(See page 1313, December, 1954, Proceedings)
(See page 19, January, 1955, Proceedings)
Commander Roy C. Smith, III, U. S. Naval Reserve.—The recent essays, “What? Me Ship Over” and “The Career Man,” are both excellent analyses of the reenlistment problem from the enlisted viewpoint, and they particularly interested me as executive officer of a destroyer and now a destroyer tender. Fortunately, many commands are making these essays required reading for officers, and the word is getting around in the wardroom. Although some of the major factors they cite, such as closure of a number of rates to advancement, require Bureau or Congressional level action, many of them are susceptible to correction within the ship or station—provided the officers, particularly the junior officers—will work at it. And there lies our biggest stumbling block!
Since the senior officers are career men, we deal here with the stream of ensigns who enter the service from the various officer schools (except the Academy), serve their obligated two or three years, and go out to inactive duty as lieutenants (jg). In most ships they are division officers and department heads long before their time is up, and in those jobs they have greater effect upon the re-enlistment rate among their men than any more remote senior officer. It is their interest and active participation in recruiting for re-enlistment that we must have in order to be successful among first and even second enlistment men. Chief LeBarron’s concept of the second and third class petty officers being our “keystone group” is very sound, but it applies equally to the ensigns and lieutenants (jg), who are their immediate bosses, as the keystone group in the officer ranks.
Chief Miller says, and rightly, that we need more old-fashioned “shipping-over talk” from the old line chiefs and career petty officers, but we must have it from the officers as well. The young enlisted man can answer the chiefs that things were different when they decided on careers and that now they have too much service to throw away, but he can’t use that argument to a young officer in his own age group who is also on the threshold of the same decision for a naval or civilian career. In smaller ships, where personal relationships are close, the commanding and executive officers can and do talk re-enlistment to the good men aboard on a personal basis much more effectively than in a big ship. There the department head is usually senior enough to be a career man and takes over that personal counselling. In either case the effort must be backed up by similar advice and counsel from the division officer, for no one above can be very effective if his efforts are undercut, no matter how innocently, by the junior officer who is closest to the man. The division officer cannot promote re-enlistment among his men sincerely or convincingly if he, himself, plans to go out as soon as his obligated service expires. No officer has yet fooled enlisted men with insincere arguments.
Many of the reasons why men don’t re-enlist, as cited by Chiefs Miller, LeBarron, and others, apply to junior officers as well as to enlisted men. Our new ensigns marry as young and as fast as our new enlisted men and have an equal desire to be at home with their families, rather than at sea. The old longing of youth for travel and adventure has been replaced by a longing for family and security. The uncertainty of family planning resulting from uncertain operating schedules hurts the wardroom as well as the mess decks. Veterans benefits are extremely attractive inducements to leaving the service for the young man who wants to further his his education or to embark on a business career, particularly when he has a family to consider. The supposed freedom from routine and regulations to be found in civilian life is a major factor to some and the financial disadvantages of the service are a consideration to all.
We cannot compete with civilian life on a material basis for these officers, and appealing to their patriotism does not balance the scales. We have lost much of our prestige and many of our perquisites. However, we still have many things to offer which, though mainly of the spirit, are none the less real, as Chief Miller ably pointed out. On these we must concentrate, by word and by example, and this is the job that every career officer must work at constantly. Actually, we are not too far from success now; a great many of the good young officers who leave the service do so reluctantly and only after a long weighing of the material factors against their genuine enjoyment of their service. It would not take much more to sway their balance to the Navy side.
Even without that help, we can do more within the Navy to make junior officers happy enough to want to stay in. Instead of pampering or bribing, we must insist on high standards of performance and accountability for mistakes so that there is a feeling of personal achievement in doing a job well. The junior officer must be given more and more responsibility, with recognition for good work, to develop in him a sense of personal pride in being a good officer and an asset to his ship. Such feelings will quickly permeate his division and develop similar feelings in his men, which makes both officer and men much happier and builds up division spirit. Several spirited divisions, in competing between themselves, build up the ship’s spirit and her reputation goes up with better performance. This spiral of pride and performance is vital in building the esprit de corps necessary to produce career officers and men from our civilian inputs.
