“Knock that stuff off!” Admiral Leighton W. “Snuffy” Smith, Jr., growled at rival factions in Bosnia after gunfire ripped through a U.S. C-130 aircraft flying humanitarian aid to Sarajevo and threatened a British helicopter carrying two infants and their mothers to safety.1 Just a few days after NATO’s Implementation Force formally assumed responsibility from the United Nations in mid-December and began to implement the Dayton Peace Accord in Operation Joint Endeavor, Admiral Smith, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Allied Forces Southern Europe, made it clear: “I hold all parties responsible for making sure their people know this is a peace mission. I’m going to put the onus on the leaders of all parties.” His warning punctuated a year of often frustrating, sometimes heroic operations that saw the Navy and Marine Corps fully “engaged”—in the air, on and beneath the surface of the Adriatic Sea, and on land—in an intense quest for peace and reconciliation after nearly four years of aggression, ethnic cleansing, and sundry atrocities that killed untold thousands and left millions homeless. Only later did mass graves allow a more complete, if gruesome accounting of the dead.
“I think it’s absolutely stupid,” Admiral Richard C. Macke, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, commented—too casually—to a gaggle of reporters in November. Following the arrest of a U.S. Sailor and two Marines accused of raping a 12-year old Japanese schoolgirl on Okinawa, Admiral Macke made it clear: “I’ve said several times, for the price they paid to rent the car, they could have had a ‘girl.’”2 The price he paid was forced early retirement directed by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who said that the admiral’s lapse of judgment was so serious he could no longer perform his duties effectively. The price the United States paid was a storm of protest throughout Japan and demands for the U.S. military to get out of Okinawa and reduce its presence in Japan, at a time when geopolitical dynamics and trends demanded an even greater U.S. military presence, especially of naval forces, around the Pacific Rim.
The price the Navy paid was the nagging sense that it could not shake the “Tailhook” syndrome . . . even if it truly wanted to, according to more radical observers and commentators.3 Indeed, a few weeks after being relieved. Admiral Macke found himself under the Department of Defense Inspector General’s scrutiny for alleged use of military aircraft and crews to visit girlfriends in California.
Thus, in the face of gallantry and bravery, the daring rescue under fire of downed Air Force fighter-pilot Captain Scott O’Grady by Marines and Sailors from the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) amphibious ready group and global commitments that pushed its people and equipment to the limits during 1995, the Navy was dogged by revelations anti uncertainties, from drug scandals at the Naval Academy to the “keel-hauling” of former Blue Angels leader Commander Robert E. Stumpf at the hands of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that made it seem star-crossed, snake-bit, and irresolute.
The Best of Times
Throughout the year, the Navy underscored a steadfast commitment to its “. . . From the Sea” and “Forward . . From the Sea” philosophies and strategy concepts. Forward-deployed naval force* supported more than 15 major operation* during the past year, some of which, like the joint strikes by carrier- and land- based aircraft and surface ship-launched Tomahawk land-attack missiles against Bosnian Serb aggressors, demanded instantaneous responses made possible only by the continued in-theater presence of U.S. units. The Navy had 108 ships deployed, nearly 30% of the active force and more than 50% of the fleet under way, coming close to exceeding the Chief of Naval Operations’ operational and personnel tempo guidelines as the fleet continued its post-Cold War down-sizing spiral from more than 560 ships to the 346 ships mandated by the 1993 Bottom-Up Review. Real-world missions, training, and exercises involved units from more than 40 countries. Throughout the year, U.S. naval forces—individual units, amphibious ready groups, and aircraft carrier battle groups—moved seamlessly from routine deployment to crisis to contingency and from one theater to another to protect important U.S. interests, allies, and friends.
Mediterranean/Central Europe: A litany of frustration and death provided a bloody backdrop to Navy operations focused on Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia—the flotsam of the Yugoslav breakup at the end of the Cold War. In Operation Provide Promise, which began in July 1992, a joint Navy/Marine Corps/Air Force humanitarian-relief mission continued to fly much-needed supplies and foodstuffs to the few remaining “safe areas” in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, a Marine aerial refueling squadron and a military police unit, a Navy fleet hospital, and amphibious forces offshore all provided critical support to the U.N. initiatives.
