Comment and Discussion

A quick poll of my squadron-mates confirms that my presence did not degrade our combat readiness or esprit de corps, or adversely affect our winning the Battle "E" three times in four years. Commander Strother should feel fortunate that there are high-quality officers of both genders flying the aircraft and standing the watches so that he may wake up a free man every morning.

If fewer personnel are joining because of my presence, then the Navy is that much stronger an institution without those close-minded, chauvinistic individuals. Commander Strother's Navy has changed—recruits once joined "to become a man," but the core values have a higher goal: to mold warfighters with honor, courage, and commitment.

If the author's nephew thinks the Navy is easy enough for girls and sissies, we can arrange a trip for him to Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School to reconsider. I look forward to my tour as an officer recruiter to find people willing to serve their country.  

"Who Should Have Tried Captain Ashby?"

(See J. Cushman, pp. 6-8, May 1999 Proceedings )

Vice Admiral Gerald E. Miller, U.S. Navy (Retired)— One does not have to read far to discover the underlying cause of Captain Ashby's troubles. Generally, a confused chain-of-command structure will set the stage for catastrophe. When you can't tell who is responsible, trouble is in the wind.

High-risk operations can be simplified greatly if you have the answers to at least two questions. The first is, "Who is the enemy?" The second is, "Who is in charge?" In the Ashby incident, the answer to the second question appears to be pretty fuzzy. A clearer line of responsibility would have resulted in a more appropriate training program, which in turn would have prevented the incident from happening. Too bad.

"There Are Limits on Sea-Based NMD"

(See J. Pollin, pp. 44-47, April 1999 Proceedings )

Lieutenant Brian J. Finman, U.S. Navy —The United States never will be invulnerable to attack from its adversaries. Our enemies, both foreign and domestic, cannot be counted on to deliver weapons of mass destruction solely via ballistic missiles. Given this reality, the notion of investing billions of dollars in an essentially static naval defense against only one of many weapon delivery systems frightens me as both a taxpayer and a professional naval officer.

Commander Pollin raises many excellent points about the ability of Aegis to counter ballistic missiles. Decision makers, with much less operational experience and technical expertise than Aegis tacticians and operators, must hear these issues and understand that while Aegis is a fantastic weapon system, it has limitations. The Navy Theater Wide (NTW) system will not be deployed until 2007 at the earliest. Based on the Navy's ship construction schedule being barely able to maintain a 300-ship fleet, it is difficult to imagine deploying any more than two or three ships for dedicated NTW without severely affecting the defense of our carrier battle groups or our operational tempo. The idea of ten ships for national missile defense (NMD) is wholly unthinkable without reinventing the entire concept of a Navy.

I understand naval power to be based on maintaining maritime dominance and carrying credible offensive power to foreign shores. I can see the relevance of theater ballistic missile defense to this definition of naval power, even though it focuses more on ensuring land dominance than maritime dominance. Making the leap to NMD is not as easy. NMD, I understand from Commander Pollin's article, is incongruent with naval doctrine and conjures images of the nineteenth century's coastal defensive fortifications. Unfortunately, NMD would not even have the benefit of leaving behind national landmarks for our progeny to enjoy on vacation and to ponder over how rapidly such defenses are rendered obsolete by technological change. Perhaps we would be served better by spending the money on replenishing the military's high-tech weapons inventory that current weapon systems are designed to shoot. This would help rebuild the credibility of our readiness to conduct sustained offensive operations rather than nurture our obsession with a high-tech Maginot Line.

I can't help but feel that the discussion of NMD is being driven by policymakers and defense industry lobbyists who don't understand or care about the implications of the Navy's role in national strategy. These policymakers could do as much good in preserving our security against ballistic missiles by making decisions to stem the flow of sensitive missile technology to potential adversaries.

No discussion in Proceedings is complete these days without mentioning junior officer retention. I chose a career in surface warfare because its missions excited me. The idea of steaming in circles at three knots in the Northern Pacific is anything but exciting. I do not understand why, other than for the sole sake of funding, the Navy is fighting so hard to adopt this counter traditional and illogical concept as a mission. If I had wanted to sit waiting in a missile silo I would have joined the Air Force. I am among the few and proud junior officers I know with a vision of having an active role in the Navy of 2010. But underpinning this vision is a sincere hope that our nation realizes what it means to have a Navy.

"Why I Will Leave the Navy"

(See M. Butler, p. 2, April 1999; J. Hammond, R. Baldwin, J. Hardman, p. 12, May 1999 Proceedings )

Lieutenant L. L. Baxley, U.S. Naval Reserve —I concur emphatically with Lieutenant Butler. I challenge all other junior officers who share her opinion to respond in writing as well. With volume, we might convince someone who will hear (not just listen) that there are some issues. Like most junior officers, I have a list of specific examples that I could share. I would love to give a presentation with my fellow junior officers on our view of the "State of the Navy."

