Comment & Discussion

Second, he suggests that the United States should, at a minimum, not encourage (or should not have encouraged) development of greater global MDA. At the same time he correctly points out that requisite technologies are becoming ever more common and less expensive. Keeping the genie in the bottle has never been a good strategy. Anticipating and being ahead of technological change as much as possible tends to be much more successful.

Finally, his thesis seems to imply that a dark and chaotic maritime domain benefits the United States. While this might actually be the case in some short-run tactical situations, most scholars and naval strategists recognize that it is not in our best interests over the long haul. It was certainly the consensus at the most recent International Seapower Symposium that coherent maritime international governance was in the best interest of all stakeholders, and that improved maritime domain awareness was an essential component.


Scott C. Truver, executive advisor, National Security Programs, Gryphon Technologies —Commander Kraska raises tough questions about the need to ensure that coastal states' use of MDA systems and sharing as much information as widely as possible about maritime activity do not constrain the time-honored principle of the freedom of the high seas. Indeed, this has been a near-constant security-versus-freedom tension at least since Grotius wrote Mare Liberum in 1609, countered by Welwood's Abridgement of All Sea-Lawes in 1613 and Selden's 1635 concept of Mare Clausum.

These issues, particularly the tangible and intangible costs versus benefits of global MDA info-sharing, should be addressed. He might be over-reaching, but if trends and developments continue, as they seem to be, the result could be increasing coastal state constraints on otherwise legitimate activity farther offshore. For that reason, the Navy and Coast Guard have a freedom-of-navigation program that constantly and continually underscores U.S. interests in assuring high-seas and other freedoms, like transit passage through international straits.

So, we should be concerned about the potential implications of ever-more-capable MDA abilities on other important security, defense, and commercial interests in the maritime domain. But how much unconstrained high-seas freedoms are we willing to accept in the face of growing insecurities from diverse threats? And reliance on flag states to police vessels under their flags breaks down when flag-of-convenience states have little incentive to do so. Finally, what means and extent of "governance" can be put in place to safeguard competing interests of enhanced security and unfettered lawful use of the high seas? In this, the fact that the United States remains outside the formal framework of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea does not help our cause.

At the 2009 International Seapower Symposium last October, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead re-cognized that the "maritime security arena faces many new and difficult challenges, and there is much to be done in the maritime domain to reach our common goals of safety and security of the seas." Indeed. Balancing the needs for regime on the high seas with the need for enhanced security will not come easy.

Navy Diversity Is Off Course

(See J. Murphy, p. 14, December 2009 Proceedings )

Paul Burgess— Senior Chief Murphy is exactly correct, but a more telling signal comes at the end of the piece, when we see that the author transferred to the Fleet Reserve before he wrote it.

It does little good if our Navy's leaders wait until they are safely tucked away with their pensions before addressing the critical issue of how politically correct thought has been busy destroying the Navy's moral integrity and combat effectiveness ever since Tailhook. That was the crowbar used to introduce women to service in warships. Navy leadership has blindly avoided the resultant discord, harassment, favoritism, loss due to pregnancy, gross impact on good order and discipline, and unfair work assignments, not to mention the loss of damage control and other battle efficiency requiring physical strength. This is an open secret among those in leadership positions. But God forbid anyone in authority mention it while serving, or your career is over. Thus, the continuing paeans to the great god, Diversity. The Emperor has no clothes.

I don't blame the senior chief on a personal level for wanting to be safely in port before releasing such a controversial opinion piece. But until people like him with senior rank are willing to stand up and take the risk of speaking out while still serving, things will only continue to deteriorate.


Captain Joseph D. Sharpe, U.S. Navy (Retired)— I wholeheartedly agree with Senior Chief Murphy that Navy diversity is off course, especially as it relates to admission policies at the Naval Academy. When Professor Bruce Fleming's piece describing the dual-track Naval Academy admission policy was published in an Annapolis newspaper, I wrote to my senators and congressman asking if they approved of their appointments being handled in this manner. Of course none of the three bothered to reply. I assume they were afraid to rattle the politically correct cage.

The Chief of Naval Operations and Naval Academy Superintendent are doing a disservice to the Navy and the country with this misguided policy. The senior chief is right that admission should be based on merit and not any other criteria to satisfy some quota.