Navy carrier-based aircraft and Marine F/A-18D Hornet and EA-6B Prowler aircraft flying out of Aviano, Italy, supported Operation Deny Flight, the joint and combined/multinational mission to enforce a no-fly zone above Bosnia. These same aircraft provided direct combat air protection to the United Nations’ protective force on the ground, while P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, equipped with sophisticated electro-optical systems, provided real-time still and full-motion video imagery to ground commanders. In May, the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) battle group, with Carrier Air Wing 8 embarked, reached the Adriatic to bolster U.S. and NATO forces if the U.N. protective force had to beat a hasty retreat from protecting the “safe havens.” Accompanying the Theodore Roosevelt were the Aegis destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) and the conventional destroyer USS John Rodgers (DD-983), joined later by the nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser USS Mississippi (CGN-40). In early August, a contingent of U.N. Pakistani peacekeepers got itself caught in the middle of an artillery exchange and requested air cover. Four Navy EA-6B Prowlers—two from VAQ-141 and two from Naval Reserve Squadron VAQ-29 embarked in the Theodore Roosevelt—and a pair of Marine Hornets flying out of Aviano attacked Bosnian Serb surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites after the aircraft were “illuminated” by radar targeting systems. The aircraft launched high-speed antiradiation missiles (HARMs) at two mobile SA-6 SAM sites near the towns of Knin and Udbina. “This is what we train to do,” Commander Brian Bennet, the Prowler flight leader and VAQ-141’s skipper, acknowledged. “My biggest concern was providing the maximum amount of protection to the forces that were being threatened.”4
Operation Sharp Guard, set in place in 1993 to enforce the U.N. arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia and rival factions in Croatia and Bosnia, continued in the Adriatic. NATO standing naval forces and other U.S. and Western European Union naval forces—including U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarines and maritime patrol aircraft—provided long-term surveillance and reconnaissance of the seaward approaches to the crisis zone. Augmenting the Theodore Roosevelt battle group in May was the three- ship amphibious ready group centered on the Kearsarge, which included the USS Nashville (LPD-13) and Pensacola (LSD-38), 2,000 Marines from the 24th MEU(SOC), and a 25-person “direct action platoon” comprising Force Reconnaissance Marines and Navy sea, air, land special forces (SEALs). Unfortunately, this naval cordon sanitaire was frustrated by clandestine arms shipments that found their ways to the various factions. Saudi Arabian sources indicated that, although overland and air transport figured into the transgressions, much of the supplies that reached the Muslim forces came in by sea.5
Perhaps one of the most dramatic episodes of 1995’s naval operations was the joint/multinational rescue of “Basher 52,” the call sign of Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady. Unlucky enough that his F-16 Fighting Falcon was shot down by a Serb surface-to-air missile in the vicinity of Bihac and Banja Luka, Captain O’Grady spent the next six days on the ground eluding Serb forces intent on capturing him.6
At 0505 on 8 June, after making voice contact with O’Grady, all tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP) force helos were airborne, and the rescue force was “feet dry” over Croatia by 0549, flying at less than 50 feet and 130 knots to avoid detection. At 0603, the Kearsarge's Harriers launched and soon overtook the TRAP force. Two AH-1 Cobras approached the objective area first to search for O’Grady, with the Harriers providing protection overhead. As soon as O’Grady contacted the lead Cobra and marked his position, two CH-53Es landed and Marines had barely secured the zone before the downed pilot ran from cover and was pushed into the second Super Stallion. The Marines holding the perimeter withdrew to their aircraft and all helos lifted off, heading home. The time in the zone was less than five minutes. On the way back to the Kearsarge, the helicopters flew low and fast—20-to-30 feet and 130 knots—dodging buildings and other obstacles and came under fire from small arms, antiaircraft artillery, and SAMs. About two-and-a-half hours after launch, the TRAP force returned with 57 Marines, four sailors, and an Air Force pilot who clearly recognized “the real heroes in this story are the Marines. They trained and prepared for the mission with what they had. and when the call came, they unhesitantly went into harm’s way. When your back’s to the wall, you want someone who’ll do whatever it takes. From personal experience, I can tell you, ‘Send in the U.S. Marines.’”
Operation Deliberate Force, in response to a 28 August mortar attack on Sarajevo, focused three weeks (30 August-21 September) of intense air strikes by aircraft from the Theodore Roosevelt and America (CV-66) battle groups and shore-based Marine Corps, Air Force, and NATO allied aircraft operating out of Italian air bases.7 Accompanying the America (and her embarked Carrier Air Wing 1) to the Mediterranean were the USS South Carolina (CGN-37), Normandy (CG-60), Monterey (CG-61), Scott (DDG-995), DeWert (FFG-45), Boone (FFG-28), Hampton (SSN-767), Oklahoma City (SSN-723), Butte (AE-27), and Monogahela (AO-178).
The “keys” to approving military action in this operation had been taken away from top U.N. envoy Yasushi Akashi and given jointly to NATO’s Admiral Smith and Lieutenant General Bernard Janvier, commander of U.N. military forces in the former Yugoslavia. In Janvier’s absence on 28 August, Admiral Smith worked with Lieutenant General Rupert Smith, U.N. commander in Bosnia, who was more inclined to military action than General Janvier. Less than 12 hours after the mortar rounds fell, the keys had been turned and retaliatory planning begun.