Lieutenant Commander Wade H. Schmidt, U.S. Navy, Executive Officer, USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730) (Gold)— I can agree with Lieutenant Butler to a point. That point is when someone has to take a good hard look at the leaders above and decide that the leadership, not the organization, is lacking. The U.S. Navy has the people and the organization to defeat any nation on Earth, and one, two, or three bad commanding officers should not be the reason for getting out. COs change every few years, and junior officers change ships or stations every few years. In a civilian corporation, it is possible that your job and your boss will not change for five or more years. If something is wrong; fix it. There are many avenues open to do that within the Navy, but few to do so outside the Navy. One of the many reasons I stayed in the Navy was that I felt I could do well for my sailors by being their commanding officer instead of some tyrannical guy who happened to stay in when other, more qualified, people got out.

Editor's Note: Please see "Open Letters to Lieutenant Butler, " pp. 46-47.

"How Far Will the Dragon Swim?"

(See W. Hugar, pp. 48-51, March 1999 Proceedings )

Lieutenant Fred Winton Smith Jr., U.S. Navy —I agree with Lieutenant Commander Wayne Hugar's assessment that the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) is a coastal navy with aspirations to extend presence beyond China's territorial waters. But I disagree that the PLAN is developing a blue-water capability to protect maritime trade.

The Chinese gradually are developing a maritime navy to defend territorial integrity. Most U.S. experts who study China would agree that China's leaders consider economic growth is the key to national power. In addition, China's national goals are to defend its territorial integrity and regain lost territories. By pursuing these goals and following a national security strategy of gradually improving its relative military capability in the region, China eventually hopes to become the regional power in Asia.

The PLAN pursues goals similar to the national goals such as defending the nation and protecting maritime rights. Since the mid-1980s, the PLAN has adopted an offshore defense strategy with the goal of recovering Taiwan and defending claims to the Spratly Islands. This strategy is best described in terms of two periods: During the first period (between mid-1980s and approximately 2010), the PLAN gradually transitions from a "static" coastal defense to an "offshore active defense"; in the second period (after 2010), the PLAN hopes to evolve into a blue-water navy. Admiral Liu Huaqing, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and former commander of Chinese naval operations in the Spratly Islands, designed the plan to develop greater strategic depth offshore against a major military power. Such a plan would require building a force capable of engaging an adversary out to the First Island Chain (extending from Kyushu through the Ryuku Islands and Taiwan to the west coast of the Philippines, encompassing the South China Sea), and as naval forces improve, out to the Second Island Chain (extending from Honshu through Iwo Jima to Guam, then southwest to Indonesia, encompassing the Philippine Sea). In addition to projecting forward defense, the active offshore defense strategy supports Beijing's desire to patrol and defend claims to the Spratly Islands and Exclusive Economic Zones in the South China Sea.

The PLAN currently lacks the capability to carry out "offshore active defense" to defend its territorial claims and regain lost territories. But China is achieving a revolution in military affairs, according to Chinese strategists. Chinese leaders are calling for a gradual, simultaneous change in doctrine, force structure, equipment, and technology. Military modernization is affecting several mission areas, and developing capabilities suited to rapid response, joint force, and small-scale conflicts—like those that might come from a Spratly Island dispute.

The PLAN's power-projection capability has increased measurably through recent developments and capabilities. China's ongoing program to acquire Su27 Flankers, Sovremennyy-class guided missile destroyers, Kilo-class submarines, improved surface-to-air missiles, air-- launched antiship missiles, and upgrades to acquisition and fire control systems improve the armed forces capability against an adversary. China recently established rapid-reaction units to serve as an immediate crisis-response force. Reports indicate that the PLAN is developing air-- refueling capabilities and the construction of replenishment vessels to greatly enhance the range of units out to the First Island Chain. While these developments would enhance the ability to carry out "offshore active defense" significantly, the PLAN likely will conduct a gradual buildup to prevent regional countries from perceiving such moves as attempts to improve China's offensive capabilities, which could threaten stability in the region. Until its forces are able to project naval power beyond land-based air, China likely will attempt to resolve maritime disputes in the South China Sea via peaceful means.

A review of goals, strategies, and capabilities strongly suggests that China gradually will develop a maritime capability to defend territorial integrity, not to defend its maritime trade as suggested. While the Chinese will continue to expand their influence in the region, it will be strictly for territorial defense and regaining territory they consider to be theirs rather than building a navy with convoy protection capabilities.

"Free Speech v. Article 88"

(See E. Fidell, p. 2, December 1998; G. Crume, R. Mar, p. 14, February 1999; T. Brannon, p. 28, April 1999 Proceedings )

R. K. Weaver —Lieutenant Colonel Bannon is correct; truth is not a defense to a charge of contempt of a superior officer. It is, however, a complete defense to a charge of perjury. Colonel Bannon's statement that "perjury is perjury" is not correct. Many false statements have been made under oath that were not deemed to be "perjury." As Representative Henry Hyde correctly stated in his defense of Ollie North (and then appears to have forgotten a decade later), "Not every lie under oath is perjury."  

