Comment and Discussion

After reading the article, my wife, a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve and a Carlton alumnus (as is Commander Fliegel), said, "Carlton strikes again!"

As a Marine Corps officer, I am eagerly awaiting the day when I can serve with Commander Fliegel in the amphibs!

Commander Tim Terry, U.S. Naval Reserve— Only a single-dimensional clod could seriously regard Lieutenant Commander Fliegel's experiences and performance as recounted by him in his delightful essay as "non-career-enhancing." In a Machiavellian sense, Fliegel may have pulled off the ultimate coup: (a) he obviously had a riotous time and enjoyed every minute of his tour; and (b) by the very process of relating his experience he managed to be published (ten solid pages worth) in the Proceedings. If Fliegel's reporting senior does not make proper note of this fact in his fitness report, he (the reporting senior) ought to be keel-hauled.

The Navy needs more officers like Commander Fliegel; and if he isn't wearing scrambled eggs soon, something is sorely amiss. He stands in happy contrast to those stolid yet, sadly, ubiquitous careerist functionaries whose ranks are overly numerous. Officers possessed of wit, charm, imagination, panache, and class are always in too short supply.

Hooray for you, Commander Fliegel, and may your tribe increase!

 

"The Current Fitness Report: Howgozit?"

(See W. T. Pendley, pp. 101-102, March 1977; R. E. Hauck, p. 90, July 1977; A. R. Shapack, pp. 66-68, August 1977 Proceedings)

Captain Frank B. Shemanski, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, Fleet Training Center, San Diego— The old Navy

Fitness Report lent itself to frankness and honesty on the part of reporting seniors, who, not being required to show their product to the man involved, could "tell it like it was." The only way an officer could peruse his jacket was to travel to Washington at his own expense to closet himself in that infamous room at BuPers.

Of course, aviators, being more mobile than others of the line, could get to Washington more often and were the precursors of today's rampant reporting inflation, courtesy of Admiral Zumwalt's insistence that young officers be shown, and be allowed to purchase by mail, copies of their past fitness reports.

Charged with the responsibility of increasing officer retention during an unpopular war, reporting seniors took the easy way out and began to bunch up their officers at the left-hand side of the new OCR (optical character reader) machine readable form, which contained an additional subtle psychological impetus to do just that.

Whoever the decision-maker was who determined that A-B-C should be used as OCR symbols to accommodate the computer that would read the face of our new report forms should be demoted for his total ignorance of the basic rudiments of behavioral science.

A-B-C grading elicits visceral reactions from anyone who has gone through the U.S. educational system. "A" is outstanding but not extraordinary; "B" is acceptable; "C" is a barely passing grade which won't get you into college; "D" is a borderline flunk; and "E," "F," and "G," are absolutely unthinkable.

With these ideas firmly imbedded in the minds and the psyches of young officers, how on earth was a commanding officer going to show a promising young officer his E or his F report and then try and convince him that he has a future in the U.S. Navy?

The answer was, and is, that the typical commanding officer couldn't, and didn't, and thus the Navy joined its sister services in the adoption of a reporting system which is useless as a personnel management tool and is dangerous in its implications.

There is a pecking order of assignments in the Navy. Priorities have to be set so that the most important and demanding tasks get assigned to those most likely (on the basis of past performance and demonstrated potential) to carry them out successfully.

Outstanding performance in any assignment used to result in more demanding and, incidentally, career-enhancing assignments in the future.

Some of those who were assigned to jobs high in the pecking order of assignments fell on their faces and failed to perform well. Their reporting seniors accurately described their failures as well as their successes.

Now, the tendency is to reward mediocrity routinely, so that once receiving an assignment which is high in the pecking order, one is assured of a 1% or 5% evaluation, whether deserved or not, and the man "on track" continues his surge to the stars, although actually disappointing in his performance.

The young hard charger/late bloomer who started in a less advantageous (non-career enhancing) assignment is precluded from breaking out of the pack and getting a career-enhancing assignment, because when everyone is in the top 1% or 5%, the man in the higher pecking order job will always win in comparison with his competitor.

We have lost even the hope or expectation of upward mobility, of reward for effort and accomplishment, and have abrogated our responsibilities as reporting seniors. Performance is no longer the most meaningful criterion.

The assignment people now have the whole load, and it is patently too much for them to handle.

At the time of the Cat Futch (the young lady who gained instant fame by dancing on the diving plane of a nuclear sub) incident, a Navy spokesman blurted out an incredible statistic as to the number of commanding officers who had been relieved for cause over the preceding two years, but it is indicative of the fact that we have lost our ability to tell the good guys from the bad guys and that is an indictment which must be faced now.

To return sanity to the officer evaluation system, I strongly recommend that: (1) the OCR reporting form with its "abba dabba do" symbology be consigned to the trash can; (2) the old green or magenta fitness reporting form be resurrected and returned to immediate usage; (3) the practice of recommending accelerated promotion and rating the recommendees 1 thru 5 etc. be abandoned; (4) the practice of routinely showing fitness reports to young officers be stopped; (5) the mail purchase of past fitness reports be stopped; and (6) all reporting seniors be encouraged, in the privacy of their cabins, to accurately describe the capabilities and limitations, the accomplishments and failures, and the potential or lack of it demonstrated by their subordinates. Counseling, yes; semi-public report cards, no!

The BuPers computer should not be allowed within 1,000 yards of a fitness report. The computer's insatiable and inflexible demand for data, which is quantifiable but not qualitative, makes it a uniquely inappropriate instrument for judging men. God can judge men and so can other men (imperfectly), but judgments are properly expressed in words and not in numbers and data bits. Computers are useful for inventorying spare parts and doing mathematical calculations, but they cannot judge men.

Judgments are pronounced in words, and the selection boards should be required to read the words that reporting seniors have labored over. If there are no nouns and verbs in the verbiage, but only strings of mushy adjectives and adverbs, the board members can dismiss the puffery and select those officers who do things and can get things done.