This writer considers it unfortunate that the old-fashioned competitions between ships for awards and relative standing within the type are no longer with us. It is fine to be recommended as the best ship in your division or squadron, if you know it, but the pride in achievement wears dull when dozens of other ships get the same award in their units. The “E” is a great morale builder, but even then we should have competition for relative standing among the “E” winners so that one ship can say, “We are the best.” That achievement builds pride and spirit in the whole ship by giving all hands a worthwhile target to shoot at and individual recognition among the fleet for the results accomplished. Even if your ship misses an “E,” there is still achievement and pride in standing twenty instead of a hundred and twenty in the fleet, and you have a concrete basis for building an all hands determination to do better next year regardless of whether you stand at the top, middle, or bottom of the list. That determination goes into a ship’s spirit, and ship spirit is the foundation for the happiness that makes men want to stay in the service.
Other writers have suggested many ways and means of increasing the re-enlistment rate, and most of their suggestions apply to junior officers as well as enlisted men. Aside from getting an adequate return on our investment in educating and training these officers, we need them as career-minded Navy men if we expect them to work for reenlistments among their men. We can’t win that battle without their honest and whole hearted support, for they are the ship’s keystone group—the “Middle Men.”
Naval Aspects of the Sicilian Campaign
(See page 705, July, 1953, Proceedings)
Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, U. S. Navy (Retired).—It has developed, primarily due to Italian informants, especially Captain Goretti di Flamini, recently Italian Naval Attache in Washington and erstwhile Assistant Chief of Staff of the Division of Garibaldi class cruisers, and his chief, Rear Admiral G. Fioravanzo, that my description on page 723 of the episode of the night of August 7-8, 1943, was somewhat in error, a fact which is confirmed by further study of my own records. There were actually two similar occurrences, one on the night of August 5–6, involving two Italian light cruisers of the Eugenio class which made contact with our light craft, and one by the Garibaldi Division, on the night of August 7–8, during which no surface contacts were made.
The objective of both sorties by the Italian cruisers was a surprise attack on our shipping off Palermo and in the harbor of Palermo. It was predestined to failure, since Admiral Davidson’s forces were disposed so as to cover just such a contingency.
In the early morning of August 6, the Eugenio Division made contact off Ustica with what it believed to be torpedo boats. Knowing that they would be reported and that the opportunity for surprise was thus lost, they retired to the northward. Actually, this contact was with the S.C. (sub chaser) 550, which was escorting a water barge from Palermo for the inhabitants of Ustica. The sub chaser reported being attacked by two destroyers or small cruisers which withdrew at high speed. Our covering forces reacted promptly, but no further surface contact was made.
With respect to the events of the night of August 7-8, my official report contains the following entry: “Two enemy cruisers of the Garibaldi class and two destroyers were reported headed for Palermo on the night of 7 August. Commander Task Force 88 in Philadelphia was then conducting the first ‘leap frog’ amphibious operation off Cape Orlando. A Task Group, composed of Philadelphia, Savannah, Rowan, and Rhind proceeded at once on a scouting line to intercept the enemy forces between Palermo and Ustica Island. No contact was made. At daylight a reconnaissance by Allied aircraft showed the enemy forces then to be 100 miles to the northward proceeding at high speed on a northerly course. The Task Group returned to Cape Orlando to support the amphibious forces.”
Admiral Fioravanzo, who, as previously mentioned, commanded the Garibaldi Division, states that, at 2 a.m., a German reconnaissance plane reported “three large units” between Ustica and Palermo. Shortly thereafter, his cruisers, proceeding at 27 knots, ran into a fog bank, which at 0400 was still very dense. He had no destroyer screen (our contact report appears to have been erroneous in this respect) and no radar. Therefore, he felt that the acceptance of an engagement in low visibility with a radar-equipped force would result, not only in the loss of the essential element of surprise, but in the almost certain loss of his units. Accordingly, he decided to retire.
The Career Officer Problem
Captain William J. Davis, USMC.— “At Annapolis, Md., 852 U. S. Naval Academy midshipmen (out of an original class of 1,123) got their diplomas in the traditional cap-tossing ceremonies in Dahlgren Hall. Not all were headed for the Navy; the Air Force took 221 as second lieutenants, the Marine Corps commissioned 63. . . . ”
So said Time Magazine of 14 June 1954. So what, you say? So this—of every four young men who entered the Naval Academy in the summer of 1950, one failed to make the grade physically, mentally or morally. And while this group of 271, or 25 per cent, may be explained away by the old “survival of the fittest” routine, or the gradual withdrawal of privileges for officers and men in the Services, and the like, the real problem that the Services have is this: of the original 1,123 potential officers, how many Regular career officers will the Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps retain for a 20- or 30-year tour?
