A REPLY TO PAY INSPECTOR MUDD'S ARTICLE ON NAVAL RE-ORGANIZATION, IN THE MARCH PROCEEDINGS, 1909.
The Naval Institute has placed before the service, and hence opened up for discussion in its pages the question of naval reorganization, and more especially the place of the "commercial and industrial forces" (sic) in the naval establishment—that is, their relation to the fleet.
About seventy-five per cent of all officers in the navy have had less than ten years active service. They have consequently had little time for thought or study upon the principles governing in this important and absorbing subject.
The following attempt, therefore, may not be amiss, considering that a somewhat opposite (and I believe unsound) view, has been stated by Pay Inspector Mudd, with great cleverness and attractive detail.
His essay starts out:
The aim in what follows is the placing of the industrial and commercial forces of the naval establishment in their proper place in any re-organization that may be undertaken; not in any relative place as to the strictly military forces, but in their place, and in doing this to save the whole of the naval establishment from going backwards. The writer wishes to prove that the place of these industrial and commercial forces can never be one of direct subordination to any force except that of the civilian Secretary of the Navy, in any organization that will survive the criticism of the patriotic economist.
The aim of the foregoing is obvious. The question, however, is, what is their proper place?
The essayist clearly states his position and reiterates it, so that there is no possible doubt that his idea of naval organization is to place the Secretary of the Navy in the position of co-ordinator of (what the essayist claims are) the various independent elements in the naval establishment.
In this view he is clearly opposed to the majority of former secretaries of recent times, who, knowing that the navy exists for a sole military purpose (war), have asked Congress, time and again, to provide them with an authorized body whose sole duty it shall be to place before him the military aspect of all questions great enough and important enough to be considered by him.
Other aspects than military ones are of course plain to him.
And, be it noted, this request is not one asking for a body of officers to take over the duties of secretary, nor to consider questions other than those having a direct military consequence on the fleet ready to fight.
It is a request as stated.
The discussion of what organization can best assist the Secretary of the Navy in wielding the power, and assuming the responsibility, which is solely his, under the President, is a perfectly legitimate one.
Moreover, Pay Inspector Mudd's idea of independent specialties, and co-ordination by the Secretary alone, is not an affirmation of the principle that the Navy Department should have a civilian head. Such principle is equally the birthright of those that differ with him. It is our political faith as Americans no less than the clear teaching of professional experience.
No former Secretary renounced such principle when asking for military advice, and consequently, an exposition of what the writer believes to be the basic principles of naval organization do not in any way touch this point.
In contradiction, therefore, to Pay Inspector Mudd, I claim "that any question affecting the fleet, big enough and important enough to come up to the Secretary of the Navy, should pass through and be commented upon, by a body of military advisors, previous to its submission."
But to return specifically to the opening statement of the essay.
The industrial and commercial forces of the navy have an immediate and perfectly clear relation to the military force, at all times. That is the only reason they exist. There is no other reason. They are not independent parts of the naval establishment. They exist solely for a military (naval) purpose. Therefore, they cannot exist except in relation to the military forces, and in a perfectly clear and consequent relation. They do not exist by reason of themselves; they exist solely for the fleet. Their place is, therefore, clearly defined.
It is the purpose of this essay to show where that place is.
To quote again:
The industrial and commercial part of the naval establishment is the auxiliary of nothing, it is a main part (p. 38).
The essayist here undoubtedly wishes to express that the industrial and commercial parts of the naval establishment are independent parts, each one, of the many activities into which that branch of the government resolves itself.
Such is clear, not only from the context, but from his consequent statement that these forces should be coordinated by the Secretary of the Navy.
Now there is only one "main part" to the naval establishment, and that is the fleet. And there is only one reason for the fleet's existence and that is to fight. And there is no reason for the Navy Department's existence, and the whole naval establishment except to have the fleet ready to fight. "The fleet ready to fight" is the ultimate expression of the $1.50 each man, woman, and child in the United States pays yearly for peace insurance, which means Permanency of the bread-winner's job.
With this plain fact as a starting point in our argument, it is clear that the naval establishment must be divided into two parts, or activities, those forces controlling the fleet, and those getting it ready to fight. All forces not controlling it are hence auxiliary to it.
The statement, therefore, that the industrial and commercial forces in the naval establishment are the auxiliary of nothing, is clearly beside the mark, because they would not exist were they not the auxiliary of something.