"Does the Navy Need the 1700 Community?"

(See J. Graham, pp. 48-50, February 1999; T. Hall, D. Diekman, p. 22, May 1999 Proceedings )

Lieutenant Christopher M. Rein, U.S. Navy —Recent articles have documented the shortage of personnel in sea tour billets on board aircraft carriers and other combatants. What better way for 1700s to support the fleet and alleviate the manning crisis than to fill these billets?

This would allow aviators to remain in the cockpits (and their communities to benefit from their leadership) while permitting 1700s, who bounce from shore billet to shore billet to gain a real appreciation of what the Navy does on a daily basis—and perhaps even the opportunity to earn a warfare designation or at least some shipboard qualifications.

A 1700 in the manpower, personnel, and training area has as much experience with steam catapults as a P-3 naval flight officer, and probably would benefit greatly from running a division of 80 shipboard sailors. Ideally, the days of 1700s without warfare qualifications in command of major shore establishments will go the way of all-male ships and squadrons.

"Could a Small Crew Have Saved the Stark—or the Samuel B. Roberts?"

(See J. Lyons, pp. 86-88, October 1998; J. Neumann, pp. 23-24, February 1999 Proceedings )

Colin C. Esler —I was introduced to marine electronics in 1955, filled senior technician billets in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Korean and Vietnam service periods, worked as a civilian hard-hat out of electronic shops in half a dozen shipyards—Navy, Coast Guard, and private—and as a senior technical writer and project director documenting electronic weapon systems for every branch of the armed forces. I am increasingly amazed at the unkillable faith certain younger officers repose in the viability of automated vessel systems in regard to their ability to function for extended periods under operational circumstances with light manning, depending on electronic-sensor watchstanding and duplicate systems to anticipate and patch around incipient malfunctions and preclude equipment failures—especially catastrophic breakdown.

It cannot be done. This argument is as old, and evidently is as impossible of being put to rest, as the dispute regarding the capability of massive bombing attacks against civilian populations to compel belligerents to sue for peace.

Two requirements, at least, must be met to keep state-of-the-art propulsion, weapon, communications, navigation, and other shipboard systems fully operational. First, a full complement of trained maintenance personnel must be involved in daily intimate contact with equipment, executing scheduled tests, scrutinizing performance, exercising standby equipment, swapping out filters and other parts, lubricating, checking for excessive noise and vibration, and verifying waveforms, critical electrical levels, and hydraulic pressures, etc. All this implies people of various ranks and degrees of experience—products of an extensive training establishment ashore and a significant investment in technical manuals and troubleshooting aids carefully written for comprehension and usability by personnel of widely varying natural aptitudes, and based insofar as possible on the actual, in-service histories of nomenclatured equipment.

Second, the ship must be equipped with ample spare parts to perform corrective maintenance at every level at which the ship's workforce is capable of performing. Where sufficient skill, ingenuity, and determination are present, many projects can be carried out at sea—those, which on ships where these qualities are absent, are classified as "capital" projects and only performed in port.

Spare parts allowances must be established carefully to support all on-board equipment, taking into account equipment breakdown histories and expectancies. Careful stocking and identification of parts, ease of access, and religious replenishment are imperative. This requires an elaborate shore support system, including such esoteric a as libraries of illustrated parts breakdown manuals and the expenditure of a great deal of money. This especially is true in the current age of circuit boards, with their gilt-edged price tags, too often represented by a single on-board spare or not stocked at all short of the manufacturer's plant.

There is no ship or system so sophisticated or elaborate that it can continue to function in adversity—extended cruises, heavy weather, the chaos of battle damage—while making itself an exception to the necessity for the broad, deep, echeloned maintenance and repair force that has the tradition in the Navy.

It would be an irreparable mistake to permit the dissipation of the can-do spirit, in-depth technical knowledge, and industrial strength that have given America's armed forces much of the resilience that constitutes the margin of superiority in a technical age. The drive and inspiration of our generations of teenage Einsteins in uniform—a warrant officer class that once could hold its own with any class of graduate engineers anywhere, and a special pride in being able to accomplish the impossible failure analysis, casualty repair, overhaul, or capital project against the pressures and impediments of time, weather, and adversity—they could hang out on the yardarm in 40 deg rolls, upside-down in the bilges, or inches from buss bars hot with 16 kilovolts—and to come up grinning, greasy, and even dinged here and there, but victorious after hours or days of tenacious cerebral and/or grunt effort. These are virtues no one can witness without rendering heartfelt admiration and applause.

This unsurpassed skill and devotion in serving the ships, weapons, and substance of the fleet are in the finest traditions of seamen, and it is a particular American attribute of which we are supremely fortunate to be the beneficiaries—one that it would be an act of suicide to lose.

