"The Total Force Is the Future"
(See S. Duncan, p. 52, July 1998 Proceedings)
Captain Tom Daniel, U.S. Navy, Force Structure Branch Chief U.S. Commander in Chief Pacific, and former Commanding Officer of the Reserve frigate USS Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG-13)—I concur wholeheartedly that the Total Force is the future. I witnessed the synergy of active-duty and Naval Reserve forces firsthand as the executive officer of the USS McInerney (FFG-8) deployed with reserve minesweepers in Desert Storm.
Total Force synergy continued with more than 300 rotating selected reservists with whom I served on the Samuel Eliot Morison. Our successful Total Force operations, which included the Great Lakes, the Caribbean, and a NATO deployment to the Baltic serve only as a microcosm for the future Total Force. I encourage interested active-duty and Reserve personnel to read the principal reference for this article, Citizen Warriors (Presidio Press, 1997).
"The Troops Ashore Deserve Better Fire Support"
(See T. Ralphs, pp. 69-72, June 1998 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Matt Miller, U.S. Navy—Major Ralph's assessment of the Navy's failure to provide the best available naval surface fire support is right on target. It should ignite once again the critical debate of the battleships' role in our nation's next conflict—before they all are turned into floating museums (or worse).
Although I hope Naval Sea Systems Command will be able to refute the figures presented by Major Ralphs, it is quite possible that the acquisition community—in collusion with contractors and even some operators (techno-warriors)—has jumped all over the most over engineered high-tech solution. The never ending and often irrational pursuit of the highest-tech solutions, where mission need statements are created to fill the latest high-tech offering defies logic (although it does create jobs).
The only shortfalls in Major Ralphs's article are his apples-to-oranges comparison of the roles of the aircraft carrier versus the battleship and his not being critical of the Navy's ability to support the warfighter on the beach. He seems to assert the carrier is only on call for direct ground support. He also missed an opportunity to highlight the Navy's (and others') obsession with point targets. I hope we do not expect the next conflict to be nothing more than critical nodal analysis followed by a few dozen projectiles and/or precision-guided weapons. This might quite effective for a short action, but a protracted campaign with a forced entry will require more than even our highest estimate of the available precision-guided munitions required.
The retirements of the battleships and the Intruders have significantly reduced our ability to respond for calls for fire "From the Sea"—especially when it comes to area targets. Let us thank an Army officer for reopening this important debate.
"War Isn't a Rational Business"
(See T. Hammes, pp. 22-25, July 1998 Proceedings)
(See A. Cebrowski and J. Garstka, pp. 28-35, January 1998; J. Tonning, p. 6, February 1998; K. Estes, P. 16, March 1998; A. Krekich, p. 16, May 1998; J. Little, pp. 24-25, June 1998 Proceedings)
Commander H. A. I. Sugg, U.S. Navy (Retired)—Colonel Hammes's critique of the theory of network-centric warfare is right on. His conclusion, that "[t]he information revolution not withstanding, war will continue to be nasty, brutish, and not subject to business rationale," states concisely the nub of the problem.
Our fascination with technology has led many to believe that the information revolution fundamentally has changed our lives in many ways. Here, we see such fascination with computer technology and the vast information systems it provides carried to the extreme—that computer networks and the information systems they make possible will replace the blood and guts of war.
What Colonel Hammes does not point out is that Admiral Cebrowski and Mr. Garstka do not make a clear distinction between "information" and "intelligence." The world today—including our military—is awash in information. Our intelligence failures in Somalia, Iraq, and the Pakistani nuclear events emphasize the distinction.
He also does not distinguish among various locations, levels, and intensities of armed conflicts. The theory of network-centric warfare seems to be most applicable to the World War II-type situation with its "big battalions." It is difficult to see how it could be applied to the widespread tribal warfare of the present. How do we apply this sophisticated and costly concept to Africa, the Middle East, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, etc.—the principal locales of conflict in today's world? Or, in retrospect, to Vietnam?
