What kind of naval officers should SWOS be producing for the 21st century? Administrators? Warriors? Leaders? Where does SWOS' s job end and the ship commander's begin with regard to junior officer training and education? From a historical perspective, the role of the fleet junior officer seems to be on a measurable decline in terms of war fighting. In the days of warships under sail, midshipmen would be called to battle and, in some cases, were promoted and awarded command of ships for their efforts at the ripe old age of 19. Were these midshipmen warriors? How many young junior officers got their ships under way from Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941, having their commanding officer absent or killed in action that Sunday morning? Were these junior officers warriors? I wonder how many junior officers could fight their ship if by some circumstance the CO, XO, and all tactical action officers were wounded or killed in battle? Many questions are without quick answers.
Finally, I must take issue with Commander Davis's comments on the instructors at SWOS-DOC. He expresses the opinion that the instructors (who are fleet lieutenants) lack the perspective, expertise, or maturity to teach these junior officers who he feels are our peers. This thought process escapes me. I have the perspective, expertise, and maturity to drive a $2.2 billion ship that displaces 40,000 tons and to manage and lead a di vision of 50 men with a quarterly budget of close to $60,000—but I lack the perspective and maturity to train ensigns?
The men and women with whom I work have been operational in hostile and demanding environments such as Somalia, Haiti, the Arabian Gulf, and Bosnia, but recent college graduates entering the service are our peers? Perhaps in age and cultural preferences, but in no way peers in experience and leadership. Who better to instruct these fine junior officers than men and women fresh from the fire of their division officer tour? There is no doubt that Commander Davis has opened a topic ready for debate, but the approach he took ignored sound educational practices and was fiscally questionable. I agree with Commander Davis that it is time we rethink SWOS-DOC, but let us do so by using sound fundamental adult educational practices, clear goals of what the fleet of the future needs, and above all, common sense.
"Book Review: Hostile Waters"
(See T. A. Brooks, pp. 82-83, October 1997 Proceedings)
Robin White— Asone of the three authorsof Hostile Waters, I am obliged to respond to Rear Admiral Brooks's criticism that parts of the book were "made up out of the whole cloth." The admiral is correct: Some details in this dramatic account of the sinking of a Soviet Yankee-class nuclear-powered submarine, the K-219, were made up. But he's wrong about which ones.
We were faced with the challenge of building the K-219 story from two distinct classes of documentation. Simply said, many of the Russians involved in this tragedy were willing to talk for the record, and very few of the Americans were. Even so, we did put one foot over the fictional line by portraying the final moments of Engineer-Seaman Preminin as he crawls into, and shuts down, two runaway reactors with an oversized wrench.
Preminin gave his life securing those reactors. No one on this world can know what his last thoughts were, yet they appear in the text. They surely are made of whole, though I hope honorable, cloth. On the American side, the fleet ocean surveillance information center watch officer who put raw intercept data together and came up with the right conclusions, "Lieutenant Commander Gail Robinson," was a pseudonym used to protect the anonymity of a serving naval officer.
Admiral Brooks strays in his assertion that we fabricated a collision between the K-219 and the U.S. unit in trail, the USS Augusta (SSN-710). Our book does not claim a collision took place. That was Hostile Waters, the HBO movie. HBO can defend its own methods and its own products. The book relies on testimony from personnel on board the Augusta who reported a "close aboard" incident, not a collision. That is how we wrote it. The Augusta did collide with a Soviet boat, but that was later, and it was a Delta-class submarine. That is also how we wrote it.
Some of our information on the Augusta's exploits came from what might be called "disgruntled employees." Their tales are naturally suspect. For that reason, the Augusta's commanding officer, Captain James Von Suskil, was offered opportunities to ,correct us at an early stage. For reasons we all understood, he declined.
Admiral Brooks went on to imply that the Augusta wasn't even present at the scene of the K-219's sinking; that placing her off Bermuda was just "class-B fiction." Not so. The Augusta's presence was confirmed independently by P-3 squadron archival material and crewmen from the Augusta herself.