"Nobody ever erected a monument to a man who had sense enough to leave well enough alone." But, there ace times when a small step backward can lead to a great leap forward. If we don't reform our fitness reporting system now, by going back to a system that worked reasonably well in the past, I don't see how we are going to succeed in the tasks that lie before us.

 

"The F-18"

(See H. L. Halleland , pp, 123-127, October 1976 Proceedings)

"The Single-Seat Cockpit and the NFO"

(See P. W. Chapman, p. 82, January 1977 Proceedings)

Lieutenant (junior grade) William G. Garvey, U.S. Navy— As an E-2C Hawkeye crewman responsible for the early detection of airborne antiship weapons, I have a more than passing interest in the fighter aircraft I will be controlling in the future. The F/A-18 Hornet, so eloquently described by Captain Halleland, sounds like a true fighter pilot's aircraft-small, swift, and maneuverable. It will undoubtedly be a fun jet to fly. Despite this potential for amusement, the Navy had best remember that the lightweight fighter was forced on us and is not the aircraft for the job at hand. Its only virtue, as stated by the CNO, is that it is cheap. Economy is an important consideration, but a weapon system must be judged by its mission capability. When viewed in this light the F-18, in both the fighter and attack versions, offers a marginal advancement, at best, over the aircraft it is programmed to replace.

The primary mission of a ship-borne fighter is co protect the CV. That fact has been obscured by our Vietnam experiences. We had best remember that North Vietnam had no navy or antiship missiles co threaten the carriers. The worldwide proliferation of Russian-built antiship missiles and their launchers will most likely preclude similar circumstances in the future. Our CVs will be threatened, and it will be the responsibility of the fighters to fend off the attacks.

The "worst case scenario" will involve us with a power which has based its anticarrier tactics on the massive application of antiship missiles. Fighter squadrons will be tasked with shooting down the airborne platforms before they get within launching range or, failing that, to attempt to shoot down the antiship missiles. These fighters will have co use missiles in order to attack the launchers at the greatest possible range from the task force. They will rarely get the chance to use guns. The next generation of fighters will have little opportunity for "hassling" but many for intercepting.

The F-18 is not a good interceptor. It is incapable of the semi-autonomous operations routinely flown by F-14s. The F-18's short-range radar and lack of passive detection capability will necessitate close control from a shipboard or airborne intercept controller. In spite of the increased range of Soviet air-co-surface missiles (ASMs), the F-18 is armed with the old, short-range Sparrow, the same weapon carried by the F-4 which the F-18 is supposed to replace. In fact, it carries four Sparrows, while the F-4 has the capability of lifting six. The F-18's small fuel load will keep it from being stationed far enough from the carrier to engage subsonic strike aircraft; it will be forced to counter supersonic antiship missiles. The Russians have the ability to fire large numbers of antiship missiles from a strike group within a matter of minutes. The F-18 can lock up and shoot only one at a time. In theory, one F-14 can engage and destroy six incoming antiship missiles simultaneously; it will require six F-18s to do the same job. A CAP (combat air patrol) station manned by two F-18s cannot be expected to account for more than two missiles in a strike. Given the Soviet capability to saturate a target, the F-18 is clearly a less than adequate addition to our defenses.

The F-18 in its attack version, the A-18, is also a mediocre performer and, in at least one respect, inferior to the A-7. It may be slightly more maneuverable than the A-7, but with the growing sophistication and number of Russian-built surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), in particular those with electro-optical devices, survivability depends less on physical tactics than "black box" countermeasures. New boxes can be fitted onto existing A-7s, as well as being built into the A-18. A major drawback to the A-18 is its weapon load, a grand total of 13,700 pounds. The single-engined, smaller, and cheaper A-7 carries 19,940 pounds. The A-18 offers a marginal increase in maneuverability and a marked decrease in payload. It's little wonder that the light attack community is not singing the praises of this aircraft.

Why then is the Navy reconciled to, and even pleased with, the selection of the F-18? The answer is that the naval air forces and their support activities are largely staffed by exfighter pilots who yearn for the days of snappy, single-seat jets. Day fighters were well suited to the requirements of the early 1950s but are totally unsuited for the present threat. We aren't going to hassle with antiship missiles; we're going to shoot them down with missiles at the greatest range possible from the CVs. The F-18 can't do that, but the "fighter lobby" is so enchanted by the acrobatic potential of the aircraft that the mission has been forgotten. Instead of extolling the virtues of the F-18, we should be sounding a warning for our carrier defenses. It won't do any good to have half the airwing playing Red Baron while the carrier is sinking.

 

Geography, Strategy, and SALT

Rear Admiral George H. Miller, U.S. Navy (Retired), Director of the U.S. Navy Office for Strategic Offensive and Defensive Systems, 1967-1971— Government officials issue weapon statistics reassuring Americans of nuclear superiority. Many officials feel a need to be publicly optimistic just to hold on to their jobs. President Carter in his first news conference took time to reassure the public of U.S. nuclear superiority. He based his reassurance on weapon counts, and on an estimate that the present U .S. nuclear arsenal could destroy the Soviet Union before Soviet weapons could kill the United States.

But, the U.S. Constitution says that a primary purpose of government is to Comment and Discussion 83 "provide for the common defense." The question is what kind of nuclear strategy can provide for the common defense. Does the present instant retaliation strategy, for example, which poses a clear and present danger to the survival of others, actually provide for the common defense? Moreover, weapon counting is not the only, nor perhaps even the most important, factor determining relative nuclear strength. Other factors include vehicle characteristics, their survivability and payload, and the type and location of the launchers.

For example, to what extent does the present U.S. nuclear posture endanger the people, cities, industries, and the natural environment of the United States itself? It is common knowledge that Soviet missiles aimed at U.S.-based missile and bomber bases would destroy huge segments of the United States—the people, the cities, the industries, and the natural environment. The nuclear retaliators refer to such destruction as "collateral damage." But in a strategy oriented toward the common defense, such damage would be the major, rather than the collateral, concern of U.S. officials charged with providing for the common defense.

