providing role models in history for students as well as for Navy trainees can help me with the following questions:

  • Have the students at the Naval Academy or the Coast Guard Academy ever seen these films? If not, why not?
  • Who recalls the plots of these episodes with intriguing titles? Using the catalog listings, they are 21 774-DN, "Men from Mars," and 21790-DN, "La Bonza." I'm certain my students would consider these stories "awesome" if I could retell them.
  • Does the Navy plan to work with a private production company on a new series? Surely, true stories from Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, and the Middle East could be included.

While documentaries are useful in teaching history, my experience has been that there is far more interest, concern, and retention when stories are personalized—as was the case in Navy Log. I cannot overemphasize how students want to be proud of their country.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mrs. Rosania has passed away since she sent this to us, but her letter still raises interesting questions with regard to teaching U.S, students about the military.

"Don't Trade on the Uniform"

(See C. Graham. p. 79. July 1998; M. Maglin. p. 12, August 1998; K. McMullen, p. 14. November 1998 Proceedings)

Commander Joseph S. O'Neill, U.S. Navy (Retired)— SonarTechnician First Class McMullen's letter was a breeze of fresh air. His thoughts are simple and to the point: "While ... on active duty, when is a person not a representative of the Navy?" and " it is the morality—the ability to distinguish right from wrong … that forms our standards of conduct."

Lieutenant Commander Graham may be politically correct, but men like First Class Petty Officer McMullen are the backbone of the Navy.

"Is American Military Professionalism Declining?"

(See T. Ricks, pp. 26-29, July 1998; P. Pierce, p. 17, August 1998; S. Lynn, S. Lintner, R. Freeman, pp. 18-22, September 1998; J. Kirk, p. 20, November 1998 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Commander Randy Britton, U.S. Naval Reserve— Hoorayto Thomas Ricks for his excellent article on the declining professionalism and partisan politics that are creeping into the military. My own experience while in the active-duty fleet bears out the increasing role that personal politics and careerism, rather than professionalism, can play in the daily life of military officers.

I offer as testimony an experience I had while serving as first lieutenant and supply officer aboard a newly commissioned minesweeper during the 1992 presidential elections. One morning at quarters, I was relaying the importance of our civic responsibility to vote to assembled Sailors (I was the absentee ballot coordinator, one of my many collateral duties) when the ship's executive officer interrupted. He took it upon himself to stress to the entire assembled crew that not only was it important to vote, but also to vote for his favorite party, as the Sailors' paychecks and the future of the Navy depended on it. At first, I thought he was joking—but as he continued, it appeared he was serious, using the bully pulpit of his rank and position to espouse his political views to the crew and influence their vote.

I was shocked at this blatant breach of professionalism, and approached the XO later in private to express my dismay. His reaction was unrepentant, and I in fact was thereafter labeled the "wardroom Democrat"—as the CO later introduced me to the squadron commodore during a ship visit. Prior to this incident, nobody had asked or cared what my political leanings were, and afterward, it was just assumed that I was completely on the opposite side of the political fence from the XO. This, despite the fact that I never identified myself with a political party and avoided discussing politics while on active duty—a decision I saw as the only professional choice to make. Although I can't say that my career was affected, I sensed a change in the way my peers perceived both me and my commitment to the Navy.

Being recognized for professionalism by my superiors for me is a matter of deep personal pride. Time and again, the saddest moments of my naval career have been when I witnessed officers in positions of authority take the very unprofessional step of making decisions based on how it would affect their personal careers, their own self interest, or their perception of the ideologically correct I applaud Mr. Ricks for pointing out the importance of choosing the professional, objective, disinterested choices when confronted with very difficult decisions. My later experience as a Navy public affairs officer has taught me that when professionalism reigns, telling the Navy's story is easy; when professionalism stumbles, you get a Tailhook or some other scandal where we are left to explain why we have failed. We should all take this important lesson from Mr. Ricks's article, no matter what our personal political beliefs.

"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; P. Hall, pp. 17-20, December 1998 Proceedings)

Daniel N. Schildge— ReadingCaptain Byron's letter left a bad taste in my mouth. I agree with him that junior officer retention is a reflection of the performance of naval leadership, but calling Admiral Natter the "article 's senior whiner" is an injustice to the man and belittles his efforts to correct shortcomings.