"Masters, Martyrs & Spectators"

(See C. Harris, pp. 30-34, April 1999; T. Buyniski, pp. 18-19, May 1999 Proceedings )

Machinist's Mate First Class Joseph K. Walker, U.S. Naval Reserve— Mr. Buyniski's comment that the drafting of an individual implies that "the life of an individual belongs to the state" is an extreme view, based on the premise that Americans possess an "absolute" liberty. We enjoy the highest degree of liberty ever known to mankind. Within this framework, numerous restraints and duties are imposed upon us that detract from absolute liberty; taxes are a relevant example.

Given that the cost of our freedom is high, one can imagine that we as individuals incur a debt for the freedom and security we enjoy from birth. A fair system of payment (via service) by lottery for this debt is neither unreasonable nor totalitarian.

Having taken exception to defend a democracy's right to require service to the state, I will concede that this is unlikely to be even considered in a poll-driven America. I suggest a gentle coercion instead: Roll back the G.I. Bill that is being given away to students through Pell grants and other means. Today's middleclass students have access to funds (obligation free) that exceed those my classmates and I signed up for in 1981. Service-for-college was an incentive that rewarded me and many shipmates with adventure and education, while helping man a much larger fleet than today's. We put a face on the military for our peers, and continue to do so.

"Bring Back ASW—Now!"

(See A. Doney and S. Deal, pp. 102-104, April 1999 Proceedings )

"VP + VQ + VPU = VPR?"

(See R. McCord, pp. 105-107, March 1999 Proceedings )

Captain D. W. Elliott, U.S. Navy (Retired)— The current status of antisubmarine warfare (ASW) in the Navy creates a strong sense of deja vu. In the early 1960s, responsibility for ASW in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OpNav) was divided among the three major warfare sponsors (air, surface, submarine); despite lip service to the contrary, it was not a high-priority or well-funded requirement, and any coordination among the three sponsors was almost accidental. This situation was not new—the same organization had been in existence for at least ten years; what was new was that the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) management and systems evaluation methods created by McNamara and Enthoven were showing that while this was a strictly Navy mission (unlike many others in contention among the services), the existing management was a disaster—and there was no one in the Navy with authority to respond to OSD.

In 1964, the Navy designated Vice Admiral Charles B. Martell as the newly created Director of ASW Programs, OP-95 (later OP-095). Admiral Martell was the senior vice admiral in the Pentagon, and he insisted on and received full control of all ASW program funding.

Almost all current ASW systems and sensors owe their origin and existence to this office. Within ten years, the Navy had an effective, coordinated ASW capability, and by the 1980s it was more than equal to the submarine threat. Control of ASW funding (except for new aircraft and ship procurement) was a essential element in this achievement. Even as late as the early 1980s, there would be annual unsuccessful attempts by OpNav sponsors or within aviation and surface to raid or "tax" ASW programs to support other requirements. Sadly, this office finally became a victim of its own success. In the mid-1980s, the role of OP095 as ASW Mission Sponsor was expanded to make this office the mission sponsor of all Navy missions, thereby diluting the effectiveness in any one mission area. When OpNav was reorganized in the early 1990s, the concept of any mission sponsor was eliminated.

The current OpNav structure for ASW management and responsibility is essentially identical to the pre-OP-095 organization, and the status and priority of ASW are equally bad. The only difference is that responsibility for evaluation of mission capability and effectiveness is now within OpNav; there is no outside (OSD or elsewhere) appraisal of future ASW capability. The fleet commands and war colleges may conduct war games and analyses where the Navy loses, but OpNav never will.

I sincerely doubt if any action short of a re-creation of OP-095—a mission sponsor with full funding authority—could solve the Navy's ASW problems. I sincerely doubt that this would ever occur as an OpNav decision without strong outside pressure from OSD or the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Any radical changes in OpNav would be ineffective unless accompanied by equal changes in the fleet. To illustrate, examine the reasons why the deletion of ASW tasking for the S-3B was largely unopposed by the aviation antisubmarine community:

First, the S-3B aircraft has a mission computer that was designed in 1967 and an ASW computer designed in 1977, with displays and software of the same vintage. In the computer world, this is the Wright Brothers—these systems have less than 1% of the capacity of any $1,000 Pentium personal computer.

Second, there have been no improvements in S-3B ASW sensors (designed against the Russian nuclear threat) for more than ten years, and none are planned and funded for the next ten years. In direct comparison, in the same past ten years, the ES-3 aircraft program has been initiated, developed, and deployed with new sensors, computers, and displays—and terminated. This sends a message.

Third—probably the primary cause of the first two—the air antisubmarine community exists under a command structure, from the air group commander to the Pentagon, that has negligible knowledge, concern, priority, or interest in ASW, and like all good sailors everywhere, they take pride and try their best to provide excellent performance where their superiors want them to excel.

The S-3B is only one example of a fleet wide problem (unbelievably, the P-3C computer is older). At the end of the Cold War, all platforms with ASW as a primary mission—aircraft, ships, submarines—were highly motivated (in order to maintain force levels) to find alternative missions. This trend continues.

