We welcome brief comments on material published in the Proceedings and also brief discussion items on topics of naval, maritime, or military interest for possible publication on these pages. A primary purpose of the Proceedings is to provide a place where ideas of importance to the Sea Services can be exchanged. The Institute pays an honorarium to the author of each comment or discussion item published in the Proceedings.
(See April 1990 Proceedings)
H. J. Lindenbaum—Your choice for the April cover of a Greenpeace rubber boat harassing the USS Constellation (CV-64) was extremely poor. The picture itself may have photographic merit, but its propaganda value should not be given free space on the Proceedings cover.
Photo Contest Winners
(See pp. 65–80, April 1990 Proceedings)
Commander E. K. Williams, U.S. Navy (Retired), ex-naval aviation pilot—I feel the utmost urgency to reply to the decision of your selection committee in announcing the winners of the annual photo contest. It is beyond my wildest dreams that the members of this committee would select two jet aircraft and a tall sailing ship at anchor over the photo of a sailor and his lady as they embrace on page 71.
For the male members on the panel, I would pinch them to see if they are still alive; for the female panel members, I would question their judgment in not picking one of their peers when such beauty is apparent.
“The Path to Tactical Superiority”
(See P.W. Siegrist. pp. 40–43, April 1990 Proceedings)
Commander Marc D. Goldberg, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, USS Newport News (SSN-750)—Lieutenant Siegrist’s article suggests that the submarine force pay more attention to tactical superiority. Like safety and leadership, one can hardly argue against more tactical superiority. However, Lieutenant Siegrist missed the mark by proposing that the Navy separate the career development of officers assigned to nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) and nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).
Having served as executive officer of an SSBN and now as commanding officer of an SSN, my views differ from Lieutenant Siegrist’s on the tactical capabilities of these platforms. Granted, their missions are different, but not their pursuit of tactical excellence. As Rear Admiral Holland, U.S. Navy (Retired), pointed out (See “The Navy’s Case,” February 1990 Proceedings), SSBN crews yield no tactical advantage to their SSN counterparts and, in spite of their older generation fire control systems, often prevail when pitted against each other in attack trainers. Although we usually think of SSBN tactics as defensive, they are powerful forces and can take care of themselves—even in the face of the most advanced Soviet threat.
The average submarine junior officer spends about three years on his first boat. The SSBN officer enjoys two weeks of advanced tactics training each off-crew while the SSN officer spends his in-port period managing an upkeep, standing duty, and performing a variety of other jobs. The SSN officer is lucky if he can get two days of tactics trainer sessions in the corresponding time period. While at sea, the installed sonar/fire control system on the SSBN provides more capability for training the crew tactically than does the SSN. For the SSBN commanding officer who takes advantage of this onboard capacity, the results are a highly capable and tactically oriented crew.
Limiting a submarine officer’s experience either to an SSN or to an SSBN is counterproductive. The cross-pollination between the two mission areas is essential. There is a great deal of common ground between the two platforms, and each learns important lessons from the other.
Although the U.S. acoustic advantage has been trimmed by recent Soviet developments, it is incorrect to assume that U.S. tactical superiority also has eroded. The U.S. submarine force has improved dramatically because of the Soviet trend toward quieter submarines. It is also incorrect to label the SSBN force as tactically inferior to the SSN force and thus isolate the SSBN force in the name of improving overall SSN tactical superiority. If I were a Soviet commanding officer, I would not relish the thought of taking on any U.S. submarine, no matter what the age or designation.
In the final analysis, the ultimate measure of any warship’s capability is how well she can fight with the weapon systems she carries. The commanding officer bears the burden of how well his ship performs tactically. His real challenge in peacetime is placing priorities on the many requirements of the ship and crew, all of which must get done, so that the tactical training of the junior officers is preeminent.
“The Six-Year Service Obligation”
(See M. Amedick, p. 23, March 1990 Proceedings)
Lieutenant (junior grade) Paul Walker, U.S. Navy—Lieutenant Amedick raises a number of inadequate points in his argument.
First, it cannot be proved that the increase in the minimum service requirement from five to six years starting with the class of 1996 will “diminish the number of qualified candidates for appointment,” as Lieutenant Amedick postulates. It would seem that the requisite motivation for attending the Academy obviously was not present if the candidate’s decision could be swayed by the requirement to serve one additional year. Therefore, while the numbers of qualified applicants will remain the same, the actual number of those accepting will decrease slightly. But those who accept will probably be more motivated and committed toward a service career, which should lead to a lower rate of attrition. This means that graduating classes should have roughly the same numbers of midshipmen (assuming that the class sizes remain at their current level in the face of looming cuts in the defense budget).
