Navy Lieutenant Eric J. Madonia reaches into the Navy’s own history to demonstrate that what served the victors of World War II so well can do the same for their 21st-century counterparts. He advises professors of military education to train students for leading at the operational level using critical thinking and logic along with wargames—returning to lessons developed by Navy officers a century ago.
But professional military education in the United States is especially lacking, warns retired Army Colonel John M. Collins, in producing individuals who have the kind of intellectual tools needed to consistently deter—or win—all types of wars. He advocates a reordering of our nation’s system of strategic education and the creation of a National Security Institute.
While the shrinking budget is on everyone’s mind these days (at least in the Pentagon), despite the conventional naval wisdom, the budget is not a strategic issue, but a tactical one, points out Navy Commander Michael Junge. Until the Navy recalibrates its approach, he argues, its failure to see the strategic forest for the budgetary trees will continue.
Smaller budgets also will have inevitable effects on the forces at the proverbial “pointy end of the spear.” With Iran and China so often in the news and on the minds of DOD planners, it can be easy to forget concerns closer to home. But Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr. isn’t about to let that happen. He reminds us that for years, the U.S. Coast Guard has maintained a presence in the icy Northern waters. And now that much of that ice is melting and the Arctic’s water-routes are becoming busier than ever before, the service is seeing its mission in the region concomitantly expand. The harsh, isolated climate takes a heavy toll on equipment and personnel, and the Coast Guard will need infrastructure to support operations along the northern Alaskan coastline. It is a realm that, like any frontier, is rife with both new opportunities and new challenges.
The good news is that the Coast Guard is getting some relief for its aging fleet. According to the service’s two area commanders, Vice Admirals Rob Parker and Manson Brown, the new Sentinel-class fast response cutters will be “a game changer in the littorals” and one of the most versatile platforms in the Coast Guard’s history. These vessels are set to take the place of the aging Island and Protector classes of patrol boats, and then some. As the admirals say, “You haven’t seen anything yet.”
Meanwhile, the Navy wrestles with its own questions on Fleet size and strength. How many ships? What kind? What missions will they perform? These are just a few of the questions naval watchers ponder. But one debate should end now, says retired Navy Captain Michael Miller and consulting executive Robert Gray. The Navy and the public are ill-served by arguments pitting the DDG-51 and DDG-1000 destroyer classes in competition. The authors call for a broader examination of how both ships can help the Navy meet its national-security obligations.
Paul Merzlak , Editor-in-Chief