For what most of our citizens, even professional military men, seem to forget is that the Service Academies do not merely train officers—they were founded to train Regular career officers. As one well-versed Army Colonel once told me at a Pentagon G-1 conference, “We don’t train platoon commanders at the Military Academy; we train regimental commanders!” And regimental commanders don’t resign their commissions after three years of commissioned service!
That, however, has been the main problem with many of our Service Academy brother officers—quite a few resign as soon as they can; they don’t remain long enough to become regimental commanders or battleship commanders.
Thus we have the problem: how can we eradicate, or at least substantially diminish, the number of purported career officers we are losing almost daily?
The answer is quite simple—if we start to get realistic! What we have to do is to stop trying to motivate a thousand-odd lads in each Academy class every year (plus the 300 proposed for the new Air Force Academy of July, 1955) and start seeking out the young men who have been fully motivated for a professional military (naval) career from childhood days.
And don’t tell me that they don’t exist! Think back to your own grade and high school days! No matter how small the town, there were always a couple of potential Kings, Leahys, Eisenhowers, and Bradleys who yearned for the military! But what happened? Normally, many of these students do not really get a chance to enter one of the Academies.
Nowadays, perhaps they will enter the service by the draft or enlistment or the ROTC, NROTC, PLC, or other officer-training programs, and eventually fulfill their desires to become Regular career officers. But too many times, less-motivated men are entering our Academies, being fully trained for “30-year tours,” then requesting resignations at the end of ten per cent of that time!
Now, before we go further, I don’t mean to imply that a good percentage of Academy-ites are going along for a “free ride”—i.e., a fine education in trade for a few years of service, when actually the unwritten contract calls for a lifetime profession. What I do mean is that too many well-qualified American young men are entering the Academies with the best of intentions only to become disenchanted with the military after they have a little “practical application” in regimented life.
Thus, the ideal solution would be to get all of the physically, mentally, and morally qualified young men who believe they are sufficiently well-motivated for a long-time military life together in the Service of their choice, and then let them experience this close association with the military so that they could become disenchanted BEFORE they would take the all-important step, that of entering their Service Academy.
How can we do this? Quite simply, in actuality, by putting the new national pastime, the draft, into efficacious use. Since all qualified young American males are expected to either volunteer or be volunteered via the draft for at least two years of active duty plus six years of inactive duty, or various combinations thereof, why not have these potential academy-ites and professional soldiers (sailors, airmen, and marines) serve for one year of regular enlisted duty and then give them the following option:
(1) If qualified, be appointed as part of the quota of their Service at the cognizant Academy, with the complete understanding that, except under extremely unusual circumstances, they are entering the Academy as the first step in the pursuance of a lifetime career in the military, or
(2) If not sufficiently motivated for the foregoing, after a thorough look at military life, including life in “boot camp,” they would, like all other young draftees, finish out their second year of active duty, and then return to civil life.
In view of the foregoing, the young man who does not really desire the military life would rarely request a four-year term at an Academy plus a minimum of three years of active duty, a total of seven years as an absolute minimum, merely to escape one year of, perhaps, fairly “rough” duty slated for his second enlisted year.
In order to give the G-1 Divisions, or Personnel Branches of the various Services some fairly accurate planning figures, the foregoing plan should hold up well. After a year or two, it would be a small matter to calculate the average percentage of “wash-outs” we would lose through any given academic year. Thus we could plan quite accurately our permanent Regular officer strengths for years ahead.
In addition to greatly easing this secondary burden of military planning, this method would primarily give us an increasingly more solid core (not corps) of professional officers—men who really desired 20- or 30-year careers of professional soldiering first, and who would worry about economic security secondly.
In doing so, we must be realistic enough to remember that a professional soldier will never be paid in dollar value equal to what he and his country think is his true worth. Thus, we must nurture these Academy men who love their duty primarily, and money secondarily. This understanding of real values has always been the basic difference between the man in a profession, and the man holding a job!
The professional man, whether he be doctor, lawyer, or fighting man, loves his work first, and, in addition to this, hopes to provide well for his wife and family, while the jobholder cares mostly about the money and not too particularly about what type of work he has to perform for it.
Thus, if we are to have a core of professional officers, let us attack the problem in a more professional manner: allow only veterans of at least one year of active military duty to enter our Service Academies. Then, and only then, will we begin to form, on a large scale, this permanent core of career officers, men who view military life as a profession, not as a toilsome job.