One way of showing the relations of the various forces in the naval establishment, both within itself and to the country at large, is by a diagram.
To return again to the essay—in the mind of the writer there seem to be three distinct claims made, each a direct consequence of the major proposition, with which Mr. Mudd's essay starts out.
These claims I take to be:
(I) Staff officers are the industrial and commercial forces of the naval establishment, and should, therefore, be in control on shore.
(2) They are officially co-equal with the military branch—the line.
(3) The line should not be officially dominant in the navy—( an organization existing for a purely military reason).
I here use the word "staff" in the somewhat unusual sense that it is applied to the navy in our statutes. Its application to a body of officers, that in the other English speaking navy are called the "Medical and Civil Branches," is a use of the word entirely peculiar to ourselves.
"Staff" is a military word (used also in industrial life) with a clear, distinct and accurate meaning. As we use it, to designate certain corps in our navy, the word has no connection with "staff" (état-major) as universally recognized.
It is, however, only with the staff officers of the pay and construction corps than pure prinicpal references of this essay deal. They are the only ones which could come under the head of commercial and industrial forces.
Considering the first claim, I quote as follows:
(Par. I.) There is such confusion and interference between the two classes of forces, the strictly military and the industrial and commercial,
(Par. V, p. 42, line 17.) The supplies and accounts corps, handling the stupendous problems of demand and supply of the fleet and the industrial and commercial elements, . . . .
Here the industrial and commercial elements are put in one case in contradistinction to the fleet, and in the other to the strictly military forces. It is misleading, though, to state that it is the supply and accounts corps that have the "stupendous problems of supply and demand" to "handle." These problems are all solved by the material bureaus—the supply and accounts corps doing the buying and commercial carrying.
(Par. V, p. 43, line 2.) So it is the gravest kind of an error to compel or allow these sea officers of the line to perform duty at any time in their career that is not connected directly with the fleet and which does not continue to keep them sized up to "best" in their sea profession.
Absolutely sound! But what duties are "connected directly"? There would undoubtedly be various opinions.
Taking this with the others, one is again led to think that the essayist is of the opinion that it is staff officers who are, or should be, the industrial and commercial forces of the navy.
(Par. XI, p. 50.) The control of the industrial and commercial forces of the naval establishment is next in importance to that of the fleet, considered as a completed element, ready for service. If these forces do not have their day in court in the work on the re-organization of the department, the country will rue it.
The writer feels certain that his comrades, the sea officers of the line, are on the wrong tack when they seek to have control of these forces.
The above quotations certainly justify the statement that the essayist is making what is noted as the first claim. If so, let us examine the claim, and see what there is to it.
Any one familiar with the industrial and technical renaissance of our "new navy" some twenty-five years ago, knows that that development was brought about principally by the industrial, commercial and technical energies of the line officers and engineers. Both were comparatively a-plenty. A line officer laid the blocks and superintended the first preparation for building the old Maine. They had to do such things. There was no one else. They were and are technical men, and every class graduated from Annapolis receives increased technical training.
Line officers now, more than ever, are the technical officers of the navy. They control and direct intricate mechanisms of all kinds—living with, and working with, the tools in their hands.
Take another phase of claim first.
The Appropriation Bill for 1909, gives us the following "industrial and commercial amounts":
$39,000,000.00 controlled by line officers.
$28,000,000.00 controlled by constructors.
$4,250,000.00 controlled by pay corps.
These round figures give some idea of the "industrial and commercial forces" of the naval establishment.*
This merely shows how inappropriate it is to suppose that the "staff" are the entire industrial and commercial forces of the navy, or even a greater part thereof.
In the Civil and Spanish Wars the ships were equipped, armed and supplied (except clothing, small stores, and food) almost entirely by the line. This was before the extension of the general store-keeper system.
Consequently it is seen how fallacious it is to suppose that the navy's industrial and commercial forces are not composed in the majority, of the "generalist" not "specialist," elements in the navy.
These "generalists" are the line officers, and it is vital to the ability of the fleet to maintain itself, that it should be supplied, equipped and armed, by and under the control and direction of these same general technicians—line officers.
*All "civil establishments" and "public works" (under civil engineers) are omitted, as not coming under head of "fleet."
Industrial amounts only are considered. "Increase of the navy" is prorated, where not specific. "Coal" is given 4 millions to pay corps, and I million to line, for handling, etc. $250,000.00 to pay corps for "handling stores." Pay corps handles $6,500,000.00 of provisions. Clothing fund is self supporting. Naval supply fund is a vehicle for book-keeping.