And at 0200 on 30 August, Deliberate Force air strikes began. Escorted by 14 SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) aircraft, 43 attack aircraft struck radar sites, command bunkers, and communications facilities in southeastern Bosnia. Another 20 aircraft hit ammunition dumps and other targets near Pale and Sarajevo. Four additional waves totalling 40 aircraft ranged throughout southeastern Bosnia that day, augmented by British and French artillery of the Rapid Reaction Force firing on Bosnian Serb positions on Mount Igman near Sarajevo. The French lost a Mirage 2000 to a surface-to-air-missile late in the afternoon of 30 August, and the two pilots went missing. (Although three attempts by NATO special forces and U.S. Navy SEALs to rescue the men came up short, the two were finally released after several French ultimatums and deadlines went begging in the fall.)8 A bombing pause began in the morning of 1 September to give the diplomats time to talk; negotiations proved fruitless, and the bombing resumed in the early afternoon of 5 September.
This action saw the first real-world use of the “Bombcat” air-to-ground configured F-14D Tomcats of the “Black Aces” Fighter Squadron 41 on board the Theodore Roosevelt. And in a five-minute period beginning at 2043 on 10 September, the Aegis cruiser Normandy launched 13 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, (TLAM) successfully destroying an air-defense complex near Banja Luka. The Air Force had requested permission to bring six F-117A stealth fighters into Aviano to follow-up the TLAM strikes and specifically to target Serb SAM batteries, missions too dangerous for non-stealthy manned aircraft. This was rejected for blatantly political reasons by Italian government officials, who sought to use it as a lever to gain participation on the five-nation contact group. They were not invited in, and the F-117As remained in the United States.
In all, 3,515 aircraft sorties were flown and 13 TLAM strikes launched—a total of 1,026 weapons—against 338 aim points on 56 targets during the three weeks of Deliberate Force. Bad weather, Serb defenses, difficult targets, and pilot mistakes combined to cause about one-third of the 708 "smart" munitions to miss their marks. That said, 11 of the 13 TLAMs hit within ten feet of their aim points; one just missed, and the 13th landed in woods nearby its target. Still, the combined strikes—especially the Tomahawks—and a combined Muslim-Croat offensive in western Bosnia did much to convince the Bosnian Serbs to sue for peace, or at least to avoid additional pain, and provided a dramatic overture to the Dayton talks that eventually brokered a framework for, if not the promise of, peace.
In early December, Operation Joint Endeavor—the NATO operation overseeing Dayton peace implementation efforts in Bosnia—saw two Military Sealift Command Ready Reserve Force (RRO ships—the Cape Rise (T-AKR-9678) and Cape Race (T-AICR-!9960)—activated to transport cargoes in support of NATO's Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps. The two ships were "broken out" well ahead of their four-day activation schedule, and delivered their cargoes at Split, Croatia, just before Christmas. After a month in the Arabian Gulf for Southern Watch duties, the America battle group returned to the Adriatic to support the peace effort. As the year drew to a close, the Sixth Fleet flagship, USS La Salle (AGF-3) joined the USS Wasp (LHD-1) amphibious ready group with some 1,800 Marines of the 26th MEU(SOC) on station off Croatia and Bosnia. Nearly 180 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 were deploying to Croatia—the largest airlift of Seabee equipment and material since the Vietnam War—to construct a 2,500-person camp for NATO troops and three more camps in Bosnia. Secretary of Defense William Perry authorized up to 171 naval reservists—historians, intelligence specialists, logisticians, and staff support people—to be called up for active duty of up to 270 days. As elusive and fragile as peace had been to achieve and sustain, the U.S. Navy's role was going to continue to need an "all-hands" effort.
Pacific Rim and Southwest Asia: The dispute between the United Nations and North Korea regarding inspection of suspected nuclear facilities continued to fester throughout 1995. When the North became increasingly intransigent, threatened to begin reprocessing some 8,000 spent fuel rods from its old nuclear reactor, and voiced lightly veiled warnings about its intentions against the South, President Bill Clinton placed the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and Enterprise (CVN-65) battle groups on heightened military readiness. The naval pressure was applied deftly but resolutely and underscored continued diplomatic discussions regarding new South Korean light-water reactors for the North, which produce much less plutonium that could be used to make nuclear weapons.
