(See J. Murphy, p. 10, March 2014 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Fred M. Sallee, U.S. Navy (Retired)—Senior Chief Murphy hit a nerve with me when writing of commanding officers who strive to make their mark during a brief tenure as CO. I too saw skippers who determined to advance themselves by flying more hours, or deploying more days, and demanding more output from the crew than their predecessors had. The men and women recognized when they became expendable resources, and the resulting burnout cost the Navy in early departures of good people, and even an attempted suicide in one command. The environment at sea became mean instead of proud, more hazardous, and less productive. The damage was foreseeable and recognized, but accepted by a skipper who had reaped his rewards and moved on by the time things bottomed out. Subsequent COs had an even greater challenge to “make a mark” while climbing out of a pit. Looking ahead seven generations is great for strategic planning, but looking ahead with a heart and mind to do the best to develop your sailors and advance the careers of the many good members of the crew is also critically needed.
(See D. C. Fuquea, pp. 22–28, March 2014 Proceedings)
Steve Paschal—Colonel Fuquea’s article brilliantly and holistically addresses a large number of the challenges facing the amphibious force. Given fiscal reality he has rightly defined the key strategic driver of future force structure—the minimum needed for continuous peacetime presence/deterrence/availability at multiple “hubs.” He then creatively addresses greater wartime needs via a commercial surge capability. Another major point is the Navy’s inadequate landing-craft capability. I recall back in the mid-1990s, while serving in the USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43), watching the tactical conundrum in one exercise as our four LCACs sped off over the horizon, in another quietly launching slow heavily laden LCUs, and in a third closing the beach, dropping AAVs out the back and watching them bob and weave and trudge toward the near shore. Twenty years later nothing has changed—all the same craft are in the Navy’s inventory. And according to the last Marine Air-Ground Task Force amphibious plan I saw, the next generation of landing craft will provide only moderate improvement—50 years of similar and overall too slow, disparate, and short-ranged performance!
With the MV-22 Osprey the Marine Corps has substantially improved air movement and immediate steps are needed to do the same for the heavier elements of a Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) or brigade (MEB). The air-supported vessel technology Colonel Fuquea points out, or perhaps the ultra-heavy amphibious vehicle undergoing testing by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are options the Navy would be wise to aggressively pursue. And given that the Navy’s research-and-development funding for Fiscal Year 2014 is larger than its ship-construction funding ($15 billion vs. $14 billion), money for this vital project should not be impossible to find. I would advise placing orders for several models and then testing the daylights out of them to determine which one or which combination of landing craft would work best.
In addition to Colonel Fuquea’s proposals for faster and longer-range craft to finally deliver from over the horizon, I recommend consideration of means to increase the number of landing craft available to the MEU or at least the two maritime prepositioning squadrons. One reasonable cost option would be pursuing a “landing craft transport” perhaps based on the new mobile landing platform. These large ships would be ideal, providing the ability to double or triple the number of landing craft available to the MEU, as a fourth ship in an amphibious ready group, or attached to a maritime prepositioning ship and available on occasion for the more rapid offload of an MEU or MEB. This would give Marines substantially improved ship-to-shore movement that matches their air capability and provides a truly over-the-horizon, from-the-sea, Marine amphibious-assault “2.0.” Carpe diem, Navy!
(See W. J. Holland Jr., pp. 48–53, December 2013; N. Polmar, pp. 9, 82, February 2014; and S. Ragsdale, p. 85, April 2014 Proceedings)
Norman Polmar—I appreciate and understand Senior Chief Ragsdale’s comments on U.S. submarine programs. However, he is in error with respect to his comments on Soviet-Russian submarines.
First, he cites the 1991 edition of my Guide to the Soviet Navy for data on the Papa/Project 661 nuclear-propelled submarine. Obviously, the book was written before the demise of the Soviet Union and the subsequent availability of considerably more definitive data on its submarine programs.
Indeed, the following year, the Russian naval commander-in-chief, Admiral Vladimir N. Chernavin, invited me to Russia to participate in a joint editorial project. That trip led to my first visit to the Rubin submarine-design bureau and meetings with the bureau head and many of his senior designers. Over the next few years I made several trips to St. Petersburg to meet with members of the Rubin and Malachite submarine-design bureaus, and one visit to Nizhny Novgorod to visit the Lazurite design bureau. Thus, I was given access to detailed data on their projects—built and not built—as well as published and unpublished documents. I also had the privilege of helping to sponsor visits to Washington (and to my home) of the heads of the Rubin and Malachite bureaus.
Some of the results of these meetings and documents are found in the book Cold War Submarines (Potomac Books, 2003), which I coauthored with K. J. Moore, and call to Senior Chief Ragsdale’s attention. Thus, I can state with a high degree of confidence that the Papa submarine—named K-162 and, later, K-222—achieved 44.7 knots on trials. Further, some of her early problems were resolved. The Papa, a cruise-missile submarine, originally was intended for series production, but the cost was too high, and more capable missile submarines were under development; the Albacore (AGSS-569), of course, was an unarmed test bed and not a combat submarine.
