Comment and Discussion

The plan called for us to support the amphibious forces that would land west of Havana after we had completed our primary mission of destroying the missile sites. We sailed long before President John F. Kennedy's speech, and my notes say that we went under the guise of a hurricane alert. When I received the secret dispatch from Dennison that the President would speak that evening, I was sure he was going to order the attack. I had the aircraft loaded and the targets designated, but as we know, he didn't give the order. We stayed south of Cuba for 51 days, just in case things didn't go as the Soviets had said.

So we had an overwhelming force ready to invade Cuba quickly. I am sorry now we didn't, for I do not believe it would have resulted in a nuclear war. And there would be no Fidel Castro there today to give us all our headaches.

It is apparent from the forces he deployed that Kennedy was prepared to back up his demands. The Soviets obviously knew this. We cannot know whether Nikita Khrushchev really believed from his Vienna meeting with Kennedy that the President was a weak character. Some analysts allege that this was one of his reasons for starting the Cuban affair.

The media and the civilians preaching to the choir hailed this as a great American victory. It was a defeat, and a cheap success for the Soviets. They now have a satellite state practically on our borders. Many more such "victories" and we are in trouble. It was always a great wonder to me and others of my time why the President let George Anderson go as Chief of Naval Operations. Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense, was not much of a leader. When the history of our Vietnam involvement is written, I am sure this lack of leadership will be apparent as one cause of our defeat. It has taken years for the Defense Department and the armed services to recover from his tenure.


"No Right to Fight"

(See N. G. Golightly, pp. 46- 49, December 1987; R. M. Hixson, pp. 26-28, January 1988 Proceedings)

Commander Mary Anne Walker, U. S. Navy— Golightly has missed the mark! Women are an integral part of our armed forces. Should we ever see another world war, we will not have time to replace our female military personnel with men. In today's world of tactical and strategic weapons, where, realistically, are the parameters of the battlefield? We must accept the fact that women will become casualties. If we continue to insulate women from combat for the reasons Lieutenant Golightly suggests, we are simply fooling ourselves and the American people.

It's time that we got beyond the "toilets and sex" mentality in the armed forces and quit trying to assimilate women as a protected subclass, when the protection of our national security is our primary mission. If the "social lubricants" to which Golightly refers, such as vulgarity and other glandular activities, bond men (as if this is something to be proud of), then I, too, am concerned about how these qualities could tip the balance in a military engagement.

Captain George A. Bleyle, U. S. Naval Reserve— Lieutenant Golightly is right on the mark! It would be difficult to construct a better scenario for a complete breakdown of discipline, camaraderie, and self-sacrifice on the battlefield than to inject women into combat. This includes aircraft cockpits, tanks, rifle squads, ships, SEAL (sea-air-land) teams, and submarines.

This view has nothing whatsoever to do with whether a woman can run as fast, jump as high, climb a wall, or carry a field pack as well as a man. Nor does it imply that a woman is any less patriotic, loyal, or persevering than a man. Under the intense stress of combat, the biological, psychological, and emotional differences between men and women would rapidly deteriorate into jealousies, suspicions, favoritisms, emotional triangles, and self-serving protective behavior that would rapidly destroy the soldier's willingness to fight and sacrifice for his buddy.

A woman can be many things to a man-mother, wife, sister, friend, sweetheart, lover, or mistress. But she can never be a buddy! On the battlefield, soldiers rely upon the bonds of brotherhood to sustain them in the face of imminent death. Women are not part of that chemistry and never can be part of it. Try to imagine women at Normandy, Iwo Jima, or Okinawa!

Furthermore, a 19- or 20-year-old female corporal, seaman, or airman taken prisoner by the enemy is sure to be raped and abused in a manner that not even the most strident women's liberation protagonist would defend.

I cannot imagine women serving in combat under any circumstances. One can only hope that the services will continue to stand their ground firmly and resist this moronic idea, and that the courts, in the inevitable appeals, will hold fast.