In Operation United Shield (February-March 1995), Navy and Marine Corps forces of the Belleau Wood (LHA-3) and Essex (LHD-2) amphibious ready groups and Italian marines helped to close the book on the ill-fated if well-intentioned Somalian relief mission that had begun so hopefully in December 1992.’Famine had been staved off, at a total cost of more than $2 billion, but more than 100 peacekeepers and 42 U.S. troops died. Under the command of Lieutenant General Anthony Zinni, Commander, I Marine Expeditionary Force, 23 ships and 16,500 people covered the withdrawal of U.N. units that had remained in Somalia after the U.S. pullout a year earlier. (It also marked the advent of the use of non-lethal disabling technologies by the Marines: “I think the whole nature of warfare is changing,” General Zinni remarked. As soon as U.N. elements abandoned successive areas of Mogadishu, however, the law of the clans—intimidation, looting, gunfire, and murder—took over, with U.S. troops and the U.N. contingent sometimes caught in the crossfire. .. or the intended targets of sniping. Once again U.S. naval forces were the first on the scene, and the last to leave. Without a clear-headed policy about U.S. engagement in such ventures, there is little doubt that U.S. naval forces will be the first to return in some future crisis.
Warships deployed to the Arabian Gulf continued to support Operation Southern Watch and maritime intercept operations. On 11 January, the USS Constellation (CV-64) battle group entered the Gulf. Accompanying her were the Aegis guided-missile cruisers USS Chosin (CG-65) and Lake Erie (CG-70), the destroyer USS Kinkaid (DD-965), the attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN-754), the USS Kiska (AE-35), and USS Cimarron (AO-177). Working hand-in-glove with land-based Air Force aircraft. Navy and Marine aviators flew hundreds of “no-fly” missions in the airspace above Iraq in support of U.N. resolutions protecting Iraqi Shiite populations. By the end of 1995, U.S. Navy surface warships had conducted more than 23,000 at-sea intercepts, while continuing to carry out other peacetime presence tasks.
After two high-ranking Iraqi military officers and their wives—two of Saddam Hussein’s daughters—sought political asylum in Jordan on 8 August, Operation Vigilant Sentinel provided an immediate military response to Iraqi intimidation and threats against both Kuwait and Jordan. As the crisis developed, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and Independence (CV-62) battle groups and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) [MEU(SOC)] embarked in the New Orleans (LPH-11) amphibious ready group were on station off the coast of Kuwait, and Air Force units were on alert in Saudi Arabia.10 Within 24 hours of being ordered to mobilize, the Maritime Prepositioning Ships of MPS Squadron Two were under way from Diego Garcia with equipment for an additional 16,500 Marines. Meanwhile, the Theodore Roosevelt battle group was standing ready in the eastern Mediterranean, able to assume the responsibilities as Joint Task Force Headquarters if further action were needed. It was not, and the crisis eased in the following months. (In February 1996, as it turned out, Saddam’s two sons-in-law announced that they were returning to Baghdad after receiving “assurances” that no harm would befall them. Three days after arriving home they were dead.11)
Close to Home: In the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean, Navy and Marine units carried out diverse missions in support of U.S. strategies and policies. Operations Uphold Democracy and Support Democracy came to a close as the United States passed control of nation-building in Haiti to the United Nations.12 In March, the Military Sealift Command’s American Condor transported about 300,000 pounds of food and medical supplies to Port au Prince. Operation Safe Passage saw the USS Portland (LSD-37), Austin (LPD-4), and LaMoure County (LST-1194), with II Marine Expeditionary Force Marines and four fleet antiterrorist security teams embarked, transfer some 7,500 Cuban migrants from Panama to Naval Base Guantanamo Bay for their eventual repatriation to Cuba. In early February, more than 20,400 Cubans were being held at Guantanamo. In the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn and other storms that made 1995 the second most active hurricane year in recorded history, the Navy’s people carried out numerous relief efforts throughout the Caribbean and southeast United States. Roosevelt Roads served as a base support installation for disaster material staging, support, and airlift throughout the region. Navy divers surveyed and helped clear channels, and Seabees helped repair facilities in and around St. Thomas and St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Meanwhile, counter-drug operations continued apace, with Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, ships, and sophisticated sensors focused on reducing the flow of illegal drugs. Operational support to the Joint Interagency Task Force, JTF-6, and the Drug Enforcement Agency included participation in 58 counter-drug missions during the year. Fleet units—including Los Angeles (SSN-688)-class nuclear-powered attack submarines—worked closely with the Coast Guard to monitor movements and support interdiction tasks.
The Navy’s submarines especially proved themselves to be flexible and adaptable platforms for assisting in turning aside the drug lords’ assault on the United States. According to accounts that surfaced at the end of 1995, for at least two years the Navy’s attack submarines, including the USS Salt Lake City (SSN-716), Pittsburgh (SSN-720), and Key West (SSN-722), had been deployed in the Caribbean and Pacific along with surface warships and Coast Guard cutters.13 In one of the major successes of 1995, the Salt Lake City tracked a drug-laden, stateless fishing vessel from inside Colombia’s Buenaventura Harbor for some 800 miles until she was intercepted by a Navy surface warship with a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment embarked. That Navy-Coast Guard team seized nearly 13 tons of cocaine with a street value of $143 million, enough to meet the entire U.S. demand for two weeks. Earlier, a U.S. submarine shadowed another drug smuggler from South America across the Atlantic. Completely unaware that it was being followed and its position reported on a real-time basis, the hapless ship and its illegal cargo were seized and its crew arrested as soon as it put into a European port.