Second, in discussing why the number of qualified applicants would decrease. Lieutenant Amedick says, “Congress should not require 17-year-olds to make commitments lasting until they are 28.” He forgets that this is already occurring under the present five-year commitment system. Naval Academy graduates who choose aviation do not begin their obligation until they earn wings, which happens anywhere from 18 months to 2 years after commissioning. The service obligation for aviation selectees has already been raised regardless of the commissioning source. Currently, it is seven years for jet selectees and six for all others, and there is talk of increasing it to eight years across the board for all naval aviators.
Third, one must look at the cost of academy training. To say that “the cost of academy training has not risen relative to the costs of private colleges” borders on the ridiculous. If the cost of a comparable education at a civilian institution rises, the worth of an academy degree also rises. It does not seem out of line to get what amounts to a three-for-two payback from a service academy graduate.
Fourth, military preparedness and morale is the question that the six-year service obligation seeks to answer. Extending the obligation of service academy graduates to six years should produce more career-oriented graduates. The mission of the service academies is, after all, to prepare the cadet or midshipman for a career in service. Obviously, not everyone is going to get his first choice upon graduation and therefore may not like what he is doing. Also, just because a person gets his or her first choice does not guarantee that he will enjoy doing it. But in the services—unlike the civilian world—one knows that his job may be changed.
The important thing that the service academies should impart to their graduates is to do the best job possible, no matter what the job—especially knowing that change will come in two to three years. This ability to perform one’s best, no matter what the circumstances, is the mark of a professional officer corps, which is what the academies strive to produce. Service academy graduates with a six-year commitment will form the core of a smaller, more professional officer corps.
“The Next Assault Amphibian”
(See J.H. Alexander, pp. 38–43, November 1989; T.J. McKeamey, pp. 19–20, March 1990 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Colonel R.E. Dietmeier, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)—Commander McKeamey’s comments relating to Colonel Alexander’s article hit a raw nerve. In 1986, when I was the head of the Amphibian Vehicle Test Branch at Camp Pendleton, California, the offer of cooperation was extended to the landing craft air cushion (LCAC) community as ACU-5 stood up for operations. Interest was expressed in testing the delivery of the assault amphibian by the LCAC either to the beach or to a point seaward of the beach where the amphibian assault vehicle (AAVs) could be debarked and swim to the beach. The response was that an operation evaluation was underway, and the LCAC community did not want to muddy the water with another issue to be tested.
So we waited, and we are still waiting for answers to some significant questions relating to this proposal.
First, how many amphibians can be carried on the LCAC? Numbers provided vary from one to three amphibians. In the case of a load of two or three amphibians, these answers do not address center-of-balance situations that will occur as the first amphibian departs the LCAC in the seaward launch of assault amphibians.
Second, how much do the assault amphibians weigh? Testing was conducted at Panama City, however the amphibians on loan from a Marine Corps Reserve organization were unloaded and did not have the most recent vehicle modifications. The difference between a 42,400-pound amphibian and a vehicle weighing 10,000 to 12,000 pounds more may be significant for the LCAC. A load of three assault amphibians with embarked infantry will exceed the 75-ton overload limit and may exceed 80 tons, depending on configuration. Downloading fuel to 24,000 pounds to accommodate an 80-ton load of amphibians would probably reduce the running time of the LCAC to 2.85 hours and require refueling after the first sortie to the beach.
Third, do the amphibians depart the stern or the bow of the LCAC? If the answer is the stern, then a modification to the LCAC is required. If they depart the bow of the LCAC, how does the LCAC respond in each situation where the load is one, two, or three amphibians as each amphibian departs? Since the departure of each vehicle will change the resulting load balance, does the LCAC experience difficulty staying upright?
Fourth, if the amphibians are preloaded on the LCAC, when does this occur? The typical employment of the amphibians in a unit of 10 to 12 vehicles is to land one infantry company. Therefore the best configuration is 4 LCACs carrying 12 amphibians. This load could be accommodated on amphibious ships, particularly the new LSD-41-class.
What happens if the load can only be 2 amphibians, which would then require 6 LCACs? Or the extreme situation where only 1 amphibian is carried, requiring 10 to 12 LCACs? Presuming that one of these configurations can be accomplished, where do the infantry ride? Since the LCAC has a limit of 24 passengers, and the amphibians will very likely have an individual load of 18 Marines, a total of 54 Marines could require shelter. Where do the 30 Marines in excess of the LCAC passenger spaces ride? If all the Marines stay in the amphibians, how do we keep them dry?
Fifth, what is the impact on subsequent lift requirements going to the beach? OH 7-15, Employment of Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) in Amphibious Operations, postulates an approximate turnaround time of 110 minutes after the initial wave for a 24-mile launch. That means that the heavy hardware—tanks or, artillery—or the reconnaissance assets will land nearly two hours after the amphibian-infantry force hits the beach. Once the LCAC makes its run ashore, the beach area will be compromised. Maneuver should begin immediately; there is not time to wait for the arrival of a second or third wave by LCAC.