Mahan's Lingering Ghost

(See J. Holmes and T. Yoshihara, pp. 40-45, December 2009 Proceedings )

Karl G. Hardesty— Kudos, but with a caveat, to the authors for the thoughtful use of Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan's sea power theory to explain the challenges of a seagoing China. With China increasingly relying on merchant shipping to provide the raw materials for its economic growth, its need to protect the commons is readily apparent.

History is a great learning tool, and Mahan was spot-on when he wrote that great nations of the past rose to prominence by their dependence on water-borne trade and, by extension, their merchant fleets. At this date the U.S. Navy is still the preeminent naval force in the world, but the U.S. Merchant Marine, for whose protection the Navy was founded, has sadly fallen by the wayside. While economists and ship owners may tout the "effective U.S.-controlled" merchant fleet, this is not a true reflection of our merchant marine.

American merchant mariners are now more often found working on inland towing vessels, the offshore gas and oil production fields of the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes. Since World War II, changes in the global shipping industry have favored the use of flags of convenience and foreign crews to carry goods and material from overseas to U.S. ports. Equally, the majority of U.S. exports are shipped on foreign vessels. Our nation now relies primarily on the good will of foreign owners and their crews to satisfy our need for oil and consumer goods.

The Far East is most likely the next trouble spot for American interests. While China and India are advancing their naval forces through new vessel construction and the development of cutting-edge weapon systems, we cannot be blind to the fact that many foreign merchant ship owners are also recruiting their officers and ratings from these countries. What would be the impact on U.S. trade if these nations took a decidedly negative tone toward America? Could we continue to rely on such crews to call on U.S. ports? What are the security implications in such a scenario of Chinese or Indian crews at U.S. oil or liquified natural gas facilities?

Perhaps it is once again time to evaluate the importance of U.S.-owned, U.S.-crewed deep-sea merchant ships that can and will answer the call of our nation in peace and war. The general population and military of this country deserve the honorable but often unheralded service that the U.S. Merchant Marine can provide. A strong merchant marine, ready, willing, and able to meet U.S. shipping needs in peace and war, would truly fulfill the vision of Mahan and make his ghost smile.


Michael L. McDaniel— The authors raise excellent points but have left out a critical factor in Chinese naval strategy-the threat of American allies to their sea lanes.

From the Chinese perspective, they are surrounded by Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia, all American allies and within comfortable striking distance of Chinese shipping lanes. Add a rapidly strengthening relationship between the United States and India, and the People's Liberation Army Navy's leadership is certain to worry, which may well explain China's obstinate position toward Taiwan. Taking or neutralizing Taiwan would provide China with some protection for its own sea lanes, while threatening shipping between Japan/South Korea and the Middle East. Protecting Taiwan has traditionally been an American political priority, but it is transforming into a strategic issue as well.

The question is, have American policy-makers, both military and civilian, become so preoccupied with 50 years of hot and cold land wars to adjust to the new strategic necessities?

Simulation & Training Spotlight

(See A. Pine, pp. 16-21; P. H. Daly, pp. 22-27; and R. Yngve, pp. 28-33, December 2009 Proceedings )

Lieutenant Commander Rex McCoy, U.S. Navy (Retired)— When conducting training in simulators ashore, we should do the following:

  • Hold reveille on the participants at 0100.
  • Have them do a five-mile run, regardless of the weather.
  • Go straight to the simulator in the same clothing. No shower, no chow.
  • Have the simulator space cooled to 38 degrees or heated to 90 degrees depending on the season. (Or heat/cool the space based on anticipated deployments.)
  • If the simulator goes down, the students wait in that space until it's fixed. Water and a head are made available.

Okay, I'm being a bit facetious.

But wars are fought by sleep-deprived, uncomfortable, stressed-out human beings. I'm not sure how this is being addressed by the training commands, since I am too far removed from active duty. But I do hope that the human stress factor is being considered in simulator training.


Captain Steven L. Oreck, MC, U.S. Navy (Retired)— Simulations are a valuable adjunct to any training scheme. Various sophisticated simulators are used in medicine and surgery, allowing students and trainees to get experience before they interact with their first patient, or to allow experienced surgeons to go through a procedure involving new techniques and/or new equipment and technology. There is no denying that these simulators allow the novice to gain a level of confidence before actually performing various tasks, and allow the experienced surgeon to become facile in a new procedure more quickly. However, the key concept in the use of these simulators is adjunct.

