Creeds and oaths are common throughout the military to motivate and drive esprit de corps. They remind us of higher and more fundamental purposes beyond the potentially mundane activities that fill a service member’s working life. As U.S. sailors recite the “Sailor’s Creed,” they proclaim to “represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before to preserve freedom and democracy around the world.” These words imply that warfighting is one of our core competencies and that it should be the crucial principle influencing our actions at all levels throughout the Navy. But is warfighting truly the essence of the Navy today?
The service has a long history of fighting and winning wars with tenacity and tactical aggressiveness. From John Paul Jones wanting a fast ship “to go in harm’s way” to Rear Admiral David Farragut damning the torpedoes to press the attack at Mobile Bay, to World War II submarine commander “Mush” Morton instructing second-in-command Richard O’Kane, during an attack to have tenacity and “stay with the bastard ’til he’s on the bottom,” the Navy’s spirit has been fighting. So many naval heroes sailed into harm’s way knowing they could die. They did it not because they were ordered to, but because it was in their essence to do so.