How does geography fit into the nuclear equation? Napoleon said that terrain is everything. Every army field commander understands the importance of battlefield terrain. History contains innumerable accounts of armies defeating more heavily-armed opponents through better use of battlefield geography.

Just as battlefield geography affects the outcome of land battles, so also do world geographic factors affect the outcome of nuclear warfare. Yet, few discussions of relative nuclear strength even mention geographical considerations. Many Pentagon officials, in fact, still cling to the slogan invented by the instant retaliators of a: generation ago that "in view of modern technology, geography is no longer important."

But geography in an era of Intercontinental nuclear weapons is even more important than it was in earlier times of open land battles. Indeed, the United States has ignored the geography of nuclear strategy to its peril, as a few illustrations will show.

The Navy's Strategic Offensive and Defensive Systems Office conducted a continuing study of U .S. nuclear strategy from the standpoint of "providing for the common defense." In addition to participating in the Defense Department weapon analysis process, we analyzed the geographical factors affecting U .S. and Soviet nuclear strategy. Some of our conclusions are outlined here.

The Soviet Union contains 8.6 million square statute miles of sovereign territory. By contrast, Continental United States, including Alaska, contains only 3 .6 million square miles, little more than one-third of the Soviet-controlled land area. Looking across the North Pole from Moscow, an observer will note that U.S. territory covers only about 330 or 9% of the total 3600 -Soviet geographical, or defense, perimeter. The Soviets therefore have more Soviet-controlled area of the earth over which to disperse their missile and bomber bases, in relation to their population and urban-industrial areas, than does the United States. The geographical disparities consequently favor the Soviet Union in any nuclear offense/defense interaction. For example, Soviet nuclear attacks on installations in U.S. territory would tend to inflict more overall damage on U.S. military installations, and urban-industrial areas as well, than would a comparable U.S. attack on an equal number of Soviet military installations.

Moreover, U.S. nuclear missiles are located in a relatively small area of the Western United States, and nuclear bomber bases are located throughout the land. Fallout from a Soviet nuclear attack on U.S. missile bases would drift over the heavily-populated Eastern United States. Fallout from a U. S. attack on Soviet missile bases in Siberia would drift away from heavily-populated Soviet areas, again toward the United States, as fallout from recent Chinese nuclear tests showed. With so many nuclear missile and bomber bases crowded into the relatively small U.S. land area, hazarding U.S. population and urban-industrial areas, the Soviet nuclear-targeting problem, in comparison to that of the U. S., is somewhat comparable to shooting fish in a barrel.

To equalize the Soviet superiority in land geography, the U. S. should reserve about five million (8.6 minus 3.6) square miles of adjacent sea area for deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons. For example, by deploying a large percentage of U. S. nuclear weapons in the Northwest Atlantic; attacks against them would not create fallout that would drift over U.S.-populated and industrial areas. The fact that U.S. territory occupies only 9% of the Soviet defense perimeter also dictates that a far greater percentage of U .S. missiles and bombers should be based outside U. S. territory. The U.S. SALT I negotiators apparently ignored the foregoing geographical disparities when they agreed that the Soviet Union could have more nuclear missiles at sea than the U.S.

Every U.S.-Soviet agreement restricting use of the seas equally on both sides increases the advantageous effect of the Soviet superiority in land area. For example, the U.S.-Soviet agreement in the early Seventies to ban use of the seabed for deployment of nuclear weapons gives the Soviets a permanent advantage over the U.S. in geographical area of the earth available for deployment of nuclear weapons. The United States should therefore seek comparability with the Soviets in geographical area available for deployment of nuclear weapons, and defensive systems as well. One option would be to reserve five million square miles of adjacent sea areas as a U.S. defense zone to compensate for Soviet superiority in land area.

On the defensive side, the majority of U. S. people and industries is located within a few hundred miles of the seacoast. The majority of Soviet populations and industries is located over a thousand miles inland from the seacoast. Soviet land-based air and missile defenses therefore have a considerable defense-in-depth advantage over U.S. land-based air and missile defenses. For example, the Soviets can provide a 360° defense-in-depth around Moscow with land-based weapons. The United States, with Canada to the north and the Atlantic

Ocean to the east, can provide a comparable defense-in-depth of Washington, D.C., only against unlikely attacks from the south and west. Without a missile defense network in the Northwestern Atlantic and Northeastern Pacific, any nation is now free to move nuclear and non-nuclear missiles to within range of major U.S. population and industrial centers. The U.S. SALT I negotiators apparently ignored the foregoing geographic disparities when they agreed to ban all sea-based ballistic missile defense weapons.

Mr. Ralph Kinney Bennett, in the February 1977 Reader's Digest article, "The Missile the Russians Fear Most," wrote: "The Soviets then repeatedly violated SALT I to catch up technologically, secretly testing and upgrading 1000 existing antiaircraft launchers to an anti-ballistic-missile capability."

The United States knew years ago that certain air defense sites in the Soviet Union were geographically positioned for defense against ballistic missiles. If the United States is to defend Washington, D.C. against ballistic missile attack to the same degree the Soviets can now defend Moscow, a substantial portion of the U.S. defensive network must be based in the Eastern Atlantic.

In 1969, the Navy Strategic Systems Office proposed a U.S. position for SALT essentially as follows: "Seek agreement on a phased reduction in nuclear bombs and warheads, with each side retaining the option to vary the land-sea mix of nuclear offensive and defensive weapons according to its own geography."

The White House National Security staff eliminated the option to sea-base ballistic missile defense weapons, and the U.S. negotiating team apparently ignored any further consideration of geography. Yet, when one factors in the geographical disparities, as any strategist must, the Soviets clearly now have even greater nuclear superiority over the United States than a mere weapon count might indicate.

