(See M. Harper, pp. 16–21, July 2011 Proceedings)
Professor Andrew Erickson, Naval War College, China Maritime Studies Institute—Lieutenant Commander Harper is to be commended for emphasizing the vital importance of transnational supply chains in today’s increasingly globalized world; the growing interdependence between the U.S. and China; and the terrible devastation, economic and otherwise, that would result instantaneously in the unfortunate event of conflict between the two Pacific powers.
Unfortunately, given their differing histories, political systems, and national interests, the United States and China are not at this point able to fully embrace the vision that Harper articulates, despite its importance. It is therefore far too simplistic to posit a Hobson’s choice of preventing conflict by using the State Department to “[ensure] the development of a mature, self-confident China,” while avoiding at all costs the perceived danger of attempting to “counter an increasingly capable Chinese military.” In fact, while Washington must pursue multiple means of effective engagement with Beijing, it must simultaneously maintain the strong military deterrent that has preserved peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific for nearly seven decades—thereby underwriting the very prosperity that Harper extols.
By rapidly developing a full range of asymmetric weapons that threaten specific physics-based limitations in U.S. systems, China is threatening to upset this vital, productive balance. As my most recent coedited volume, Chinese Aerospace Power, demonstrates, China’s antiship ballistic missile (ASBM) is just one of those systems, but in some ways it is potentially the most provocative and disruptive of all. As Paul Giarra emphasizes in his chapter, if left uncountered, “an effective Chinese ASBM capability” could produce “a drastic shift in the correlation of forces for the United States in the Asia-Pacific for the first time since 1942.”
In developing its ASBM and other anti-access systems, China seeks not to wage war, but to have an effective conventional-deterrent capability and, in a worst case scenario, to have a strike capability if deterrence were to fail. The goal is to push foreign military platforms (e.g., carrier strike groups) away from sensitive areas in the event of a crisis or conflict, and to influence the perceptions of people in Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other parts of the region about the likelihood, and likely effectiveness, of U.S. intervention therein. From a Chinese perspective, this appears inherently defensive; from the perspective of the United States and other regional entities, it may not appear “defensive” at all. Therein lies a substantial challenge for Sino-American strategic relations even as the two great powers explore possibilities for mutually beneficial security cooperation, as during Admiral Mike Mullen’s recent visit to China.
Given these unfortunate realities, the U.S. military has a far more important role to play than merely “to ensure it does not stand as an impediment” to Sino-American commerce.
William Thayer—Lieutenant Commander Harper’s article has some very valid observations on how a Chinese-American conflict would impact U.S. companies and the stock market. However, there is another side to the story—the impact on the Chinese economy. If a Chinese blockade of Taiwan were answered with a blockade of China, its imports of oil, coal, and iron would drop to zero, causing major economic repercussions. Furthermore, China is the most export-based economy in the world. A blockade or even huge tariff barriers would bring its economy crashing to the ground.
Additionally, the lack of textiles or electronics from China in Walmart stores would cause the United States to reinvent those manufacturing industries. We might even reduce unemployment.
(See M. Vego, pp. 64–69, July 2011; and A. L. Orchard, pp. 54–57, June 2011 Proceedings)
Remo Salta—Dr. Vego states in his article that “Iran has in service large numbers of small fast-attack craft and plans to use swarming tactics aimed at overwhelming the layered defenses deployed by navies operating in the Persian Gulf.” Lieutenant Orchard states in his article that “Using fast-attack craft, Iran has refined successful swarm tactics—evolved into elaborate detect-to-engage sequences—as the basis of its naval strategy for combating and deterring U.S. naval operations in the gulf.” So it’s obvious that the U.S. Navy is facing a serious threat from large numbers of small Iranian fast-attack craft that will be used to “swarm” or overwhelm the defenses of some of our larger warships in the Persian Gulf, especially aircraft carriers.
Perhaps it’s time to bring back an old concept that was used in the Pacific during World War II, that of the “picket ship.” Those vessels were usually destroyers or destroyer escorts that were placed far away from the carriers so as to warn them of impending aerial attacks. Picket ships also worked in conjunction with other larger warships (such as battleships) and amphibious assault groups.