Another episode Admiral Brooks scoffs at is the Augusta's cutting of the tow. We wrote that she did this once. In truth, several tow attempts ended with parted lines. In each case, eyewitnesses on board the K-219, as well as on the accompanying freighters, reported that a submarine passed between the surfaced Yankee and the towing freighter. Admiral Brooks calls this mind-boggling. No doubt. It was probably unnecessary, too, given the challenges of towing a half-sunk Yankee across the North Atlantic, minus her steering gear. But did it happen?
We concluded that either there was a terrific conspiracy on the part of a great many Russian sailors, or else it happened pretty much as they described. Frankly, Admiral Brooks's critique notwithstanding, I'm not a big fan of conspiracies.
Similarly, when the whaleboat filled with survivors (and the K-219's code bags) was nearly run down by a barely submerged submarine, there were, again, multiple eyewitnesses. It's possible to imagine some dark plot whereby all these men were coerced into singing the same, fraudulent tune. But is it likely?
In the end, we concluded that a U.S. submarine, the Augusta, was present and that she did interfere with salvage and rescue operations, either by design or by incompetence. We preferred the former. Did we get every detail correct? Not a chance. Most of it? Probably.
Admiral Brooks is correct again in that Hostile Waters is a story of "true heroism." It really is one of the great tales of man against the sea. If it were only those things, it would stand as a worthy monument to the men who gave their lives for duty, for each other, and oddly enough, to keep the Carolina Outer Banks from glowing. But it would not be the whole story. There was an American side. Given a sinking Soviet boomer off our coast, it would be the height of folly for there not to have been an American side.
Hostile Waters portrays the human failings, the indecision, the outright incompetence of the Soviet Navy. We felt obliged to speak plainly about our own failings, too. It's not always easy to look in that mirror, but in the end we do because we think we might learn something. Did this make Hostile Waters a better, more thrilling read? Yes, it did. And a truer one, too.
(See J. Huber, pp. 36-38, September 1997 Proceedings)
Captain Tom Burbage, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired), Vice President and General Manager of the F-22 Program for Lockheed Martin— It'sgreat to see anE-2C pilot deployed on one of our finest capital ships—who, although not a fighter pilot, has been accused of acting like one in public-pass judgment on the Air Force's next-generation fighter. If that's acceptable, it's probably okay that a former E-2C pilot, whose formative years were also spent at sea on some of our finest capital ships, takes exception to his analysis. Although I have also been accused of possessing the stereotypical social skills of the community I now serve (given the differences between the Navy and the Air Force), I find Commander Huber's analysis to be reflective of the fundamental differences between the Air Force and Navy, with the classic logic disconnects that accompany revolutionary advances in military capabilities. Those logic disconnects usually are employed when it's a sister service that's making the investment to field the advance (don't forget—there was a Navy variant of the Advanced Tactical Fighter).
Commander Huber's hypothesis—that tomorrow's technology is being employed using yesterday’s tactics—creates a confusing picture for today's skeptics is, of itself, probably valid. However, tomorrow's technology, employed innovatively, is clearly the only dimension that will provide the critical element of control of the battle space. Immediate control of the conflict—quick, decisive, overwhelming control, so that conflict duration matches the time constant that defines the congressional appetite for war. While the concept of control is clearly one that every airborne electronic warfare tactician understands, some underlying themes in Commander Huber's article need to be corrected.
First, identification technologies for beyond-visual-range targets are a critical part of the F-22 tactical performance package. They are not the technologies employed by yesterday's or today's fighter forces; they are being successfully incorporated in tomorrow's F-22. The concepts of a free-fire zone and positive identification will not be mutually exclusive for the F-22. Augmenting this capability are the other key features of stealth, speed, and stand-off. The total package allows risk management that ensures exchange ratios and survivability factors unachievable by today's forces. It comes down to the fundamental concept of control of the battle zone.
Commander Huber makes several other points that are at least deserving of a happy-hour debate, including the concept that "air-to-air missiles and their companion avionics will work equally well on any fighter airframe in the current inventory," but I'll leave that discussion to another time. Commander Huber does, clearly, reflect one inherent quality of the white-scarf crowd—carefree use of cost comparisons unbiased by any consistent analytical basis of estimate. Referring to the F-22 as a "$150 million jet" and "existing $16 to $50 million jets" as if those were relative costs is simply irresponsible journalism. All of that aside, public debate of defense issues is a key element in our national strategy and one that should stir healthy discourse.