The history of warfare shows that when weapons are developed and manufactured they are eventually used. The present practice of so-called civilized superpowers aiming thousands of megatons of nuclear weaponry at one another poses a clear and present danger to the survivability of both, and provides for the common defense of neither.

The new Administration, in its concern for the people's right to know, has an opportunity to shift the focus of nuclear strategy discussion from weapon counting to "providing for the common defense." It is time Americans became more involved in the state of the common defense. U.S. defense strategists must learn to appraise through the eyes of potential opponents the effect various U .S. nuclear strategies will have on opponents' plans, programs, and thinking.

The U.S. geographical strengths which U.S. negotiators bartered away in SALT I need to be restored. For example, to enable the United States to exercise its fundamental right of self-defense, the present SALT agreement limiting defense against nuclear attack to land installations should be modified to include the option of sea-basing defense weapons within agreed overall limits. The geographical space provided by U.S. sea frontiers can provide the defense-in-depth essential to the common defense. Any future agreement with the Soviets should give the United States the option of sea-basing more nuclear offensive weapons, as well as defensive weapons, to the extent necessary to compensate for the Soviet superiority in land area.

 

"The Military Union Card"

(See P.R. Schearz, pp. 25-31, June 1977 Proceedings)

Commander Leon Y. Wald, U.S. Coast Guard— There have been many articles deploring the state of the armed forces and the dire consequences pending should the members be allowed to join a union. Suppose we make a semantic change and substitute the phrase, "Association of Military Personnel;" would that make it more palatable to the prophets of doom?

Captain Schratz's fine article assured individuals in the armed forces that the Members of Congress, except for a few aberrants, are on our side. The recent congressional action authorizing withholding state taxes from military paychecks hardly seems to be in our best interests. Similarly, I cannot find it in my heart to rejoice over the restrictions on selling unused leave back to the government; and who dreamed up that gimmick of saved leave balance? Civil Service employees get 52 weekends off per year that are not included in their annual leave; but if a serviceman takes leave on Monday or Friday it counts as three days if he did not have the duty on that Saturday and Sunday. Finally, Captain Schratz applauded the Survivors Benefit Plan, but were he to retire now, he would find that over $150 would be extracted from his pay each month until he died, then when his widow became finally eligible for Social Security, the amount of Social Security would be deducted from her military pension-another good deal.

I think there would be some definite benefits for the military members of an association (union). The fitness report for officers would become more objective and not an avenue for witticism. Congressman Aspin and others would not take cheap shots at the military with impunity. The commissaries would not be threatened. The military exchange would become more responsive to the military needs. There would be adequate housing for the military. Junior officers and enlisted personnel would not be transferred to Washington, D.C., or Chicago, or St. Louis and dumped on the economy to forage for their own room and board.

In short, a strong voice could respond to inequities with a good chance of being heard.

 

"Is Military Unionization An Idea Whose Time Has Come?"

(See J. E. Kane, G. C. Reynolds, A. R. Thorgerson, and J. Gordon, pp. 36-44, November 1976, and pp. 24-28, December 1976; E. J. Ohlert, p. 75, and C. E. Burns, pp. 82-83, March 1977; R. S. Mathews, R. W. Noland, and S. H. Edwards, pp. 76-79, April 1977; W. S. Hoffman, p. 92, June 1977; R. J. Bayer, p. 68, August 1977 Proceedings )

Lieutenant Peter A. Young, U.S. Navy —The authors are to be commended on their careful analysis of the European military union experiences, and on their identification and analysis of the dominant forces at work in the union issue among our own armed forces. After study of the current "non-union" system of no direct representation and some of the eventualities of a unionized system, they rightly conclude that the best course of action should not depend upon either of the two alternatives.

At that point, however, the authors fall into the same trap that unfortunately seems to be claiming most of our senior policy-makers, military and civilian alike: addressing only the issue of "full unionization," a system that might involve collective bargaining over all issues and at all levels of command.

Further, their proposed solution to the problem—a civilian "regency board"—seems to be unworkable and unrealistic, and fails to take on the root causes of pro-union sentiment within the military. After pointing out the strong potential for lowered morale and polarization within units that could result when "third-party" negotiation is employed over "in-house" methods, the authors go on to propose establishing just such a third-party agency.

The authors state that their solution would not compromise the established chain of command. I believe that any third-party negotiating body—be it regency board or trade union—would severely weaken the chain of command at all levels. An agency such as that proposed would operate outside command channels, just as a labor union would. In addition, it would often face the dilemma of representing both sides in a dispute; could it be counted on to favor the wishes of its elected constituency over the imperatives of budgetary or executive pressure?

Could a President hope to establish the regency board in the face of certain heavy opposition from organized labor? Could Congress assume anything but an adversary role with such an agency? Would the CNO and other service chiefs be able to deal in confidence with the same group of negotiators who might someday bypass or oppose them in other matters? Would the service secretaries wish to face the same problem?

Even if these situational problems could be overcome, my primary objection to this course of action lies in its abandonment of the chain of command as the fundamental organizational structure in the military. Any solution to the unionization problem which does not rely upon the established lines of communication up and down must lead eventually to the same conflicts and compromise of authority that unionization itself portends.

There can be no "one-shot" solution to this thorny and complex problem. Pro-union pressures within the military did not build up suddenly, but instead grew gradually and as a result of many diverse issues. Certainly they will not be relieved by any single statement or policy change. Careful, concerted effort within the military organization is necessary. The heart of any successful solution must lie in strengthening and confirming the lines of communication and authority inherent in the chain of command. Dilution or preemption of command authority and responsibility would be counterproductive.

This sort of effort will have to be accompanied by a more realistic attitude on the part of military and civilian leaders toward the motives of the unions themselves. Policy statements by these individuals to date have only pointed out that full unionization of the armed forces would be nothing short of disastrous. Certainly the image of a commanding officer negotiating with a shop steward over battle orders or operational plans is "unthinkable." But there was a time when the idea of women taking on combat or command roles was just as unthinkable. Many European nations have found that some forms of limited union-style activity within the military are incontrovertible realities. Such activity is certainly not "unthinkable" to those U.S. labor union organizers who are taking positive, determined steps toward representation of active and reserve military personnel.