Alan D. Zimm—Like Colonel Hammes, I have some severe reservations about network-centric warfare. It is being marketed as "wires and black boxes" that largely ignore the human element.
We already know that there are human cognitive limitations in high-stress, high data environments. Commanders tend to become serial, rather than parallel, problem solvers, tend to focus on fewer data elements ("key indicators") rather than the big picture, and are prone to lose overall situation awareness while concentrating on decision making. Dumping more data into the picture does not help; indeed, data overload contributes stress that can further complicate the command problem.
Take an example: Pour hot water over ice cream. Depending on the focus of attention, a human might see the ice cream disappearing, water destroying ice cream, white fluid being created, or ice cream being converted into fluid. Human interpretation based on human cognitive limitations (i.e., the propensity to concentrate on only parts of the whole) is a consideration that cannot be ignored in the quest for more and fancier black boxes.
This situation was illustrated tragically when the USS Vincennes (CG-49) destroyed Iran Air Flight 655. The Aegis radar system had all the information the commander needed to determine that the airliner was not a threat, but environmental circumstances, high decision making workload, display limitations, and massive stress conspired to create a tragic decision. Plenty of information was there—perhaps too much?
The business examples and models used by network-centric advocates should be recognized as having severe limitations. Comparing Wal-Mart to a battlefield is inappropriate. Wal-Mart has simple problems such as stock levels and transportation that are amenable to computer optimization and decision making. However, there has yet to be a computer program that could see a battlefield and discern the difference between a feint and a main effort. Optimizing data collection and dissemination without considering human decision making limitations is like wrapping a Ferrari body around a lawnmower engine and being surprised when you don't win the Grand Prix.
The 1997 Technology Initiatives Game examined network-centric warfare as a major game issue. While electronics and computer and communications specialists were selling solutions to getting more data moved more quickly, there was not one social scientist present to help determine if human beings could use all the reams of data spewing out of the Total Information Dominance Machine.
Network-centric systems will be an important element in the future of warfighting—as long as we understand that the key element is not the black box, but the human user.
"It's Time to Face the Gender Paradox"
(See M. Owens, pp. 43-49, July 1998; M. Cornforth, p. 12, August 1998 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Commander Janice Graham, U.S. Navy, CNO Executive Panel—As a professor at this country's premier war college, Professor Owens is a man from whom one expects better research and less conjecture, arguments built on logic instead of personal bias, and restraint in the use of generalities that are easily disputed.
The biggest problem with Owens's article is that he generalizes all women into the same category—a group unable to keep up with men. He also makes incorrect and simply irrelevant statements, e.g., "A woman cannot urinate standing up." Furthermore, to state that "advocates of women in combat do not want a public discussion because they do not want their ideological beliefs subjected to the criteria of objective reality" also is wrong. There are many women who do want a public discussion for the simple purpose of educating those with views such as Owens's. Although there are indeed many women who cannot compete physically with men, there are also many who can run long distances at great speed, and—through power lifting practiced over many years—have built great upper-body strength as well. Many of these women easily can outperform those military men who have chosen not to keep themselves physically fit.
Owens's arguments of military ethos and friction also wrongfully are associated with women as a whole. Those same arguments have been used to describe the many problems caused by relationships and bonding between male soldiers.
If Professor Owens is serious about wanting a public debate, why not put forth the following proposal, which would be a logical and fair way to integrate women into combat roles? Instead of "bending the military to fit the requirements of gender politics," first, raise the requirements for entry to the military. If you want to see the recruiting problem diminish, raise the standards for admission. Anything that is tough to get into will draw those who desire the challenge and the associated prestige. Then, set high and proper standards for admission to all areas. Do not give women, or any other minority group, special waivers. If that eliminates 90% of all women, so be it. It probably will eliminate many men as well. Yet if the purpose of the military is to fight and win wars, then fair and equal standards should be acceptable to both advocates and opponents of women in combat. If fair and equal standards still aren't acceptable, then emotion and/or politics instead of logic, unfortunately will have entered the argument-as they did in Owens's article.