I'd like to offer a few fundamental laws for discussion:
- Evolutionary solutions are nearly as expensive as revolutionary solutions (provided the time is right for revolution) and may be inordinately more expensive in the long run when the analysis includes the cost of extended conflict.
- Evolutionary advocates always will discount the effectiveness of the new solution and always will inflate the cost. At a minimum, they will misuse information to prove their point.
The bottom line is that the F-22 is a leap in technology. It will do what the experts believe is required to maintain overwhelming tactical advantage in the battlefield of the future. If that's not what Commander Huber thinks we need, let's get some fighter pilots in the group and talk about it.
"All Volunteer Force Is in Crisis"
(See J. D. Lynch, pp. 30-34, September 1997 Proceedings)
Robert A. Beattey, Jr., Columbia University— MajorGeneral Lynch's article represents not only a fundamental misunderstanding about the military and its purpose, but also the scapegoat mentality all too common in today's military.
First, on General Lynch's thoughts on women: It continues to strike me as rather strange that we allow statements such as "the 'ignore the results' portion [concerning the success of Canada's integrated training] referred not only to reduced levels of physical performance but also to sexual harassment, the use of sex to gain favors, and the divisiveness caused by the two," to stand unchallenged. Is the general suggesting that it is the fault of women in the military that they are sexually harassed? Is he further suggesting that women only (or even often) advance through granting sexual favors? If he is, then I disagree. There are many women with whom I served in the U.S. Coast Guard who I would have no trouble leading or following into battle and who advanced because they were qualified. To suggest that women use sex to "get by" is to suggest that their commanders are stupid, for what greater error can a commander make than to promote an unqualified sailor? Have we forgotten that it takes two to tango? Where is the responsibility for the men in uniform to act in a becoming manner?
I also will hasten to point out that women serve without restriction in the U.S. Coast Guard. Should the Coast Guard be activated as part of the Navy in a time of war, would a woman be removed from her command were she in command of a ship ordered to a combat area? If you answer yes, stop and think what that would do for good order and discipline.
As for the "only [emphasis mine] 11 % of the enlisted women and 14% of the women officers [who] 'would volunteer for a combat role if one were offered, '" as noted in James Webb's "The War on the Military Culture" of this year, so what? The others didn't say they wouldn't serve in a combat role, just that they wouldn't volunteer. General Lynch writes, "These women may never have seen combat, but the vast majority have arrived, intuitively, at the same conclusion nations have arrived at for centuries." That is unfair and unfounded. Most the men in our armies and navies haven't seen combat. Do we therefore conclude that they shouldn't serve should the need present itself? Further, it is wrong to presume that these "nations' conclusions" were based on anything but male egotism—they certainly were not based on the ability of women.
I don't want to be misunderstood. I do not support reduced standards for women. If a man is required to run a mile and a half in 9:30 for a particular program, then a woman should be, too. But physical tests should really test something (what, for example, does a pull-up test?). If a woman is as physically qualified, equally trained, and disposed to apply for an assignment, yet the men in the command would be uncomfortable with her presence, then is it not the men who have the problem? Leave the women alone—we've got bigger problems to solve.
Finally, General Lynch's assertion that, "It's time to return to the basic truth, that a nation's military exists to destroy the nation's enemies and nothing more," that "In short, the military exists to kill," could not be further from the truth. General Lynch laments that politicians advance policy through the military. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the military is all about. Karl von Clausewitz noted in On War, "First, therefore, it is clear that war should never be thought of as something autonomous but always as an instrument of policy." As the military is the instrument of war, so too by its very nature, it must be an instrument of policy.
The military, combat, and war are all instruments of policy. In a democracy, that policy ultimately is decided by the people. Right or wrong, the military should reflect what the people want it to reflect. It's their policy that the military is maintained to assert. Not a little ironically, the military and its leaders should not think of themselves as subject to policy (it is not their job to set policy, but to fight), but they cannot fail to realize the legitimacy of policy.
General Lynch concludes, "It is time for reveille; a time for courage; a time for truth." I agree. Man or woman, courage is displayed by exceptional people in exceptional times; it is gender blind. Two ensigns standing together at graduation this coming May, one male and one female, should be equally qualified physically, mentally, and morally. The stripes they proudly wear on their shoulders do not come in blue for boys and pink for girls. To suggest that the woman is in any way less qualified is to insult them both. To suggest that the civilian government has no business dictating what shall be their mission is to insult the people and document those ensigns are sworn to support and defend.