It is time to stop thinking of unionization of the armed forces as an all-or-nothing proposition. Waiting for some external action, such as Congressional prohibition, to "cure" the problem is pure folly. We should be investigating methods for dealing with varying degrees of in-service union activity, and looking for procedures and policies to limit and control the power of organized labor within the military. The risks of unpreparedness are simply too great.

People in the military do not necessarily want a union per se. What is needed is some form of active, effective representation, a voice in the decisions that affect daily working and living conditions. Pro-union sentiment within the service is a manifestation of the collective question, "Who will speak for me?" As it stands, only the labor unions have taken positive steps to answer that question. The allegiance of our armed services personnel may go to the unions by default. At the least, organized labor might gain an unshakable foothold in the military that would serve as the basis for further expansion as the timing seems right. It is time for someone else besides the unions to take the offensive in a positive and realistic manner.

If I may be permitted to paraphrase Captain Holland's words ("Command at Sea-the Ultimate Specialty") in your December, 1976, issue: we must, not look outward for solutions to problems but inward, to ourselves. These efforts must start at the top, but they must be sustained throughout all levels of the service. In the final analysis, we all will have to face the consequences of inaction. No one agency or organization will do the job for us.

 

"A Time for Victories"

(See J. A. Culver. pp. 50-56. February 1977 Proceedings)

"The Last Triple Expander"

(See J. C. Kraft. pp. 58-67. February 1977 Proceedings)

Commander H.L. Holthaus , U. S. Navy, former executive officer, USS Belmont (AGTR-4 )—In this age of fleet modernization following the retirement of most World War II-vintage ships, the number of those on active duty with memories of duty in a Victory or Liberty ship is limited. Both of these articles are valuable reminders of the usefulness of the Liberties and the Victories, past and present.

The "Liberty" article referred pictorially to the USS Georgetown (AGTR-2). However, there is more to be said about the Navy's experiment with seaborne intelligence. Most of what the general public, and the naval community as well, knows of this effort is limited to what was published as a result of the USS Liberty (AGTR-5) and the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) being lost from service due to foreign intervention. Aside from the questions of political and professional judgments that were made at the time of each crisis, there are other footnotes to this chapter of naval history worth associating with a discussion on the usefulness of converted merchant hulls.

Within the commissioned ranks of this program were eight ships, three AGERs and five AGTRs. At least two other similar platforms were operated by the Military Sealift Command. Three ex-Army AKL hulls were selected for the AGER conversion. Although they were intended to resemble ordinary coastal freighters, and therefore not attract attention, their cover and subsequent advantages remained only as the figment of a planner's imagination. Envisioned in the planning for the conversion of these hulls was the concept that the AKL hull could be structurally converted under the AKL designation and then the special electronic package attached thereto, making it an AGER.

An uncoordinated "program" to select, convert, and operate these ships became the subject of considerable comment after the capture of the Pueblo and continued until the Palm Beach (AGER-3) was decommissioned in December 1969. The Banner (AGER-1) was the most successful ship of the program, having escaped major international controversy and deployed more or less successfully in the intended area of operations.

Three of the AGTRs, the Oxford (AGTR-1) and Jamestown (AGTR-3) in addition to the Georgetown, were Liberty hulls capable of making 11 knots. The Belmont (AGTR-4) and the Liberty were converted from Victory hulls and capable of 18 knots. Although both hull conversions proved to be seaworthy and capable of extended overseas deployment, the slow speed operationally stereotyped the three Liberty-hull AGTRs to those missions that could be fulfilled by steaming at a slow station speed with a minimum of transits. The Victory hull conversion, with a greater speed, provided the United States with two multi-purpose intelligence ships.

The Belmont and the Liberty were converted concurrently at the Willamette Iron and Steel Company, Portland, Oregon. The Belmont was commissioned in November 1964; her twin in January 1965. The Liberty's career was brief and dramatic, ending in 1967 when damaged beyond economical repair by Israeli attack. In October 1969, the Belmont, on her eighth deployment, was operating at a sustained speed of 18 knots "with" the Soviet helicopter carrier Moskva and other Soviet ships in the Mediterranean Sea, when she took a "policy torpedo" from Washington and was recalled to Portsmouth, Virginia to join her sister. Her January 1970 decommissioning marked the end of the nation's brief experiment with seaborne intelligence using AGERs and AGTRs. Parenthetically, within the hour, the President's former flagship, the USS Northampton (CC-1), became the next casualty of a changing C3-command, control, and communications-policy as the tugs eased her into "warm" berth.

The AGTRs were equipped with an interesting communications capability dubbed as the TRSSCOM (technical research ship special communications system). Simply put, this system was a precursor of our present-day satellite communication systems and allowed these ships, from their remote areas of operation, to bounce radio transmissions off the moon to earth stations. Many technicians learned how to use the Nautical Almanac or Air Almanac to determine when the ship and the earth station were both looking at the moon at the same time.

These ships contributed another episode to history after the near sinking of the Liberty made the arming of intelligence ships a high priority exercise. Extra guns were located and sent to individual ships, leaving to each commanding officer and his crew such decisions as where, for example, to install guns and ammunition lockers, and how to write and implement training doctrine and operating procedures.

Likewise, the Pueblo's tragic end provoked official attention to the need of providing each intelligence ship with a capability to destroy, on command decision, all of her classified documents and equipment. Further: the need to scuttle a ship quickly was moved to the front burner. Official sanction to carry incendiary and explosive devices on board was obtained. The Naval Weapons Test Center, China Lake, California, was tasked to quickly rig a primitive self-destruct arrangement on all intelligence ships. Once installed, GQ included a rapid abandon ship drill in tandem with a countdown to "melt" everything that was classified and blow a series of holes out of the ship at waterline level. Repel boarders drills were also commonplace, notwithstanding the fact that the freeboard of the AGTR was high enough to reduce any real danger from boarders. The AGER literally had no freeboard and was therefore easy prey.