No matter how real a simulation is, there is no patient bleeding who will die if you are too slow. You do not see the variations in anatomy, sometimes quite significant, that occur because people are not produced on an assembly line. Simulations are not run at 0200 when you have just gone to sleep at 2400. In short, many of the confounding factors of "the problem" as well as those of the trainee are not reproduced even in the best of simulations. The Marines I cared for over the years instinctively were comforted more by the fact that I had been doing surgery for many years than any simulation training I had.

What is true for surgical training is equally true for the Navy and Marine Corps. While a bridge/maneuvering simulator may be quite real, it does not duplicate an officer of the deck on watch after three days of very rough seas and the physical strain it puts on him. Likewise an F/A-18 simulator is not the same as a night landing in bad conditions after a four-hour mission that put some holes in your aircraft over the target. Lastly, a marksmanship simulator, even with flashes and noise, is not the same as trying to hit your target after three days of humping through the rain.

The point to be made is not that simulators are a waste or useless. Not at all. They are valuable adjuncts to doing the real thing, and allow one to make better use of expensive training time. The caution is that the bean counters see simulators as a bargain, and then expect an hour-for-hour reduction in real-world training for every hour of simulator time. I expect those same bean counters would not make the decision to use a surgeon who had 80 percent of his experience on simulators and only 20 percent on real patients rather than one who had the reverse ratio of experience. Conning a ship in formation in foul weather, dropping ordnance close to your own forces, and laying down a base of fire can all have the same potential for disaster as a surgical error. True readiness demands real training, which can be augmented-but not replaced-by a realistic patient.

It's Time to Scrap Don't Ask, Don't Tell

(See C. Whipps, p. 10, December 2009 Proceedings )

Captain Richard K. Culbertson, U.S. Navy (Retired)— In advocating the elimination of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, Lieutenant Whipps overlooked several rather deeply felt opinions, primarily in beliefs, cultures, and attitudes, that must be considered. They are a vital part of military effectiveness and cannot be ignored.

A large majority of first-term and career military come from blue-collar backgrounds, not from the Ivy League, San Francisco, or Provincetown. Civilian homosexuals can choose when, how, and with whom they wish to associate, an individual choice seldom available in the services. Confined sleeping and working spaces and open showers and toilets may not be considered problems by those who favor killing the policy, but it can be of great concern to a young straight who must face this as a daily routine, wondering if he or she is a sex object and will be propositioned.

And logically, as military male and females are supposed to have separate quarters, shouldn't there be separate spaces for both open gays and open lesbians based on sexual orientation?

Believing that these may not occur is naive even if regulations prohibit them. When co-ed barracks began 40 years ago, some skippers said they had a baby factory going, even though sexual activity was prohibited. Today, ditto for our co-ed ships.

Support for the policy is also engendered by a concern for good order, discipline, morale, and readiness. "Unit cohesion" is not a tired logic but a vital element in killing wars since ancient Greece. Ask the Marines!

Formal open efforts to "diversify" the military by proportional population percentages is a dream of liberal elements, most having never served, and will include homosexuals if the policy is killed. Will the census determine their numbers as well?

It is one thing to be accepting of homosexual lifestyles in the civilian arena and another to think that the open practice of homosexuality will not have adverse effects on any of our military services.


Captain Lawrence R. Jefferis, U. S. Navy (Retired)— The only thing Lieutenant Whipps seems to have correct is that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is congressionally mandated. It is federal law, not military law.

I will tell the lieutenant the same thing I have told Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA); my senator, Harry Reid (D-NV); and my congresswoman, Dina Titus (D-NV); all of whom have advocated ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

Scrapping the policy without changing the law makes no sense. Article 125 of the UCMJ makes sodomy a felony. It is a felony if committed by homosexuals, by heterosexuals, or with an animal. The homophiles want the policy, adopted to preclude persecution of homosexuals in the military services, scrapped. But they don't advocate changing the law.

If a heterosexual told his commanding officer that he had committed sodomy, he would (or should) be given the option of a discharge for the good of the service, or a court martial. And it isn't just heterosexual sodomy that is subject to punitive action. Adultery, prostitution (either as a prostitute or a customer), and unlawful cohabitation (with or without sexual intercourse) are also banned under various provisions of the UCMJ. As far as I can tell, unlawful cohabitation equates to common-law marriage, which is legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia. And prostitution is legal in Nevada, where some naval personnel are stationed. If heterosexuals can be punished for conduct that is legal in the states in which they live, why should homosexuals be exempt?