The time lines that Senior Chief Ragsdale cites for two new Russian submarines also are incorrect. When the submarines were begun in the early 1990s Russia’s defense establishment was in chaos. The Soviet Union had disappeared, several key component industries were in republics that had become independent countries, and the country faced a financial crisis. These and other issues caused a halt to construction of those submarines. The submarines then underwent major redesigns. Thus, their construction time lines appear unbelievably long. But the submarines that were laid down are not the submarines now entering service.
There was no halt to the construction or major redesign of the Seawolf (SSN-21); she just took an unprecedented 7 years, 8 months, and 25 days to construct.
(See D. Forman, pp. 26–31, April 2014 Proceedings)
David W. Szelowski—Commander Forman and a number of other Proceedings authors are quite incorrect concerning AirLand Battle being used during Desert Storm in January–February 1991. The U.S. Army thought that the U.S. Air Force was going to use this operational concept, but as it turned out the plan that was executed was the air campaign designed to independently bring the conflict to a conclusion through air power without the use of ground forces. In a letter to the Editor of Joint Forces Quarterly (Spring 1995, p. 101), Air Force Colonel Michael A. Kirtland, chief of the Military Doctrine Research Airpower Research Institute, wrote: “The Army–Air Force AirLand Battle concept . . . is not now nor has it ever been Air Force doctrine. . . .” What the AirLand battle did for the Air Force was lead to the creation of a Joint Air Force Component Commander and the central control of all air assets while ignoring Army doctrinal requirements. So far, the only tangible affect of Air-Sea Battle is the Navy’s endorsement for a new U.S. Air Force strategic manned bomber while the Fleet declines.
(See M. C. Manazir, pp. 16–21, February 2014; and S. C. Truver, p. 8, April 2014 Proceedings)
Commander Daniel Dolan, U.S. Navy—While modern aircraft carriers indeed remain responsive and relevant for many contingencies, they have also never operated in a high-threat kinetic environment. Admiral Manazir notes in his article that the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) participated in every major conflict from the Cold War through Operation Iraqi Freedom. What is equally true is that in every one of those conflicts, the Enterprise was able to operate in a low to no-threat environment. The Enterprise was never subjected to a Cold War nightmare attack by dozens of cruise missiles simultaneously launched from Soviet ships, aircraft, and submarines. This type of threat environment exists today from potential opponents in both the Pacific and Persian Gulf.
Many who write and think about maritime strategy today are suggesting that now is a point in time, like the mid-1980s, where the U.S. Navy is once again vulnerable to being challenged in many vital areas for control of the sea. While Admiral Manazir specifically notes the emerging long-range anti-access/area-denial weapons such as the “media-hyped” DF-21D missile, he does not address the persistent and prolific threat from the weapons of the present: cruise missiles, wake-homing torpedoes, quiet diesel submarines, and mines. Nor does he go into the weapons of the future (drone-launched stealthy supersonic cruise missiles) and instruments of war that are yet to be imagined.
There are on occasion abrupt punctuation points in history that mark a significant shift in naval strategy, tactics, and technology. They consist of those historically rare events, like Pearl Harbor, that crystalize the moment; and then there are those events that we either neglect or choose not to notice. The greatest risk to strategic planners is either not recognizing these shifts or misinterpreting them. Perhaps we have already passed a few without even recognizing them for what they were. Examples from World War II serve to illustrate that without the test of war-at-sea combat, how will we know for certain where our vulnerabilities exist?
World War II ushered in the age of the aircraft carrier. A frightening thought is that we may already be operating in a new age but have failed to notice. Is this the age of the guided missile? Have such weapons made large and enormously expensive capital ships too vulnerable to operate in anything but a low- to no-threat environment? The most important thing to keep in mind as this debate about the viability of aircraft carriers ensues is that the lessons of history illustrate that mid-course corrections in strategy, while costly for land forces, may be impossible to recover from in a naval conflict. The investment in the type of Navy with which we plan to sail through the remaining years of the 21st century is one we cannot afford to get wrong.
(See T. B. Hayward, E. S. Briggs, and D. K. Forbes, p. 10, January 2014; E. M. Mitchell, J. Sandison, D. Connell, B. A. Williams, and S. Y. Cho, pp. 86–87, March 2014; and D. Burns, pp. 84–85, April 2014 Proceedings)
Mark Swan—I was pleased to see the referenced article and was not surprised to read the letters attacking the authors in the March 2014 Proceedings.
One of the letter writers cites the report produced by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC). This panel consists of members appointed by the various members of the U.N. The panel members are supposed to hold some expertise in the science regarding the environment. In fact, only 10 percent or fewer have any scientific or technical expertise at all. Most are political operatives appointed by their governments. Of the 250 or so who do have some scientific or technical expertise, about 50 actually participated in producing the report cited. The rest of the panel just signed off on the report produced by small minority of its membership. And this report did not rely on any actual research by the panel but merely summarized other reports on the topic. Because of the numerous errors and thus inaccurate conclusions, the UNIPCC report is viewed as less than creditable by the scientific community.