Perhaps we should field enough LCACs to lift all the assets at once, but then, how much would additional LCACs and additional amphibious ships cost?
Sixth, where is this hypothetical area where there is no enemy, where we plan to insert a Marine landing force on a tactical combat mission using LCACs and CH-53 helicopters with external vehicular loads? If the threat requires an assault launched from over the horizon, will that threat not be observable to any other operations? I suggest that most areas where the enemy is not located are places where we, too, do not want to go. Most objectives that you find significant will also be significant to the enemy.
Intelligence may or may not be able to tell you where the enemy is, so one should go prepared to engage this hypothetical enemy.
It may be unclear to Commander McKearney that the AAVP-7A1 with its latest improvements is a better vehicle than the LVTP-7. But to those who operate them, the differences are significant. The Cummins engine is more reliable than its predecessor. An upgraded kit to improve transmission reliability will soon be fielded. The up-gunned weapons station has two weapons that provide a response to demand for fire that is significantly better than its predecessor. The armor protection with applique armor, or the newer enhanced armor is an improvement from previous levels of protection. When bow planes are finally mounted on all assault amphibians, the water speed will approach nine miles per hour.
The assault amphibian will be around for at least the next ten years, and critics who do not have proven concepts should be very careful in the current environment of growing budget austerity. No other vehicle in the Army, the Marine Corps, or allied structures can operate through the range of conditions and terrain that this vehicle can. By 2000, we will need a vehicle with greater land and water speed and range. It will need improved firepower to handle increasingly varied threat scenarios. However, if the advanced assault amphibian does not fit this requirement in the over-the-horizon amphibious environment, the response may be to build another vehicle, to be carried to the amphibious objective area on a faster naval platform.
“Two-career Families vs. the Navy”
(See R. Dazé, p. 96, January 1990; C.M. Steigelman, p. 99, April 1990 Proceedings)
Commander Robert C. Woodside U.S. Navy (Retired)—My father was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate (Class of 1913) and a career naval officer, and by the time I graduated from there with the Class of 1943, the Academy was my 23rd formal school. I have report cards from schools everywhere from Camden, South Carolina, to Shanghai.
My mother was a model of stoic endurance straight out of the Book of Ruth, and she always said that being a Navy wife was as strenuous a career as she would ever want. I will never forget two other favorite sayings of hers:
► “Life in the service is one of genteel poverty,” and
► “More desecrations are performed in the name of ‘Progress’ ...”
“We Need Leaders, Not Technocrats”
(See J.E. McFadden, pp. 84–86, January 1990; K. Montor, p. 72, February 1990; T.L. Johnson, A.F. Campbell, and L.R. Wass, pp. 24–26, April 1990; C. Graves and A.C. Bernard, pp. 16–21, May 1990 Proceedings)
Midshipman Second Class Brett Howe—Lieutenant McFadden argues that the Naval Academy is too technically oriented, but he completely ignores the fact that the classes of 1987, 1988, and 1989 had more graduates with degrees in Political Science than with degrees in any other major. Also, during these years, more midshipmen graduated with degrees in the four humanities majors (English, History, Political Science, and Economics) than with degrees in the seven accredited engineering majors (Naval Architecture, Aerospace, Electrical, Mechanical, Ocean, Marine, and Systems Engineering). These facts are not indicative of an Academy that stresses developing technocrats, nor are they representative of an Academy that McFadden describes as a preparatory school for the Nuclear Power Program.
The Naval Academy, in fact, only gives lip service to developing graduates with strong technical backgrounds. While McFadden correctly observes that a midshipman’s grades are the prime consideration in determining class rank, he incorrectly assumes that this has encouraged midshipmen to become technocrats. Instead, this emphasis sways midshipmen to major in the humanities. Engineering majors at the Naval Academy are required to earn more than 150 credit hours in four years, whereas students at a civilian institution normally take five or more years to complete the same curriculum, excluding the military, athletic, and professional aspects inherent to Academy life. Consequently, many midshipmen find it difficult to survive as technical majors and do well at the Naval Academy.
Some midshipmen therefore are dissuaded from choosing engineering majors, while others are later forced out of the technical areas and into majors such as English, History, and Political Science, where the course load is more palatable. It is not unusual to see a midshipman switch from Mechanical Engineering because his grades are unsatisfactory (below a 2.0) and go into Political Science where he can earn higher grades. The difference between 2.0 and 3.0 is important. On service selection night, the time when midshipmen choose their career paths, the academic difference is significant. A midshipman with poor grades may be unable to get a limited billet such as Marine Corps Naval Flight Officer. Therefore, the aspiring Marine Corps aviator is more likely to choose History as a major instead of Aeronautical Engineering.