"A Tangled Webb"
(See P. E. Roush, pp. 42-45, August 1997; R. Hegemann, C. van Someren, H. G. Summers. R. Kuntz, V. M. Hudson, L. Marano, L. Stovall, September 1997; L. D. Lynch, D. E. Phillips, P. S. Edwards, T. M. Kastner, G. W. Anderson, pp. 10- 15, October 1997 Proceedings)
Major D. C. Fuquea, U.S. Marine Corps— Because Proceedings is the primaryprofessional forum of the sea services, I was disappointed to see an article such as Paul Roush's "A Tangled Webb" featured on the cover as well as being the keynote artic le for the August issue. The flaw is not the subject but the tactic used. Instead of being an intellectual debate over a controversial subject, it is a platform of attack against an 18-year-old article and a man who no longer occupies a position of direct influence on Navy or military policy. More important, Colonel Roush's position curiously lacks a connection with today's junior officers of the Navy and Marine Corps.
I was a midshipman third class when James Webb published his article in 1979. I recently completed a three-year tour on the faculty at the Naval Academy and currently serve as the executive officer of a deployed battalion landing team. The existence of the same controversies then and now has little to do with the presence of James Webb. Despite Colonel Roush's diatribe, these problems can not be dismissed as the rantings of a "resentful ," "bigoted," "propaganda-spewing" individual whose points are "without redeeming social or military value." In stead, the continuing debate has its foundation in the reality of the problem, and I offer a few counterpoints.
I have not read "Women Can't Fight" in 18 years. I remember little in it about physical abuse, but I do remember physical stress. Physical stress always has been and always should be part of the indoctrination of members of the military. From Sun Tzu to Thucydides to Clausewitz to S. L. A. Marshall, military strategists, tacticians, and historians agree that victory goes to "he who is trained in the severest school." Mr. Webb looked to the Naval Academy to be that school.
Despite Colonel Roush's comments to the contrary, the development of warriors at the Naval Academy has changed in the last 20 years. I subtly was warned when I arrived to teach that using the word "warrior" in the classroom was a bad thing; the Academy was an academic institution. I also disagree about where warriors are developed. The Basic School is where Marine officers learn the skills of a warrior. The warrior spirit, however, is imbued within those desiring commissions as Marines at one of two places: Officer Candidate School or the Naval Academy. The former still maintains strict segregation between men and women.
By referring to the double standard as "alleged," Colonel Roush closes his eyes to a basic reality in the military, a reality that none of the young officers (both men and women) whom I trained to be Marine officers will dispute. His blindness is exacerbated by some senior officers who are supposed to be maintaining "quality" while establishing "equality." At a Forrestal Lecture in 1994, a female admiral spent 50 minutes informing midshipmen how the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service was there to ensure that everything in the military was equal for men and women. During the question period, an astute midshipman asked that if equality was the key, then why was the obstacle course different for men and women? The admiral's response brought the house down with snickers—"because physical fitness really isn't that important in the military." I felt Thucydides roll over in his grave and heard officers of Mr. Webb's ilk choke.
Finally, I again take umbrage with Colonel Roush on the status of women as an experiment. I am currently embarked on board an amphibious ship that will go into the yards following this deployment for the "Women-at-Sea" modification. One only has to watch the hair pulling and hand wringing over this by many officers—junior and senior, male and female—to know that despite 20 years of integration, there is still a lot of experimentation going on.
I do agree with Colonel Roush on one count: The Naval Academy is still a great institution. The fact that 18 years after its publication, James Webb's article can still occupy the focus of a senior faculty member so pervasively lends credence to Mr. Webb's arguments, to the need for intellectual debates on the arguments, and to the necessity to stop hiding behind political correctness or expediency to avoid the arguments. Colonel Roush needs to stop "shooting the messenger" and start looking for the real friction points.
Commander Kathleen H Moeller, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy —Iappreciate Proceedings' publishing of "A Tangled Webb."