About a year ago, as a junior officer on the CinCUSNavEur staff, I stood with my peers and listened to a senior civilian naval leader answer questions about the state of the Navy. Most of the staff was present, including 20 or so top-notch junior officers, of whom maybe three were planning on staying in the Navy. One of these junior officers asked what was being done about the "junior officer retention problem." The civilian leader replied that there was no retention problem. It was quite obvious to all in the room that this either was a lie or that this civilian leader was not being informed of an important issue. The running joke among junior officers in the headquarters was "no retention, no problem."

At about the same time, a lawyer from Alabama who happened to be a rear admiral in the Naval Reserve took it upon himself to figure out why junior officers were leaving the Navy at such high rates. Spending countless otherwise billable hours, he visited ships, shore stations, and staffs throughout three theaters talking to junior officers about retention. When his research was done, he set about to inform our Navy's four-stars of his findings and to push his recommended corrective actions. If he had a retirement fitness report, it would read: "demonstrated superb personal initiative and aggressively tackled a problem that senior naval leaders wouldn't even acknowledge." Does that sound like a whiner?

If Captain Byron's point is that naval leadership took too long to address the problem, he is correct—but it makes no sense to attack a senior leader who did take action. If his point, however, is that publicly airing the issues involving junior officer retention is not an appropriate step, his argument would be strengthened by suggesting a better approach. If he has no point and is just shooting the messenger who brought him bad news, then he is demonstrating one of the negative leadership traits that frustrates many junior officers. Any way I look at it, he is doing a disservice to a selfless and dedicated man who had the courage to address this important issue.

Vice Admiral John T. Hayward, U.S. Navy (Retired)— Thisarticle should be must reading for all leaders in the Navy—and do not forget the civilian side.

This article really tells it like it is, particularly in the surface side of the combat arms of the Navy. I lived through the lean years of the 1930s. Having been in the Pacific War from 1942 until 1944, I was witness to many of our early defeats and the price we paid for the lean years. I am sure we will pay for these years with lives of our people in future years if we do not listen to the junior officers.

All one has to do is remember the Admiral Stan Arthur incident and the action of our civilian leaders, and the Pat Schroeder syndrome that took hold throughout the defense establishment and our leaders. Remember the people who did not even attend the Tailhook incident and who were convicted without even a trial or whose careers suffered. If you believe all that has gone on has not had a serious effect on our junior officers, you are mistaken. Our Navy Secretariat has been mysteriously absent in the area of standing up for our people. I was taught that loyalty up was inspired by leaders having loyalty down.

My favorite leader, Admiral Marc Mitscher, had six qualifications for a leader: knowledge, enthusiasm, self-confidence, integrity, communication (verbal and written), and judgment (including knowing when to disregard regulations).

Admiral Mitscher who did just that in the Marianas battle, when he turned on all the lights to help bring back all the aviators who had been on a long mission against the Japanese carriers.

I first met the admiral when I was a lieutenant (junior grade) and he was a commander. I wonder where such leaders sit today in the zero-defects Navy. I hope they listen to the junior officers.

"Why They Called the Scorpion 'Scrapiron'"

(See M. Bradley, pp. 30-38, July 1998; P. Bowman, p. 12, August 1998; J. Marshall, p. 24, September 1998; R. Fountain, pp. 8-13, October 1998 Proceedings)

Admiral Harold E. Shear, U.S. Navy (Retired)— Thisscurrilous article is full of innuendoes, inaccuracies, and speculation. It never should have been published. Its publication reflects seriously on the integrity of Proceedings and the Naval Institute.

I was Director of Submarine Warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations from 1969 to 1971 . When I took over, the loss of the Scorpion still was very much under review. We learned a great deal from the study of the debris field and other information. There is much that we do not know and probably never will.

Master Sergeant J. P. L. Morrison, U.S. Army (Retired)— Ifound this article interesting but puzzling, as there seemed to be, according to the author, far more than enough mechanically wrong with the boat to beach it, a crew that was demoralized, and more.

I am not a submariner, but as a Marine in my younger days, I was favorably impressed with the various ships I served in and always was amazed at the sailors' ability to fix anything—temporarily or permanently—that might go wrong on board.

I also have read Rear Admiral Fountain's commentary on the article and the Scorpion, and am impressed by his remarks and by his position so far in opposition to the article. The Admiral has a firsthand ranking officer's opinion of the boat and of the crew, and according to him, the Scorpion was the best of the best and no one aboard would even think—let alone remark—that the vessel was "scrap iron" before its mysterious tragedy.