A modern-day version of the picket ship could be used to protect today’s carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf. An old amphibious assault ship, such as an LPD, could be used for just such a mission. The ship could be heavily armed with anti-aircraft missiles and Phalanx close-in weapons systems for use against cruise missiles and aircraft. The ship also could carry several attack helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that would be used both to patrol the perimeter of the carriers’ battle space as well as confront any oncoming fast-attack craft. But the LPD also could carry a number of smaller, relatively short-ranged fast-attack craft—basically, a swarm of its own.
Sweden builds the Combat Boat 90 (CB90), a class of fast military-assault craft currently used by several countries. Several of those boats could be carried by one LPD and could be heavily armed as well. Once an Iranian swarm of fast-attack craft is detected by the helicopters or UAVs from the LPD, the CB90s could be launched to intercept the Iranian boats. At the very least, the CB90s plus the helicopters would break up the attack, if not destroy it. The LPD itself also could act as a screen or a decoy for the carrier, confusing any cruise missiles launched at the carrier. What is left of the swarm could then be dealt with by the carrier group’s own defenses. A specially equipped LPD picket ship could be the answer to a problem that first presented itself over 65 years ago in the Pacific.
(See G. V. Galdorisi and S. C. Truver, pp. 26–31, July 2011 Proceedings)
Stanley Kalemaris—Declaring the manning plan for the DDG-1000 a success and a model to be emulated by future programs is premature. The process used to create the plan may be a thing of beauty, but no conclusions can be drawn until we know how many Navy and contractor civilians make assist visits during the first deployment and what the crew size is for the second deployment. The enlisted manning of 19 chief petty officers and 87 sailors is cause for concern. If we take the command master chief out of the equation we’re left with 18 chiefs to supervise 87 sailors, or one chief for every five sailors. Captain Galdorisi and Dr. Truver do not specify the ranks of these sailors, but one scenario would have each chief supervise one first-class petty officer, who in turn supervises a second class who supervises a third class who supervises and trains two strikers. The two strikers try to learn and perform their jobs under the watchful gaze of four NCOs! The mix of sailors E-6 and below may vary, but one must conclude that the enlisted complement is topheavy. Will this represent the distribution of enlisted ranks throughout the Navy, or will all the chiefs go to sea while the lower ranks serve in shore billets?
(See J. Holwitt, pp. 36–41, June 2011; and S. D. Alden, pp. 7, 82, July 2011 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Joel Holwitt, U.S. Navy—I am very honored that such a distinguished submarine historian as Commander Alden commented on my article. I absolutely agree with his comment about the importance of nuclear power. As I wrote in the article, nuclear power provides the irreplaceable benefits of high power, range, and speed. Any cheaper submarine that gives up any of these benefits is an unwise choice for our Navy.
Due to space considerations, I did not address the pivotal role of Admiral Thomas C. Hart regarding the Marlin (SS-205) and Mackerel (SS-204). Based on his experience in World War I, Hart consistently favored smaller submarines. Even after his brief wartime command of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet in World War II, Hart continued to insist that American submarine design was too complex, too large, too comfortable, and too filled with “gadgets.”
As Commander Alden notes, our Navy has too frequently churned out an inferior product when called on to build a cheaper vessel. The ultimate success of the fleet submarine in World War II was predicated by the interwar recognition that the right submarine for a Pacific war required adequate surface speed, a reasonable amount of torpedoes and ordnance, and the range for extended cruising. A similar analysis about what we really need our submarines to do today may identify key requirements, while eliminating some unnecessary and costly additions.
(See S. Tait, pp. 58–63, June 2011 Proceedings)
Captain Wayne P. Hughes Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired)—I hope the Fleet grasps the potential of a triple reward of modern defensive smoke at sea described in Commander Tait’s insightful article. First, radio-frequency (RF) obscurant holds promise of almost immediate help to defend against the hot antiship cruise missiles (ASCMs) that are neutralizing our hard-kill defenses.
Second, if effective, RF smoke will be adaptable and inexpensive. It offers hope of staying abreast of future ASCM developments we are facing.
Third, RF smoke may free the U.S. Navy from depending on costly surface-to-air missiles fired from expensive Aegis ships. Smaller, more offensive-disposed, and more affordable warships can then be substituted to maintain the surface fleet’s superiority in the missile age of naval warfare.
The Fleet should demand immediate tests to measure RF smoke’s effectiveness, which is much like the “Window” of World War II but is applicable against modern RF seekers. If the tests are even moderately successful, then it should be deployed wherever the ASCM threat exists so that Fleet tactics can be developed quickly to exploit it its promise.