It is thus impossible to separate the commercial and industrial forces from the main body of line officers. When that is done we violate the primary principle of all enterprises—subordination of all parts to the "main purpose."
Let us take certain other parts of the essay illustrating this apparent tenor of thought:
Now to expose a false premise upon which custom has been established, and from which important parts of proposed re-organization have been started.
Take the fleet ready for service; there is no one who can tell the sea officers of the line manning the ships what to do in the way of handling them in a naval sense, working the guns, etc., and no other should attempt to interfere in that technical work.
But that is absolutely all in the way of immunity of these sea officers of the line from outside interference. Because they have been and must always be the supreme controllers of the great fighting aggregations on the sea, so far as being war machines, it does not follow that they should be supreme controllers of the shore establishment, or even necessarily of War policy and strategy (P. 43).
The italics are mine. Does this mean that sea officers should have nothing to do with the preparation for war, but only war itself? The statement certainly restricts them to that duty. What does "supreme control of the shore establishment" mean? Strategy is entirely military. Did the navy ever control "war policy?"
Imagine a fleet designed in its entirety, engined, equipped, gunned, recruited, located, directed, and strategically handled, by those members of the naval establishment, not sea officers!
Yet the essayist (in this paragraph) so restricts their duties.
Imagine any business run on such principles!
It is statements of this sort that have just been shown to be fallacious. The attempt to differentiate between a sea and shore establishment is logically futile. There is no point—such as the coast line—where the principle controlling the navy changes, and a new principle governs.
To say that the Secretary of the Navy is the military head of the navy is entirely in error. He is the head of the navy—a much greater position. He is not the coordinator. He is above and over the coordinators of the various forces.
There is no specific military head. If there were, he would absolutely be subordinate to the head of the navy.
In spite of the essayist's statement to the contrary (p. 50, par. XI, line 19), this is the only view within the knowledge of the writer. It is certainly the only logical view.
All activities in the navy imminently affecting the fleet ready to fight, are subject to military domination.
And this word "domination" doesn't mean interfering with the recognized specific duties of the commercial and industrial forces. It does not mean dictating the thickness of bilge plating, where beans shall be bought, the ballistic tests of armor, or the method of forging anchor chains.
These things must all eventually pass the test of the fleet, and the essayist recognizes this fact, naturally.
But this fact of final test is no basis for organization.
There is only one navy. There is not a sea navy and a shore navy; nor is there a military navy, a commercial navy, an industrial navy, and a technical navy. Nor is the purpose controlling these any but a military purpose.
A shore station is as "naval" as the fleet, and is for the fleet. It is not a commercial and industrial entity. It is not an independent part of the naval establishment.
Rear-Admiral Bradford says:
Reference has been made by the Board, in a conspicuous manner, to the methods followed by large shipbuilding works and the commendations of the managers of these works of the proposed non-duplication of buildings for a navy yard. It occurs to me that these managers are not familiar with the needs of a navy yard. It is proper here to point out that there is very little similarity between a large navy yard, such as New York, and a shipbuilding establishment.
A navy yard is an arsenal, and frequently so-called in foreign countries. It contains a great victualing department; a large quantity of guns, mounts, ammunition, torpedoes and ordnance stores; a hospital, medical laboratory, medical stores and accommodations for the sick; clothing and small stores; all appliances needed for the construction of public works of a varied character, including dredges, lighters, derricks, pumps, locomotives, cars, carts, horses, fire engines, hose wagons, etc.; all articles used to equip ships, viz., sails, awnings, and other canvas stores; rigging and cordage of all kinds; anchors, cables, galleys, and chains; stationery and books; nautical instruments of all kinds; library books; cooking utensils and table ware; signals of various kinds; charts and nautical books; flags; electrical appliances; barracks, or receiving ships, and their outbuildings for enlisted men, and barracks and out-buildings for marines, . . . .
These companies (private shipyards) apparently have more officers, a greater staff, more buildings, and more departments than the navy for similar work, although their work is far more circumscribed. (Report of Chief of Bureau of Equipment, 1903, pages 94 and 96.)
To try and show briefly the relations between the elements and factors in the naval establishment and those in other well-known businesses, let us take a railroad for example:
The mobile portion is the "road" (fleet).
The stationary is the "shop " (navy yard).
The controlling element, "financial gain" (war).