I, like many of my female comrades, don't want favoritism or double standards. I can compete without them and find them humiliating and dangerous. I do join Professor Owens in calling for excellence in the military. But the standards of excellence should apply equally to all, regardless of race or gender. We will have a much better military as a result, and isn't that the goal?
Rear Admiral Merton Dick Van Orden, U.S. Navy (Retired)—This article is an excellent discussion of the problem. It is well structured, reasoned, objective, and factual. It, along with the sidebar excerpts from a panel discussion at U.S. Naval Institute/AFCEA West '98, gives a well-rounded look at the issues.
I am struck, however, by the difference in approaches of the presenters. The author and Lieutenant Commander Patrick Vincent, U.S. Naval Reserve, both address the issues confronting the Navy: combat readiness, military effectiveness, and morale. And so does Elaine Donnelly, who takes a rational approach to finding a solution.
Captain Rosemary Mariner, U.S. Navy (Retired), on the other hand, tends toward the more emotional, subjective issues, saying, "We are agents of moral choices. We can overcome the animal side." She goes on to observe, "When you say . . . that if women do well, it's because of a double standard, and if they do poorly, it's because they're women, you're defaming all women as individuals." She even calls forth the U.S. Constitution and the Federalist Papers, and brings up the irrelevant subject of homosexuals aboard submarines. Not once does she mention the crux of the matter: the effects of women in combat on fighting effectiveness and combat readiness—particularly the special case of women on board ship.
This difference in approaches defines still another difference in male and female approaches to decisions—differences that can have serious consequences in the heat of battle. Instead of approaching decisions rationally, and basing judgments on facts, many females seem to rely on subjective judgments, emotional inputs, and "women's intuition." They may even ignore facts that do not support their decisions. This is why the feminist arguments for women in combat fail to address the real factors involved, such as physical ability to perform certain arduous tasks, pregnancy and its related effects on military readiness, and costs and difficulties of accommodating females in ships and aircraft designed to fight and win battles.
The evidence is clear: There will be no debate on the truly important issues, because there is really no sufficient military reason for having women in combat roles, and those pushing gender equality do no want to engage in an honest assessment of the problem. And, sadly, nobody in the military seems to have the guts to demand an accounting.
Elaine Donnelly has issued a call for what needs to be done. She says, "We have to figure out what is best for men and women in the military. We need informed discussion and review." And Rear Admiral Frank Gallo, U.S. Navy (Retired), adds to the consensus, "I don't believe to this day there's been a truly objective discussion of this integration of women into the armed forces."
When will someone on active duty lay his stars on the table and demand a thorough accounting of the costs, the decrease in readiness, and the devastation in morale caused by this laboratory experiment that has produced only negative results? Or are our senior military leaders too cowed by the demands of the feminist activists to take a stand? Where are the senior leaders our young officers are seeking? The traditional "cheery aye aye" and "can-do" attitudes can lead us down the path to tragic consequences.
Let's get beyond emotional outbursts and the reelection mouthings of our elected officials and bring out the real costs: financial and budgetary, military effectiveness and military capabilities, and the tragic disintegration of morale.
Lieutenant Commander Craig Faller, U.S. Navy—Professor Owens ignores the reality of what is happening in forward deployed naval vessels. Before claiming that "Officers of all ranks have been cowed into silence," he should ask the fleet. I was the executive officer of a mixed-gender ship that deployed to the Mediterranean. The addition of women sailors improved combat readiness. The diversity and uniqueness of men and women has become our Navy's strength at sea. Women view situations differently; they analyze issues from alternative perspectives; and they have different feelings about everything—from qualifications to tactics. These differences are healthy—they inject energy and vitality that are force multipliers.