The Belmont took an innovative approach to the problem of destroying classified documents by locating two unused roll stabilization tanks in the bowels of the ship directly beneath the intelligence spaces. Ship's personnel then designed and built a giant incinerator in these tanks that was easily accessible in a crisis situation and large enough to accommodate all the ship's classified material, and then some. Ventilation and heat localization measures were also devised using the port kingpost forward of the bridge as an auxiliary stack. The effort cost $50. Additionally, commercial equipment was leased to completely microfilm all the ship's publications and administrative records. As a result, very little classified material was retained in hard copy form upon reporting to the Mediterranean for the subsequent deployment.

There was a time for Victories in the seaborne intelligence role and that hull could be used again with a high degree of success. However, the recommended 'way-to-go' in the future is to place the requirement and its full implementation under the aegis of an officially designated program manager who has complete coordination control of hull design, equipment, and all personnel. Otherwise we will again flounder as a result of compartmented planning and create the same hostile environment and vagaries of responsibility that contributed to our intelligence paranoia of the Sixties.

 

"The Trouble With Alliances…"

(See T. H. Etzold, pp. 46-53, March 1977 Proceedings)

"The Specialized Character of NATO"

(See J. L. McClane, Jr. , pp. 18-23; S. W. Emery, Jr., pp. 34-40; and D.R. Burnett, pp. 90-91; all April 1977 Proceedings)

Raymond J. Barrett— NATO is not a joining of national interests across the board. Each member is going to react—even to alliance matters—in terms of its own set of concerns. NATO behavior, as Dr. Etzold points out, is normal, not unusual. The differences in emphasis among the allies are not going to end. And the alliance is not going to be strengthened by trying to get it involved in other concerns . The members will be polite and talk about topics such as earthquakes, city planning, and similar matters. But that effort has gone nowhere. It does not reflect the key reason for the alliance.

So, let's look at the area of agreement—the true keystone of the alliance. It is to keep the Soviets from attacking, which is not the same as fighting the Soviets. And this subtle point is the source of much difficulty between the United States and our European allies. They are polite—again—and talk our language, but they don't really mean what they say.

We can talk about fighting the U.S.S.R., but it's not our soil nor population. But any penetration by the Soviets past the present dividing line hits the people and social fabric of one of our allies. No government can simply accept the possibility that a part of its people can be "written off."

Europeans, thus, think in terms of an alliance structured to prevent attack. The key to this is the American nuclear capability. No serious attack on Western Europe could remain conventional for any length of time. As noted, our allies simply could not accept the traumatic impact on their people. The only "constructive" alternative would be a defense using nuclear weapons—and early, so they landed on "enemy" and not on "friendly" soil.

This line of reasoning does not mean that nuclear weapons will be used. It means they are the only logical response if there were a Soviet attack, and, thus, leads to the conclusion that the Soviets can also see this logic, and therefore would not attack. This line of thought fits exactly the European reason for NATO: to prevent an attack, not to fight one. It leads to overriding concern to maintain the U.S. physical commitment in Europe. It causes great nervousness when the United States and U.S.S.R. get together to talk about nuclear weapons. And it produces limited concern about maintaining conventional forces.

The lessons of all this for the United States are several. What's crucial is our nuclear capability in Europe. But we do not need large conventional forces there; the level of U.S. forces in Europe could be lowered greatly. To do this let's first stop wasting so much effort on trying to get our allies to build up their conventional forces. Let's use our energies instead to reinforce the existing European perception to explain and prepare the way for reducing our forces. And, lastly, let's understand, once and for all, the limited nature of participation in NATO; let's stop expecting our allies there to support us 100% in other matters and not be disconcerted when they pursue their own interests.

Lieutenant Commander Thomas B. Grassey, U.S. Naval Reserve —I have reread the 1977 Prize Essay hoping to find what is not there: original thinking, perceptive insight, sensitive analysis, or a bold recommendation on some topic of professional interest. The essay is disappointingly pedestrian; its body is a preponderantly factual description of NATO history and organizational structure which compares poorly with four paragraphs in the 1977 World Almanac.

There were, however, some surprises about this Prize Essay: the topics left out. For instance, there was no analysis of how realistic a "nonnuclear" NATO-Warsaw Pact war scenario is. Not one single factual entry on NATO equipment or readiness. No hint of the Helsinki Agreement, balanced mutual force reduction discussions·, or the possible impact of SALT on NATO's future. There was a brief acknowledgment of Greek-Turkish disputes, but nothing about Iceland-U.K. "cod wars," the future of Spain in European defense, sensitivities about German fingers on nuclear weapons, or member nations' conflicting positions on Israeli-Arab hostility. No helpful insight on the important problem of how to create and sustain a modern, complementary Allied naval force; no discussion of NATO's Standing Naval Force; nothing about the assumptions or lessons of recent NATO maritime exercises. Not a jot of information on levels or trends in budgetary commitments by member nations; little awareness of current European views and policies; and—most regrettably—barely a rudimentary appreciation of real-world dilemmas in carving up finite national budgets. In fact there wasn't even the slightest practical advice to the presumed audience, those "advocates who will raise their voices and fight for naval force levels adequate to maintain the alliance's credibility."

Compare the Prize Essay with Lieutenant Emery's "Civilian-Manned Support Ships: A View From The Fleet." Notice the significant, controversial topics raised in the latter article. Because Emery was so politely informative, some of his points may warrant little flags for attention. For example: bunches of motley-looking long-hairs with beards, wearing khaki cutoffs and rugby shirts, are manning former U.S. Navy ships and are greatly outperforming their Navy predecessors and present-day fleet counterparts. (Hmm!) Crews are much smaller, with better living conditions for each man, and they get paid more (Aha!)—but the total cost is lower, retention and individual satisfaction are higher, and crew members actually enjoy their work (how can anyone enjoy UnReps?). They are not commanded by an aviation four-striper (uh oh!), and they do not stand military inspections (What! No AdMats? That's unpatriotic!). They have stable crews (oooh…) which for all I know might include women as navigators or welders ("Combat effectiveness shot to hell!" D.R. Burnett); and they belong to not one but three or four unions (oh Lord…) which cannot strike. (Strike?!)