In the railroad the shop is for the road and its equipment.
The shop has the "readiness of the road" as the controlling reason for its every activity.
One who knows what is necessary for the road "controls" the shop.
The road is run for "financial gain."
The paraphrase is complete.
This method can be applied with success to any other cognate business. Hence, I say, that any view, contending that a special part of a "business" is not dominated by the controlling element in that business, is opposed to all standards, public and private.
But is must be carefully noted, in this connection, that the "control of administrative details" is in no-wise stated to be the same thing as "subordination to the ultimate purpose."
The guiding control and direction of each factor is determined by the "ultimate purpose" for which any organization is maintained. In the case of the naval establishment this is "the fleet ready to fight," that is, "war."
Some people get their notions of the "commercial and industrial forces" of the navy by applying the organization of the large merchant fleets as a criterion. This is entirely erroneous. In fact it is "end for end."
The fleet of the Hamburg-American line, for instance, is the thing by which the company makes money. It is maintained by them for this purpose—to make money. The shore-end of a commercial fleet is the reason for such fleet's existence. It is the purpose for such existence.
In a country's war fleet this is just the opposite. The fleet's existence is the reason for a shore-end to the navy.
Hence we see the complete contradiction of the guiding principle in organization at the outset.
This, however, does not mean that details of administration of Special branches are to be in the hands of the "generalist" ; on the contrary, that is just why specialists are necessary.
It does mean, though, that in matters affecting the object for which any business is "run," those engaged in special details must be subordinate to those engaged in "running the business."
It is thus seen that there is no separate shore navy and sea navy. It is all one navy and each part is maintained for, and bears a more or less intimate relation to, the main part—the fleet.
Consequently to admit that such an important part of the naval establishment as the "shore-end" of the fleet can be managed and controlled by any other branch of a navy than those who fight and maintain the fleet, is to admit a condition that is illogical—whether from pure reasoning on principles, historical research, or commercial and industrial practice.
No, there is no shore navy, separate from the sea navy. It is all one navy, and experience on shore fits the officers of the fleet for their duties at sea, as well as sea duty fits them for the technical duties they find ashore. They are complementary and necessary to one another. To quote again:
So, at the point where the line officer is obliged to break off, to keep his sea efficiency intact, the staff corps begin. If this reasoning be sound, then any staff corps is precluded from taking upon itself duties that a sea officer of the line can perform without affecting his efficiency. This is an important point; . . . . (p. 45, 2d par.).
This certainly is an important point. In certain lines only the staff corps are at home. Those lines undoubtedly are theirs. No one attempts to deny it. Their duties are important and necessary. No one attempts to deny it. They bear directly on military efficiency. No one attempts to deny it. No line officer should perform such duties. That is clear.
The staff should have and do have entire control in these lines up to the point where the streams of their special energies must be directed according to military experience.
Pay Inspector Mudd claims that the Secretary has this military experience. The claim of this reply is as this paper shows.
Another thing to remember is that efficiency in line officers is for the fleet. The fleet was not brought into being for the specific purpose of training line officers. The officers are for the fleet—not the fleet for the officers.
Hence they must be trained to maintain it.
Experience (and logic) in our navy shows us that the best way to do this is as we have been doing it. The easily trained natural technical abilities of our officers is where we score over the naval services of foreign nations.
It is this double duty that enables our fleet to be properly engined, gunned, and equipped, and gives our line officers that knowledge of mechanical processes necessary to do these things.
Final test alone by the fleet (as the essayist suggests) would be a tardy, expensive and inefficient way of accomplishing results—even if any good results were obtainable by that method.
Without being specific as to names, we all know what havoc such a system has wrought with a once powerful navy.
Does anyone imagine that our fleet could have run 42,000 miles without mishap, trained for two target practices enroute, no accidents, and self-maintained throughout, unless there had been this complementary training.
The speciality of the different staff corps are clearly defined (changing and developing from time to time) and they are a distinct part of the maintenance of the fleet. But they are not an independent part, nor a strictly military part.
While their training teaches them all concerning their own duties, the scope of these duties, in relation to the fleet, is a strictly military one.
That is to say, any modification in that scope, no matter by whom proposed, should bear scrutiny as to its military aspect before submission for action.
This is only logical, as their specialties bear an intimate relation to the "ultimate purpose"—the fleet ready to fight.
The second claim I read is, that Pay Insepector Mudd says: "The staff is officially independent, and hence co-equal with the line."