In a high-technology Navy, we need leaders who have strong technical backgrounds, and contrary to the opinions in Lieutenant McFadden’s essay, the Naval Academy is not providing them. Emphasis on grades is producing humanities majors with high grades, not well-rounded, technically competent graduates. While leadership, composition, and oratory skills are important—and great emphasis should be placed in these areas—a technical background cannot be ignored. The “technical orientation” of the Naval Academy lacks substance. Although everyone is required to take certain technical courses, nontechnical majors take watered-down classes. The diluted courses allow for only the most rudimentary technical background. Also, nontechnical majors are notorious for doing worse in their required technical courses.
Lieutenant McFadden ignores a lot in his essay. Engineering problem solving is applicable to areas connected with leadership. There is no unique solution to most technical problems. Solutions to such problems are varied. An engineering background also teaches the art of problem solving—finding the quickest and most efficient way of attacking any problem.
The technical curriculum at the Academy has only a superficial technical orientation. In reality, many midshipmen major in nontechnical areas and do not receive any kind of meaningful technical background.
This situation must be corrected. Some suggestions that have circulated would encourage technical majors through weighted grades. Grades in more difficult courses would be weighted so that technical majors do not suffer disparity in class rank. This would encourage those who have the ability to be engineers to choose Engineering as a major.
Another suggestion has been that everyone take the same required courses. There should not be a difference between a Naval Systems course taken by an English major and a Mechanical Engineering major. All majors will be using those systems in the fleet, and all need the same level of background.
While all officers should be taught the art of leadership, the Navy also needs men and women who are technically competent. The Navy does not need technocrats, but it does require officers with a more technical background than the Naval Academy is currently providing.
“A New Approach for SWOS”
(See K.P. Weinberg, pp. 103–105, January 1990; N.J. Pattarozzi, pp. 26–30, April 1990 Proceedings)
Commander M. A. Helgeson, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, USS Connole (FF-1056)—Those on board the Connole read Captain Weinberg’s Professional Note with much interest. The real issue is not if department heads have shortcomings, but if this problem can be corrected by radically overhauling the Surface Warfare Officer’s School (SWOS) curriculum.
I have been fortunate enough to have had the same three line department heads for most of my command tour. They have their strengths and weaknesses and generally do an effective job of directing their departments. Did SWOS provide them with the tools necessary to succeed? I would say yes, since SWOS taught them about reflector orbital equipment (ROE) and operational taskings, required them to develop “dummy” training programs, and gave them hands-on damage control training at the Damage Control Assistant School. Could they have been better trained initially? Certainly—but I doubt if SWOS could have done any better since my department heads’ shortcomings have not been in specifics but rather in intangibles. They needed to hone their decision-making skills. This is not a function of the schoolhouse but rather the responsibility of the commanding and executive officers.
I agree that experiential learning is the key to success, but this experience is gained on the “deck plates” and not in a trainer or a classroom. Where department heads run into difficulty is in their ability to evaluate information while keeping their heads above water from the myriad distractions they encounter every day. Today, my weapons officer divided his time between naval gunfire support training, an antisubmarine rocket launcher casualty, the “disappearance” of two deck seamen, and the cancellation of 200 rounds of ammunition by some faceless bureaucrat at Ship’s Parts Control Center. Under way, he must shift gears from tactical action officer (TAO) duties to planning for the afternoon’s underway replenishment or gunshoot, while keeping the executive officer off his back about the berthing compartment. I doubt if any trainer or static lab can provide him with a simulation of these experiences. My most successful department head may not know the tactical towed array sonar tactical memorandum (TacTAS TacMemo) verbatim, but he does know how to lead and motivate his subordinates, and he has a fine sense of what problems need to be corrected. Moreover, he knows where to find the TacMemo if he needs it. Like it on not, the less complex ships (such as frigates and landing ships) are the "training ships” for department heads. While it would be nice to receive three experienced department heads on a frigate, this expectation is unrealistic.
SWOS’s unstated mission is to provide a standard program to officers of diverse backgrounds. The weakness of their “paper only” TAO curriculum has long been acknowledged and should be corrected when the command tactical trainer comes on line. Beyond that, no amount of classroom training or lab time will convince some of our department head students of the importance of following, the need to read the technical manual, how to evaluate when a subordinate is “blowing smoke,” or how to motivate junior officers. These lessons are best learned when the student is responsible for a shipboard department. It is the commanding officer’s responsibility to ensure that the new department head “knows the rules,” is provided guidance, and is given encouragement. That is what experiential learning is all about.
“Give Me An ‘N’!”