Now, whether such rosy reports tell the whole story is not my point. What is important is this: Emery's article is conspicuously better written, far more informative, and much richer in controversial implications than Captain McClane's paper. And when an article about a small part of the Military Sealift Command is that much more professionally valuable than an essay on NATO, many people have to wonder on what criteria the latter was chosen as this year's Prize Essay.

 

"Guardians of Sea Power"

(See R. P. Beebe, pp. 27-33, June 1960; C. H. Amme, J. W. Campbell, T. Roff, pp. 108-111, September 1960; A. J. Hodgdon, p. 88, January 1977 Proceedings)

Captain Paul Schratz, U.S. Navy (Retired)— The reason civilian study groups, panels, and commissions often fail to include in their findings "any real appreciation of the role of sea power in supporting the national interest" is that Navy participants, flag officers through ensigns, are generally incoherent in explaining what a Navy is all about. The Kissinger Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, it is true, showed little knowledge of the Navy, because only the Army and Air Force fellows at Harvard at the time of its writing were articulate in presenting a service position. When the Navy decides some day that postgraduate education is good for its brighter officers, then perhaps we can have naval spokesmen who do the same.

There is no conspiracy among civilians to isolate seagoing naval officers who "have the 'feel' for doctrine which is not available to land-lubbers." Rubbish! Find me a naval officer who has an idea he can call his own and the market will come to his door—or his sea cabin. The Navy is its own worst enemy in making a case for itself. Only those who are blind need find their way by "feel."

The Brookings "job" on "our beloved Marine Corps" was written by a retired military officer (Air Force). It was reviewed in draft, chapter by chapter, by Headquarters, Marine Corps staff personnel and Pentagon officers, and overall by a former Commandant, General Wallace M. Greene. Neither General Greene nor the present Commandant objected substantively to the findings; they just preferred that the study not be published. Following the collapse of the U.S. position in Southeast Asia and increased tension in the Middle East, it is true that the Marine Corps' Pacific-oriented strategy and doctrine were in many ways inappropriate for its more likely future challenge in the Middle East . If Commander Hodgdon would read the Marine Corps study closely, he would realize why both the Corps HQ and DoD found it necessary to take a critical look at precisely the ideas presented.

The Brookings Defense Studies staff is dominated by specialists with military service or Center for Naval Analysis experience. In addition, active military officers serve at Brookings (and many similar organizations) as Federal Executive Fellows. All are highly capable officers, but is it significant that the educational qualifications of the naval officers are normally inferior to those of the other services? Have you noticed that Navy students at the senior war colleges are less well qualified than Army and Air Force students? Or that fewer Navy graduates of the war colleges make admiral, and for each one who fails to be selected for flag rank we lose seven years of active service which these officers could have contributed had they been selected?

 

"Surface Warfare Officers: The Need for Professionalism"

(See R. J. Hart, pp. 38-44, June 1976; J. C. Van Slyke, p. 91, October 1976; E. D. Brady, T. C. Nickols, H. C. George, and M. R. Mannarino, pp. 74-76, November 1976 Proceedings)

"The Surface Forces"

(See R. S. Salzer, pp. 25-35, November 1976; J. J. Shanahan and P. Shepherd, pp. 75-78, March 1977; D. R. Stefferund , p. 84; April 1977 Proceedings)

Ensign Jim Stavridis, U. S. Navy— Every training program the Navy supports, be it for aviation, nuclear power, civil engineering, or surface line, is allocated a certain amount of funding. Every one of these training programs pours the vast majority of its funds into its neophytes after they complete their source program and come clutching commission and diploma in hand, ready to learn their lessons. Every program, that is, except surface line.

The problem here is essentially one of historical perspective. Ever since men have been going down to the sea in ships, if you will, the idea has been that the source programs for U.S. naval officers gave them all the skills they would need. The buzz phrase was "the immediately employable ensign." This concept worked passingly well for a number of years. Unfortunately, a funny thing happened on the way to the Severities.

"The increasing complexity of the surface Navy has pushed the demands we place on junior officers beyond the capabilities of the traditional source program curriculum," comments Commander Bob Reimann, Officer-in-Charge of the Surface Warfare Officer School (SWOs) San Diego Detachment. Indeed, one by one, the Navy's officer source programs have owned up to the fact of this complexity, and have passed their blessings on the SWOS curriculum, with its 16-week intensive surface line training course.

Certainly, training for the surface line officer, similar to the intensive programs enjoyed by other communities, is here to stay. Feedback resulting from the performances of SWOS graduates, accelerated qualifications of officers completing the program, and the endorsements of the various source programs have ensured the permanence of this training. After a difficult birthing, however, comes the time to reflect upon the character of the infant. Not accompanied by the arrival of any stars in the East, SWOS has been engaged in a series of struggles to ensure adequate funding. And this brings us full circle, to an examination of the allocation of funds to various training programs.

When the Navy decides that a man is going to be a pilot, no limitations are placed upon the training he undergoes. All necessary training craft, facilities, and instruction are provided after the source program. The "Naval Academy of the Air," with all the financial largess that this phrase implies, shows the neophyte pilot everything necessary, taking nothing for granted as having been taught at the source program.

Admiral H. G. Rickover, with his aggressive nuclear power program, trains his students on prototypes strung across the country like a necklace of neutrons. Each six months in a "hands on" environment is preceded by six months of training in nuclear physics. It doesn't matter if a man's major in college was nuclear physics or animal husbandry; the source program simply isn't the location where the nuclear training dollars are spent.