(See W. J. Holland, p. 8, June 2011 Proceedings)
Captain Steven F. Kime, U.S. Navy (Retired)—Admiral Holland is a patriot and straight talker. He has made huge contributions to our country. He is right about some very important things. There is no more important Department of Defense mission than the strategic nuclear one. He is right that nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine basing is superior to all other options. Admiral Holland is probably right that the replacement of the Ohio class will go forward, but I believe that before it does, we ought to stop and think about the pace and size of the replacement class.
But Admiral Holland’s assertion that neither “the state of the budget” or anything else can alter the building of the Ohio-class SSBN replacement is wrong. Even more plain and simple than his point about the importance of the SSBN mission is a glaring fact: We cannot afford everything we want.
It no longer makes sense to assert that any military program is the reality and the fiscal situation must conform to it. We finally have arrived at a point in this great country’s history where the opposite is true. It is time for all of us to wake up and smell the coffee.
We desperately need some decision-makers to start thinking about an American military force that makes sense in the 21st century. There is a reasonable chance that we could afford such a military, which would include SSBNs, strong core Army, Navy, and Marine standing forces, and a beefed-up domestic security force. But America cannot absorb the pace and size of every huge project ground out by the vested interests of the military-industrial complex.
This is not the argument of a peacenik. The fact is that not all of us who believe our country should be prepared for war think we need to maintain forces for the kinds of wars that America has become involved in for the last 50 years. We want solid, core conventional forces. We accept that a reasonably sized, invulnerable nuclear force is required. We see the need for more attention to domestic security.
We must develop a new vision of how and in what proportions the nation should structure forces to fit the actual needs of our national defense. That vision has to be sustainable by defense budgets smaller than what we have now. Some military oxen will be gored. None should be exempt from serious scrutiny in the light of a new day in budget-constrained strategic planning.
(See L. R. Vasey, pp. 66–71, August 2010; and R. R. McDonald, D. M. Showers, and C. E. McDowell, pp. 81–82, January 2011; L. R. Vasey, p. 85, February 2011; T. Hayward, p. 87, March 2011; and J. Treanor, pp. 84–86, April 2011; and R. J. Hanyok, p. 85, June 2011 Proceedings)
Rear Admiral Lloyd R. “Joe” Vasey U.S. Navy (Retired)—Mr. Hanyok claims that my August 2010 article “Tonkin: Setting the record Straight” misquoted his article “Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds, and Flying Fish” which he wrote as senior historian for National Security Agency’s Center for Cryptologic History. One issue is in the following quote from my article:
It seems that the NSA position (presented to President Johnson) was a fairly straightforward one: that the second attack occurred [emphasis added].” Then he [Hanyok] implies a political motive behind the NSA position: “This allowed President Johnson to shift the blame for the final decision (to order an air attack against North Vietnam) from himself to the ‘experts’ who had assured him of the strength of the evidence from the SIGINT.” But Hanyok offers no proof to support this allegation.
I would emphasize that I did not directly attribute the quote that “this allowed President Johnson. . .” to Hanyok. In fact, on page 39 of his article that quote appears preceded by the phrase, “So firm was NSA’s position that one previous NSA historian has suggested . . . .”
In my article, I used the term Hanyok implies simply by including the quote. So the question arises: Why did Hanyok include the quote from another historian if not to make the implication?
Hanyok also claims that I omitted the context of his statement about the NSA position. He states, “At no time did the NSA include the doubts its analysts held regarding the second attack when it reported intelligence about the attack to the national leadership. The ‘straightforward’ position scrubbed out any doubts regarding the attack—which was a disservice to the President.” But Hanyok also wrote: “As for the doubts about the second attack among analysts at NSA, it appears that none of them were ever publicized during the briefings with officials at the Defense Department. Or if they were mentioned, they were downplayed.”
The phrases “it appears” and “if they were” are a far cry from his statement “At no time did the NSA include the doubts its analysts held. . . .”
Relevant to the foregoing discussion is the statement of Louis F. Giles, NSA Director of Policy and Records, who conducted an analysis of the Hanyok article in December 2005: “While Mr. Hanyok’s analysis of the available COMINT [communications intelligence] evidence is convincing, on its own, the COMINT does not prove that an attack did or did not occur.”
