More than 30 years ago, Proceedings published an article titled "The Bureaus Go On Forever." It traced the slow, steady rise and the stunningly swift demise of the Navy's material bureau system and showed clearly that the bureaus did not go on forever. The title of the article came from a statement made by a Navy captain, testifying before a congressional committee some 100 years after the bureaus were established. He said: "Bureaus are stronger than their chiefs. The chiefs change from time to time but the bureaus go on forever." His point was that institutions survive individuals. Historically, that has been true. But today's Navy leadership seems intent on destroying its material establishment institutions without seriously considering replacements.
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