Thank you, Colonel Roush, for being a true Marine, standing tall, and righting the record. I vividly recall the pain inflicted upon the women at the Naval Academy when "Women Can't Fight" was published. I was one of those female midshipmen, an upperclassman, who felt like plebe year just never ended. I arrived at the Naval Academy in 1977, and now, 20 years later, your words make me feel as if I have dropped a burden.
I am the daughter of a surface line officer and Navy nurse who served during the Korean War. I am a proud Class of 1981 Naval Academy graduate. I look back at my Academy days positively. Like many of my classmates, I have had a successful naval career. I continue to serve my country. Mr. Webb and others know nothing of me or many of my classmates, female and male, who day to day and year after year do our best. We have endured family separations, deployments, mishaps, moments of terror, and the death of shipmates. We are department heads, executive officers, and commanding officers. We are officers in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. We support and defend the Constitution of the United States. And our gender does not matter.
I agree with Colonel Roush that Mr. Webb's views are not likely to change, and that he is an influential man whose ideas can have significant effect on the midshipmen, men and women, who will be our leaders tomorrow. I believe Mr. Webb can change, but it will take some education, introspection, courage, and commitment. He can right the wrong. I do not believe he wants his legacy to be that of a women-hating Vietnam veteran who walked out of the job as Secretary of the Navy and may have contributed to the depression of Admiral Boorda. I believe Mr. Webb is a Naval Academy graduate, a Vietnam War hero, the Secretary of the Navy who opened up many billets to women during his tenure, and is a man of principle.
Mr. Webb has the makings of a true leader for all of us in the Navy and Marine Corps if he can accept the challenge of changing his attitude and making it known. Although written words endure, actions still speak louder than words. Mr. Webb, it is time for action, and your future leadership mission may be the most challenging one you have had to face. Your foes lie within yourself—your attitude and prejudices. You may want to open-mindedly reexamine your beliefs, regain your credibility, and help us lead our military and country into the next century.
Professor Mackubin T. Owens, Naval War College— Thereare so many problemswith this egregious piece that it is hard to know where to start. A reply with the coherence so notably missing in Colonel Roush's article would be much longer than the original.
Perhaps Colonel Roush has misunderstood Mr. Webb. But his distortions of Mr. Webb's writings make this explanation unlikely. For instance, Colonel Roush claims that one of Mr. Webb's "themes" is that "an officer's priority of loyalties may be disregarded in the pursuit of ideology." I have known Mr. Webb for some time and have read just about every word he has written for public consumption. Mr. Webb has never said or even implied such a thing. That Colonel Roush discerns such a theme indicates that "deconstructionism" has now triumphed not only in academic literature departments but also in military affairs.
For Colonel Roush, the meaning of this "theme" is that Mr. Webb believes officers should be permitted to voice opposition to a decision even after it has been made. Colonel Roush disagrees. Does this mean that if an officer sees the adverse consequences of a policy, that officer is enjoined from bringing those consequences to the attention of superiors and the public?
How would Colonel Roush's students respond to the following cases? In the first, a service chief knows that a budgetary decision has made it unlikely that his service can carry out its roles and missions. He testifies to this effect before Congress. His boss, the civilian service secretary, clearly under pressure from the President, believes the issue has harmed the administration politically and orders him to rescind his statements to Congress. What should he do?
In the second, the service chiefs know that the President and Secretary of Defense have, for domestic political reasons, lied to Congress about the forces required to prevail in an ongoing conflict. When asked their opinion, how should they respond?
These are of course, real cases. In the first, General Edward "Shy" Meyer, Chief of Staff of the Army, essentially disobeyed Army Secretary Clifford Alexander and refused to withdraw his 1979 testimony about the problems of the "hollow" Army. In the second, the Joint Chiefs remained silent, giving credence to the misleading comments of President Johnson and Secretary McNamara to the Congress and the public in the early months of Vietnam.
By Colonel Roush's reasoning, we should praise the Chiefs and condemn General Meyer. But we don't because we rightfully admire "moral courage," a concept apparently alien to Colonel Roush's brand of leadership. Moral courage is a quality epitomized by Mr. Webb and goes a long way toward explaining the continuing attachment—decried by Colonel Roush—that midshipmen feel for Mr. Webb.