(See R. D. Gillespie, pp. 53–57, February 1990 Proceedings)
“Santa, Diesels, and the Easter Bunny”
(See J. G. Reynolds, pp. 56–57. February 1990 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Commander P. W. Lindley, MBE, Royal Navy (Retired)—One wonders why Lieutenant Commander Gillespie would launch such a virulent attack on the conventional submarine, particularly from his base zero experience on diesels. No one in the conventional lobby would argue the case for diesel over nuclear. As he so rightly points out “the nonnuclear proponents press for a ’high/low’ mix of nuclear and conventional attack submarines.” The reason for this is twofold. First is the often repeated cost argument and second, there are a number of operations where the conventional submarine is better than the nuclear.
Primarily, the conventional submarine is a better listening platform. In submarine operations, initial detection is what the submariner is seeking, and he must avoid being detected himself. Once detected, the submariner will certainly find his objectives more difficult to attain and will likely to be more concerned with his survival. The game is easier to play in peacetime, but the end product is a war situation. Most of Lieutenant Commander Gillespie’s arguments for the nuclear submarine center around its speed capability. As all submariners know, use of even medium speeds (from any sort of submarine) offers a detection opportunity.
In what areas are conventional submarines superior to nuclear? Essentially in inshore shallow waters. The conventional at slow speed (i.e., less than one knot) has better control than the nuclear platform. This, plus its smaller size, makes the conventional better at minelaying, photographic reconnaissance, inshore surveillance, troop insertions, and anchorage penetrations. A fleet with a conventional/nuclear mix does not have to operate its bulky nuclear submarines in these highly skilled, high-risk operations.
While it is true that in the Falklands Conflict, the Royal Navy nuclear submarines kept the Argentinean surface fleet in port, the mere threat of two 209-class diesels was sufficient to keep the Royal Navy carriers to the east of the Falklands which made the interception of the Argentinean air strikes more difficult and almost tilted the balance of the war.
Admiral Reynold’s article is more balanced. The conventional submarine undoubtedly offers detection opportunities while short charging and therefore is at a disadvantage in a “one on one” area hunt of a conventional versus a nuclear. That situation will change with the proposed introduction of the fuel cell/closed cycle diesel.
Finally, the trend of antisubmarine warfare is swinging back to the use of active sonar with the advent of the low-frequency sets that will be installed in helicopters. The nuclear platform’s size makes it easier to detect by active means and not even a high speed (and therefore “deaf”) nuclear can outrun an attacking helicopter.
Don’t discount the conventional. A minefield at the entrance to the Norfolk Naval base is not the sort of thing to ignore and lest we forget, the captain of HMS Onxy was decorated, and not for just being there.
“The PC: Not Just a High-tech Typewriter”
(See W.T. Molano, p. 133. April 1990 Proceedings)
Commander Stephen D. Doyle, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron VAW-127—Hats off to Lieutenant Walter Molano for his perceptive article on personal computers (PCs) and the navywide need for improved training in the smarter use of these ubiquitous tools.
Document processing was one of the first areas to be affected by the deluge of PCs that has washed over the Navy in the last ten years. Our front line document processors come from rates like yeoman, personnelman, and aviation maintenance administrationman, but folks in those rates need a wholesale change in the way they view PC-based word processing programs. Some paradigm changing is needed and should start in the Training Command; the “A” schools are reinforcing the mindset that the PC with a word processing program is nothing more than a typewriter with a cathode-ray tube instead of paper.
The personnelman “A” school, for example, uses PCs for typing training, as well as introducing its students to some of the major fleet word processing programs. Good so far. However, the general impression given to the students is that the screen is a blank sheet of paper, and the graduates of these schools bring this idea into the fleet. These are the leading petty officers of tomorrow and they need to be taught that intelligent use of the power of the word processor means a new approach to document processing—one which does away with the “screen is a blank sheet of paper” philosophy.
Some changes should be made:
► There should never be a need to type (with chance for error) the 40 key strokes that comprise the command’s name—it should be a macro.
► When a roster of the command exists with security clearances, it will be easier to block delete 180 people from a copy of the master roster than to type names and clearance data on ten people who are going on temporary active duty.
► Emphasis needs to be placed on efficient use of merging documents. For example, merging DD-173 radio message shells with text from other files such as the clearance list above.
► Push file sharing between departments. Administration has a master list of unit personnel that can be shared with (i.e., a copy of the file given to) all other departments. Rather than typing up a new document (the blank sheet of paper approach) they can simply delete from the master list those who are not in the department.
► Implement training to show how to exchange files between different word processing programs. Word Perfect, Word, and Enable can all exchange ASCII files without much trouble, but if no one realizes it we will retype things, wasting time and inevitably adding errors.
The work and time to be saved is not just that of the yeomen and personnelmen, but that of all in the chop chain. Once the CO’s “purple prose” is how he wants it, no one should retype it and (as happens far too often) modify it.
The schoolhouse is the place to instill this new mindset in the administrative support personnel. Changing their approach will make us all work smarter, not harder. Training Command, please help us in this area.