- Strong Resolve ’95, a combined U.S.- NATO exercise, was held from 20 February through 10 March. The exercise tested a sea-based, deployable, combined, and joint headquarters concept—CJTF—advocated by the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic.
- On 22-24 March, the Aegis cruiser USS Blinker Hill (CG-52) visited the Chinese port of Qingdao, the first port call by a U.S. Navy ship since the Tian’amen Square massacre and crushing of the pro-democracy movement in 1989.
- In June, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-73) battle group put some reality behind the rhetoric of expanded U.S.- Indian military ties, including exercises, training exchanges and high-level consultations on military and security issues announced by Secretary of Defense William Perry in January. In addition to flight operations involving Captain Kishupalli Mohanan, commanding officer of the Indian Navy’s carrier, Vikrant, the Abraham Lincoln was host to numerous Indian Navy officials, including Rear Admiral John C. DeSilva, commander of India’s western fleet based in Bombay.
On shore. New Delhi ceremonies commemorated the last time Indian and U.S. forces worked closely together, during World War II.
- On 1 July the Navy stood up a new Fifth Fleet, headed by Vice Admiral John Scott Redd, as the operational command in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean Region. The “new” Fifth Fleet (the “original” was created in March 1943 as a numbered fleet command under the Pacific Fleet commander) will be an element of the U.S. Central Command, and early plans call for the Commander, Central Command, to be “double-hatted” as Fifth Fleet Commander.
- The “MCM Euro” task group—comprising the USS Defender (MCM-2), Pioneer (MCM-9), Warrior (MCM-10), and Gladiator (MCM-11)—returned to its Ingleside, Texas, home port on 3 August, culminating a six-month deployment that included three major NATO mine countermeasures exercises and celebration of V-E Day in St. Petersburg, Russia. During one of the exercises, Commander, MCM Group Two, served as the commander of the combined U.S.-NATO MCM group, the first time a U.S. MCM commander had done so since the 1950s.
- In early September, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-71) hosted President and Mrs. Clinton and other military dignitaries in Pearl Harbor ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, Victory over Japan Day. The Carl Vinson had just completed a two-day exercise with Canadian naval forces and U.S. Army, Air Force, and Hawaii Air National Guard units focused on the new “littoral warfare” strategy.
- Also in September, the Navy reorganized the Naval Sea Systems Command (NavSea), an action that created two new directorates: Program Executive Officer for Surface Combatants—PEO (SC)—headed by Rear Admiral George A. Huchting, who continued to serve as the Direct Reporting Manager, Aegis Program (PMS-400); and Program Executive Officer for Carriers, Littoral Warfare, and Auxiliaries—PEO(CLWA)—headed by Rear Admiral Paul Robinson, then-NavSea’s Deputy Commander for Surface Ships (SEA 91).
- On 29 December, the independent Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission closed its doors. In three “rounds” in 1991, 1993, and 1995, the agency closed 243 domestic military bases and facilities and “realigned” many more. More than $5 billion in savings has been claimed. The biggest “losers” of jobs were California (-67,293), Pennsylvania (-16,963), New York (-10,810), and Florida (-10,507). Big “winners” were Washington (+16,511), Georgia (+2,247), and Oklahoma (+2,197).
The Worst of Times
On the one hand, reports surfaced late in the year about how a woman petty officer had been repeatedly groped and assaulted by a drunken superior during a commercial airline flight on 27 October.14 Some 20 other Navy officers and enlisted people on the same flight failed to take action until she stood up, swore at him, and slapped him. Investigators recommended nine charges against Chief Petty Officer George Powell for indecent assault, simple assault, and disorderly conduct during the American Airlines flight from Norfolk, Virginia to Alameda, California, and a tenth charge related to a January 1995 incident in which another woman said Powell sexually assaulted her while the two were assigned to the USS Samuel Gompers (AD-37). None of the other Navy personnel on board the same flight was charged with wrongdoing. The ranking officer was a chaplain lieutenant commander, who eventually intervened—but only after three civilians reportedly berated Powell and offered to change seats with the 23-year old petty officer. Powell was found guilty in February 1996 of sexual and simple assault, disobeying orders, and drunk and disorderly conduct. He was ordered confined for 89 days, fined $1,500, and reduced in rank.