It has just been shown that each staff corps is an integral and important part of the officers in the navy.
Confining ourselves (as previously) to the commercial and industrial elements, we find these numbers (Jan. 1, 1909):
(I) 2214 Line officers.
(2) 69 Naval constructors.
(3) 201 Pay officers.
Relative numbers alone give us here an indication of their official Position.
The essayist, as I read him, divides the officers of the navy into sets of independent activities, each to be coordinated as a whole, in relation to the "ultimate purpose" by the Secretary.
The line officer is the "fighting specialist," the pay officer the "supplies and accounts specialist," etc.
Now how can these be independent of the "strictly military" (sic) forces, when not a single one of these staff activities (claimed to be independent) would exist if it were not for the existence of the "specialist fighter." The "specialist fighter" is the only reason the others exist at all. Take him away and the staff duties lapse of themselves.
It is clearly fallacious reasoning, therefore, to infer directly or indirectly that the second claim is true.
This may be perhaps more clearly shown in this way: Suppose every line officer were swept out of existence. There would be no fleet. The navy would cease to exist. Suppose the same thing happened to the staff. The fleet would be ready to fight, and would continue to be ready to fight. The expense would probably be increased until civilians or transferred line officers were taken in to form new staff corps.
But there would be no stoppage.
It is thus seen how utterly unequal in official importance are the line and the staff; and how entirely dependent the staff is upon the line for its raison d'etre.
These are cold facts. But let us treat them as such. Do not mistake any of these statements and counterclaims as any thing but what relates to official position. Let us remember that official inequality doesn't mean social, mental, moral, physical, professional, or any other kind of inequality. It means official—and on official relations only rest the whole fabric of the naval establishment.
The third claim of the essayist I take to be: "The line should not be officially dominant."
This is the entire tenor of the essay, and is especially dwelt on as regards the industrial and commercial elements.
The inference in a number of places is, that in endeavoring to secure military coordination for all the elements of the naval establishment, directly related to the fleet, the line is guilty of improper interference. It is merely another way of asserting the independence and co-equality of the official relations of the line and staff.
The writer in this reply has clearly shown his hand, and stated his entire condemnation of interference within the scope of the non-military activities in the naval establishment. I never heard of any officer who disagreed from such a principle. Such interference is always to be righteously resented.
This is not, however, the essayist's idea, as I gather it. His is as above stated.
When the paramount dominance of the military idea is thoroughly understood by everyone, this other idea (the third claim) that everything is interference, will vanish of itself—logically.
There is no question of the military dominance of the Captain on board ship. There is no resentment against it. How then can there be logically any resentment against the official domination of the line. The governing principle, both on board ship and in the naval establishment is the same—absolutely identical.
Improper domination should be guarded against. Resentment against the manner or method of administration, or against personality, is a logical, and at times, a desirable basis for protest.
But there can be no logical resentment against a logical official relation.
From every event of history, our own and foreign, the patriotic economist" is aware that the force fighting the fleet is the ultimate and largest factor in its efficiency.
They are the ones responsible to the country for its battles.
No success in war is assured, without the ultimate subordination to them, under the solely responsible and authoritative head of the navy, of all preparation for war.
The fleet exists to fight—a purely military function. Therefore, in the naval establishment this preparation for war must be dominated by the strictly military branch, under the Secretary.
The military establishments exist for the people. The constitution and laws enable the people to dominate these establishments. And they can do so in any way they see fit.
They do so by the executive branch of the government.
But it is logically unthinkable to imagine that the people wish their military interests to be dominated in these services, by any other than military ideas of the latest and best procurable for the money they expend.
In the Treasury Department the dominating idea is the national finances; in the Agricultural Department, the good of the national agricultural interests; in the Department of Justice, the legal interests of the nation; in the Post Office Department, the transmission of the mails in, and for, the people's interests, etc.
So, I say, it is unthinkable that in their two military departments they desire other features to dominate than the highest military interests of the nation. This the nation shows plainly by its constitutional acts in Congress.
The nation maintains at Annapolis an expensive plant for educating picked representatives in the military branch of the naval profession. They are the ones whom the nation trains to the end that its fleet may be ready to fight.
Many as our shortcomings are, many as are our desires in all branches of the service, for betterment, such betterment can only proceed when founded on the logical principles governing all enterprises, and clearly indicated by the Constitution and the people in Congress assembled.