This, then, is to be our battlecry, our own version of Coue’s Formula: “Let’s be more professional, day-by-day, in every way!”
What Price Mariner?
Captain John B. Taylor, USN.—One method of problem-solving is to state the problem, list possible courses of action, then select the course suited to the stated problem. Whether these steps are completed mentally or graphically, the best we can expect of this method is a solution to the stated problem (which may or may not be the real problem). Another method is trial and error (the mouse in a maze) which may produce a good solution quickly, or a poor solution after much travail.
Is there a central idea common to Admiral Jarrell’s article and the comments it has elicited? Does a problem exist? If so, has it been stated? Have possible courses of action been listed, or is the list confined to preconceived ideas? Perhaps by studying some possible courses of action we might deduce whether a problem exists.
Suppose there were a Bureau of Naval Weapons embracing functions formerly assigned to the Bureaus of Ordnance, Aeronautics, and Ships (Electronics). Any convenient designation (for example, Corps of Naval Weaponeers) and insignia (for example, a bursting bomb in lieu of a star) would identify officers assigned to this bureau. Initially, the corps would include EDOs, LDOs, SDOs and Warrant Officers in the fields of responsibility of the new bureau (Warrant Officers probably would be given appropriate commissioned rank). Line officers who have completed graduate courses in these fields, and other line officers within quota limitations would also be included.
Integrating the bureau with shore activities would be fairly simple. Afloat more important changes would probably follow; this will be discussed later.
Why should there be a Corps of Naval Weaponeers? Is the naval profession becoming more complex? Can one person master weapons, machinery, damage control and military justice in addition to navigation, seamanship and personnel management? Are weapons overlapping the fields of aviation, ordnance and electronics? Do we need specialists to design, build, maintain and operate the weapons needed for tomorrow’s wars? Is this a full-time job?
Suppose next there were a Bureau of Naval Engineering embracing the functions formerly assigned to the Bureaus of Ships (less Electronics) and Yards and Docks. The Corps of Naval Engineers (insignia three-bladed propeller or something else) would be assigned to this bureau.
Why should there be a Corps of Naval Engineers? Are the officers who now design, build, maintain and operate hulls, propulsion and shipyards specialists? Are they qualified outside their speciality? Could we afford to take them away from what they now do? Have we a Corps of Naval Engineers de facto if not de jure? Does Navy Civil Engineering include Mechanical and Electrical Engineering? Can we afford two Corps of Naval Engineers in the face of a nation wide shortage?
Now suppose there were a Chief of Naval Logistics coordinating the Bureaus of Weapons, Engineering, and Supplies and Accounts. The Chief of Naval Logistics would report to the Assistant Secretary (Logistics) in matters of administration, and to the Chief of Naval Operations in matters of operations and planning. Very probably the Chief of Naval Logistics would embrace functions formerly assigned to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Logistics), the Chief of Naval Material, the Office of Naval Research, the Office of Industrial Relations, the Office of Naval Petroleum Reserves, and the Management Engineer.
Next suppose that directly under the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Operations) there were two new bureaus. One would be the Bureau of Aviation, embracing functions formerly assigned to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air). The other would be the Bureau of Seamanship and Navigation.
The responsibilities of the Bureau of Seamanship and Navigation would include Seamanship, Navigation, Weather forecasting, Cold Weather, Small boats, Replenishment at sea, Shiphandling, and Command at Sea. Very probably the Naval Observatory and the Hydrographic Office would come under this bureau. Most important, however, the bureau would establish criteria, test and certify persons qualified for Command at Sea. A record (perhaps a personal log), would chronicle the progress of each individual in acquiring and maintaining proficiency in Command at Sea. The Corps of Naval Mariners (assigned to the Bureau of Seamanship and Navigation), would include officers qualified for Command at Sea, but not officers eligible and unqualified. A distinctive insignia in lieu of the star might be a curl (similar to the British) for Mate’s papers, a different curl for Master’s papers. Boatswains Mates would belong to the corps if qualified.
Some adjustments might occur on board ship as these specialities replace the jack-of-all-trades general service officers.
The Engineering Department would not be affected, because these officers are largely specialists now.
The Weapons Department would be organized much like the Engineering Department. It would include guns, fire control, CIC, ASW, Communications, Aviation, Guided Missiles and Electronics Technicians. It would borrow officers and men from other departments to piece out some battle stations (as they do now).
The Supply Department would be about the same, except that I personally think messcooks should be permanent commissary strikers, rather than men rotated from other divisions every month. A commissioned officer graduate of a course in mess management should run the general mess (a most important factor in morale).
