Gregory J . Johnson, Applied Research Laboratory, Pennsylvania State Univer sity —Lieutenant Colonel Shelton is right on the mark. Attacking the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction must remain at the top of our priorities. It is onlya matter of time before we have to deal with biological weapons in our backyard. We must learn now how to operate effectively in the various growing threats if we are to presume we can stem the tide of things that may come. I hope forward-looking thinkers like Colonel Shelton will shake us out of our stupor.
"End the Zero-Defects Mentality"
(See B. Craft, pp. 65-67, July 1998 Proceedings)
Major Edward J . Gagznos, U.S. Air Force Reserve (Retired)— I was surprisedto read that "the Academy has stressed the hierarchy of priorities: ship, shipmate, self." I find it hard to believe that the Academy would not include "mission" as the first priority.
I had thought that the "mission, personnel, individual" ranking of priorities—as I know them from my earliest days in the Air Force—was standard throughout the military. If the mission is not placed first, I can imagine the mission being sacrificed to ship, individual, or self. That does not lead to success in operations or battle.
"Why They Called the Scorpion 'Scrapiron'"
(See M. Bradley, pp. 30-38, July 1998; P. Bowman, p. 12, August 1998; J. Marshall, p. 24, September 998 Proceedings)
Rear Admiral Robert R. Fountain, U.S. Navy (Retired)— I am amazed, dismayed,and disappointed with this article, which relies extensively on questionable secondary sources, trades heavily in speculation, and includes much material of little or no relevance to the subject.
I served two separate tours of duty in the Scorpion (SSN-589). During my 54 months as a member of Scorpion's crew, I served with nearly all of the officers and crew members ever assigned to the ship. I was the last officer transferred from the Scorpion, departing in early January 1968, under five months before her loss.
Contrary to the tone of subject article, the Scorpion was highly regarded by her crew and throughout the force. During the prospective commanding officer/prospective executive officer ( PCO / PXO ) course I attended, along with about 20 others, prior to assuming duty as executive officer of the Scorpion, the PCO instructor informally posed the following question: Which submarine of the force, if they had their choice, would the members of the class most desire to command? More than half the class chose the Scorpion, despite the fact that newer submarines were then coming on line. Never do I recall a crewman referring to her as "Scrapiron," even though young sailors like to play with words and names. Certainly that appellation was not so common as implied by the title's "they." Were she still with us, I would gladly go to sea with that submarine and crew today.
The author implies all sorts of dark secrets relative to Scorpion's material condition on the eve of her loss. The author asserts that the Scorpion's safety systems were neither working fully nor certified. This is a canard. When the Scorpion deployed, all of her safety systems were operating as designed and as she had operated safely for the previous eight years.
When she completed her last overhaul, the new SubSafe systems had not been fully designed. Consequently, her normal operating depth was restricted as an additional measure of peacetime conservatism. If, as many of us believe, her casualty occurred at periscope depth, even that would not have been germane.
The author states that the Navy instituted the SubSafe Program in the wake of the loss of the Thresher (SSN-593) to combat criticism and regain prestige. To insinuate such crass motivation on the part of the Navy's senior leadership is typical of the tone of the author's thought. Although I was a relatively junior officer at the time, there is no doubt on any score that this mammoth and costly redesign, reexamination, and repair effort was undertaken only with the safety of the submarines and their crews centrally in mind. Any concern for criticism or prestige was fifth order at best.
The author alleges chronic problems with the ship's hydraulics, and cites an incident in which the ship "corkscrewed violently," stating that this problem remained unsolved. That is not true. It had nothing to do with hydraulics nor with the ship's control surfaces, and was fully resolved before I left the ship. In firing a large number of wire-guided exercise torpedoes while undergoing training, a large quantity of expended torpedo-guidance wire became wrapped around the propeller shaft and entangled in the external shaft bearing. The resulting imbalance caused a pronounced "humping" and caused us to limit our speed on the return trip. When divers were unable to clear the wire from the bearing it necessitated the "emergency [i.e., unplanned] dry docking." A routine inspection of the hull in the course of that short period in dock revealed a rather extensive surface cathodic corrosion of the after hull area, which Commander Slattery correctly requested be attended to upon the ship's return from the Mediterranean deployment.