It is ironic that the article immediately following "Bring Back ASW" recommended a VP+VQ+VPU-type squadron and aircraft. Once adopted, these alternative missions have taken over; priority has been given to non-ASW upgrades and training. ASW still gets verbal homage, but it probably would be very difficult to find any platform that spends more than 50% of its training and exercise time doing ASW—or even 50% of its improvement budget. Worse, somewhere along the line the pride in mastering a difficult task has disappeared.

By neglect, the Navy has forfeited its mastery of ASW. It cannot be regained until fleet commands, from the top down, assign top priority and demand ASW excellence from their ASW platforms and also assign top priority and demand new systems, sensors, and trainers from their sponsors.

"Kara Hultgreen Quals at the Boat"

(See S. Spears, p. 63, October 1998; F. Slyfield, p. 10, December 1998; A. Castberg, pp. 12-13, February 1999; J. Cade, p. 22, April 1999 Proceedings )

Captain Richard Gertsch, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)— Commander Cade's reading of the Mishap Investigation Report (MIR) on Lieutenant Hultgreen is amazing, and it prompted me to reread the MIR. Commander Cade's letter claiming that Hultgreen was a pilot of less than modest ability is based on selective reading of the MIR. Although his one statement concerning failure to qualify on the first attempt is technically and approximately correct, he omits other MIR data that paint a more complex picture.

Except for initially failing carrier qualification, Lieutenant Hultgreen's grades in other areas were above average. On passing carrier qualification on her second attempt, she was rated three of seven in the requalification class, and was considered above average overall. Lieutenant Hultgreen's instructor radar intercept officer (RIO) during her transition to the F-14 stated she was safe and consistent. She was the top nugget out of five in her squadron; Lieutenant Hultgreen and her RIO were fully qualified in accordance with all applicable directives.

Although placing the MIR on the Internet was criminal, it nonetheless is now in the public record. MIRs are conducted in order to save the lives of naval aviators, not to besmirch the record of a fellow naval officer while pursuing an agenda. If Lieutenant Hultgreen's ability was in the bottom 25%, does that mean that male aviators with lower grades are not qualified to fly?

People who are qualified to do a job are qualified, period. I have no idea whether women should be in combat, or if the effectiveness of combat units will be lowered by allowing women to serve in them. But the debate over women in combat will not go away, and the debate is important to the Navy and the country. To conduct it with innuendo and selective reporting of facts serves no one. Commanders Cade and Slyfield have lowered the debate to a level below that of the politically correct people they so rightly deplore.

The Naval Institute is to be applauded for publishing Call Sign Revlon . It has much to teach, regardless of one's views on women in combat.

February Proceedings Cover Photo

Lieutenant Colonel N. E. Hitchcock, U.S. Marine Corps —The February cover needed work. The third class is a little out of uniform. His ribbons are out of order. His hair is a little long, and his cover has an obvious fold on his port side. (The last two details were caught by a sharp-eyed petty officer first class in my office.)

Mr. Dirkx gets photo credit, but unless he is an old salt, he should not be expected to notice these details; there are pros aplenty in Annapolis for that. In addition, the U.S. flag always should fly unfurled, not wrapped around the staff. You and I know it doesn't always do so, but someone should have squared it away for the photo, or another picture should have been chosen.

"Book Review: Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage"

(See N. Friedman, pp. 82-83, February 1999; R. May, p. 14, April 1999 Proceedings )

"Blind Man's Bluff: Submerged in Controversy"

(See T. Gaillard, pp. 114-115, March 1999 Proceedings )

Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, authors, Blind Man's Bluff —We were disappointed by Dr. Friedman's review and several mistaken impressions that he conveyed. For instance, he wrote that the book "misses some important points," such as how the U.S. surveillance submarines helped deter the Soviets by convincing them they could not win an undersea war.

But one of the central points of the book was how successful our Navy was a shadowing Soviet submarines in the open ocean. We went on to explain that this was one of the most critical secrets that the spy John Walker passed to the Soviets—a warning, in effect, that they had better pull their missile submarines back to safer waters if they wanted to hold on to them.

We quoted Admiral James Watkins, the former Chief of Naval Operations, at length on all the steps that our Navy took in the name of deterrence to let the Soviets know that we remained confident of our superiority under the sea. Referring to the psychological and practical effects, he said: "I believe it was one of the reasons that we were able to bring the Russians to their knees in the Cold War."

More baffling—and galling to many of the submariners who helped us—is Dr. Friedman's ridiculous assertion that our book is "padded with irrelevancies" like the losses of the USS Thresher (SSN-593) and USS Scorpion (SSN-589), two nuclear submarines that sank in accidents and took 228 men down with them. Irrelevant to a book on espionage, in Dr. Friedman's narrow view, because neither submarine "was on a reconnaissance mission at the time of its loss."