And finally, I note that Mr. Hanyok states in the last sentence of his June letter that “The Gulf of Tonkin incidents remain a contentious issue.” Yet based in large part on his oft-quoted original paper, the “received wisdom” is that “it is a settled issue that the second attack never occurred.” That is precisely why, building in part on Mr. Giles’ December 2005 article, I felt compelled to write my article, while still able to do so. We should always remember the convincing evidence of an attack on 4 August 1964 presented by sailors and officers on the scene, which I cited and discussed in my article.
(See H. J. Hendrix and J. N. Williams, pp. 21–26, May 2011; and R. Selman and R. Salta, pp. 6–7, June 2011 Proceedings)
Michael Shrimpton—It is not surprising if Captain Hendrix and Lieutenant Colonel Williams are standing by for incoming. If I may add to the broadsides that I am sure already have been fired, even Great Britain, crippled as it is by the terrible economic burden of European Union membership, and forced to export several million jobs by reason of uncontrolled mass immigration and uncontrolled imports from Communist China, is getting into the supercarrier game.
Do I have this right? At a time when Great Britain, India, and wannabe-superpower China are getting into supercarriers, the authors are suggesting the United States gets out of them? Isn’t there an echo here of the arguments in the late 1930s against building the Yorktown and Illustrious carrier classes?
And since when did the battleship era end in “the 1940s”? I thought the last time the U.S. Navy committed battlewagons to combat was 1991. We Brits made a terrible mistake in not using the dear old Vanguard at Suez, and not laying her up in ordinary instead of scrapping her. She would have done wonderful work in the Falklands War.
If I may say so, it was probably a mistake not to refit the Iowas, the Washingtons, and the Alabama and Massachusetts (great ships all) for the war on terrorism. They would have been jolly useful off Basra, and just the thing to impress pirates and reassure merchant mariners in the Indian Ocean.
I respectfully urged keeping the John F. Kennedy in commission. Taking the wonderful USS Enterprise (CVN-65) out of service is a huge mistake if I may say so. If that happens the United States will be five supercarriers short. Twelve at sea or available to go to sea is surely the minimum safe number, as the Libyan campaign has demonstrated. Allowing for three in refit I make that 15.
(See S. C. Truver and R. Holzer, pp. 70–76, May 2011 Proceedings)
Norman Polmar—I am a great fan of Admiral John Harvey. But his comments about how the Navy is handling the massive firing of commanding officers reflects the problems with today’s Navy leadership. Admiral Harvey is quoted saying, “Fortunately, our Navy is a learning organization, and the significant lessons learned (and relearned) from this investigation are already being studied, discussed, and incorporated into appropriate leadership training curricula.”
This response does not indicate how the Navy is solving the problem. What was learned, studied, discussed, and incorporated after 26 commanding officers were fired in 2003? Or after 17 were fired last year? Thirteen COs have been relieved this year as this comment is written.
The Navy’s leadership has failed, and miserably, to handle this situation as well as the numerous problems that plague the shipbuilding program and enlisted personnel. Changes need to be made in the Navy’s policies, procedures, and attitudes related to these problems—and those changes are needed now.
(See T. Kiefer, p. 14, May 2011 Proceedings)
Senior Chief Engineering Aid Timothy F. Buckley, U.S. Navy Seabees (Retired)—Finally, someone with common sense. Captain Kiefer hit the nail on the head as to what the problem is with the service khaki and dungaree working uniforms worn by our sailors. Navy professionals require a traditional Navy uniform.
Back in the day, chiefs and officers dressed in service-dress blues, service-dress khakis, or working khakis. Ships were conned in these uniforms. Great battles of World War II were won wearing these uniforms. Enlisted men left the ship on liberty in a dress uniform and let the world know we were sailors in the greatest navy in the world—ambassors of good will around the world, as it was stated on the reverse side of my liberty card. All hands worked in Navy dungarees.
Every issue of Proceedings has articles discussing the loss of funding for certain projects. How much money has the Navy wasted on the asinine “aquaflage” uniform? Those were funds that could have been used to buy beans, bullets, and Band-Aids for the Fleet.
I recently had lunch on a destroyer and noticed the topside personnel were in “aquaflage” and the engineering gang wore blue coveralls.
Naval personnel attached to joint commands should be authorized to wear the battle-dress uniform (BDU) command personnel are wearing. My son completed an individual-augmentee billet in Kabul, Afghanistan, and wore the Army BDU with U.S. Navy insignia over the left pocket.
We need get back to the professional uniforms traditionally worn by our Navy personnel and stop the foolishness.