The author states that on 16 February 1968, departing from Norfolk for the Med, the Scorpion "lost more than 1,500 gallons of oil from her conning tower." This statement is suspect. Since the only oil in the conning tower (sic) is hydraulic oil for the operation of the ship's periscopes, masts, and fairwater planes, presumably it is hydraulic oil to which he refers. Fifteen hundred gallons approaches the ship's entire storage capacity for hydraulic oil. Still a large number, it sounds as if that may have been the accumulated loss over the four plus months since the ship had completed a reduced availability (RAV), during which several large hydraulic leaks were repaired.
In supposed evidence of the Scorpion's poor material condition, the author cites "109 work orders still unfilled." No doubt this number is derived from her routine work order list transmitted to her parent tender in Norfolk on departure from the Mediterranean. This number is by no means excessive for a ship returning from a three-month deployment where limited external support was available. The work orders typically would have run the gamut from replacement of small nameplates to assistance with repair of a pump, none beyond the ordinary. Despite this, the author casts doubt upon the veracity of the Chief of Naval Operations when he states the Scorpion had not reported any [operationally limiting] mechanical problems nor was she headed home for any [non-routine] repairs. The author seems unaware that every ship at any point in time has an accumulation of minor mechanical problems that in no way limit the ship's capacity to safely operate or perform its mission.
The author totally misunderstands and misconstrues the Scorpion's 1967 RAV. Opinion was widespread in the force that submarines were spending an inordinate amount of time in overhaul, and that the intervals between overhauls were far too short. While in need of a replacement reactor core by 1967, the Scorpion's overall condition was so good that the ship itself proposed deferment of overhaul and accomplishment of the core removal during a restricted shipyard availability. Inasmuch as this proposal fit nicely into the larger matrix of overhaul concerns, it was supported right up the line. Both the ship and the shipyard, in their inexperience with core renewals, underestimated the task and were chagrined when the overall RAV lasted five months rather than the scheduled three, but this was still lightning fast. The ship's crew worked hard to provide the necessary support for core removal, to complete all the routine tasks required during infrequent dry dockings, and to accomplish the additional repairs and maintenance opportunity afforded. The ship emerged from this RAV without having lost its operational edge—as typically was the case after long shipyard overhaul—and was ready to resume operations at a high level soon thereafter. Far from discrediting the concept, the interim RAV between extended interval overhauls forms the basis of present-day submarine overhaul policy.
I cite one more example—the December 1967 incident involving an exercise torpedo that had been activated but did not fire. Far from "sidestepping disaster before it could detonate," the unit was later routinely impulsed from the torpedo tube in a carefully planned evolution while sitting alongside the ship's parent tender in Norfolk.
The author attempts to raise doubt and create controversy by blurring the timeline between the original Court of Inquiry, Dr. John Craven's subsequent acoustic and initial debris field analysis, and the still-later Structural Analysis Group (SAG) reviews. He treats the findings of each as competing opinions rather than recognizing that each built upon its predecessor as more information became available to the analysts. I testified before the Court of Inquiry, participated to a degree in Dr. Craven's assessment, have examined photographs of the debris field, and have read the most recently declassified reports of the SAG. I am quite comfortable with my understanding of the operational parameters surrounding the ship's loss. I do not hold myself out as the Navy's authority on this tragedy, but I am content with my own hypothesis, which is fully consistent with the facts as I know them. I agree that, as the Navy has long maintained, the absolute cause and sequence of events will remain unknowable. Above all, I believe in the total veracity and best efforts of the Navy in laying out the facts surrounding the Scorpion's loss as best they are known.
I very much regret the mistrust, inaccuracies, and distortions being given currency by irresponsible conspiracy theorists writing for such journals as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Houston Chronicle, and yes, the Naval Institute Proceedings. You have sullied your reputation by publishing such tripe, and I regret the pain that you and others of similar stripe have undoubtedly caused the families of the Scorpion's crew by raising new questions or suspicions to disturb their already uneasy peace.
"Rethinking Crew Coordination in F/A-18E/F Squadrons"
(See T. Standard, pp. 75-77, June 1998; J. Shanahan, p. 14, August 1998; T. Kraft, pp. 22-24, September 1998 Proceedings)
Major Patrick M. McGinn, U.S. Marine Corps— There'sbeen a longstanding riftbetween pilots and flight officers. Today's high-technology aircraft are widening that rift. We must divest ourselves of the myopic view that there are one pilot and one weapon systems officer (WSO) in the cockpit and instead focus on the team and how it can best perform the mission.