The Admiral's letter is wonderful until the end, when he complains that Proceedings erred in publishing the article. I suspect that the Admiral's position is closer to being correct than that related in the article. But the author of the article obviously did some thorough research and presented an opinion that was very fit to be printed on the pages of Proceedings. It provoked Admiral Fountain's response, which itself was worthwhile reading.

Keep publishing things we can't all agree about. It exercises our brains and helps us know just a little bit more about the functioning of the Navy.

"UK Defense Review Sets Out the Plan"

(See R. Cobbold, pp. 64-68, October 1998 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Colonel Frank G. Hoffman, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve— RearAdmiralCobbold's upbeat summary of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) brought out the fact that Britain's strategic environment is increasingly complex, requiring a reshaped military force for a wider range of missions. A U.S. naval officer could be forgiven for wishing that the alphabet soup of U.S. security commissions of the past decade could have come to the same obvious conclusion regarding the primacy of credible and ready expeditionary forces for this era. While I agree with the Admiral's enthusiasm about the marked increases to naval expeditionary forces generated by the SDR, reading the source document raised several other issues that could be noted.

Admiral Cobbold did not address the most significant downside in the review—a major shift toward jointness. The decision to create a tri-Service Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF) manifests this issue, as well as language supporting a new Chief of Joint Force Operations, a two-star position, to assist in developing JRRF packages. A Joint Defence Centre (IDC) is being stood up to develop doctrine and a joint framework for more specific service doctrine, and will have a greater voice in stating joint requirements like USACom. In addition, the SDR set up a tri-Service Chief of Defence Logistics to integrate logistics support and deliver best business practices throughout the support services. Other major changes included combining all helicopters into a Joint Helicopter Command, and the creation of one agency for repair and overhaul of all military aircraft.

After all the fine words, the SDR results in a reduction in defense spending by almost a million pounds (almost 5%). Although the SDR contains many fine statements, Britain's defense spending is being shaved from 2.7 to 2.4% of gross domestic product. This, like our Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the SDR claims to be policy driven, but it has clear fiscal imperatives. The SDR also reflects little or no historical appreciation for how innovation has been retarded rather than enhanced by seeking efficiency through increased jointness. Britain's woefully weak Royal Navy air arm was the direct result of the decision to establish the Royal Air Force as the singular air service in 1917. The RAF was dominated by proponents for strategic bombing and little else. Aircraft designs for application in naval warfare were given short shrift. British naval fighters and their Fairley Kingfisher torpedo plane (a canvas-skinned, open-cockpit biplane) were markedly inferior. Britain is outsourcing its capacity to innovate to the United States in some respects, and appears to be willing to do so in favor of greater efficiency to meet the desire by the present government to cut defense spending.

The emphasis on jointness does not have many parallels to the United States. Britain's different overall strategic position, smaller force, less range of commitments, expected "follower" position in military technology, and vastly smaller budget combine to create a strong push for efficiency over long-term adaptability, flexibility, or effectiveness over the broader range of missions that her armed services are being asked to meet. Time will tell if such a tradeoff really was warranted. The Review's focus on naval expeditionary operations and diplomatic support, however, reflects an astute grasp of the emerging environment and coalition defense requirements in tomorrow's Age of Uncertainty.

"Sailing Toward Troubled Waters"

(See N. Polmar, pp. 111 -112, September 1998 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Keith Henry, U.S. Navy— Lately,there have been many artic les written on why tactical air pilots are leaving the Navy in droves. Mr. Polmar's article adds more to the list of reasons pilots leave the Navy.

It is an excellent article that concisely illuminates all the problems with the future of naval carrier aviation. The multitude of problems, from SH-60s to F/A-18s to CYX have been mentioned in previous articles, but to see them in one place solidified why so many of my contemporaries are leaving the service. It is easy to dismiss a disgruntled aviator when he says that the future of naval aviation is at risk; it's another story when an expert says that our future is at risk.

Mr. Polmar's article highlights a more troublesome issue—one that made me think hard about whether to accept orders that extended my commitment by two years. The uncertain future of hardware makes many dedicated naval officers ask, "Where will the Navy be when I get to command level?" Too many are deciding it is not worth staying.

Quality of life and quality of work are important issues, and they can be improved. But when trying to answer the big question of why pilots are leaving, perhaps Navy leadership needs to step back and take a look at the future of naval aviation from our perspective.

 

 
 

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