This incident—only a few weeks after the rape of the 12-year old Japanese schoolgirl by two Marines and a Sailor on Okinawa (the three were later convicted and sentenced to prison for six-and-one- half and seven years, respectively) and Admiral Macke’s bad judgment in meeting the international press—was the catalyst for yet another all-Navy stand- down, as Chief of Naval Operations Admiral J. M. Boorda ordered all active- duty personnel to stop work for a day and review regulations and “zero-tolerance” standards of conduct. (A previous “AlNav” stand-down came in 1992 to discuss sexual harassment in the immediate wake of Tailhook ’91, and an earlier one focused on fleet-wide safety concerns.)
The day after the stand-down ended in December, however. Rear Admiral Kendall Pease, Chief of Navy Information, announced that Rear Admiral Ralph Tindall, Deputy Commander of NATO’s Iberian Region, had been found guilty of adultery, fraternization, conduct unbecoming an officer, and sexual harassment. Tindall was stripped of one star, fined $7,686 in pay, confined to quarters for 30 days, and forced to retire.'’ The punishment, according to Admiral Pease, “makes it clear that this type of inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated in the United States Navy.” Despite an intensive effort to inform and educate all Navy people about sexual harassment, a program so intense, in fact, that some Navy people have complained that relations between men and women in the service are more strained than even before Tailhook ’91, the 1995 episodes are disconsolate indications that the message has not been received.
On the other hand, righteous indignation poured from columnist Richard Cohen’s pen as he declared in The Washington Post:
Not all the victims of Tailhook were women. It is probably asking too much of the Clinton administration, always politically correct and nearly always beleaguered, to fight for the right of a Navy pilot to be a good of boy. But if it ever got the gumption to do so, it could start with Commander Robert E. Stumpf. His promotion to captain was denied, because, among other things, this “Blue Angel” (he was once the group’s leader) is no angel. And at least once, he watched a stripper strip.16
Well, at least once he watched two strippers strip. Seems that late last year. Navy Secretary John H. Dalton, who originally approved Stumpf s promotion and who continued to believe Stumpf was qualified, pulled back the selection at the insistence of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Seems also that the Senate in May 1994 had approved the promotion. But, Commander Stumpf was one of 133 Navy and Marine Corps officers on the Pentagon Inspector General’s list as having been suspected of untoward behavior at the 1991 Tailhook convention, an officially sanctioned event at the time.
No denying it: he was in attendance, but pursuant to government orders to receive an award as commander of the Navy’s top F/A-18 Hornet squadron. He did not, as some suggested, fly a Hornet to Las Vegas, but to George Air Force Base in California, and only after he learned that the C-9 aircraft he was supposed to take would have returned him to Naval Air Station Cecil Field too late to participate in a scheduled exercise. He, like thousands of aviators before and since, used such cross-country trips to help meet minimum flight hour requirements. He did attend a party in a private room rented by two junior officers of his squadron, during which two exotic dancers entertained the troops. Commander Stumpf was not in attendance later that evening when action got a little hotter, The Navy investigated and unanimously cleared Commander Stumpf of any wrongdoing. All charges were dropped.
Still, his named stayed on the list, but the Senate was not informed of that when Commander Stumpf was nominated for promotion. When the Navy learned of its mistake, it notified the committee, whereupon in November Committee Chairman Senator Strom Thurmond (R- SC) and ranking minority member Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) wrote to the Secretary of the Navy that “it is the view of the Committee that Commander Stumpf should not be appointed to the grade of captain.” On 22 December, Secretary Dalton informed the committee that he would remove Commander Stumpf from the promotion list, because it was his “duty to maintain the integrity of the promotion process.” Richard Cohen’s conclusion: “In making sure that women are never again mistreated, a zealous Senate and a timid Navy have colluded in the mistreatment of an innocent man.” (In March 1996, the Selection Board renominated Stumpf for promotion, and Secretary Dalton and Admiral Boorda affirmed their support for Stumpf in Senate testimony. The Pentagon also formally petitioned the Senate Armed Services Committee to drop the Tailhook certification requirement.)
Sex, and now drugs. Two dozen midshipmen at the Naval Academy were cited in November on charges involving the use or distribution of marijuana and LSD, which may become the Academy's largest drug scandal since the 1960s.17
First Class Midshipman Jason Harloff and another midshipman were arrested in October as they tried to buy 200 doses of LSD from an undercover naval investigator. Harloff later gave investigators the names of 40 midshipmen and three active-duty Navy officers who he said had also used drugs. His arrest prompted Academy officials to test all 4,000 midshipmen; all tests came back clean.
Sentenced in military court to 42 months in jail (Academy Superintendent Admiral Charles Larson suspended all but 120 days in return for his continued assistance in the investigation) and a dishonorable discharge from the service, Harloff was the first of six midshipmen to face court martial on drug-distribution charges. The other 18 midshipmen were to have disciplinary hearings within the Academy on less serious drug-use charges.