Lieutenant Hugh Sage, U. S. Coast Guard— Lieutenant Golightly's article is too outrageous to go unanswered. I have served as a commanding officer and an executive officer in ashore tours and have spent extensive time under way in U. S. Navy ships. I have sailed with women in both Coast Guard and Navy ships.

Golightly has accurately portrayed sentiments I found prevalent in the wardrooms of the ten U. S. Navy ships in which I sailed in recent years. These ideas would be merely ludicrous were they not so widespread and their effect so detrimental to the Navy.

The article turns on the issue of "whether women and men can adapt emotionally to the socially radical step of fighting side-by-side." Golightly conjures up many "facts" to support his conclusion that they cannot. But his beliefs do not become facts just because he feels strongly. The fact is that contemporary American men and women have not fought together in prolonged, intense combat, and therefore there are no scientific studies on which to base a conclusion. He cites Karl von Clausewitz, apparently to create the illusion of legitimacy. But Clausewitz did not write on women in combat and was, of course, unfamiliar with social conditions of the late 20th-century United States. In the early 1970s, the police department for which I worked took "the socially radical step" of hiring its first women patrol officers. Many of the men issued the same fervent assertions of doom that I now hear from Navy men. The fears of my fellow patrolmen proved groundless. I cannot remember how many times my backup was a woman who got my butt out of a jam. Today there is no question that women are entitled to employment in this formerly all-male occupation.

In 1977, Admiral Owen Siler, then Commandant of the Coast Guard, first ordered women to our cutters. Again, I heard the wailing as women were forced on crews every bit as hostile as those for whom Golightly speaks. Women are now fully accepted members of Coast Guard crews, ready to go into combat with the men if that is the cutter's mission.

The two photographs of warriors that accompany Golightly's article depict a major change in our armed forces that we now take for granted. One photo is a World War II bomber crew. Every man is white. In 1948, President Harry Truman signed an executive order integrating the armed forces. The photo of modern machine gunners shows a black and a white working together. It was just as unthinkable to mix the races in a combat unit 45 years ago as it is today to mix the sexes.

Where are the enlightened leaders in today's Navy who will take a stand as did President Truman, Admiral Siler, or my chief of police and repudiate the archaic "facts" about human relationships? Obedient, resourceful people man the Navy. I am confident that when the order comes to integrate women into the crews of warships, Golightly and his fellows will say "aye, aye" and make it succeed.

Midshipman Third Class Douglas I. Hewitt, U. S. Navy —I can't say how happy I was to see an article addressing the taboo subject of women's roles in the U. S. military. "Taboo" is the best description of the way the Naval Academy treats the topic. Many midshipmen here at the Academy agree with Lieutenant Golightly, but will not say so, for fear of repercussions from the administration.

I can relate a great deal of Lieutenant Golightly's argument to what goes on here. For example, the spirit of cohesion and camaraderie gained from being a member of a group is weaker than it should be, principally because the Academy has double standards to accommodate women. One can understand, for example, the frustration a mid felt when, running the obstacle course, he confronted two walls—a big one for men and a little one for women. He wondered if the battlefield would offer such convenient obstacles. And then there was the time I saw a power lifter finish a mile-run test in six-and-a-half minutes, the slowest passing time for male midshipmen. His classmates cheered, and an onlooker commented, "If you were a woman that would be an 'A.'" But would the enemy rank a young woman over this powerful individual?

This double standard seriously injures the esprit de corps here. It is the things that one cannot document, however, that hurt most: the administration and faculty give women a benefit of the doubt that they would not give to their male comrades in arms.

Lieutenant Lori Melling, U. S. Navy, A-7 Pilot— It is difficult to believe that Proceedings would publish an article so reminiscent of the arguments used against integrating blacks into the ranks.

I can assure Golightly that there is no need to create "mil spec" tampons. As a female A-7 pilot who has transited the Pacific to Hawaii and frequently spends lengthy periods in the cockpit on long-range strikes, I can assure anyone who is concerned that normal female aviators (we have nine) do not have a problem in such an environment.