My example is real—it happened on one ship, in today's Navy, and it happened forward deployed during intense exercises and contingencies. Did sexual competition occur? Yes. Did it increase friction? Yes. Did this decrease combat readiness? No, and I don't think that the addition of bullets flying in a combat situation would change this. I experienced a decrease in the petty friction and and increase in teamwork as the stress and intensity of operations increased.
There are things we can improve with the process of assignment and management of women at sea, but the argument presented by Professor Owens overlooks current experience and is a divisive rationalization for the status quo.
"Is American Military Professionalism Declining?"
(See T. Ricks, pp. 26-29, July 1998; P. Pierce, p. 17, August 1998 Proceedings)
Commander Susan I. Lynn, Executive Assistant to the Commander-in-Chief U.S. Strategic Command—To attempt to link military professionalism to one's political party affiliation is misguided. Labels such as "Republican" and "Democrat" do not necessarily equate to whether an individual is conservative or liberal, just as the label "nonpartisan" does not mean an individual is devoid of political opinions. More important, labels such as conservative or liberal have no commonality to a military professional's core values—integrity, honor, courage, and commitment.
Mr. Ricks is better served to look for changes within the military that occurred in the military as well as in society. He will find that in 1976, society and the military were seeing changes resulting from the 1972 change to an all-volunteer force.
The tradition and culture of military service attracts certain types of individuals to the officer corps. In general, military officers have a greater sense of honor, integrity, duty, and self-discipline than do their peers in society at large. Perhaps this is the trend that Mr. Ricks mistakenly labels and derides as being conservative.
Stanley W. Lintner—Mr. Ricks seems to equate trends in political thinking of some military people with unprofessionalism, but he does not offer any convincing proof of such a link. Nor does he offer any concrete examples of widespread unprofessional behavior. Instead, readers apparently are supposed to conclude that because military personnel hold certain political views, we may conclude that their behavior must be unprofessional.
Should our military leaders close their eyes to the follies and foibles of our political leaders? Should military people take no notice of the general decline in morality in the United States when they themselves are held to the highest standards of personal conduct? Should a service man or woman check his or her brain at the door when entering the military? Of course not. When the day comes that military people are not allowed to use their brains, this country will be in real trouble.
Rear Admiral Rowland G. Freeman III, U.S. Navy (Retired)—The separation of the military from society has had a long history. Two wars with the draft (World Wars I and II) made more citizen soldiers aware of the military and there was more acceptance of the military, but not necessarily of the professional military. I remember sitting next to a lady of some wealth and social position at a banquet a number of years ago. She asked where I went to college (Massachusetts State and an MBA from the Harvard Business School) and what I did for a living. I told her I was a career naval officer, and she responded, "Surely with your education you could have done something better than that."
A feeling of some superiority to the society in general, whether you agree or not, comes from the discipline, the standards, and the mission. We, as professionals, believe we have a very high calling, that is, we are willing to sacrifice our lives for the good of the nation. We do believe we are held to a higher standard. Using Mr. Ricks's time span of 20 years, the force is older, more married, more southern, more female, and more diverse. Not bad!
Mr. Ricks also argues that the officer corps is being politicized. There is an infatuation these days with polls, but the one cited by Professor Hoisti compares liberals to conservatives in 1976 to liberals and conservatives in 1996, without definition of terms, and Mr. Ricks concludes that the white officer corps is responsible. But there are conservative blacks and women in the services, and the definitions of liberal and conservative have under gone a number of iterations and redefinitions in the 20 years cited.
Mr. Ricks treats the current relations with the Congress as something new. That kind of logrolling has been going on since the Continental Congress, and most particularly since the creation of the Armed Services Committees in both the House and Senate, but not as blatant or as visible as now. The same is true in every agency in the Federal government. It got so bad in the early days of the then Office of the Secretary of Defense that we enlarged the offices of legislative affairs to deal with the myriad problems raised by the Congress and also enlarged the public affairs office to deal with the press. Military facilities have been a political trading horse, and unfortunately as long as they create jobs, they will remain so.
