When I left command of the USS Russell (DDG-59) in 2006, I thought I had the Aegis combat-system readiness all figured out—most of it, anyway. I was wrong. As often happens in life, there was an overlooked sign that became crystal clear when I later looked back.
In July 2006, when the Russell was detached from our previous strike group to head west and prepare for a ballistic-missile launch from a country of interest, I got a call from the Aegis ballistic-missile defense (BMD) technical director asking if I needed a “mini equipment groom.” I agreed, even though I thought my systems were good. But the groom revealed that the ship’s inertial navigation system was not up to par. My jaw hit the deck when the technician told me that if tasked, I would not be able to complete the long-range surveillance-and-track mission. We replaced the failing components and were back up in short order.