Older multi-seat tactical aircraft had specific tasks and functions exclusive to each crew member. While an aircraft could fly with just a pilot, it could not perform its mission without a full crew. A fighter pilot could hardly score an air-to-air kill without a radar intercept officer. An attack pilot might miss the target without a bombardier navigator. Pilots and flight officers always have had an adversarial relationship, but operational necessity in older technology aircraft forced a marriage of mutual trust and teamwork. Technology has eliminated that need.
Today's aircraft allow a pilot to aviate, navigate, and communicate; search, sort, and shoot; locate, identify, and destroy—all without ever taking hands off the stick and throttle or looking inside the cockpit. The pilot can control every system, sensor, or weapon—so why is a WSO needed? Isn't a WSO just less gas or ordnance and more distraction? We must rethink the role of the flight officer, whose job has become harder—not easier—with the growth of technology.
What is the role of today's WSO? Does he control the radar, the weapon systems, or the sensors? Does he own the radio and navigation system, or does he become an additive element to the overall situational awareness (SA) of the aircraft? After four-and-a-half years of flying single-seat F/A- 18As and three years of flying two-seat F/A-18Ds,I've seen good WSOs and bad WSOs. Very rarely do they fall in the middle. The good ones know their systems and the capabilities of their aircraft and its pilot; recognize when " information overload" is occurring; and know just the right combination of information to provide at the appropriate time and place.
We need to get away from the decades-old idea that each crewmember has specific and exclusive tasks and responsibilities. Technology has eliminated the forced marriage of pi lot and flight officer. We must now choose to be married, finding ways to optimize the overall SA of the aircraft, for in the end it is the aircraft, as a weapons-delivery platform, that launches the missile or drops the bomb. The aircrew is merely the subsystem that helps the platform accomplish the mission. Maybe we need to come up with a new designation—SAEO: situational awareness enhancement officer.
"Starting Cold War II?"
( See S. Eisenhower, pp. 38-43, May 1998; W. Smith, p. 14, June 1998; T. Hone, p. 10, July 1998 Proceedings)
Donald A. Petkus— Themorally bankruptnotion of appeasing Russian nationalism is the core of Ms. Eisenhower's argument to limit NATO expansion. It would be refreshing and unexpected if someone would argue these issues on moral grounds rather than Realpolitik.
At one time, it was widely held that Russia would go to war over the reunification of Germany. Germany (with the exception of Kalingrad/East Prussia) has been reunited and war has not ensued. With no plausible threat from the West, the essence of Russia's objections to NATO expansion is that it limits her options to annex or intervene in sovereign states. The experience of Finland and the Baltic states has been that neutrality was not a sufficient shield to prevent annexation. The West's failure to oppose Soviet and fascist expansion in the 1930s and 1940s leaves Eastern Europeans with little cause for optimism. Collective-security arrangements would seem to be the best way to ensure stability in Eastern Europe. Excluding the Baltic states and others sends a message that the next expansion of Russia will not be opposed. Correcting that impression ex post facto would either be tragic or impossible.
One needs to remember that the Soviet Union did not go out of business because of the kindliness of Moscow. The Russian experiment with democracy is in danger. Russia should focus on the wealth and promise of its Siberian frontier.
"Headline Blues: Ethical Crisis at CNN"
(See P. Smith, p. 5, August 1998 Proceedings)
Major Ted Bahry, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)— I take strong exception toPerry Smith's use of the term "grunts" to refer to ground fighters. The editor should have caught this.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The editor who "should have caught this”—who, during and after 28 years’ service as a Marine "grunt," has regarded that nickname as a hard-won title of honor—is truly mystified.
Certainly, General Smith—whose own father-in-law received the Medal of Honor as a World War II Marine—was writing with nothing but the highest admiration for those "embattled and wounded grunts" in Operation Tailwind.
The origins of "grunt"—now included among Webster's definitions as referring to an Army or Marine infantryman, especially of the Vietnam era—are murky. During and after the Korean War, the operative term was "Snuffy"—for Fred Lasswell 's beloved cartoon character who also lived in the hills, feuded with his neighbors across the valley, and existed under rather primitive and unsanitary conditions.
[The enduring popularity of Snuffy Smith is embodied in the recently retired and highly decorated four-star admiral who bore the same name throughout his distinguished career.]
But in the late 1950s, word came down that the Marine rifleman no longer would be denigrated by being called "that Snuffy in the rear rank.”