Contrast this with the petition rejecting the anthropogenic theory of global warming signed by more than 30,000 climatologists, scientists, physicists, and engineers, all with bona fide professional credentials.
There are at least six other theories regarding the causes for the changing climate of the Earth. The UNIPCC almost totally ignores these other theories. Surprising, given the fact that Solar Variability (one of the theories) accounts for most if not all of the warming we have experienced in the last 30 years and will continue to dominate the Earth’s climate changes well into the 21st century.
There is another aspect that comes into play—data integrity and reliability. Any study or report is only as good as the data that goes into the analysis. The United States has the reputation of having the best network of surface-temperature monitoring stations in the world. In fact there are 1,221 such stations fairly evenly distributed over the lower 48 states. The National Weather Service (NWS), a department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is responsible for these climate-monitoring stations. A survey completed in 2009 determined that 90 percent of these stations failed to meet the NWS siting standards. These standards require that climate-monitoring stations be at least 100 feet away from any artificial heat or heat-radiating source. In addition to this problem, there are significant gaps in the data from many stations. These data gaps are “filled in with data from nearby stations.” The information is unreliable and probably reports temperatures higher than the actual surface temperature.
Admirals Hayward and Briggs and Captain Forbes are correct in questioning the validity of anthropogenic global warming. The Earth’s climate has been changing and will continue to change. We should be spending our efforts and resources in learning how to successfully adapt to the changes rather than spending our resources on the useless efforts in trying to stop the changes from occurring.
Lieutenant Commander Timothy P. McGeehan, U.S. Navy—By devoting the bulk of their article to refuting anthropogenic drivers of climate change, the authors obscured their message that strategic independence is the next security frontier. They stated the need for a “credible energy policy that promotes development of burgeoning natural resources and infallible delivery of their products,” but did not elaborate on these ideas.
They instead cited a litany of facts that are incomplete or misleading. For example, “Satellite data show Arctic Sea ice is currently equal to the 1979–2012 average . . .” (Climate Change Weekly #48: “Polar Sea Ice Reaches another Milestone,” Heartland Institute, 27 April 2012). The areal extent of sea ice on that particular date was near the long-term average, but it must be taken in context: There is relatively little variability for April in general (at the end of the cold, dark polar winter that promotes ice growth). The major interest is in the ice extent after the summertime melt season, which for 2012 (five months after the cited observation) was the lowest in recorded history, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Furthermore, ice loss is being actually observed faster than climate models have forecast. Furthermore, overall sea-ice volume is decreasing even faster than ice extent due to a thinning trend as well.
Other statements including “over recent geological time” or “exhibit typical natural variability” when used to describe temperature and sea level can also be misleading, because time scales are vague. Humanity has been on the scene for a very short period of geologic time, and in that context our recent civilization has represented the blink of an eye, particularly the modern industrial period. Much of Florida has spent plenty of “recent geological time” underwater. However, we now have large population centers and critical infrastructure (including military bases) on our coasts that are sensitive to sea-level rise, making it an immediate concern.
I agree with the authors that we are too dependent on foreign oil and need energy policies to push us toward strategic independence. Therefore, even if I accept the authors’ assertion that anthropogenic carbon-dioxide levels aren’t a problem, why wouldn’t we still work to reduce our dependence on oil altogether by shifting toward natural and renewable energy? No matter where it comes from, oil is a finite resource. Our dependence on it has become a vulnerability, even at the tactical level. In 2007, more than one third of U.S. Army soldiers killed in Afghanistan were guarding fuel convoys. Reducing or eliminating oil dependence will also undermine the relative economic power of Russia, Venezuela, and the Middle East. There is a strategic need to develop renewable alternative-energy sources here at home. To me, this would exemplify the authors’ vision of “development of burgeoning natural resources and infallible delivery of their products.”
Lieutenant Commander Carl Olson, U.S. Navy Reserve—Global-warming alarmists in two letters went beyond fair debate by calling an opponent (the Heartland Institute) “unscientific.” They can’t come up with any evidence of catastrophic sea-level rise. It’s actually less than an inch, instead of the dire predictions of 10 or 20 feet.
More than 30,000 scientists have signed a petition noting that human activity has almost no effect over greenhouse-gas production that could result in catastrophic sea rise. See www.petitionproject.org.
The motives of global-warming alarmists are murky at best. They have been cited to impose taxes on carbon-dioxide emissions. Let’s move forward with civil debate and obvious scientific facts.
On page 29 of the February issue, the Australian military is credited with the taking of German-held territory in Samoa in 1914; this action was carried out by an expeditionary force from the New Zealand Army.
On page 32 of the March issue, the hull number of the USS Quincy should read “CA-39.”