And finally there was the issue of free speech. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Or so Voltaire is said to have uttered. Debates about the sincerity of the Navy’s commitment to its women and other sensitive issues raged within the pages of Proceedings in the wake of commentary in the August issue by former Navy Lieutenant Commander Lawrence Di Rita, who parodied what he saw as political correctness and diversity sensitivity run amok in a Navy of the future.18 Clearly labeled “Commentary,” the DiRita diatribe took on every shibboleth of today’s Navy, for which the author clearly had ultimate disdain: women commanding officers, U.N. peacekeeping detachments, environmentalism, diversity stand-downs—you name it, Di Rita skewered it, or at least treated it with utter contempt. And the reaction was immediate and furious—a great deal of the dialogue appeared on the pages of Proceedings.19
In Balance . . .
Clearly, the “good” in 1995 far outweighed the “bad.” The year saw important and highly visible Navy successes throughout the world, continuing trends seen every year: high operational and personnel tempos, continuous engagement in support of U.S. security objectives, and effective performance across a broad array of missions and tasks—humanitarian assistance, counter-drug operations, punitive air and missile strikes, rescues from hostile territory. . . .
But nagging uncertainties remain— commitment to principles or bowing to political winds; selfless devotion to duty and country or self-indulgent for-the-moment escapades; core values held dear or hypocritical political correctness.
Such harsh contrasts for the Navy were, in a very real sense, intensified at the end of the year, when the service, and the nation, lost one of its true heroes. Admiral Arleigh A. Burke—“Sailor,” as his epitaph simply but eloquently attests—died on 1 January 1996. Perhaps more than any other post-World War II Navy leader, he guided the service into the jet and nuclear age after a period of uncertainty and political turmoil not too unlike today’s domestic and international environments. His courage, honesty, integrity, and leadership remain without parallel. “Life has been good to me,” he once wrote. “I didn’t die young. I wasn’t killed in the war. I did most everything I wanted to do, and some things I didn’t want to do. I had a job I liked, and a woman I loved. Couldn’t ask for more than that.” One wonders what he would have written about the Navy in 1995.
1 “‘Knock That Stuff Off,’ Shooting Bosnians Told,” The Washington Post, 24 December 1995, p. A14; “Admiral Issues Warning After Aircraft Are Fired At,” The New York Times, 24 December 1995, p. 6.
2 “Sailor Accuses Marines in Okinawa Trial,” The Washington Post, 28 December 1995, p. A19; "Number 2 Admiral Picked to Head Pacific Forces,” 11 January 1996, p. A10; “Aircraft Trips by Admiral Investigated,” 20 January 1996, pp. Al, A6; "Japan Seeks 10 Years for GIs Tried for Rape,” 30 January 1996, p. A12.
3 See, for example, Jean Zimmerman, Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake ofTailhook (New York: Doubleday, 1995).
4 “Navy Jets Bomb Serb Missile Sites,” Navy Times, 21 August 1995, p. 2.
5 “Saudis Sent Millions in Arms to Bosnians,” The Washington Post, 2 February 1996, p. A25.
6 A few discussions with veteran World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Persian Gulf War pilots underscored Richard Cohen’s assessment (“Hype Flier” The Washington Post, 9 January 1996, p. A15) that Captain O’Grady . .is religious, patriotic and, except for a week last June, unexceptional.” He did what he was trained to do in such a situation. They also agreed with Cohen’s view that “If the United States had actually been at war, O’Grady would have been routinely returned to his unit - not whisked to the White House . . . .”
On the rescue of Basher 52, generally, see: “U.S. Jet Shot Down Over Bosnia; Pilot Missing,” The Washington Post, 3 June 1995, pp. Al, A20; “Marines Rescue Pilot Of U.S. Fighter Jet Shot Down in Bosnia,” The Washington Post, 8 June 1995, p. 1; “Pilot, Back at Base, Thanks God and His Rescue Crews” and “U.S. Was Unaware on Serb Missiles, Officials Assert” The New York Times, 10 June 1995, pp. 1, 6; “Bosnian Serbs May Have Laid Trap for U.S. Planes” and “Pilot Thanks Rescuer ‘Heroes’ in Emotional Return to Base,” The Washington Post, 10 June 1995, pp. Al, A13; “Serb Missile Was Detected by U.S. Unit” and “Pilot’s Riveting Tale of Escape and Survival” The Washington Post, 11 June 1995, pp. Al, A28; “No ‘Rambo,’ and 6 Days on the Run,” The New York Times, 11 June 1995, pp. 1,14; “Daring Rescue was all in a day’s work,” Stars and Stripes, 16 June 1995, p. 1; BGEN Martin R. Bemdt, USMC, and MAJ Michael C. Jordan, USMC, “The Recovery of Basher 52,” Naval Institute Proceedings, November 1995, pp. 41-47; and Michael L. Sparks, “One Missile Away from Disaster,” Captain Scott O’Grady, “The Rescue from My Point of View,” and LCOL Christopher J. Gunther, USMC, “Fortune Favors the Bold,” Armed Forces Journal International, December 1995, pp. 18-23.