Coordinating the Weapons, Engineering, and Supply Departments would be a (separate) Logistics Officer. He would give the Captain the same sort of technical advice that a specialist officer on a staff afloat gives his Commander. In battle he might be with the Captain, with the Executive Officer, or in Damage Control, according to the nature of the action.
The Captain, Executive Officer, and Navigator would be qualified for Command at Sea, and senior to other officers assigned to the ship. The Navigator would be Head of the Department of Seamanship and Navigation, embracing lookouts, helmsmen, navigation, weather forecasting, shiphandling, ground tackle, boats, cargo and boathandling gear, replenishment at sea gear, paint locker, sail locker, boatswains stores, sidecleaners, anchor watch, working parties, duty division, upkeep of heads, washrooms and common living spaces (such as lounges and passageways), and also an Orientation Program for men first reporting on board. Officers and Chief Petty Officers in the department would stand watches as Officer of the Deck or Junior Officer of the Deck underway and in port.
Why should there be a Corps of Naval Mariners? Is Command at Sea a speciality? How does an officer qualify for Command at Sea? How does he maintain proficiency? What is a Mariner? Are there Mariners in the Navy? Do we need them, if so how should we acquire them? Is a Mariner’s function primary or collateral? Who should command ships? Do naval officers seek to command ships?
Perhaps we might strengthen the Corps of Naval Mariners if we could provide an incentive to balance the incentives which attract officers to other corps and fields of specialization (extra compensation, extra shore duty, civilian job opportunities, or whatever they may be). I do not believe that money is the answer; we need an incentive that is unique, different from those offered by other corps. Perhaps the answer lies in promotion: not ultra-rapid promotion, but a slight advantage over the long haul. Suppose that (1) the proportion of flag officers in the Corps of Naval Mariners were slightly greater than in the other corps (2) no one may be promoted in another corps until his runningmate in the Corps of Naval Mariners has been selected or passed over (3) officers transferred from the Corps of Naval Mariners to another corps would not lose seniority. Since the Naval Mariner is doing what he likes to do and wants to do, I believe that these incentives are adequate, and the extra money (if any) is a secondary consideration.
The objective of this scheme is to provide unity of purpose within a commensurable field of endeavor for officers qualified (not just eligible) to Command at Sea. If the accomplishment of this objective would fill an existing need, then perhaps a problem does exist, and perhaps this or some related course of action may be a possible solution.
Fix USCO (PL 239, 83rd Congress)
Rear Admiral G. Van Deurs, U. S. Navy (Retired).—Only some ten per cent of the eligible officers swapped part of their retired pay for survivor’s annuities before the dead-line of USCO (Uniformed Services Contingency Option Act of 1953). Within a year some of these asked Congress to let them out of their bargain. About the same time an “engineering analysis” showed that in a typical case the law would require a 53-year old officer to authorize pay deductions valued by insurance tables at $12,600 to buy his 50- year old wife a deferred annuity computed from the same tables to be currently worth only $9,200. Another set of figures showed that the pay given up would buy this officer whole life insurance with a face value of $22,800. Life-expectancy calculations showed that the law’s annuity should be worth $19,200 when the officer died, but that by that time his same money could buy U. S. Savings Bonds with a maturity value of $29,500.
No matter how he figured it, the investigator found a poor deal for the retired man. He concluded that the government used heavily-weighted factors, in case only poor risks used the Act. He suggested changes along these lines.
(1) Since most poor risks got that way in government service, justice demands that the government, not the retired lists, carry the cost of unfavorable risk selection.
(2) Since an officer is paying a life annuity to buy one for his dependent, it is reasonable to use the same mortality tables on both lives.
(3) The actuarial factors should be derived from the most realistic, unweighted, mortality tables available.
(4) The interest rate should be at least 3%.
(5) The government should bear the costs of bureaucratic administration.
(6) The contributions from retired pay and the dependent’s annuity are both subject to federal income tax. One or both should be exempt.
All of these suggestions would tend to reduce the cost of the Act’s benefits. Their high cost, relative to their present worths, was the law’s chief draw-back. There was nothing wrong with its basic idea. If the benefits offered by PL 239 were made more competitive with other options open to retired people, and the retired lists given another period in which to accept such a revised proposition, the Act would undoubtedly be much more widely accepted. It might then assist a large number of veteran’s survivors as originally intended. All widows can’t work.