[An informal check with Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, reveals that no similar move against "grunt" is under way or even contemplated today.]
For a while, there was extremely limited grassroots support for "snout" as a substitute for "Snuffy,” but nobody really wanted to go there. By the early days of the Vietnam War, however, "grunt" had worked its way into the lexicon, accompanied by the distinctive AARUGAH! call, which actually sounds more like the belch of a dyspeptic sea lion than a true grunt.
Although the term is enshrined in Webster's and in the hearts of (almost) all those who have learned—the hard way—why infantrymen sometimes get short of breath, the final stamp of approval has come from Jeff MacNelly's popular "Shoe" comic strip. In one episode, young Skyler leaves home for summer camp, where he hopes to learn how to weave a plastic lanyard. Instead, he winds up at Camp Lejeune, where he learns to perfect his skills in "grunting, sweating, and musketry.”
"The DD-21 as Deus ex Machina"
(See T. McKearney, p. 2, July 1998 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Commander R. J . Gajan, U.S. Navy (Retired)— I believe CommanderMcKearney glossed over a key point. The ability to rearm at sea has been a key tactical and strategic advantage that the Navy has enjoyed for most of this century. With the advent of VLS and the trend to removing the reloading cranes, we are losing this important advantage. A key ingredient in surface fire support is the ability to provide a timely and lethal supporting fire. Once the fire-support ship—be it a DD-21 or a DDG-51—has delivered its onboard ordnance, what then? Five-inch, six-inch, eight-inch, and even sixteen-inch guns were capable and often rearmed at sea. If we cannot rearm the ships at sea, the ships will have to retire to a secure base away from the fire-support area to rearm, thus removing a key tactical advantage.
The cost of conventional naval gun ammunition is far less than some proposed exotic ordnance. We must provide weapons that can provide support when required and are affordable enough that our operational forces can train as they will fight. I also believe that if we get in the business of trying to crush battalion-sized forces ashore with naval fire support, we will quickly come to realize that we will not have the munitions to do it as often as may be required against a determined adversary. It is folly to believe an future confrontations will be with commanders as inept as Saddam.
"Where's the Adventure?"
(See R. Carretta, pp. 35-36, April 1998; T. Kisiel, C. Johnson, p. 14, June 1998 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Commander Timothy J. Charlesworth, U.S. Navy —Lieutenant Carretta's article made me reflect on my own perspective of what the Navy was like when I was commissioned. Translating my own perspective of what the Navy was like then into what the Navy is about today and where it is going in the eyes of those I lead is difficult.
The times definitely have changed in some ways, while a lot of what the Navy is about has maintained an even strain. The world has changed significantly in the last decade, and the Navy has had to make quite a few adjustments to continue to meet its operational tasking. The main thing that has remained constant is the commitment of the people with whom I have been associated to continue to meet the challenge at hand and to find the adventure in their jobs.
The job we have been given is not easy, and it requires enormous sacrifices in many ways. It is these sacrifices that many question and assess to see if the adventure is worth continuing. It is a personal decision to continue a career in the Navy. Periodically, I have asked myself the same questions. Adventure wins every time. The adventure of where the Navy is going in the future is what has driven me every morning for the past ten years to get up , put on the uniform, and ask myself, "What am going to do today to make the Navy better?"
There will never be enough money to fund every requirement and there will never be enough time to complete all the required training to maintain the fighting proficiency of the platform to which you are as signed. The issues addressing mission readiness, quality of life, and enhancing benefits are on the table, and the Navy's leadership will continue to address them. Instant solutions to these complex problems will not be generated overnight. Continuing with my version of the Navy adventure and actively contributing to generating solutions to these problems is what motivates me to press on and see what is over the horizon. Adventure is there for the taking—seize the opportunity.
"The Smart Ship Is Not the Answer"
(See A. DiGiorgio, pp. 6 1-64, June 1998; R. Rushton, p. 22, August 1998; C. Madsen. p. 28, September Proceedings)
Captain Robert D. Liggett, U.S. Navy, senior member, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Propulsion Examining Board— Mr . DiGiorgio has provided interestingcommentary on several significant material problems that have plagued the Surface Navy for a long time. However, his comments deserve closer examination, and his condemnation of the Propulsion Examining Board (PEB) is out of line.
