In "Advice for the SecDef: (or, What You Won't Hear at a Brookings Seminar)," Former MIT public policy and security professor Harvey M. Sapolsky sees the change in administration as a perfect time for the new old Secretary to consider his own transformation - away from jointness, away from management fads, and toward placing a price tag on protecting America's allies. In his lead story, Dr. Sapolsky pulls no punches.
Even though there is still a familiar face at the Pentagon in Secretary Gates, the Sea Services may face shoal waters and heavy seas ahead as they deal with the effects of a foundering economy. With dollars tight, many favorite programs are sure to come under close scrutiny. We look at one of those programs in depth with two articles this month.
In "Checkered Past, Uncertain Future," defense and national security reporter Otto Kreisher examines the development history and future of the Littoral Combat Ship, a shipbuilding program that has been plagued by design-as-you-go construction standards that led to cost overruns and missed deadlines.
Casting the LCS's past problems aside, retired Admiral Robert Natter and Captain Robby Harris team up in "The Navy's 'Tipping Point'" to tout the advantages of the ship and conclude that this shipbuilding plan is the best hope for the future of the Navy's surface combatant Fleet.
During my days as a fearless ICBM combat crew commander in Strategic Air Command (remember that ? ), it was common to bemoan the lack of ability in the new lieutenants coming from the missile schoolhouse at Vandenberg Air Force Base. What were they teaching these folks ? We junior captains, all hardened crew dogs, were convinced that the quality of training had gone down in the three years since we had walked across the stage to receive our shiny new missile badges. These memories came rushing back as we put together this issue on surface warfare.
In "On the Care and Feeding of Young SWOs," veteran surface warfare officer Captain Kevin Eyer spotlights the state of surface warfare training today in the absence of the Surface Warfare Officer School Division Officer Course (SWOS DOC). He laments that new ensigns arrive at their ships poorly prepared for the responsibilities that await them.
Lieutenant Mitch McGuffie's "A Rude Awakening" seconds that opinion. A product of the new "SWOS at Sea" computer-based training program, he was in for a shock when he reported on board a Royal Navy frigate for a two-year exchange tour.
But in "Leading Surface Warfare Officers Straight-to-the-Fleet," Lieutenant Padraic McDermott says not to worry, "SWOS at Sea" does the job just fine. Old salts and ensigns will be interested in what these three have to say, and we look forward to seeing your comments in the open forum.
Speaking of the open forum, we invite you to indulge in something completely different. The Naval Institute has proudly launched its own blog, complete with expert no-holds-barred posts and commentary on a wide range of issues relevant to the Sea Services and national defense in general. Log on to http://blog.usni.org  to see what we mean. "Let us dare to think, speak, write—and blog!"