I have never been treated "with patronizing tolerance, as the unit's mascot," whether I was the only woman in my squadron or one of many. Our squadron shares the strong bond of camaraderie that comes from long hours away from home and from the challenging and difficult experiences we have been through together as pilot and wingman or pilot and electronic warfare officer. As long as commanders do not tolerate sexual fraternization, the presence of women does not degrade a unit's morale.

Cadet John R. Gentry (Midshipman Third Class, U. S. Naval Reserve) Virginia Military Institute— No matter how much researchers study the idea of male-female integration in combat forces and what the research reveals, the only way to find out how the idea would work is to try it. Going into battle with a controversial and untried composition of personnel (which promises no advantage over the old) would increase the risk of failure. This is one of the strongest arguments against the proposal.

In addition, the heated debate on the issue indicates that society—from which our warriors are drawn—is not ready to see women in combat. If Americans ever stop raising objections when the idea is suggested, then it may be acceptable and even wise to let women fight.


"Women in Ships: Can We Survive?"

(See R. Spillane, pp. 43- 46, July 1987; M. D. Maxwell, p. 22, September 1987; J. D. Sharpe, pp. 14-16, October 1987; K. B. Clark, p. 23, November 1987; T. Layman, p. 100, December 1987 Proceedings)

Dean Varner— It would appear that Lieutenant Spillane has a bit to learn about developing a thesis. I assume she wanted to demonstrate that female crew members should be retained in noncombatant ships and their use should be extended to combat ships. She won't convince many with her manner of approach. Instead, she composed a brilliant argument for keeping women off of all ships!

Her article makes me glad that I pulled my Navy service in the days when this sort of forced integration was not an issue. One of the most pleasant memories of Navy life that any seagoing sailor retains is the camaraderie that existed both in the enlisted spaces and in the wardroom. It saddens me to see my old Navy reduced to the status of a coed volleyball team.

Lieutenant Mark L. Gorenflo, U. S. Navy —Lieutenant Spillane's article on women in our Navy provides us with an example of the clear thinking and frank appraisal of the situation that is needed if women are to become more fully integrated into the fleet. In particular, her solutions to the problems, or pseudo-problems, of frequent medical visits and physical strength limitations are admirable for their simplicity and likely effectiveness. In other problem areas she identifies, however, Lieutenant Spillane either deals too briskly with the issues at hand or fails to confront them head on.

Concerning pregnancy: she correctly identifies the problem facing commanders of dual-gender ships and makes a game attempt at solving it. But I see several difficulties with her contractual solution. First, what about those female sailors who truly want to get out of the Navy and still see pregnancy as the means to do it? Would we give those sailors other than honorable discharges? Are we willing to defend ourselves against the charge that, far from defending motherhood, the U. S. Navy persecutes it? Second, what about those sailors who inadvertently get pregnant—be they married or single? Would they be considered to be in violation of their contract if they were then to have abortions? Does the Navy want to be seen to be encouraging or even demanding that its sailors have abortions—perhaps even performed at the Navy's expense—to abide by the terms of their contract? Finally, although the law of contract is not my forte, Lieutenant Spillane's proposal seems fraught with potential for litigation. In an era in which business is being pressured increasingly by courts and legislatures to be more solicitous of its pregnant employees, Lieutenant Spillane's contractual solution to a real Navy problem seems reactionary. I just don't consider it viable.