The propulsion and electrical plant control systems in modern surface combatants are a tremendous aid to fleet engineers in monitoring and operating many shipboard systems. Although these controls do provide the ability to operate machinery rooms without watchstande rs, prudence dictates that sailors not be left out of the engineering-operations equation. Mr. DiGiorgio states that we "trust our lives to the electronics that control a Boeing 767 on a transatlantic flight," but asks why the Navy mans unneeded watchstations. Air travelers obviously have a lot of confidence in aircraft control systems, but that does not mean anyone would board a plane about to take off without an aircrew. The sailors who man consoles and engine rooms in the plants of modern combatants are there because control systems can fail, there are many pieces of equipment that must be manually operated , and the constant readiness requirements of a warship demand the presence of watchstanders to guard against any eventuality. Do the many accumulated hours of propulsion plant watchstanding represent a wasted effort? Hardly. Also, in manning modern combatants, the Navy has taken advantage of gas-turbine plants, which include automated control systems. The steam-powered Knox (FF-1052)-class frigate had an engineering department of approximately 80 personnel. The current Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)-class frigate needs less than half that number to operate and maintain its gas-turbine plant.
Some of Mr. DiGiorgio's criticisms of the PEB are out of date . My first encounter with the PEB was in 1977 as a 1200 psi steam engineer officer. As I recall, the PEB material condition requirement then was 100%. That certainly has not been the case for at least the last decade. The Assessment and Certification Guide, CinCLantFltInst/CinCPacFltlnst 3S40.9—used by the PEBs of both fleets—prescribes the standard (minimum) equipment that must be fully operational to support a safe and meaningful ship assessment. There is a standard equipment list for every ship class assessed by PEB. Standard equipment for the Spruance- class(DD-963) destroyer requires only one of two gas turbine engines per shaft.
Mr. DiGiorgio relates the saga of a destroyer of this class that the PEB refused to board, because of a malfunctioning power turbine speed sensor. Under the existing PEB directive, this deficiency, or a larger problem rendering the entire engine out of commission, would not preclude a PEB assessment/ inspection. A plant in perfect material condition is neither required nor expected. Of course, common sense dictates that a ship and crew strive for the best material condition possible prior to starting a PEB or any other assessment.
Mr. DiGiorgio continues his condemnation of the PEB by stating, "This agency has caused more damage to equipment in the engineering plants of ships than any other U.S. Navy effort." I am assuming that Mr. DiGiorgio's point is that damage is caused by the wear and tear of unnecessary drills performed by the crew in preparation for a PEB visit. He also comments that these drills "have no engineering value." Mr. DiGiorgio obviously believes that casualty-control training is not necessary on systems that have automatic controls, which detect abnormal conditions and initiate machinery shutdown. I have a different view.
After five ship tours in which I was a principal player (commanding officer, executive officer, chief engineer, or main propulsion assistant) during interactions with the PEB and two tours on the PEB, I appreciate how PEB can be the "tail that wags the dog." During my ship's company tours, there were many repairs that, after being delayed for usually an ex tended time, were finally accomplished prior to a visit from the PEB. As a PEB assessor, I have had at least half a dozen commanding officers tell me the same thing; proper assets were not brought to bear on some tough material problems until a PEB visit was close at hand. Isubmit PEB assessments result in an improvement in engineering readiness.
Regarding the valueless drills, Mr. DiGiorgio implies that PEB is the villa in and driving force behind this questionable training. This simply is not true. Casualty-control training has been around for a long time as a requirement of the various type commanders who own ships. It is valuable training for at least two reasons: Engineering watchstanders must be able to identify abnormal operating conditions and take proper controlling actions, and this training enhances the understanding of system interrelationships. Even propulsion systems with automatic controls have casualty-control procedures—written by the Naval Sea Systems Command—that must be learned by watchstanders. Recent fleet changes in engineering training philosophy that PEB helped implement include: concentrating drill time on those casualties that have a high probability of occurrence and/or causing damage; and focusing more on routine evolutions than casualty drills, in order to minimize self-inflicted casualties. This is a valuable and realistic approach to training, which has the full backing of PEB and all commands responsible for afloat training.
"Russia's Navy Remains in Decline"
(See R. Slaar, pp. 45-48, August 1998 Proceedings)
A. D. Baker, editor, The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World —Professor Staar's article has its heart in the right place, but it could have been far more effective if the author had made use of more up-to-date and accurate information. The Russian Navy is far smaller in numbers of operational warships than either the text or the tables indicate; indeed, far from having "40 SSBNs that carry 584 SLBMs," it would be hard to muster a dozen and a half SSBNs, with a total number of missiles much less than half the number noted in the article.