We do have many surprised troops in Bosnia, as our civilian leadership extends the mission without preparing the military for the mission or the extension—and most important taking away funds that have not been replaced. However, it is apparent that the military still and always will respond to the direction of our civilian leadership. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a former Secretary of the Navy and did not have to contend with an adversarial, sensationalist, and intrusive press. I must hasten to say this is not necessarily true of Mr. Ricks, whose reporting over the years has been quite fair, although this address surprised me—particularly with the apparent disdain in which he holds conservatives (whatever they are), Christians, and religious practice in the nation. I agonize every time I see a story on the wire about our military starting with "Sources wishing to remain anonymous stated," but these sources seem to be the experts these days.
How can you have reasoned dissent, when in most cases you are not invited to the discussions at the White House? As structured, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) are the principal military advisors to the President, and their absence from both conferences and social events at the White House reflects an animosity and/or distrust on the part of the White House staff that has been unearned by the military. Former JCS Chairman General Colin Powell spoke out during an election campaign, knowing he could be fired if the incumbent lost. It takes courage to do that. We serve at the pleasure of the President, and we seldom forget it.
The last two questions in the address deal with a trend that concerned Mr. Ricks, but which I applaud. Faith in God and our Lord Jesus Christ is not a puritanical swing. It is a trend back to the faith that is very much required by warriors in combat. Our founding fathers prayed every day, and so did George Patton. Christian values are not narrow as stated by Mr. Ricks. The current Commandant of the Marine Corps has a very fine public testimony, given at the Washington, D.C., Christian Business Mens Committee, which I have used quite successfully as a recruiting tool. General Krulak is a warrior's warrior. Praying before a meeting or a lunch is quite appropriate and does not make a man or woman any less a warrior. It is never inappropriate to give thanks. Appropriate moral character was and is an essential in our military leadership, and always has been. I still carry a mental picture of the portrait of General Washington praying at Valley Forge. Mr. Ricks is in no danger of being led by ministers, as they cannot command. I would much rather be led by someone with a strong faith than someone who is still trying to get a grip on his life.
Finally, Mr. Ricks raises excellent points about activating the draft and increasing Reserve Officer Training Corps efforts at historically black colleges. But Ivy League colleges have swung so far to the left, and the professors are so strongly, on the whole, antimilitary that it is hardly worth the investment he proposes.
Although I am not in complete agreement with Mr. Ricks, he raises valid issues that deserve debate. The people I talk to in the officer corps understand their oath of office, and the farther you get from Washington, the less politics matters. This United States is a great and vibrant country, but the commitment to maintain that greatness has slackened, and decay is setting in.
"Rethinking Crew Coordination in F/A-18E/F Squadrons"
(See T. Standard, pp. 75-77, June 1998;1. Shanahan, p.14, August 1998 Proceedings)
Commander Terry Kraft, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, VAQ-131—Major Standard's area of expertise is air-to-air combat, and his observation that single-seat F/A-18 pilots are more proficient at operating the radar than are their two-seat counterparts may be true. Certainly the person who gets the most practice will be better. He argues that a competent weapons system operator (WSO) makes for a "less-standardized" pilot in the twoseat F/A-18D.
Where Major Standard departs from reason is in his argument that aircraft should be built for a medium- to low-task environment. While I agree that a single-seat aircraft can be just as effective in these situations, we design aircraft to succeed in combat—by definition, a high-task environment. Any new two-seat aircraft needs to take advantage of a decoupled and tactical system that uses the abilities of both aviators to accomplish the mission.
By focusing on the need for the pilot to operate the air-to-air radar and talk on the radios, Major Standard misses the point of the F/A-18F. The beauty of the platform is its ability to effectively prosecute the most stressing of combat scenarios—a self-escort mission to a complex target for a precision weapons delivery. Combat experience in a two-seat tactical jet might have taught Major Standard that a pilot and WSO more consistently will accomplish the goal of precision ordnance on target followed by a successful return to the carrier. That is why the Navy is developing the F/A-18F.
