If Iraq had conquered Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the lives of U.S. citizens would have been turned upside down, with Saddam Hussein controlling the world's oil supply. Our Navy played a major role in pushing Iraq's army back across the border. Clearly, power projection and control of the seas are imperative in the defense of our nation's interests. It is our job—and our duty—to enforce our national policies through unmatched sea power, guided by sound naval policy.
The standard against which our naval policy should be measured is whether or not it will increase or decrease our military effectiveness. It is difficult for civilians to understand that the military is unique in its priorities. The Navy's first priority must be in preserving its ability to fight, and not its suitability as a social laboratory. Should homosexuals be openly accepted into our ranks? Should women be deployed on combatant ships? Certainly, we should adopt these policies if this will increase our military effectiveness. If they will not, however, the Navy should resist such policies, regardless of "social conscience" and civilian practices.
Naval programs stress psychology and leadership skills, but what about the Navy's mission—to fight wars? It is important to develop your subordinates, perform counseling, and keep accurate records, but all of that means nothing if we can't win wars.
The real ability of our Navy to fight is all that matters. With a gaping hole in the side of the ship the point is driven home that it is more important to have well-trained damage control teams than it is to have perfect records.
It is the moral duty of Navy leaders to ensure that its men and women remain focused on their ability to fight and win wars, and therefore less likely to be wounded or killed in action. A Navy concerned with public opinion, social experiments, or hurricane cleanup is a Navy that is distracted from its primary mission of fighting wars. Furthermore, a Navy trying to carry out an ambiguous mission will never be as effective when wars need to be fought—and too many of our sons and daughters will make the ultimate sacrifice, because they were not prepared for war.
Chief Monaghan is the Communications Officer at Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Six in Charleston, South Carolina.