But we explained how it was the loss of the Thresher that forced the Navy to learn more about the oceans' depths, leading directly to some of the boldest and most valuable espionage missions of the entire Cold War. We also disclosed how details of a final surveillance mission that the Scorpion undertook just a few days before she disappeared.

Whispers about that mission long had given rise to rumors that the Soviets might have sunk the Scorpion . We think those rumors were unfounded, and we unearthed intriguing new evidence to support a theory that the Scorpion might have been done in by defects in one of her own torpedoes. [EDITOR'S NOTE: See "Real Story of Scorpion ?", pp. 28-33. ]

In making such comments, Dr. Friedman missed the larger human story at the heart of the book—the basic triumph of so many men who braved Soviet defenses and the very real possibility of tragedy at sea to bring home intelligence. Fortunately, tens of thousands of these submariners have embraced the book, delighted that it captures the essence of what they went through and accomplished. It also has provided an emotional catharsis for many of these men and their families, who feel they finally are getting public credit for all their sacrifices.

We are pleased that other prominent naval experts, from former Navy Secretary John Lehman to Norman Polmar, have been generous in their praise for Blind Man's Bluff . We recently won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize, sponsored mainly by the New York Council of the Navy League. But what is even more gratifying is how many submariners have called or written just to say thanks.

"DD-21's Fatal Flaw"

(See M. Fitzgerald, pp. 42-45, February 1999; J. Carnevale, p. 16, March 1999; S. Keller, p. 14, April 1999; E. Hontz, p. 18, May 1999 Proceedings )

"Can a Minimum-Manned Ship Survive Combat?"

(See P. Vining, pp. 80-83, April 1999 Proceedings )

Captain Daniel S. Appleton, U.S. Navy (Retired)— Rear Admiral Carnevale emphasizes the adequacy of design of the Land-Attack Destroyer with respect to crew size, self-defense, and damage control. Captain Vining's excellent discussion focuses on the ship's structure and crew workload. Neither one addresses an even more crucial aspect of combat effectiveness: the structure, equipment, and procedures needed to maximize the ability of a ship's crew to perform expertly under conditions of extreme stress and violence (that is, their ability to fight).

Two indispensable factors must be kept in mind constantly by ship designers: When crew sizes are minimized, expert performance in every billet during combat becomes indispensable; and people are the most vulnerable resource.

With respect to achieving expert performance under stress, no ship today has defined all its needed battle skills in a form visible to the crew, nor is it possible for any ship's company to remain continuously aware of the battle skills it has or has not yet achieved. Such visibility requires new evaluative procedures and computerized displays.

With respect to human vulnerability, the Navy never has provided a suitable combat uniform to help protect shipboard people under conditions of gross violence and still enable them to do ship's work under high readiness conditions. An adequate uniform will require specially designed facilities for stowage and care.

New ships still are being designed without facilities to protect their people under extreme conditions or to help them know what they are supposed to become good at in order to perform expertly in combat. Ship designers simply do not think in terms of fighting.

"One Special Ship"

Lieutenant Commander Michael Collins, U.S. Naval Reserve —Lieutenant Commander McGrath's article brought back fond memories of my service on what I affectionately call the Starship. In four surface commands in ten years as a surface warfare officer, I served with many fine officers. But in three of these commands, the future success and retention of junior officers were horrendous, despite command success rates that equaled those from the Starship. The difference, as Commander McGrath wrote, was mentoring. Starship officers received real career counseling from the captain and letters of recommendation when needed. They were allowed to take no-cost temporary duty orders to attain professional qualifications, and earned final qualifications as watchstanders on the ship. The ship might be without an officer during a long in-port or short at-sea period, but it gained a qualified watch officer.

Division officers often left their first tour with a surface warfare pin, an engineering officer of the watch or tactical action officer letter (or both), a well-- deserved personal decoration, well-written fitness reports, and the proper letters of recommendation or phone calls to help secure the "right" orders. This type of handling created an winning attitude in the wardroom that permeated the ship.

Junior officers are marked for success early, and success breeds success. From the Starship, the commanding officer is now a rear admiral, the executive officer selected for major command, five of six department heads got command, and most division officers are still in and on the fast track. I wish I could say the same about the other commands in which I served. Sadly, they were too much like the stereotypical surface warfare stories.

Bravo Zulu to Commander McGrath. His fine article should be required reading for all officers in the prospective commanding/executive officer and department head pipeline.

"A French Expeditionary Force Without Conscripts"

(See G. Bloch, pp. 65-68, March 1999 Proceedings )

Ingo K. Wamser —The majority of articles written by Americans simplify or neglect European history. Captain Bloch points to the first Levee en Masse in 1793 to defend the republic against an invasion. But in Europe, it isn't seen as an invasion: 200 years afterward, I'd say they did it the American way.

After the French revolution of 1792, France slid into civil war and "republic" dictatorship, including torture and mass murder. The English, Prussians, and Austrians attacked France to solve these problems and to protect stability in Europe.