On the issues of fraternization and preferential treatment: Lieutenant Spillane's admirable candor fails her because she simply doesn't deal with the crux of the problem. She likens fraternization and preferential treatment to unauthorized absence and drug abuse and exhorts us to be as vigilant in the enforcement of one as of another. If only we could. In the cases of unauthorized absence and drug abuse, we have clear, unambiguous standards and simple, objective tools to aid us in their enforcement. In the area of fraternization, we have neither. It is no good saying that individual commands should issue a clear policy regarding the matter. If the authors of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, who are almost everywhere else pellucid in their elaboration of military offenses, could have been more specific about fraternization, they would have. In any case, Lieutenant Spillane should have indicated what she considers a model regulation to be. Would it countenance an executive officer dating a department head? Or a leading petty officer dating one of his or her seamen? Let me continue Lieutenant Spillane's admirable habit of frankness and deal with the really tough case: Male and female crewmembers, ashore and afloat, are going to engage in sexual activities. Nature will propel them and current sexual mores will encourage them. Such a situation poses a central threat to the concept of good order and discipline. How are we going to enforce a policy of fraternization that proscribes such activity without it turning into a witch hunt or consuming inordinate amounts of command energy? What is the use of any policy of fraternization that condones such activity? These are the questions that the Navy needs to address before it considers itself ready for a fully integrated fleet.

In her summation, Lieutenant Spillane turns to male and female socialization, a process that she believes can be reversed by society should it so choose. I am more skeptical about the functional equivalence of men and women. Giving little girls Tonka trucks and encouraging young women to pursue careers as engineers is not going to change the fact that only women can bear children, a fact that has inalienable physiological, emotional, and social consequences. Any well-ordered society concerned for its future will ensure that motherhood enjoys a special dispensation. The examples of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Dr. Sally Ride, while truly inspiring, are perhaps of little relevance in the Navy, where aggression, violence, and hierarchy (all characteristics derided by feminists as distressingly masculine) are our stock in trade, should war ever come.

In conclusion, it should be remembered that the Navy's job is to prepare for a war at sea, not to provide another battleground for the war between the sexes. With this in mind, there are three questions that require affirmative answers before the Navy can proceed with full sexual integration:

  • Do the American people want their daughters fighting at sea?
  • Can the integration of women be accomplished without prejudice to our wartime missions?
  • Willsuch an integration require inordinate amounts of command energy?

The first question is beyond the scope of Lieutenant Spillane's article. The second and third questions found worthy, if not perfect, responses in her article. More such clear thinking needs to be done before women can be welcomed as equals on board any ship in the fleet.


"The Decline of the U. S. Merchant Marine"

(See Seminar Repon, pp. 10-16, September 1987; P. J. Finneny, pp. 18-19, October 1987; A. D. Baker III, pp. 100-101, December 1987 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Commander J. T. Young, U. S. Navy (Retired)— I was especially interested in Vice Admiral Walter T. Piotti's, U. S. Navy, statement that 96% of the cargo shipped by the Military Sealift Command (MSC) is in U. S. bottoms and the other 4% is not shipped in U. S. bottoms because of required delivery dates or because U. S. flag shipping is not available.

There was an article in the American Shipper (October 1986) that contradicted Admiral Piotti. Rainbow Navigation Company apparently was not being used by the MSC because of political pressure from the Icelandic Government. Rainbow took the Navy to court and won. The Navy apparently has continued to avoid using Rainbow. Congresswoman Helen Bentley (R-MD) referred to this case at your seminar. The President of Rainbow Navigation, Mark Yonge, was quoted in American Shipper (September 1987) as saying that MSC has made it impossible for his line to make a profit. The same article refers to the "shabby treatment" the company has received from MSC. This case does not seem to confirm Admiral Piotti's stated support of the U. S. Merchant Marine.

I strongly agree with the comment made by Peter Finnerty that it would have been more beneficial to concentrate on the future of the U. S. Merchant Marine rather than on your panel's preoccupation with its problems. Perhaps the Naval Institute should schedule another seminar to address the Merchant Marine's future.


"New Aircraft Require New Thinking"

(See J. P. Etter, pp. 38- 39, November 1987 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Sherwell, U. S. Marine Corps— The MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft is the aircraft that will move the Marine Corps onto the battlefields of the future. It has designed-in features that will ensure that our Marines arrive safely to accomplish their mission. Crashworthiness, ballistic-protection, survivability, and ease of maintenance are all characteristics that were designed into the aircraft from the start.