7 This discussion of Operation Deliberate Force is based on several sources: Rick Atkinson, “Air Assault Set Stage for Broader Role,” The Washington Post, 15 November 1995, pp. Al, A20; “In Almost Losing Its Resolve, NATO Alliance Found Itself,” The Washington Post, 16 November 1995, pp. Al, A32; “Norfolk-based Roosevelt helps keep Serbs silent,” Newport News Daily Press, 31 August 1995, p. A3; “US ship launches missiles at Serbs,” The Times (London), 11 September 1995, p. 1; and Jon R. Anderson, “Tomcats show muscle in ground attack debut,” Navy Times, 16 September 1995, p.
8 “NATO Details Attempts to Rescue French Pilots,” Defense Daily, 25 September 1995, p. 416; and Jon R. Anderson, “How a Bosnian rescue came up short,” Navy Times, 9 October 1995, p. 24.14
9 “Ships Mass Off Somalia for Final U.N. Pullout,” The Washington Post, 23 February 1995, p. A22; “Use of Nonlethal Arms Leaves Pentagon Scrambling,” The Washington Post, 24 February 1995, p. A8, “As U.N. Girds to Leave Somalia, Renewed Fighting,” The New York Times, 27 February 1995, p. 4; “Marines Close Curtain on U.N. in Somalia,” The Washington Post, 3 March 1995, pp. Al, A30; and “Somalis Claim Dozens of Civilian Casualties,” The Washington Post, 4 March 1995, p. A21.
10 “Naval Buildup in Persian Gulf Meant to Deter,” San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 September 1995, p. A27; “Slimming Elsewhere, U.S. Builds Muscle in Gulf,” The Washington Post, 18 November 1995, pp. A1, A22
11 “Iraqi Defectors Killed 3 Days After a Return,” The New York Times, 24 February 1996, pp, 1, 5.
12 “U.S. Force Steps Up Haiti Arms Seizures,” New York Times INTERNATIONAL, 27 February 1995, p. A8.
13 “Military Intelligence Combating the Drug Trade,” NBC Evening News In-Depth Report, 22 December 1995 (videotape provided by N87C); “U.S. Submarines Track Drug-Runners,” NAVINT, 26 January 1996, p. 3.
14 “Female Sailor Details Assault During Airline Flight,” The Washington Post, 30 December 1995, p. A10; “Navy Cook Faces Court-Martial in Airliner Incident,” The Washington Post, 4 January 1995, p. A 20; and “Sailors Cleared in Alleged Groping,” The 'Washington Post, 21 January 1996, p. A10.
15 “Navy Admiral Punished in Adultery Case,” The Washington Post, 9 December 1995, p. A14; “New Navy Scandal: Admiral Convicted of Sex Harassment,” The New York Times, 9 December 1995, pp. 1, 11.
16 Cohen, “Keelhauling Commander Stumpf,” The Washington Post, 12 January 1996, p. A15; see also, “Navy Blocks Promotion for Flier at Insistence of Senate Committee,” The Washington Post, 7 January 1996, p. A4; and Charles W. Gittins, “The Facts About Cmdr. Stumpf’ (Letter to the Editor), The Washington Post, 5 February 1996, p. A20.
17 “Midshipman Gets Jail in Drug Scandal,” The Washington Post, 18 January 1996, p. A4.
18 Larry Di Rita, “Commentary: Reflections on a Naval Career,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, August 1995, pp. 8, 10.
19 Comments on “Reflections on a Naval Career”: D. S. Gems, A. Vittek, pp. 13-14, September 1995 Proceedings; B. Carleton, P. Swartz, M. White, W. Hannon, W. Porter, pp. 16-21, November 1995 Proceedings', F. Carment, L. Melling Tanner, J. W. Crawford, D. K. Wilson, S. Geissler Bowles, J. D. Alden, J. D. Render, A. M. Smith, J. Miller, pp. 14- 19, January 1996 Proceedings', R. N. Adrian, T. Fredericks, G. M. Cousins, p. 30, March 1996 Proceedings', D. A. Frahler, pp. 25-26, April 1996 Proceedings.
20 “Naval Institute Board Clarifies Editorial Procedures,” p.4, November 1995 Proceedings.
Dr. Truver is the Executive Director, Center for Security Strategies and Operations, Defense Systems Group, TECHMATICS, Inc. He thanks the tireless research assistance provided by Ms. Maren Smith.