My experience as a ship's executive and commanding officer has convinced me that if sexual favors are available on board ship, someone in the crew will find them. If there is a senior/subordinate relationship involved, those favors will be repaid with special treatment, such as preferred duties, watch assignments, leave, liberty, and advancements. Such preferential treatment tends to destroy the chain of command, discipline, and morale. No commander needs that aggravation. Lieutenant Whipps wants the Navy to lead the way in integrating homosexuals into honorable service. But the closest analogy to a ship at sea that I can imagine is a prison. Not many prisons are coeducational.

I doubt it is a matter of policy that known homosexuals are placed in the same cell. I'm not yet convinced that having women on board ships was a sound move, and now I hear advocates for the acceptance of homosexuals. At least the other services, usually based ashore near major population centers, can find outlets for their sexual behavior in a more diverse community, and not impact their military duties. I don't see that possible in a shipboard environment.

Where does the lieutenant envision it ending? Are we also to accept same-sex marriages? Would a married homosexual who committed adultery be tried for the offense, or would we fall back on a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy?

Since I'm retired, I don't care if homosexuality is made compulsory! But at least advocate a change in the law, not merely a change in administrative policy that only benefits a small percentage of the service community.

Amphibious Prowess: Still a Cor(e)ps Need

(See D. King and J. Berry, pp. 40-45, November 2009 Proceedings )

Colonel Mark A. Olinger, U.S. Army (Retired)— The authors have provided strategists and joint and service planners an example of what right looks like when it comes to strategic thought as it relates to amphibious warfare. But where do we go from here? While the Marine Corps operates on the sea, land, and in the air, it is not optimized to dominate any of them. Rather, it is designed to be amphibious and expeditionary, using variously sized Marine air-ground task forces operating on an established rotational cycle. To confront the hybrid threats of the 21st century it should be organized to be versatile, expeditionary, agile, lethal, sustainable, and interoperable.

In an operating environment as complex as that of the post Cold War, military thinkers, elected leaders, strategists, policy makers, and joint and service planners must recognize that the Marine Corps performs tasks in a variety of conditions to a variety of standards. War plans, training scenarios, and exercises should be built accordingly. That is, all of them should be done in the context of a complex operating environment against hybrid threats. They should include the competing demands of offense, defense, and stability operations, using combined arms formations with the integration of organic and joint fires.

Today, the Marine Corps is in danger of losing its unique amphibious-warfare capabilities, one of its core competencies; far fewer Marines have deployed on amphibious ships than in the past. The important point is that these are not capabilities required for major combat operations, although that is how they are often described. They are capabilities and skills that prepare Marines for hybrid threats. While Marines are fighting insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, they must also be organized, trained, and equipped to fight all enemies.

In the final analysis, to defend the nation, deter aggression, and decisively defeat any enemy, we require balanced military forces that are organized, trained, equipped, and sustainable. The U.S. Marine Corps does just that for our country by providing Marine air-ground task forces that have the ability to conduct offense, defense, stability operations, and civil support against current and emerging threats.

The First Line Of Defense

(See B. Wachendorf, pp. 23-26, November 2009 Proceedings )

Tommas J. Koehler— The Navy's new ballistic-missile defense (BMD) responsibility as outlined in the article offers some interesting opportunities. Given that the two littoral combat ships (LCS) are looking for a juicy role to justify their cost and size, we might think of using them as base ships in the new BMD role. The argument that they are too small to bear the huge AN/SPY-1 radar and its components are vitiated by the fact that BMD needs only a small portion of the full-radar capability.

The Aegis system performs a number of Fleet missile- and air-defense tasks. Since the system is highly modular, a hardware store mix-and-match system could be constructed based on a "lite" version of the radar arrays and slimmed-down computer software. The AN/SPY LITE would pick up the hostile ballistic missile and guide a Standard-3 missile out of one of the ship's vertical-launch system boxes.

This approach has several virtues. It puts the LCSs to good use, letting them lurk offshore in odd places. They are fast, agile, and adaptable for this purpose. Costs are low because these ships are budgeted but unassigned to a specific mission, and the SPY LITE radar would be an order of magnitude less costly that the whole Aegis suite. The concept, if implemented, requires little research and modest development. Instead of a force drag, it is a multiplier, leaving the expensive guided-missile cruisers and destroyers to carry out their intended purposes.

Let us send out some naval officers with measuring tapes and analysts with erasers to the Fleet and conceive some ballistic-missile killers on the cheap.



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