The V-22 has not yet been built, and we are studying the best ways to use its impressive capabilities. However, tilt-rotor technology offers advantages that will help the Marine Corps to maintain its position as the premier force in readiness.

The Marine Corps completely supports the procurement and employment of the V-22, which is its number-one priority in equipment acquisition. The V-22 is a replacement for our medium-lift helicopters and a quantum step forward in combat capability.

Several of Major Etter's sources were cited incorrectly. Without a doubt, his conclusion was right on target, the Osprey will be successful because Marines will experiment with new ideas for employment. However, the methods he used to arrive at that conclusion are suspect.

For example, Major Etter stated the Army managed to lose more than 17,700 helicopters in Vietnam. The article he used as reference stated the losses ranged from 6,000 to 17,700. Major Etter chose to use the higher figure without qualification (other than a footnote notation). A report prepared by the Directorate of Information Operations, OASD (Comptroller), in October 1973, states that in Southeast Asia, between 1962 to 1973, the U. S. Army lost 4,32 1 aircraft, of which 2,246 were combat losses. In fact, total U. S. aircraft losses for the period equaled 8,588, a far cry from the alleged 17,700 helicopter losses.

Major Etter also misstates the relative size of the V-22, when he states that only 15 MV-22s will fit aboard a Tarawa- class(LHA-1) assault ship. Actually, 30 MV-22s can be spotted aboard the LHA-1, using seven operating spots (spread), 17 parking spots (folded), and six hangar deck spots (folded). Major Etter stated the size of the V-22 would adversely affect the size and selection of the landing zones used by the assault pilots. The V-22 is shorter than the CH-46 but it is considerably wider. The V-22 is about as wide as the CH-46 is long, so the landing zones will be the same as used for the CH-46, only the pilots will approach them from a different heading.

Major Etter misquotes Colonel (Jim) Creech's (U. S. Marine Corps, Retired) article in the Amphibious Warfare Review (Fall/Winter 1986). Nowhere in the article did Colonel Creech make the statement attributed to him by Major Etter. The point of the Colonel Creech's article was that "speed to counter the threat is not only a significant attribute but a positive requirement."

The V-22 is needed by the fleet, and it is needed now.


"The Inner-zone Achilles' Heel"

(See W . J. Conway, pp. 137-139, October 1987 Proceedings)

Commander William C. Vivian, U. S. Navy— I was glad to see someone expound on the antisubmarine helicopter mission, as even experienced naval officers are often confused about the capabilities of various Navy antisubmarine warfare (ASW) helicopters. (HS helicopters are, of course, the ones with the dipping sonars.) I was a little disappointed, however, to see from this article that some squadrons still see a conflict between their plane guard and ASW missions. Having spent 15 years in HS squadrons flying multi-sensor helicopters in a multi-mission role, I can empathize with Commander Conway's concern that the Navy is not exploiting HS squadrons as the valuable ASW assets they are.

When I left my last squadron a couple of years ago and started flying desks, I thought the helicopter community had established that plane guard and ASW missions need not be mutually exclusive. An HS plane guard helicopter can pursue a number of useful ASW tactics while it drones around the aircraft carrier waiting for that thankfully rare flight-deck occurrence that calls for rescue work. The easiest is magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) search. The pilots and crew simply continue flying their pattern and monitoring the plane-guard radio frequencies while searching or training with MAD. The crew also can conduct search or training with sonobuoys—their own or those another aircraft has put in the water. They can perform dipping sonar operations between the carrier's launch and recovery cycles. Imaginative flight crews have often conducted these and other ASW procedures while flying a plane guard pattern; not one of them de grades their rescue-response time.

This combining of the ASW and plane guard missions is not new. We used it successfully in two fleet HS squadrons with which I served and it resulted in better trained crews, a stronger sense of mission within the squadron, and increased readiness for our primary mission of ASW. Our air wing commanders and captains recognized the importance of our ASW mission, supported our approach of piggybacking our tasks, and respected our diligence.