“Urgent Fury: The Battle for Grenada”
(See D. Evans, pp. 124–125, April 1990 Proceedings)
Major Daniel P. Bolger, U.S. Army—I was unpleasantly surprised by Lieutenant Colonel Evans’s laudatory review of Major Adkin’s Urgent Fury: The Battle for Grenada (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1989). Evans calls the book a “significant public reckoning” and “required reading for anyone concerned with the fighting skills of the U.S. military.” While I expected this sort of assessment from the usual run of armchair defense experts, I did not expect that an experienced Marine like Colonel Evans would fall for this extremely biased account.
Quite frankly, Urgent Fury is a scurrilous and slanted attack on U.S. arms. It postulates that Grenada was a “botched” operation from start to finish. Apparently, Colonel Evans was convinced. I am not.
Although much of Adkin’s evidence is unique, particularly from the Grenadian side, one gets the distinct impression that facts have been inserted or discarded based on how well those items support the author’s preconceived opinion. Contrary to Evans’s assertion that Adkin “carefully documented” his work, the volume suffers from an almost total lack of annotation. The few notes in the book are generally explanations, not citations. Most of it is supposedly “inside” information procured by Adkin in his capacity as a “consultant” to the Barbados Defence Force. Parts of the book appeared previously as articles in Soldier of Fortune magazine.
I believe that Adkin conducted research, and I sympathize with his attempt to write “instant history.” One can forgive small errors of detail. I cannot abide the absolute lack of objectivity.
Adkin cooks the books throughout to denigrate U.S. performance. While there are many examples of prejudicial manipulation of truths and half-truths in the book, two deserve special attention, if only because Colonel Evans found them to be such “stunning revelations.”
First, Adkin argues, and Evans agrees, that the “so-called rescue” amounted to a cover for an American plot to destroy Grenada’s Marxist government. The United States, according to Adkin, attacked mainly to exploit “the opportunity for inflicting military defeat on a rigid Marxist dictatorship.”
This differs from accounts by U.S. commanders, government officials, and the endangered students. They believed that the operation occurred to save U.S. citizens. The documentary record, as released to date, also shows that rescue of students had top priority. Their endangerment dictated the timing of the operation and the incredibly compressed planning and execution schedule. Despite the perils and stresses to national military power caused by the concurrent Beirut barracks bombing, U.S. forces exerted a supreme effort to get to Grenada as soon as possible to secure the students. To suggest otherwise is patently untrue.
The second argument is that supposedly, U.S. forces prevailed because of “overkill,” explained as “massive doses of firepower” delivered by an “American sledgehammer.”
This is a false contention on two counts. First, U.S. forces displayed remarkable forbearance in the use of firepower. Even the most casual perusal of unit after-action reports or personal accounts confirms this policy. Supporting fires amounted to a handful of 127-mm. naval shells, a few volleys from 105-mm. howitzers, the precise computer-aimed 105-mm. shots from a few AC-130 Spectre gunships, and a few dozen sorties with U.S. Navy jets, mainly A-7s, employing 20-mm. cannons.
These actions, carefully regulated and sparingly employed, did little damage to Grenada’s people or property, a point stressed by Grenadian politician Lloyd Noel during testimony to the U.S. Congress. It should also be noted that despite several major actions near their dormitories, not a single U.S. student was harmed.
Also charges of a combat ratio mismatch are exaggerated. The United States deployed eight U.S. Army battalions and one U.S. Marine Corps maneuver battalion to face five Grenadian (one regular, four militia) and one Cuban engineer battalion. Nine to six hardly represents overwhelming odds, especially considering the strict U.S. controls on supporting arms. More important, during the first eight and one-half hours of the assault. U.S. forces consisted of seven rifle companies (five of Army Rangers, two of Marines) and a scattering of special operations teams. The quality not the quantity, of U.S. troops, determined the success of the Grenada invasion.
It is unfortunate that Major Adkin chose to grind axes rather than offer cool-headed analysis from his important perspective as a non-U.S. participant in the Grenada operation. Unfortunately, thanks to Adkin and his even less-qualified predecessors in the “Grenada-bashing” school, the real lessons of Operation Urgent Fury are being buried by breathless “there I was” anecdotes and darkly veiled rumors. This level of historical examination might satisfy Colonel Evans, but it offers very little to the military professional.
The Peace Dividend
Vice Admiral W.P. Lawrence, U.S. Navy (Retired)—We hear a lot these days about the “peace dividend,” which to the average American signifies the diversion of national resources from defense to social programs. To us in the military, the “peace dividend” is different. It means that nearly 50 years of continuous war is finally coming to an end, i.e., the four years of World War II, followed almost immediately by the Cold War, interspersed with the hot wars in Korea and Vietnam and numerous crises and brush fires around the globe.