The Surface Warfare Officer School, providing, in the words of Commander Reimann, "a beautiful continuum of training in the surface line officer's career pattern," is a viable training program now. The staff is experienced and enthusiastic. The present facilities, underway minesweepers, and bridge and combat simulators are good. The students are impressed, and each, no matter his source program, is in the process of learning or at least reviewing the skills essential to his rapidly approaching debut as a ship handler. Decidedly, however, not all is sweetness and light.

Instead of enjoying the superb facilities and seemingly overwhelming funding provided the other pipelines, the surface line officer who will one day drive ships of the most powerful naval force on the earth makes do with facilities that, while good and useful, take a second seat to those offered at one source program. A perfect example of this "source program fixation" is the yard patrol (YP) fleet of the Naval Academy. Seldom taken full advantage of by midshipmen, these destroyer mockups are relegated to light duty at Annapolis. They would make immensely valuable training platforms for the SWOS school. The increased CIC capabilities, the more realistic communication circuits, and the more true-to-life, sea-keeping characteristics combine to make the YP a perfect training device for the SWOS student. Leaving these boats at Annapolis, is like shoving Shakespeare's Complete Works into the hands of a 10-year-old, since the midshipmen in general have neither the inclination nor the skill levels necessary to use these craft.

Another example of this financial flow to the source programs is the simulator facility at the Naval Academy. Never understood or well-utilized by the large cross-section of aviators, Marines, CEC, or nuclear power-types, (and yes, Virginia, even some of the surface liners) that constitutes the brigade of midshipmen, these complex and realistic trainers are virtually wasted. Again, the Navy training program philosophy for the surface Navy seems to insist on lavish funding and facilities at the source level, where little or no specialty knowledge is imparted to the new officer. Picture the image: after four years of trying to sandwich training between standard academic subjects, some social life, a varsity sport, and all-important membership in the scuba club (or whatever), the surface line ensign graduates. Now he is left to look stupidly over his shoulder, mooning over the facilities he never quite managed to figure out. His counterparts in nuclear power, air, CEC, and the Marine Corps trip happily away, able to learn all they need at their post-source program training facilities. The surface officer sighs, picks up copies of Dutton's and the Watch Officer's Guide down at the Naval Institute book store, and starts digging.

All this is not to say that SWOS facilities are inadequate. They are certainly far from that, as stated earlier. Yet, seen through the eyes of the incoming surface ensign, his community is training him on comparatively less glamorous platforms. New buildings, fleets of training craft, and gleaming simulators are the trappings that can be functional, realistic morale-builders for the surface community. The recognition of the complexity of the surface environment must be accompanied by a willingness to foster pride, morale, and high training standards.

Additional funding to SWOS is the opportunity to improve this scenario. Much money is spent at source programs, where perhaps 35-40% of the graduates will eventually go to surface line. If even a small portion of this funding were made available to the SWOS program, the quality of the institution would be much enhanced, to say nothing of the fresh ensign's peace of mind.

Surface line cannot manufacture overnight the training it needs, like Popeye squeezing his vitality out of a can of spinach. Funding and facilities, applied after the source program, are the keys to meeting the increased complexity and training necessary for the surface line Navy.

 

"The Navy Gets Bad Press: And For Good Reason"

(See D. F. Buckley, p. 84, September 1976; L. J. Huffman, p. 87, January 1977 Proceedings)

Rear Admiral J. O. Kinert, U.S. Navy (Retired)— Messrs. Buckley and Huffman should be commended for their interest in and concern for the Navy's public relations problems. Their obvious qualifications and experience should merit serious consideration of their constructive suggestions at the highest Navy Department levels.

Despite good intentions and quite monumental efforts, it has been my impression that the effectiveness of the Navy's public relations program leaves much to be desired.

As a line officer in various staff and command assignments I did my best to arrange and facilitate media coverage of newsworthy events. My success in these efforts varied widely. When the events included Billy Graham or a few hundred Explorer Scouts meeting for a "Career Day Program" the response was gratifying. Many purely naval events were either ignored or given what seemed to me to be rather cavalier treatment. A station fire quite understandably got full coverage.

The enormous flood of "home town news" has a worthy objective, but I always wonder what percentage of it gets into print. Of the portion that gets published, what percentage carries any really effective message about the Navy?

I haven't really seen much of the Navy on television lately. Catastrophies seem to occupy most of the TV news time devoted to the Navy. It has been a long time since the last rerun of "Victory at Sea."

I read Direction— the Navy Public Affairs Magazine—with interest and hope that an early issue will indicate that Messrs. Buckley and Huffman's suggestions are being implemented.

 

"Cinderella Carriers"

(See R. L. Evans and F. L. Palmer, pp. 52-63, August 1976; B. Wall, pp. 94-95, October 1976; L. P. Zeola, p. 88, December 1976; D. C. Hume, p. 81, January 1977 Proceedings)

Paul Geller— During World War II, I was in the U. S. Army Air Corps. In November 1944, about 200 of us were trucked from Hamilton Field, California, to Naval Air Station Alameda. There was my first sight of the Admiralty Islands (CVE-99), with her flight deck crammed full of Army fighter aircraft—each plane enclosed in a plastic covering for protection against the elements. We then embarked for the voyage across the Pacific.

On 2 November 1944, the Admiralty Islands cleared the Golden Gate and, without escort, headed out to sea. Army personnel were berthed on the hangar deck, and, in a relatively short time, we became accustomed to the ship's routine.

After an uneventful 19 days at sea, the green-clad mountains of New Guinea appeared on the horizon. In due course the ship entered the harbor at Finschhafen, reached her assigned berth, and the voyage ended.

I assumed, at the time, the order would then be given for us to disembark. What we received instead was the order for all Army personnel to report to the flight deck. Upon reaching the flight deck, we were informed that before we could disembark, we were to peel off the protective coating from each aircraft. This chore accomplished, we finally left the ship and stepped onto the soil of New Guinea.

 

 
 

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