Why limit HS assets to flying plane guard when they could be practicing ASW—a mission the Chief of Naval Operations has emphasized as an important one? When HS plane guard helicopters do nothing but fly around in a starboard delta pattern and listen to the radio during carrier flight operations, they're wasting their flying time and reducing their ASW readiness. Plane guard duty is a great place to do ASW.


"Topfish: Tactics First"

(See W. F. Hoeft, pp. 82-89, October 1987 Proceedings)

"A Call to Combined Arms"

(See D. W. Hearding, pp. 114-120, October 1987; E. C. McDonough, p. 20, January 1988 Proceedings)

"Melee Warfare"

(See D. I. Nylen, pp. 56-64, October 1987 Proceedings)

Lieutenant J . K. Morrow, U. S. Navy— These prize-winning essays by active-duty submariners collectively underscore the need to change the submarine's role in the maritime strategy or the way submariners prepare to fulfill that role. Clearly, backing down on our commitment to NATO and the Free World is not an option. The burgeoning national deficit and the budget austerity Gramm-Rudman forces upon us preclude the United States from seeking numerical parity in submarines with the Soviet Union. Lieutenant Hoeft's call for renewed emphasis on tactical proficiency and Commander Hearding's suggestion that we form a standing antisubmarine warfare squadron have the most merit. Both suggestions yield maximum gains for minimum bucks.

U. S. Navy and Department of Defense planners who embrace the status quo and place their bets solely on the Seawolf (SSN-21)jeopardize the submariner's chances for victory in any future undersea war. The need for change is clear, and the success of the maritime strategy depends on it.


"The Grunt's Eye View"

(See R. S. Moore, pp. 28-32, November 1987 Proceedings)

Midshipman First Class Francisco M. Ball, U. S. Navy —Captain Moore's essay was very informative, especially to a future Marine officer. There is no doubt that he is right in saying that those unsung heroes—Marine infantrymen—will continue to be the backbone of the Corps. But Captain Moore makes another point that I really find hard to accept.

Sure, the male ego is essential in combat, but the Corps also prizes its reputation for being well disciplined. Any Marine grunt who is a "hard-drinking, brawling woman chaser" is hardly well disciplined. The Marine Corps must stop putting this label on its grunts. We cannot expect our Marines to be disciplined on the battlefield if we cannot demand that they be disciplined on the town. There is no reason why a Marine cannot be both a warrior and a gentleman.


"The Surface Navy is Not Ready"

(See J. L. Byron, pp. 34-40, December 1987; and R. R. Nebicker, pp. 16-20, January 1988 Proceedings)

Lieutenant Commander James G. Stavridis, U. S. Navy— Captain Byron has badly missed the mark. Much of what he says was accurate ten years ago, but the renaissance in the surface Navy has made us ready—and we are proving it now at sea.

First, let's get the USS Stark (FFG-31) issue out of the way. It is unfair and wrong to postulate the readiness of an entire warfare community based on the performance of a single warship. In the context of Captain Byron's article, I see the Stark incident as nothing more than anecdotal evidence. We will learn many lessons from the Stark, but I don't think it is possible to make such broad generalizations about the community based on one incident.

Second, Captain Byron exhorts us to use standard operating procedures (SOPs) and train for combat. We do. About ten years ago, we did not do them as well, but we have made enormous strides since then. A few specifics:

  • Surface Warfare Officer School (SWOS): Today, the school provides a more continuous pipeline of training than any school serving any other community. Our youngsters attend a SWO course for nearly six months, then attend a maximum of another several months of training for their specific warfighting billet. We then send our warriors back through six-to-nine month training sessions prior to their department head tours, and often send them to refresher schools while on board ship. Similar training is required prior to both executive officer and commanding officer tours. Regarding quality at the Surface Warfare School itself: a quick look at the strong credentials of the instructors, the post-school assignments of the instructors, and the flag selection rate for the school's commanding officers all show that only top quality SWOs are assigned to our pipeline.
  • Standard Operating Procedures: Captain Byron hasn't looked at enough ships to conclude that the surface Navy doesn't use SOPs in combat scenarios. We use SOPs not only in the engineering and nuclear weapons world, but also in warfighting applications. The use of SOPs in combat training is pushed by the Fleet Training Groups and all the warfighting schools' commands. As far back as 1976, I lived and died by antisubmarine warfare (ASW) checklists in fighting submarines.

