(See P. Molenda, pp. 46–52, July 2014 Proceedings)
Thomas C. Hone—I had the great good fortune to teach at the Naval War College twice—once in the National Security Decision-Making Department in 1985–86 and then in the Joint Military Operations Department from 2006 to 2009. The difference between 1985–86 and 2006–09 was due primarily to two factors. The first was the “Officer Professional Military Education Policy,” which opened the War College curriculum to the imperatives of the joint staff. The second factor was the willingness and ability of the War College and its associated and allied organizations (such as the Center for Naval Warfare Studies and the Maritime Advanced Warfighting School) to respond to legitimate demands made by the Navy and by the unified and specified commands for officers schooled in various areas of expertise, such as joint operational planning.
Together, these two factors have shaped the structure and curriculum of the Naval War College. Because of Goldwater-Nichols, and because the end of the Cold War brought in its wake a whole new set of strategic, economic, informational, and political challenges, the Naval War College cannot go through another “Turner Revolution.” What Captain Molenda regards as a lack of cohesion in the War College’s programs is just a result of the institution responding to the many diverse demands made on it. From experience, I know it is not possible to reconcile these different—and legitimate—demands and have the curriculum that Captain Molenda recommends. Does that mean the War College “educational model” is inadequate? No. What it does mean is that there is no “one” model, and consequently efforts to impose one will only make matters worse.
(See T. N. Branch, pp. 18–23; M. Swartz and C. Page, pp. 24–29; J. White and S. Filipowski, pp. 30–35; M. Palmieri, pp. 36–40; and P. Price, pp. 42–45, July 2014 Proceedings)
Captain Jim Adams, U.S. Navy (Retired)—As a former fleet commander and numbered fleet assistant chief of staff for Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Collaboration, and Intelligence (C5I), I looked forward to reading the information dominance (ID) articles in the July issue. I was disappointed and somewhat alarmed that not one of them mentioned the prevention of electromagnetic interference (EMI) as a key tenet of real-time spectrum operations. It seems that all from the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations on down have forgotten some of the lessons of the loss of HMS Sheffield in the Falklands in 1982. If the senior officials do not articulate the need for the prevention of EMI caused by Blue C5I systems on other Blue systems to the acquisition community, the performance of our C5ISR systems will be suboptimal, and we will eventually sustain combat losses involving loss of personnel and national treasure.
I recommend strongly that the DCNO for ID look closely at soon-to-be-fielded C5I systems and how his staff and the acquisition bureaucracy have prepared for and funded the correction of inevitable C5I system degradation caused by poor upfront system engineering, particularly EMI. Without doing that, “assured IP” or “real-time spectrum operations” are just buzzwords de jour.
None of the articles really addressed the responsibility of the Information Dominance Corps to train our ID warriors how to fight our afloat and ashore C4IT systems that have been degraded through acts of nature or the enemy. Only one mention is made of the necessity to be able to fight in complete EMCON. Our future enemies will know how. We need to be training now in this vital area! The usual response from the fleet staffs is we will lose too much training time in fighting our C4I systems in a “hurt condition.” It will be too late to win a war against a capable enemy unless we train our ID Corps and the operational fleet commanding officers. They must be well drilled in how to react to a sustained loss of shore IP connectivity or the need to rely on systems such as HF radios that rarely get trained on.
(See H. Ernst, p. 74, July 2014 Proceedings)
Rear Admiral Richard F. Pittenger, U.S. Navy (Retired), former OPNAV Director of Antisubmarine Warfare (1986–88) and Oceanographer of the Navy (1988–90)—Joshua Horwitz’s recently published book, reviewed by Dr. Ernst in the July issue, is an important addition to the discussion of clashes between the military and environmental-advocacy groups. However, the book lacks balance; it does not treat the Navy with the same degree of insight as it does the so-called environmental side. Lost are the driving forces for the Navy’s antisubmarine-warfare (ASW) systems. The author also fails to compare the scale of sonar-related whale mortalities with those caused by other human activities such as fishing and shipping.
During the Cold War, a global undersea-surveillance system was developed and deployed. This system, SOSUS, was one of the mostly highly classified (and effective) systems of the era. It was a strategically important sensor that let us know every day that “the Russians weren’t coming.” Tactical forces were able to exploit SOSUS and other intelligence cues to a level that gave the Navy and National Command Authority some comfort. Passive acoustic systems were developed for all platforms. SOSUS and other detection means provided essential order-of-battle and cuing information vital to countering stealthy submarines.