Major Standard also argues is that automation has replaced the need for a qualified WSO. Nowhere does he mention the tactical and situational awareness edge given by a WSO who can control his own displays to use a different radar mode, analyze tracks on a data link, employ a sophisticated self-defense system, or control remotely piloted vehicles. The Major's assertion that a WSO provides only "lookout and system back-up" shows a lack of understanding of the incredible technology that can be built into the F/A-18F. Not only will the aircraft have great capability built in, it will be a prototype for follow-on systems, such as an electronic attack variant. The argument that a pilot always has better situational awareness than the WSO also does not hold water. Situational awareness in combat is a function of experience and tactical data available, not where you sit in the cockpit.
Finally, Major Standard's proposal for a warrant officer to ride in the back "when needed" is confusing. Does the Major intend to throw this person in when it looks as though the mission might involve combat? How has the warrant officer been trained? How effective will this assistant be if he only has flown in simulators to avoid detracting from pilot "standardization"?
It is difficult to see how anyone involved in aircraft design would buy off on a "task-shedding" version of crew coordination. Building some sort of an F/A-18E+ is a bad idea. For the Navy, the proposed mix of E and F squadrons is the right solution for flexibility and combat effectiveness. It is important not to give up the edge to be gained by a two-seat state-of-the-art jet such as the F/A-18F in the name of pilot standardization or a small cost savings.
Who Is That Man?
Chief Quartermaster Herbert W. O'Quin, U.S. Navy (Retired)—What an interesting cover on the July Proceedings. I immediately went to the table of contents page to see who that man might be. But there was no clue, and we are left to wonder. He could be a retired admiral; or a seaman who served only a year or two in World War II; perhaps he is a father of a veteran; or a proud grandfather of one now serving. Whoever he is, he depicts a man of obvious character and vision with just a glint of humor in his eye and a hint of a smile. Whoever he is—he looks "Navy" and proud of it.
EDITOR's NOTE: We, too, are curious as to who this gentleman is. The photo was received as a submission in the Naval Institute's annual Photo Contest; the photographer does not know the identity of her subject. If any reader knows the man on the cover, please contact us.
"Why They Called the Scorpion 'Scrapiron"'
(See M. Bradley, pp. 30-38, July 1998; P. Bowman, p. 12, August 1998 Proceedings)
Captain J. Allen Marshall, U.S. Navy (Retired)—I was a lieutenant and officer of the deck on board the USS Pargo (SSN-650), Commander Steve White, commanding, during this critical period. The Pargo was one of the earliest Sturgeon (SSN-637)-class submarines placed in commission with all the new capabilities this design brought to the submarine force.
Vice Admiral Schade had been scheduled for several weeks to ride the Pargo and observe her capabilities, departing Submarine Base, New London, on Monday, 27 May. His upcoming ride had been a topic of conversation in the wardroom for some time, especially considering his experiences in World War II. The submarine was scheduled to operate in the Narragansett Bay area and then return to New London, disembarking Admiral Schade at the end of the week.
Admiral Schade visited the bridge while I had the watch, and was decidedly upbeat and pleasant, pleased to have an opportunity to be at sea again. While still on the surface proceeding to the dive point at the 100-fathom curve south of Long Island, the Pargo received a message for Admiral Schade informing him that the Scorpion had not communicated after she was scheduled to surface near the Virginia Capes, and had been declared missing.
Subsequent messages stated that the Scorpion had not been sighted in the channel. My observation of Admiral Schade during this afternoon was of a man in command who was deeply concerned about a missing ship. I heard bits of radio communication between Admiral Schade and his chief of staff, expressing concern for the families who were on the pier and how and where to begin a search for the Scorpion. What I saw was not a man who had preknowledge of this loss. As soon as additional instructions were passed to Norfolk, the Pargo submerged and headed for the entrance to the Virginia Capes submarine transit lanes at best speed, with instructions to become part of a three-submarine sweep from the outer boundaries of the operational area in toward Norfolk. Other ships were searching elsewhere.