Regarding the table on page 46, using current reliable figures, Russia today operates fewer than 90 combatant submarines (only 72 in the "tactical" category), 47 principal surface ships (1 carrier—which only became marginally operational again this July after a two-year overhaul that evidently was not completed—5 cruisers, 27 destroyers, and 14 frigates, more than half thoroughly obsolete), and fewer than 80 patrol and coastal ships (56 corvettes, 64 missile craft, 3 torpedo boats—two of those in the Caspian—and 14 patrol craft).
Professor Staar accuses the Russians of exaggerating their deficiencies in numbers vis-a-vis several of their littoral neighbors, and indeed, in such comparisons, the Russians tend to count only those units in their fleet that are operable and compare them with the total inventories in foreign fleets. Even so, the numbers in the article greatly overstate the number of operable Russian Navy units. As example, in the Baltic, the Russian Navy only has seven (not 21) principal surface combatants and at best two or three operational diesel submarines, while in the Black Sea, it has only nine principal surface combatants after the distribution of assets to Ukraine, and of those, more than half have seen at least three decades of service and none is a unit of one of the more modern Russian classes, while the Russians have stated widely that they have only one operable combatant submarine in the Black Sea—not the 14 the article credits them with.
The article misstates the fate of the nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser Pyotr Velikii, which originally was intended for the Pacific Fleet and was not commissioned until this April—in the Northern Fleet, not the Baltic. Other misunderstandings are the author's characterization of Novorossiysk as a "major" base (it isn't now and won't be for many years, now that the Russians have a lease on portions of the Sevastopol' base) and the insupportable statement that the Russians maintain "two warships 'on permanent patrol' in the Mediterranean." Other than the normal repair ship stationed in Syria and the occasional deployment of one of the remaining handful of intelligence-collection ships, the Russians no longer maintain a presence in the Med.
The section on "The Increasing Role of Submarines" also suffers from dated source material, and the sentence on the projected size of the fleet states that mothballed submarines somehow are also operational and gives a projected total beneath which the Russian Navy already has sunk. Further, submarine construction for the Russian Navy itself is not progressing at the rate of two per year; it has all but halted for lack of funding. The same applies to surface ships, although the statement that they will be built primarily for export is far more wishful thinking than established fact.
While an Oscar II guided-missile submarine may have operated off the U.S. West Coast last fall , that the submarine was carrying any nuclear warheads is extremely unlikely, because all Russian tactical nuclear weapons were removed from ships and submarines early this decade. That the submarine was capable of simultaneously tracking the three carriers would have required their active cooperation. Also, the Golf-class K-129 involved in the Glomar Explorer operations was not a nuclear-powered submarine.
The Russian Navy is in far worse shape than depicted in the article, and its prospects for improvement over the next decade—geared as they are to the crumbling Russian economy—are extremely grim. This August, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, Fleet Admiral Kuroyedov, revealed that the Navy's share of the ever-shrinking defense budged had been cut from 23% to 13%. The state of the fleet is described in a wide variety of Russian articles, both in the media and in professional journals, where even flag officers let their hair down in pessimistic jeremiads. The mine of information—much of it in exhaustive detail—is being worked by students of naval affairs, but with the Russian fleet approaching free fall, keeping up with the changes is very difficult indeed.
"It's Time to Face the Gender Paradox"
(See M. Owens, pp. 43-49, July 1998; M. Cornforth , p. 12, August 1998; J. Graham, M. Van Orden, C. Faller, pp. 14- 18, September 1998 Proceedings)
"A Different Kind of Hollow Force?"
(See F. Watanabe, p. 63, July 1998 Proceedings)
Captain Jack Caldwell, U.S. Navy (Retired)— The articles by Professor Owens and Lieutenant Watanabe describe a serious problem affecting the Navy. Unfortunately, naval leadership—from the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations on down—has turned a blind eye to the problems and is resolved to play the politically correct game to its inevitably disastrous conclusion.
Lieutenant Watanabe asked, "What admiral has had the courage to risk his own career by defending the integrity of his people?" The answer: none.
Professor Owens notes that there is no discussion of this problem because "officers of all ranks have been cowed into silence." This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs. All of us—retired and active—must speak out and insist that those on active duty who show moral leadership by voicing their objections to politically correct nonsense do not suffer reprisals damaging to their careers.