The so-called Cold War has been a real war in virtually every sense for the military. We in the naval service have operated continuously on a wartime footing. Maximum combat readiness has been our primary objective. We have strived to inject as much realism as possible into our fleet exercises and operations, routinely working 18-hour days, acclimating ourselves to reduced sleep and rest as one must do in combat, assiduously analyzing the capabilities and intentions of our prospective enemies, and constantly seeking to enhance the effectiveness of our personnel and weapon systems.
For all of my 39-year active-duty career as a naval aviator, from 1947–1986, our carrier battle group deployments to some potential crisis areas were of at least eight months’ duration. During a normal three-year tour of sea duty, our personnel would typically have two such deployments, meaning almost a year-and-a-half separation from their families, not including the numerous two- to three-week cruises out of homeport preparing for deployments.
Few of our citizens realize that when the Vietnam War ended, the Navy’s operational tempo actually increased. The continuous crises and instability in the Persian Gulf and Middle East required us to maintain ships in the Indian Ocean/Arabian Sea areas, since we were the only military service that could effectively respond to contingencies there. Because of the paucity of accessible ports in that region and because our naval forces were heavily committed throughout the world, we routinely kept our battle groups at sea in excess of 100 days between in-port visits, while in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam the underway period seldom exceeded 30 days.
As we observe the disintegration of communism, we take satisfaction that one of the major reasons this is occurring is because over the past 50 years, wherever communism has reared its ugly head around the globe, the U.S. military, faithfully responding to the orders of our civilian superiors, has been there to confront it, in spite of the hardship involved.
We in the Navy are quietly rejoicing because, we hope, soon we will be able to maintain our readiness through lower-risk, reduced-pace peacetime operations conducted primarily in training areas near our homeports, always prepared to deploy instantly wherever we are needed, rather than being required to conduct continuous, extended deployments around the world. Most important, we will be able to spend more time with loved ones during our careers. This is our peace dividend.
“Saving Carrier Aviation—1949 Style”
(See E. P. Stafford, pp. 44–51, January 1990; C. H. Amme and R. D. Hooker, pp. 17–18, April 1990; B. M. Stein, pp. 33–36, May 1990 Proceedings)
Captain Carl H. Amme, U.S. Navy (Retired)—If Captain Hooker, as an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Military Academy, is alarmed by Commander Stafford’s article, I am appalled at Captain Hooker’s partisan attitude.
Captain Hooker says that the “Revolt of the Admirals” is widely considered to be the most serious challenge to civilian control of the military in the modern era. It is not. It is only typical of the interservice rivalry of that time when the defense establishment was going through the throes of reorganization, consideration of roles and missions, and budget cuts.
In April 1949, the Air Force had hearings before the House to put the B-36 aircraft in production. This was before the completion of the study of a joint weapons evaluation for the purpose of judging whether the new weapons fit with the roles and missions of the 1947 Defense Reorganization Act. Immediately after this hearing, a media campaign began praising the B-36 as the major strategic weapon of the future, and questioning the need of additional aircraft carriers. When the Joint Chiefs of Staff were called upon to consider the matter, the vote was two to one against the flush-deck “supercarrier” the United States, already approved by Congress, twice approved by President Harry S Truman.
Admiral Louis Denfield, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), was given the task of informing the Secretary of Defense of the split vote among the Joint Chiefs, so that he could present his arguments for the carrier. The time was 1020 on the morning of 23 April 1949. Forty minutes later, the CNO was handed a mimeographed press release that announced the cancellation of the construction of the United States. The Secretary of Defense had signed the order. Three days after that, Navy Secretary John L. Sullivan resigned, accusing the Secretary of Defense of “discontinuing the construction” without even consulting the Secretary of the Navy.
Francis P. Matthews was appointed to replace Sullivan as Navy Secretary. When the House hearings before the Committee of Armed Services on “National Defense Program—Unification and Strategy” began on 6 October 1949, the new secretary was given a rough time by Carl Vinson, the chairman, as well as other members of the committee. Matthews had issued a communication to various naval commands, directing that any statements made on the subject be routed through the chain of command, stamped “confidential.” The committee members attacked the secretary for this, and Matthews finally admitted that no national security interest was served by his alleged attempt to censor views of uniformed naval leaders.
The whole episode reeked of politics. But the principals to the dispute were not uniformed military and naval officers, but civilian secretaries and congressmen. For Captain Hooker to characterize only the “significant assistance” of uniformed naval officers in preparing the Cedric Worth memorandum as “squalid” and with “no basis of fact” suggests that the good professor should have used more care in his research and review of the history of the bitterness and rivalry of all of the armed sevices of that time. His ad hominem attack on Captain Crommelin is unwarranted.
John Crommelin was a hero, and he crusaded to expose the truth. I would agree that he was no martyr, for he didn’t suffer very much for blowing the whistle. He retired with the respect and admiration of the Navy leadership, as well as the affection of thousands of naval officers and men who had not known him before.