I was the officer of the deck on the midwatch that evening when we reached our starting position and commenced transiting what would have been the Scorpion's track toward Norfolk at periscope depth, transmitting at approximately three-minute intervals on the underwater telephone. It was a dark night, with the control room "rigged for black," yet I could see, and hear, Admiral Schade pacing up and down the starboard side of the control room and the passageway back to the CO's stateroom where he was berthed. Again, this was not a man with preknowledge of the loss.
After surfacing in the morning and entering the channel into Norfolk, we transferred Admiral Schade to a small boat off Little Creek, turned around, and headed back to sea to continue the search. As I saw Admiral Schade leave my submarine, I was struck by the character of a man who had faced great tragedy before and was now facing it again.
My memories of this period in my career are most vivid, as I had just brought my wife and first son home from the hospital in New London.
I have no personal knowledge or access to message files to refute the ordering of a secret search on 24 May. But, in my opinion, if Vice Admiral Schade had some early knowledge of the loss of the Scorpion, then he was a most consummate actor to maintain any such charade in the close confines of a submarine at sea. If he had knowledge on 24 May, would not he have postponed his visit to the Pargo? Ship rides by senior officers frequently were changed, canceled, or postponed because of other pressing issues of command. One thing for certain, Vice Admiral Schade was not on Pier 22 on Monday, 27 May.
"Has the Sun Set on Celestial?"
(See R. Brown, p. 25, August 1998 Proceedings)
Vice Admiral John R. Ryan, U.S. Navy, Superintendent, U.S. Naval Academy—During early summer, articles appeared in the press reporting on potential modifications to the navigation curriculum at the U.S. Naval Academy. Some of the newspaper articles have, in my opinion, overstated the effects of our intentions to update the navigation course. In some cases, proposed changes to our course of instruction have not been described accurately. Recognizing that genuine interest exists in the naval community about the future of celestial navigation at the Academy, this response is intended to share the facts.
The Naval Academy is considering a wide range of recommendations from the 1997 Special Committee to its Board of Visitors and from a 1998 special curriculum review committee, referred to as Curriculum 21. The Curriculum 21 review committee, chaired by Vice Admiral Doug Katz, U.S. Navy (Retired), consisted of senior officers and civilians, including representatives of the Academy and the Navy and Marine Corps outside of Annapolis.
Among a wide range of academic elated observations and recommendations that cut across the Academy's core curriculum, two recommendations of both review committees were to reduce the amount of class time spent on teaching classic celestial navigation and to increase emphasis on emerging electronic navigation technology. These recommendations were, in part, based on inputs from commanding officers and flag officers from the operational fleets.
There is no plan to cancel the Navigation and Piloting course that is taught during third-class year. In fact, the Curriculum 21 recommendations do not advocate the elimination of all celestial navigation instruction. They recommend retaining instruction in the principles and theory of celestial navigation. The net result of the recommendations, when implemented, will be a modification of the navigation course syllabus. As in the past, however, midshipmen will be required to take two courses of navigation instruction plus mandatory summer underway training as part of the Professional Development core curriculum.
Since 1996, Naval Academy midshipmen have learned navigation in a three part Navigation continuum. In the spring of their fourth-class (freshman) year, they take Fundamentals of Naval Science (which includes piloting and coastal navigation). During the third-class (sophomore) summer, they practice navigation (including sextant introduction) during underway cruises along the East Coast in yard patrol (YP) craft. In the fall of the third-class year, they take Navigation (including celestial and electronic navigation). This triad will continue to form the framework for navigation instruction for future years.
In response to the recent recommendations, navigation syllabi will be updated over the next year. All changes to academic courses of study at the Naval Academy must be authorized by a formal approval process. Accordingly, we have begun work on a revised navigation curriculum, which will be submitted for approval in the coming months. It is our plan to continue to teach celestial navigation theory. We intend to decrease the amount of class time spent on manual sight reduction. By doing so, we will make room in the course syllabus to include some pertinent topics that are not covered now to the degree that we—and current fleet operators—believe appropriate. Our intent is to update our course to cover the navigation-related technologies that Academy graduates will encounter in the fleet. For example, we will introduce midshipmen to the computer software capabilities that are used on board ships to reduce the amount of time spent on traditional celestial navigation computations.