If you see it this way, the differences from strikes in Kosovo and other raids in recent history aren't very big, and I don't think these would be called an invasion. In my opinion, the implementation in Kosovo was justified as it was in France. But seen with the correct historical background, it's easier to decide on appropriate vocabulary that may protect the reader from misinterpretation.

"Naval Institute 37th Annual Photo Contest"

(See pp. 57-73, April 1999 Proceedings )

Lieutenant Peter R. Berning, U.S. Navy —The First Prize winner in this year's photo contest depicts the U.S. flag on display before a San Diego Chargers professional football game. Chapter 10, Title 36, Section 176 of the U.S. Code states that "the flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free."

We constantly are awash with images of our flag as used-car-lot props, jogging shorts, and even underwear. The military remains one of the bedrocks of proper respect and etiquette for the flag. To see Sailors and Marines ordered to be part of an improper display of our flag for pregame entertainment deeply troubles me. For a respected professional military journal to award a photograph of this event with its first prize is wrong.

The general public looks to the military for guidance when it comes to matters of patriotic respect. Throughout our history, many Americans have sacrificed their lives for our flag. Let us not cheapen their sacrifices or our flag for Hollywood-style showmanship.

"End of the Continental Century"

(See R. Fry, pp. 40-43, March 1999; J. Hughes, p. 12, May 1999 Proceedings )

Commander Sam Tangredi, U.S. Navy —It is easy for naval officers to support Brigadier Fry's view that we are facing a "new Columbian age" requiring a "maritime national strategy." But navies, particularly the U.S. Navy, have developed the means to shift from a sea power focus that influences events on land indirectly to a land power focus in which navies can—in the words of the Chief of Naval Operations—influence events on land directly and decisively. The evidence for this can be glimpsed in our recent strikes on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Belgrade.

As access to overseas land bases becomes more restricted and problematic and naval technology continues to expand, it is natural for "island nations" such as the United States to rely more and more on sea-based assets to project power into regions of potential crisis. That is why the concept of naval forward presence continues to grow in importance as America's prime method for shaping the peace and responding to conflict. That also is why the Navy needs to understand its presence in such economically vital realms as cyberspace.

But even if access to land bases were ensured, Brigadier Fry's points concerning the economic benefit of maritime power in a world of transnationalism and globalization are historically valid and worthy of study. We all know that free trade has propelled the United States to become the global economic power that it is today. We all know that freedom of the seas and access to overseas markets and raw materials are essential for free trade. We all know that having a strong Navy protects these essentials. We have some anecdotal evidence that naval forces affect commodity prices. For example, a study by the Naval Postgraduate School indicates that oil prices have stabilized or decreased whenever naval forces have responded to a crisis in the Arabian Gulf. But what we haven't been able to do thus far is to quantify exactly how much of a direct economic benefit results from a particular level of naval force structure.

An assessment of this direct economic benefit could be the most significant contribution in helping to determine the appropriate naval force structure for America's future prosperity. I throw that out as a topical challenge to the many contributors to Proceedings . Perhaps an essay contest on economic security would spark interest in fashioning a debate on the Navy's effect on our globally interdependent financial well-being.

Brigadier Fry's excellent essay includes one small factual error. It was Henry L. Stimson, not William Stimpson, who referred to the "dim religious world in which Neptune was God, Mahan his prophet, and the United States Navy the only true church." Not exactly an unbiased observer of naval strategy, Henry Stimson served as Secretary of War from 1940 to 1945. Earlier, as Secretary of State, Stimson became famous for another quote—one justifying his elimination of State's intelligence bureau: "Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail"—not exactly a prescient sound bite on today's world of international relations.

"Mined Beaches—If You Can't Avoid 'em, Breach 'em"

(See R. Meyerhoff, pp. 41-43, April 1999 Proceedings )

James A. Calpin, The Institute of Public Policy, George Mason University —Captain Meyerhoff's article only scratches the surface concerning the myriad of obstacles (technical, doctrinal, and operational) confronting Navy/Marine Corps planners today. Mines represent a cheap counter to U.S. power-projection forces, a lesson not lost on potential foes. It is also true that mine countermeasures (MCM) are given short shrift in today's training environment, that mines are often "assumed" away, and that existing mine detection and neutralization technologies are woefully inadequate. Unfortunately, the situation is worse than it seems.

From a technical standpoint, the recently completed Joint Countermine (JCM) Advanced Concepts Technology Demonstration (ACTD) highlighted the fact that despite recent advances in information technology, sensors, and systems, our ability to detect mines in any environment—let alone the particularly challenging very shallow water (VSW) and surf-zone environments—only has marginally improved; breaching systems and techniques are essentially the same ones that have been in use since World War II. In the course of the JCM ACTD, new detection systems like the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)mounted Advanced Standoff Mine Detection System (ASTAMIDS) or the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance (COBRA) system showed promise, but were not sufficiently mature to provide commanders with tactically useful information. Hoped-for advances in breaching systems, like the overly complex Joint Amphibious Mineclearing Capability (JAMC, a.k.a. the Bulldozer from Hell) or the Claussen Power Blade proved inadequate or too complex and vulnerable.