Major J. J. McClaire, Jr., U.S. Army—Yes, then-Captain Crommelin’s actions were a challenge to civilian authority. The challenge, however, was a clear message: that the uniformed officer corps expects from its civilian superiors the same sense of responsibility, integrity, and loyalty that it expects of the professional military.
Captain Hooker is wrong when he questions Admiral Crommelin’s ethics. I suggest that Captain Hooker review Captain Paul Schratz’s article, “The Admirals’ Revolt,” (pp. 64–71, February 1986 Proceedings) and also Chapter 15 of From Pearl Harbor To Viet Nam: The Memoirs of Admiral Arthur W. Radford (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1980).
I think that if Captain Hooker looks closer, he will see the lack of fair play on the part of the Air Force civilian and military leaders in promoting the supremacy of strategic bombing. He should also look at how Defense Secretary Louis Johnson summarily canceled construction of the aircraft carrier United States without consulting and, at the minimum, informing Navy Secretary John L. Sullivan or Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Louis E. Denfield of his intent to do so.
Yes, this was a sordid affair and alarming in terms of insubordination. However, Admiral Crommelin recognized a need to speak out to ensure the Navy had a say in its future. I think Captain Hooker’s comparison of the problems General Matthew Ridgeway was dealing with later and today’s budget constraints is an apples-and-oranges situation. Admiral Crommelin, along with his superiors and peers, was fighting for the Navy and naval aviation’s very existence. The issues of size, strategy, and apportionment of the defense budget that General Ridgeway and we today grapple with is peanuts compared to the issues surrounding the Admirals’ Revolt.
Captain Hooker is correct with regard to military subordination to civilian authority. However, the way in which the civilian authority wields that power is always subject to close scrutiny. Fortunately, the Defense Department has not had to suffer the likes of Louis Johnson since his dismissal from office in September 1950, and it is hoped that we never will. Let us hope, too, that the professional officer corps of all branches of the service have individuals today who possess the moral courage of John G. Crommelin, should it ever be required.
“Will History Repeat Itself?”
(See K. M. Fender and M. P. Gaffney, pp. 87–88, April 1990 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Commander Miles P. Dean, U.S. Naval Reserve—The authors present a well-reasoned argument, but trip on the reality of history. They left out of their proposed strategy the one element you can’t fight a war without: people. “Field[ing] systems whenever the threat justifies the commitment” doesn’t take into account that you must train people to use the systems and to repair them quickly. If you leave the systems in storage, or even in limited use, you can’t get the training you need.
In addition, a system must be continuously used to make it reliable. As demonstrated in World War II by the U.S. submariners’ struggle to obtain a reliable torpedo—the war was half over before they received one—you can’t develop the system and leave it with the testing facility. Systems must be put in the hands of the users, and they must play with them. You must work out the bugs, become familiar with the problems, and perhaps more critically, get the supply organization to adjust estimated failures to match actual ones.
If history repeats itself though, we’ll see training funds slashed, personnel cut, operational time curtailed, and real readiness decline, while spending big bucks on systems we won’t get to use often enough, if at all.
(See K. Kasmauski, pp. 49–55, July 1989; P.A. Byrne, pp. 25–26, November 1989 Proceedings)
Harry F. Hamlin—Major Byrne wrote: “The Marine Corps has always prided itself on not nicknaming its women members . . .”
Well, you can knock this old G.I. down and BAM him with a hammer. It must be true. The winners really do write the history books!
“Unloading the Walking Wounded”
(See D. Derrer and M. Gelles, pp. 71–75, December 1989 Proceedings)
Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic James J. Ryder, U.S. Coast Guard—The premise of the article is correct. The infamous “10% of the troops who [because of personality disorders] require 90% of the effort” should never have been allowed in the front door. But it is easier said than done.
The services themselves create these problems. Visit a Military Entrance Processing Station at the end of any given month and you will see that 10%.
The pressure put on some recruiters by their commands to meet quotas is incredible. Careers have been ruined because of the perceived “missed mission.”
The need for numbers is paramount. Requirements are amended, scores lowered, and certain items are overlooked.
The authors give six steps that, if followed, will reduce the number of applicants who have problems. The first is to raise the standards. But if one took the time to review the standards, one would see that they are already high.
The second solution is less recruitment pressure. This will never be eliminated. A certain amount of pressure will always be necessary to keep people producing.
The third topic, shorter contracts, is a hot subject. The Coast Guard has been using a two-year contract with a select reserve requirement for the past several years. Many commanding officers and officers-in-charge feel that people who have only a short time in the service are not as productive as they should be. The program has been successful as a recruiting tool, but the Coast Guard has set a 10% limit of total yearly quota for the two-year enlistments.
Early identification would not be necessary if these recruits were not allowed to join in the first place. But once they are identified, they should be separated. The authors state, “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” What else needs to be said?