If moral courage is a virtue, how would Colonel Roush's students handle this case? Training officers are aware of a pervasive double standard, enforced from above, that favors a certain group. Members of this group are kept in the program despite grades that would wash others out. What should an officer do under these circumstances? Is it the "politics of resentment" to question the double standard? There seems to be little doubt as to Colonel Roush's response.
The double-standard problem is one of the issues at the heart of Mr. Webb's writing about women in combat. Critics tar Mr. Webb as a hidebound Neanderthal, an irrational opponent of women who wants to hold them back. Colonel Roush engages in such criticism, equating Mr. Webb's views with the views of racial bigots. This is slander, pure and simple. The substantive question is whether there is a double standard for women in the military and if so, what effect it has on the institution.
Colonel Roush seems to believe that no meaningful double standard exists. But as any officer or enlisted service-member can confirm, such double standards are pervasive. One cause of these double standards is the fact that the political goal of equal opportunity is, in practice, usually translated into the demand for equal results. The consequence has been the watering down of standards to accommodate the generally lower physical capabilities of women. In fact, every service has lower physical standards for women than for men. Colonel Roush cannot deny that "gender norming" is widespread.
A revealing example of just how far this gender norming has gone occurred during the original suit against the Virginia Military Institute's policy of admitting only males. Called by the prosecution to bolster its claim that the admission of women to the U.S. Military Academy had not had any adverse effects. Colonel Patrick Toffler, Director of the USMA's Office of Institutional Research, under oath and no doubt unintentionally, strengthened the claim by VMI's counsel that West Point had created a double standard for men and women, and that this double standard had an adverse effect on morale and training. Colonel Toffler admitted that the USMA had identified 120 physical differences between men and women—not to mention psychological ones—resulting in an overall program of physical training less rigorous to accommodate female cadets.
There is immense political pressure to prevent women from failing to meet even watered-down standards. This dynamic was at work in the case of Navy F-14 pilot Lieutenant Kara Hultgreen, who paid for the double standard with her life. It was at work in the case of Admiral Stan Arthur, whose career came to an untimely end because he rejected the claim of a washed-out helicopter trainee that her unfavorable flight evaluations were in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment complaint against one of her instructors. This case showed flight instructors the substantial career risk associated with holding female trainees to the same performance standards as men. Colonel Roush no doubt approves.
Colonel Roush and others claim that Mr. Webb's opposition to expanded roles for women in the military is akin to racial bigotry. But unlike sexual differences, the color of one's skin has no physiological import. The successful integration of blacks stands in stark contrast to the less-successful attempt to integrate women.
The differences between service policies designed to achieve racial and sexual integration are instructive. A major cause of successful racial integration was that the services abjured double standards of the sort that pervade attempts at sexual integration. Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler, in their recent book All That We Can Be (CSS Publishing Co.), show that the Army was, from the beginning of integration in the 1950s, adamant that merit would not be subordinated to quotas achieved by lowering standards, thus "stigmatiz[ing] applicants 9Y raising doubts about their true qualifications." The Army eliminated the "paradigm of black failure"—the notion that blacks cannot succeed unless standards are adjusted for race.
Mr. Webb believes that to defend the culture that defends American liberal society, it is sometimes necessary to speak truth to the power structure. It is no wonder that midshipmen admire Mr. Webb. Although moral courage is apparently not a topic of discussion in Colonel Roush's classes on leadership, the mids intuitively know it when they see it.
(See S. Truver, pp. 90-96, September 1997 Proceedings)
Hamlin A. Caldwell, Jr.— TheU.S.Navy's control of the sea has been compromised seriously by mines at critical junctures from 1861 through the Gulf War. The Confederate States of America and the Korean People's Republic, among others, have eaten our lunch with mines. In spite of this painful history, Mr. Truver notes that mine countermeasures for our future fleet will be vested mostly in a couple of talented dolphins and a sanguine faith in something fetchingly labeled "mainstreaming."
Shirking the mine countermeasures mission raises more serious questions about the professional integrity of the U.S. Navy than Tailhook.
Mines are the most certain naval threat. Every nation and most potentially hostile organizations can mine waters we need to sail. Until the U.S. Navy sustains an honest commitment to mine countermeasures, any plans for tomorrow's fleet will not support national interests properly and must be dismissed as self-indulgent exercises in organizational perpetuation.