Over time the Soviets, abetted by espionage successes, quieted their subs and passive systems began to lose their effectiveness. To counter this, fixed systems were distributed and plans made to use them as both passive and active receivers. Active sonar systems were made a priority especially for surface and air platforms. A new large-area search system, LFA/SURTASS, was put on the fast track to fill in the expected gaps in SOSUS coverage as the targets got quieter.
With the end of the Cold War, the Navy lost its peer competitor but not its submarine threat completely. The former Soviet Union found a ready market for its diesel and some of its nuclear subs. Nations have long recognized the submarine as an excellent asymmetric ship to counter larger navies. The need for continued U.S. readiness in the field of ASW dictated that some developmental Cold War systems continue through deployment.
Then in 2000, a mass stranding of marine mammals occurred in the Bahamas, as reported in Horwitz’s book. I’ll leave the Navy’s reaction to the incident and its dealing with the numerous resulting or related lawsuits up to the readers of the book who should, I think, put this and other events into their proper context:
• The Navy needs to have ASW systems that work and must train in this most difficult of all operational environments—the sea. There are no high-fidelity shore-based trainers.
• There is a need in ASW system designs for secrecy; that’s how one gets and keeps an edge.
• We must recognize that the Navy did not set out to purposely kill or injure any creatures in the sea. The U.S. Navy is by far the largest funder of marine-mammal research worldwide. Practically everything we know about whale physiology, including hearing and behavior, comes from Navy-funded research.
• Following the Bahamas stranding, the Navy immediately put into place operational procedures and rules to reduce the danger posed to marine mammals.
• Despite heavy use of Navy exercise areas near the continental United States for the past century, there has never been a mass stranding of beaked whales (defined as two or more whales stranding in close time-and-space proximity, not including mother/calf pairs) on any Lower 48 coast.
• If one totals up all of Navy-operations-related whale mortalities, the number is somewhere less than a thousand in the 55 years since mid-frequency sonars entered service—less than ten per year. Ship strikes kill whales, including blue whales (the largest animals on the planet), at a much higher annual rate than that but go mostly unreported.
• By comparison, a 1999 paper reported that in U.S. fisheries alone the mean annual bycatch in the 1990s was more than 6,000 and estimated that the global fisheries bycatch as being in the hundreds of thousands—perhaps greater than 600,000. Entanglement in fishing gear (e.g. gill nets, lobster pots) is a major source of marine mammals’ deaths that is much higher than sonar-related deaths but rarely publicized.
• Finally, a more subtle, less visible, but more serious outcome of this issue is that active underwater-acoustics research and development in this country has almost completely stopped, with potentially long-term negative effects on the U.S. Navy’s ASW readiness. I have to ask if there isn’t a better way to protect marine mammals while maintaining national security.
(See J. Murphy, p. 14, June 2014; and W. J. Holland Jr. and M. Swinger, p. 9, July 2014 Proceedings)
Senior Chief Jim Murphy, U.S. Navy (Retired)—I thank Admiral Holland for his very kind opening statement. Comments like that from such an accomplished naval officer and author are indeed humbling and sincerely appreciated. I am glad he decided to share his thoughts in the July “Comment and Discussion.” In my very first “From the Deckplates” column, I asked readers to say so if they agreed with me and to “say so louder” if they disagreed. So I appreciate the admiral’s counterarguments, even though we continue to disagree.
Comparing efforts to eliminate racial segregation and eliminate tobacco sales likens civil rights to personal choice. Using this example, though, the opposite argument could be made: Minorities deserve an opportunity to serve, and smokers deserve to decide for themselves. These are two radically different issues, and I have difficulty equating the two.
Permanent changes to cultural norms, which Admiral Holland foresees in plans to end tobacco sales, most effectively occur naturally, over long periods, not through edict. Military and civilian smoking rates have declined in this way, and this trend will continue through continuing awareness, reasonable cessation-program availability, and overall attitudes toward use, not to mention the growing popularity of tobacco-free alternatives. Executive edicts restricting access to tobacco will be as successful as the long forgotten Paper-Free Navy initiative of a generation ago. Banning tobacco use altogether might be more successful, but do we really want to turn tobacco use into a disciplinary issue policed by already over-tasked leaders?