Doctrinally, we still haven't come to terms with the whole issue of the assault breach. MCACs vs LCACs? Captain Meyerhoff highlights the tradeoff that must occur between mine clearance and lift, but dramatically underestimates the number of MCACs that may be required to clear enough boat lanes for a regimental landing team. LCACs or displacement craft? LCACs allow speed, but at a cost of limited lift, particularly when the LCAC must come off-cushion while in an overload condition to land a single MlA1 with a track-width mine plow; as two tanks per breach lane are considered a minimum, the LCAC requirements for breaching systems alone grow quickly. Displacement craft like LCUs allow for much greater lift, but by sacrificing speed—one of the primary Operational Maneuver from the Sea enablers. D7 dozers or M1A1s with track-width plows for breaching? Dozer blades are very inefficient mine-clearance instruments and are susceptible to damage, either by direct fire or by mine detonations. Track-width plows on M1A1s are less vulnerable, but only marginally better at clearance; tankers generally loathe the addition of these temperamental and maintenance-intensive "farm implements."

Timing and sequencing of landing serials is also an open issue. Should the landing force be under way when breaching commences, ready to hit the beach the moment the breach lane(s) are declared open, or should the force wait in the transit area until the lanes are declared open? The former promises to exploit the breach and build up combat power quickly on the beach rapidly, but at the risk of forcing a dangerous traffic jam in the boat lanes if the breachers are unsuccessful; a gaggle of AAVs, LCACs, and LCUs clustered in narrow boat lanes would present a tempting high-value target for a defender. If the boat lanes have been cleared of mines inadequately, the situation becomes that much worse. If the landing force is held back awaiting the announcement of open breach lanes, there will be a considerable delay before any combat power reaches the beach, leaving the small, lightly armed, obstacle-clearing detachment dangerously exposed.

Operationally, the tactics, techniques, and procedures for breaching minefields once ashore present extremely high degrees of risk to commanders, even in a relatively benign threat environment. When Clausewitz was developing his concept of "friction" in warfare, he must have had assault breaching operations in mind, because there are few other mission areas where so many different things can go wrong in such a short period of time. The problem is hard enough in an Army-centric, land-only battlespace; adding in the complexities and constraints of the amphibious environment makes it exponentially more difficult. Existing explosive breaching systems are unreliable both in operation and in their effects, leaving many mines undetonated in skip zones (to say nothing of their complete ineffectiveness against the relatively common blast-resistant mine). The current "Kabuki dance" of an explosive line charge being fired over a plow-equipped tank or dozer, in tandem with plowing actions, is fraught with peril for all involved. If a breaching vehicle hits a mine while clearing or proofing a lane, there is generally no equipment available to extract the vehicle, forcing follow-on breaching assets (if any remain) to continue the breach around the damaged—vehicle, also a hazardous endeavor.

The Joint Countermine Operational Simulation (JCOS), an element of the Joint Countermine ACTD, yielded considerable insights into the challenges of amphibious operations in a mined environment. Using high-resolution, man-in-the-loop simulation, JCOS analysts were able to see the high degree of risk associated with deliberate breaching operations—the potential for debacle is high, as there are numerous single points of failure that can undermine the entire operation. Even when landing in a benign threat environment, a robust mine threat could inflict casualties so severe that the viability of the overall landing would have to be called into question. Often, all breaching systems would be damaged or destroyed, leaving the unwelcome choice of either aborting the landing or "bulling" through the minefields. The widespread use of such simulation would be an eye-opener for much of the amphibious warfare community.

Two conclusions can be drawn from this woeful state of affairs. First, avoidance is the key—we should develop our detection systems to such a degree that an assault breach would not be necessary. Greater emphasis should be placed on research and development associated with tactically and operationally useful detection systems. The JCM ACTD shows that we are on the right track, but the technologies simply are not yet mature enough for "prime time." Second, if deliberate breaching operations are to remain a viable option, then equipment tailored for the job will be absolutely mandatory. The Army's Grizzly engineer vehicle, with its full-width mine plow and M1-based chassis and armor would be an ideal addition to the landing force—working with legacy dozer and plow systems is a recipe for failure. Improved means to defeat magnetic and blast resistant mines should be explored and developed. Until these and other technologies mature, and until breaching is a higher priority within the acquisition and doctrine communities, deliberate amphibious breaching operations should remain in the realm of wishful thinking, rather than a viable concept of operation.

 

 
 

Conferences and Events

Defense Forum Washington 2014

Thu, 2014-12-04

Newseum - Knight Conference Center

Defense Forum Washington will take place December 4, 2014 at the Newseum - Knight Conference Center in Washington, DC.

2015 WEST Conference

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 135 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership