Meanwhile, Rear Admiral Terry Kraft and Captain David Tyler also weigh in on what Navy leaders in the Pentagon are thinking. They stress that the top priority for everyone on the Navy-Marine Corps team should be warfighting, which is instructed by history and spans the entire naval warfare community. But, they point out, “our naval forces must embrace innovative ways and means to maintain warfighting advantages” in the face of new access-denial weapons.
Along those lines, a much-pondered topic in our military for some time has been the prospect of conflict with China. Retired Marine Colonel T. X. Hammes offers a fresh strategy for such a contingency, suggesting that it’s possible for the United States and its allies to triumph while at the same time allowing their adversary to save face and avoid ruin. By advocating what he calls “offshore control” to maximize U.S. strengths while minimizing China’s, it would deny China the use of the sea inside the first island chain while defending those islands, and also dominate the air and sea outside that theater. It would not, however, feature military strikes on Chinese territory, thus allowing them a possibility of resolution without having to admit defeat.
But nation-states with large blue-water navies aren’t the only threat out there. One of the salient developments of the recently concluded Sri Lankan Civil War was the emergence of a new, on-the-cheap type of maritime insurgency as an undeniable element in the 21st-century battle arena. The Sea Tigers—the floating component of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam—succeeded in putting up an attenuated fight against the forces of the Sri Lanka Navy, and the makeshift flotillas and guerrilla methods employed by the Tigers set all sorts of precedents for everyone from pirates to narco-traffickers.
Another troubling issue for the Navy over the past year, and one that is demanding the attention of the service’s leadership, is the number of senior officers relieved for personal misconduct. Lieutenant James Drennan, too, is worried about the rate of commanding officer firings. Integrity is the key, he says, the link between individual behavior and organizational principles. It is the foundation and must be inculcated early in an officer’s career. He writes that junior officers aspiring to command must go to general quarters and embrace the integrity that all ship’s captains should have.
What about those already in senior leadership positions? A. Edward Major and retired Air Force officers Colonel Lee DeRemer and Lieutenant Colonel David G. Bolgiano believe that ethics can be taught at any level of professional education; they make a case for returning to the basics of Western and Eastern philosophical traditions when training strategic military leaders, and argue that strong ethical leaders are made, not born.