Thanks also to Commander Swinger. He lists but a few of the more important issues our leaders should be solving, and he appropriately points out that we already place enough restrictions on our people while extending deployments and continuing the now two-decades-long requirement to “do more with less” (people, money, materials, and morale).
(See M. Jabaley, pp. 34–37, June 2014 Proceedings)
Captain W. J. Mahony, U.S. Navy (Retired)—I read with interest the excellent article by Admiral Jabaley. The background of and rationale for the Submarine Safety Certification Criterion should be understood widely by all elements of the submarine force and those involved in sub maintenance. Referring to the loss of the Thresher, Admiral Jabaley states that “a piping failure in one of the sea-water systems was the most probable cause.” A personal experience affirms this conclusion.
As a submarine-qualified lieutenant serving at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for a year in 1960, I was assigned as the investigating officer to determine the cause and responsibility for a silver-brazed joint failure in a small line connected to a boss in a larger sea-water system in the Thresher. The casualty occurred during a sea trial prior to commissioning. The crew successfully isolated it, and the cause was determined to be the omission of a necessary silver solder ring. This and similar casualties in other submarines led to the redesign of silver-brazed fittings to assure integrity by ultrasound criteria.
I am sure Admiral Jabaley is aware of the several other possibilities that were either causes or contributors to this tragic event. The failure of the Thresher’s main ballast blow system was a highly suspect factor. It froze up in about a minute due to the adiabatic expansion of high-pressure air containing residual water. This freeze-up led to the frustrated report to the tending ASR, “. . . am attempting to blow!”
This aspect of the casualty generated the design of the currently installed emergency main-ballast-tank blow systems that pass the 4,500-psi air directly from its source to the ballast tanks through larger-diameter piping with a minimum of interfering orifices. The “chicken switches” that initiate this blow require no electrical actuation. The system’s performance is dramatic and illustrated widely.
(See W. P. Hughes, pp. 26–32, June 2014 Proceedings)
Remo Salta—Every so often we read an article that smaller fast-attack craft (FAC) are needed in the littorals, and it always makes perfect sense. Why not build on the experience the U.S. Navy gained with the PT boats we maintained throughout World War II, with the Asheville-class gunboats used during the Vietnam War, and with the Pegasus- and Cyclone-class FACs we had toward the end of the Cold War?
Because the U.S. Navy doesn’t like doing small things in peacetime. Whenever it tries to do something small, it turns it into something overpriced and large. The littoral combat ship is a perfect example of that. And the only time the Navy gets serious about FACs is when it’s faced with a prolonged conflict, such as World War II, Vietnam, or the Cold War.
So why doesn’t the U.S. Navy finally admit that it doesn’t do small things well and go to the people who actually do know a lot about small FACs? Of course I’m talking about the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard has had a long history in dealing with small patrol boats and FACs. As recently as the Second Gulf War, Island-class Coast Guard cutters were used by the U.S. Navy to patrol off the coast of Iraq. And a large number of Point-class patrol boats were used with great effect by the U.S. Navy in Vietnam during Operation Market Time. The Coast Guard knows small boats and small-boat warfare.
So why not build on that? The Coast Guard is part of the Navy during times of war, and the Coast Guard also trains regularly with the Navy. Therefore, both services could make a seamless transition into a single service in wartime. All that’s missing is the right ship that Captain Hughes is looking for.
Why not use the Coast Guard’s new Sentinel-class fast-response cutter? Why not add 20 of these cutters to the Coast Guard’s inventory (10 or more for the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, with the balance to be distributed along the West Coast)? These specific cutters could be modified and fully armed with guns and missiles as potent FACs.
In peacetime, these ships would perform normal Coast Guard tasks, such as search-and-rescue, anti-drug operations, etc. In wartime, they would be used by the Navy as missile- and gun-armed FACs. The Coast Guard crews would remain with the ships, giving the Navy the benefit of having crews already familiar with the vessels and also fully trained in their use as FACs. All that would be needed is to transport these vessels to the combat area, just like the Island-class boats were shipped to the Persian Gulf at the start of the Second Gulf War.
The Coast Guard could always use more patrol boats, and for a small investment we could get both added coastal security for the United States and a credible FAC force. Sounds like a good investment for this nation.