Third, the argument that submariners and aviators "get killed" if they are not ready and that surface warriors do not is misleading. Certainly, surface warriors assigned to combatants are likely to die without proper readiness in a combat situation. The speed of an anti-air warfare (AA W) problem facing a surface ship is faster than anything facing a submariner. I agree that in peacetime operations, aviators and submariners face a higher degree of risk. This is properly recognized through specialty pay. Captain Byron is mixing apples and oranges, i.e. peacetime and combat, in his argument.

Captain Byron is also off the mark in his assessment that SWOs are cut from a different cloth, inferior to that of submariners and aviators—different yes, inferior no. My belief is that as a young midshipman sizes up the three communities, he sees different life-styles and career patterns and makes a choice. I think the advent of Aegis cruisers and destroyers, Tomahawk missiles, and new ASW systems have closed the "glamor gap" between the communities.

Surface warriors might not be as "book smart" in engineering as submariners, nor quite as flamboyant as aviators, but then most decisions about service selection have less to do with perceptions of professional status than with life-style and career pattern.

Captain Byron is familiar with a different surface Navy than the one in which I proudly serve. I agree that the surface Navy faces the most complex task by far in fighting up, out, and down; often simultaneously; however, the majority of our warships are ready to do exactly that. Persian Gulf operations reveal a surface Navy facing a vast array of challenges day by day, and meeting them well. And while many of our surface warships were in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, many others were deployed throughout the world, successfully undertaking missions with great success. My contemporaries and seniors can stand up with anyone in the Navy in terms of combat readiness and technical knowledge—and especially esprit de corps.

Of course, there is room for improvement in the surface community as there is in each of the warfare communities. I would like to tour Captain Byron through a few more surface warships than I think he has seen recently, and perhaps he would feel less certain that "surface ship readiness, normally untested and wanting when tried, is the major issue facing the Navy today."

I agree that we need to end the isolation of the surface Navy. The more we serve together, the better we will fight together. I think the surface Navy has much to offer submariners and aviators to improve their levels of readiness in a wide range of areas from propulsion engineering to combat training. These ideas are exchanged daily by afloat staffs, in officers' clubs, and throughout the fleet. We should conduct more mutual training. My belief is that the benefits will be spread equally among all three of our warfare communities, as we work together in the Navy that belongs to us all.

Lieutenant Gary D. Pash, U. S. Navy— While Captain Byron's article was pertinent and to the point, it would have been more useful to examine cures for the surface readiness malaise than to examine the symptoms.

We need modem training scenarios. Captain Byron states, "The surface force has become too much of a peacetime Navy." A surface warfare officer (SWO) trains in a wartime scenario, not the shadow area between war and peace that seems to be the status quo. Tactical action officers can fight a full-fledged battle, but are trained not to make decisions before a hostile act is committed. We need to train in the grey areas, as well.

We also require training with realistic platforms. Annual missile and torpedo firings are so canned and perfunctory that they constitute little more than firing circuit checks, and nobody even keeps score. Often we are unable to train realistically, except for naval gunfire support, because we fear something will happen to the target. How many times has an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) officer heard about the submarine with a Mk-46 torpedo through the sail? The opportunities to operate against another platform are limited by fuel economy measures, as well as availability of air and subsurface platforms. Combat Systems Readiness Trainers' scenarios are not frequent enough to provide all SWOs first-hand experience, while naval tactical games do not require real-time response.

In addition to the academic and physical requirements, the length of the initial training, and the major financial inducements, the surface Navy also has to contend with those who were not good enough to be selected for their first training choice-aviator or submariner. Some of these officers develop into good SWOs, but others lack moxie or motivation. Much time is spent bringing mediocre officers up to an acceptable standard. As a result, the superior performers are left on their own and are tasked with extra nonoperational collateral duties because the command knows they can handle them. If a SWO is unable to make the grade he is often offloaded on a staff, punished by having his duties redistributed or sent to a shore billet.