As someone who has navigated at sea and in the air all over the world, I share the concern that our graduates must go to the fleet with strong navigation competence and an appreciation for the traditional mariner skills. I believe that celestial navigation remains relevant and important. At the same time, the Naval Academy is responsible for preparing its graduates to function well as junior officers in today's Navy and Marine Corps. It is important that they be confident in employing all the navigation resources that will be found in their new commands. I am confident that our updated course will provide them the background they need to be successful.
"The Smart Ship Is Not the Answer"
(See A. DiGiorgio, pp. 61-64, June 1998; R. Rushton, p. 22, August 1998 Proceedings)
Commander Craig C. Madsen, U.S. Navy—Mr. DiGiorgio's article might best be answered from a fleet perspective. I too have had some experience with gas-turbine control systems—I served as the main propulsion assistant on the USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964) in the late 1970s, and have commanded the USS Rushmore (LSD-47), the ship selected as the follow-on to the Yorktown's (CG-48) Smart Ship project as the Pacific Fleet's Gator 17 project ship. Although many of Mr. DiGiorgio's individual observations are correct, his article misses the point.
When Mr. DiGiorgio states that "we need managers who have actually worked as electronics engineers . . . not civil servants or naval officers with degrees in mechanical or naval engineering" and "We have had smart systems on board . . . what we need are decision makers who understand them," he shows a typical (in my experience) engineering arrogance that I characterize as "Father knows best." If only we—the fleet—would use his baby as designed, all would be well with the world. There certainly are improvements we can make in our relatively risk-averse profession, but many of our actions are based on operational requirements. There are "restricted maneuvering" situations, for example, when even the minimal delays designed into automated systems are unacceptable. We military folks plan for the "most dangerous" (as opposed to "most likely") scenario.
Mr. DiGiorgio also takes umbrage with the infant mortality programs experienced in the Smart Ship project. Yes, bad things happened. Bad things happened on the Rushmore while I had command as well. But tracking down problems and correcting them create "continual improvement." And it happens with the immediacy that characterizes the fleet—not the studied pace of typical engineering progress. The Smart Ship was fielded in less than three years. Gator 17 is operating on a similar timeline, using lessons learned from Yorktown to move quickly to the next generation of control systems. Engineering discipline and solutions seem to work faster under pressure, and the fleet brings more pressure to bear than does a lab or design floor. What we accept in that process is a series of suboptimal prototypes as we move toward a perfect solution. An 80% plan executed today is better than a 99% plan executed 20 years from now.
When the Propulsion Examining Board (PEB) enters the discussion, folks like to disparage its activities. But the reality is that inspections generate focus and effort. If we want top-quality engineering plants, we'd better inspect them regularly and put some teeth into the results. This happens. I think we can improve the "situational awareness" of such inspections, and the shift to unmanned engine rooms warrants a revisiting of current standards. However, the benefits from years of such inspections must not be discounted, because they result in a highly trained, capable engineering department. When the engineering control systems on the Paul Foster failed during my tenure, the training I had gone through—including many drills—gave me the knowledge to direct full restoration of the ship's systems. This repetitive, pattern-recognizing series of drills ensured effective teaming by all members of my team. We learned not only what the control systems covered, but how to back up those systems manually (in the proper sequence) when they failed. To state that "[PEB] has caused more damage to equipment in the engineering plants of ships than any other U.S. Navy effort" misinterprets the role of the PEB. The PEB trains in time of peace to ensure wartime readiness. My inspections were stateside, and they ensured I had a full-up system when overseas. If it broke here—good. It must have been weak, and unsuitable for combatant use.