"The Ultimate Win-Win"
(See M. Knollmann and J. DiRenzo, pp. 24-26, September 1997 Proceedings)
Petty Officer First Class Dave Kiser, U.S. Coast Guard— Thisnarrative reminds meof the win-win situation enjoyed by one of my prior units. Unfortunately, our situation did not last.
My unit repeatedly had requested air support from the chain of command, but had been denied the support for various reasons. During a joint operation with a local Air Force unit, a comment was made on the availability of a co-located Air Force helicopter unit. One thing led to another, and—voila!—we had helo support just a phone call away. We benefited by having quicker air support; they benefited by having some "real" mission tasking, and the public got much quicker response times.
Alas, word got out and a phone call sealed our fate. It seems we had violated the protocol that keeps zoomies inland and us offshore. It actually reached the flag/general officer level—which, I believe, shows the concern generated by our local initiative.
I am curious how much prior planning and pleading were done to get the joint venture between the USCGC Jefferson Island (WPB-1340) and the USS Decatur (DDG-73) going. I suppose that the tight budgets of today make for fewer protocol qualms than in times past. Naturally, Coast Guard-Navy ties are more historic than Coast Guard-Air Force, but territory is still territory!
"Building Sailors Better"
(See K. P. Green, pp. 32-35 , July 1997; L. A. Well s, G. A. Everding, p. 26, September 1997 Proceedings)
Rear Admiral Kevin P. Green, U.S. Navy, Commander, Naval Training Center, (RTC) Great Lakes —While I appreciateCaptain Wells's interest in the progress of Navy training, I respectfully disagree with her postulates and conclusions. She asserts that women recruits need to train at boot camp exclusively with one another. Her reason: They need this time to acclimate to the Navy and its traditions, while learning and internalizing their own rights, duties, and responsibilities.
In support of this assertion, she adduces the fact that our physical requirements are gender-normed. Captain Wells also avers that women and men shouldn't be "roommates," and fears that sexuality will intrude and dominate the training process at Great Lakes.
This is a wonderful opportunity to make some important points about Navy recruit training today. Our recruit division commanders are men and women, working as teams. Men and women live on separate barracks decks, in separate compartments, just as they do on board ship. They are not roommates at sea; they are not roommates in training.
Each gender-integrated division is composed of 50% men and 50% women, ensuring that all recruits train with a critical mass of same-sex shipmates. From their first day, their first hour at Great Lakes, recruits are informed about fair treatment in the Navy, sexual and otherwise, and thoroughly indoctrinated in appropriate behavior, including proper use of authority. Men and women meet different physical standards at RTC, as they do in the fleet; this is not a reason for gender separation in either case.
I find it ironic that Captain Wells used the word "campus" to describe Great Lakes. True, we are a training and educational institution. But we not only produce skilled technicians, we mold them into warriors, who willingly face danger and hardship in the service of their Navy and nation. Thus, the focus of our staff, recruits, students, and facilities at this naval training center is fundamentally different from that found on a civilian campus. Recruits do not "mingle with each other in social settings," nor do they enter any clubs. They train.
Separating men and women during training would contend that sexuality is an insurmountable problem, with the emphasis on "problem." Sexuality is a fact of life, as are race, age, the instinct for self-preservation, and human conflict. At Great Lakes, as in the wider Navy, we work within these realities, and accomplish the mission. To begin our Sailors' careers with the assertion that men and women cannot train or serve together would be inconsistent with our core values and principle of teamwork.
My final point is in response to the notion that we have eliminated stress at boot camp. We have eliminated practices that did not contribute to fleet readiness, but boot camp remains an extremely demanding experience, as it must be to prepare Sailors for the rigors of life at sea. This summer, Navy boot camp incorporated a challenging new transformational event, "Battle Stations," to increase the readiness of our Sailors for duty with the fleet. The entire course of recruit training has been scrutinized carefully to maximize the training benefit. Nine-and-a-half weeks of 16-hour days, however, is all the time available—we cannot afford to waste any of it. Following boot camp, we continue the sailorization process through the Basic Military Training Continuum during the first year of service.
At Great Lakes, we continue to improve the system that performs our mission—producing apprentice Sailors, men and women ready to perform superbly in the fleet environment.