Captain Byron does not address the amount of paperwork required in the various communities. When then-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman advocated a reduction of paperwork to allow warfare specialists to spend more time on their assignments, he was responding to the aviators' situation. Compared to a surface ship, however, an aviation squadron has more aviators available to share in the administrative workload and collateral duties.

Commander Rue O'Neill, U. S. Navy (Retired)— Captain Byron rang an oldbell in his article concerning surface Navy readiness. Having made the step from submarines to surface ships almost 40 years ago, I recognize signs that indicate things have not improved.

My first rude awakening came when I was assigned as commanding officer, to recommission a World War II destroyer. My previous experience in this regard had been the reverse process—the shipyard overhaul and decommissioning of a submarine, as commanding officer. I had the wholehearted support of all hands, from the type commander on down; in getting things accomplished. Thanks to this type of operation, the boat was laid up in top condition.

My first sight of the destroyer was a real shock. From a distance, the peeling rust preventative made the ship appear as though she had an advanced case of leprosy. Things did not get better. Paperwork was in shambles. Spares and movable equipment were almost nonexistent. It also became apparent that any problems were to be mine to solve. I had to go so far as to refuse to get the ship under way for trials at the scheduled time because there was not one section of fire hose on board. This got me some hose on loan from the local fire department until the ship's allowance arrived.

I complained verbally to the type commander's representative about the ship's many deficiencies as commissioning time approached. Not to worry, I was told, just commission the ship and bring her to San Diego and the tender will fix the discrepancies. I agreed, based upon my experience with the submarine. Upon arrival in San Diego, I was given a two-week tender availability, and submitted my discrepancy list. In answer, I received a formal letter from the type commander reminding me that U.S. Navy Regulations did not require me to accept the ship if I was not satisfied with her condition.

Then we received orders to the East Coast to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for modernization—new superstructure, new secondary battery, the whole works. As the overhaul period drew to a close, it was apparent the yard would not finish the job. This was not the fault of the yard, but of the schedule.

I discussed the problem with the type commander's representative. By now I thought I had learned the rules. Referencing the proper regulation, and with the shipyard commander's concurrence, I reported by dispatch to the type commander that the ship would never be ready by the scheduled date. Back came the answer: negative on an extension. Reason: operational commitments would not permit. Operational commitments existed for a ship with no secondary battery or sonar in operational condition? The routine was the same, though: come to Newport, and the tender will fix it. After the tender failed, I informed the Chief of Naval Operations that the ship was not ready as a result of the incomplete installation. The next morning, I was under way to Philadelphia for an open-ended stay, and the installation was completed. This, of course, caused some excitement at the type commander's headquarters—but why was it necessary, unless the name of the game was "cover up problems?"

This would have ended the story except for one final blow. It seems that my nice shiny new three-inch, rapid-fire mounts had amplidyne drives in train and elevation. Because of some manufacturer's poor quality control procedures (I found out after leaving the ship), the amplidyne drives exhibited only a two-minute mean time between failure. "Failure" consisted of the armature winding burning up. It was not a matter of simply replacing a circuit board; even with 100% spares, we certainly could not be considered ready for tour. And what was the type commander's solution to this problem? Simple. Don't turn them on except in an emergency. So, off we went on a six-month tour with the Sixth Fleet carrier force, declared "fully ready" by "competent" authority, and on the lookout for any two-minute wars that might break out.

A few years later, as executive officer of a light cruiser, I was discussing this experience with the ship's captain, who had also been in submarines. To him the answer was clear. Submarines expect performance; the surface Navy expects conformance. Is this what Captain Byron is saying about today's Navy?



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23 February - Seminar

Sat, 2019-02-23

David F. Winkler

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Sun, 2019-03-03

Stephen A. Bourque

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