Captain Robert C. Peniston, U.S. Navy (Retired)— Thereis little in Captain Cornforth's commentary with which I agree. Perhaps he has a point in recommending an assessment with respect to women in combat-related billets by the commanding officers of ships and squadrons.
If this could be done with no-holds barred and no repercussions, fine. Today, however, dissent with respect to females in combat billets is tantamount to a one-way ticket to civilian life. One need only recall Lieutenant Jerry Bums, who would have a lot of company if such an assessment were made and names attached to comments. For this reason, Captain Cornforth's proposal is a nonstarter.
"Learn to Accept Women at the Naval Academy"
(See A. Stewart, pp. 42-44, June 1998; A. Derivan. p. 22, August 1998 Proceedings)
Michael F. Cohen, U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1971 —Throughout my career, the best advice I have received is to "keep the big picture." That' s the advice I would pass on to Midshipman Stewart.
With the country at peace for more than two decades, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture concerning the Academy's mission and the deadly serious situations in which our graduates may find themselves.
The Academy's basic purpose is to train officers for leadership in combat roles, not for the corporate boardroom.
In a free society, where the objective is equal rights, we learn to accept people. In a military organization, where the objective is training people to fight wars, it is up to the individual to earn acceptance by meeting prescribed standards.
Gender integration at the Academy was entirely the result of a congressional mandate—as was the "adjustment" of standards to ensure enough women would graduate.
While it is true that women have performed well in the fleet to date, all of their progress has been in a peacetime Navy, where it has been easy for politicians to blame male prejudice for all the gender-integration problems. In wartime, it would be much more difficult to sweep such problems as reckless sexual behavior and pregnancies under the rug.
If we accept the premise that the physical standards and the plebe system are essential parts of the Academy's training to prepare officers for the rigors of combat, we also must accept the premise that any exceptions to those standards compromise the effectiveness of that training.
No military organization can survive without cohesion , which is rooted in every member of that organization being required to meet the same standards, instilling the mutual confidence that they can rely on each other in a crisis. Where there are two sets of standards, there will not be cohesion, but animosity toward those held to the lesser standard.
The animosity women face at the Academy stems not from mindless male prejudice, but from the plain truth that gender-related compromises have been made—always with some politician rationalizing that things didn't need to be so tough anyway. Again, if we accept the importance of physical standards, it should concern all of us that a woman can become brigade commander without having had to meet all the physical standards required of the lowest-ranking male in her class.
The real shame is that we're going to lose lives and ships before someone admits that standards really did need to be that tough.
"They've Shut Down the Fraternity!"
(See Y. I. Sos, p. 125, March 1998; J. Houston, p. 16, April 1998; S. Bryant, pp. 16- 17, August 1998 Proceedings)
Rear Admiral W. W. Copeland, Jr., U.S. Navy— Iwas most disappointed and truly troubled over this article for a host of reasons. The most dangerous allegation is that the "big picture…has eluded our leaders. The fraternity is shut down."
I have had the privilege and honor of being a naval aviator and a member of our "fraternity" for more than 30 years. Night landings remain harrowing, many liberty ports continue to be exotic, and combat performance will continue to yield heroes. We must continue to push our limits and those of our aircraft in a calculated and methodical approach, so that when we meet a "living" fourth generation fighter at the merge, we will have the daring, instilled skill, and nerves of steel to win.
Last week I had the opportunity of flying with the Val ions of VFA-15 at NAS Cecil Field. Itwas an opposed ingress, an ordnance deliver, and an opposed egress. I am hard pressed to recall a more thorough and professional brief, flight, and debrief—and it was demanding, exciting, and challenging.
Are we saying that we should return to the days when many of our squadron-mates didn't return home because they were having a little too much fun? Today's combat environment is more demanding than ever. Our weapon systems and aircraft are significantly more advanced, and our threat is much more potent. Make no mistake about it—far more is demanded and expected today of our fraternity to prepare for and win our nation's wars than ever before.
One final point. As a battle group commander, I take issue with the allegation that flag officers Monday-morning quarterback every cockpit decision. My peers and I have every intention and desire to continue to empower air wing commanders and squadron commanders. As a leader in naval aviation, I am reluctant to judge an aircrew and aircraft in an extreme situation, knowing that my human judgment may occasionally be skewed.
Our fraternity of exceptionally gifted men an women is being challenged continually, but I am absolutely convinced that it is very much alive and vibrant.