Spark an Intel Revolution
(See A. Xenachis, pp. 38-41 October 2016 Proceedings)
William Manthorpe, former Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence—Lieutenant Xenachis’s thoughtful article accurately points out that “honing the art of geopolitical forecasting is key to naval intelligence upping its game.” And, “forecasting also is central to the Chief of Naval Operations’ vision for the Navy’s future.” That is not new. The CNO routinely has tasked naval intelligence for forecasts, and naval intelligence always has tried to up its game to respond. What naval intelligence lacked in the past and must develop for the future is not new methodologies but the institutional memory and the commitment to keep its forecasts relevant to changing strategic circumstances and foremost in the minds of policymakers over the years.
In the fall of 1991 as the Cold War was winding down, the Navy was beginning the process of replacing the Maritime Strategy with new strategic thinking. As part of that process, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) was called on to provide a briefing to the Naval Force Capabilities Planning Effort on the future threat environment. One of the slides in the briefing included the following words:
. . . the collapse and revival of great powers seems to occur over a 20 year period. . . . If it is not the Soviet Union that returns 20 years hence, it will be . . . parts of what was once the Soviet Union. Further, it appears that about every 15 years . . . the rest of world crises . . . become a major conflict for the U.S.
In March 1992, ONI sent a memo to the CNO highlighting those identical words. Based on his response, the briefing was given widely to mid-level and senior personnel in the Pentagon, war colleges, and congressional staffs. And then all was ignored over the years as strategic circumstances changed.
Now, 25 years later, the accuracy of the forecast is apparent, as is the cost of ignoring it.
That forecast was not based on some innovative methodology, new type of training for analysts, or broadly institutionalized procedures. It was based on the professional abilities of several naval intelligence analysts who had taken it upon themselves to acquire the education, personal study, and professional training to gain the following:
• A deep understanding of the history, culture, and national psychology of the individual, group, or nation whose future actions they are trying to forecast
• An awareness that history does tend to repeat itself when certain predictively cyclical political, economic, ideological, and national psychological forcing factors coincide to require action
While waiting and hoping for the intelligence community to adopt the Good Judgment Project (GJP) methodology and for new methodologies to improve forecasting to be broadly integrated throughout the government, Lieutenant Xenachis and other intelligence analysts should spend their time developing these talents. If they also take the insights emerging from the GJP to heart—“an open minded temperament . . . matters” and “the factor that ultimately mattered was practice”—they will become “superforecasters” with a career-long commitment to keeping their forecasts relevant in changed circumstances and foremost in policymakers’ minds.
Planning a Cyberwar
(See M. Libicki, pp. 52-55, October 2016 Proceedings)
Captain Scott Phillpott, U.S. Navy—It is hard to understand just what Mr. Libicki is saying about preparing for cyberwar. He states that cyber warriors in 1999 should have been in the special forces, which implies that they were not. Later in the article, the notion that planning cyber components of a campaign is very different from planning a Tomahawk strike is at odds with my own experience in campaign planning. As an information operations planner and commander at U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) circa 1999, I can assure readers that SOCOM was in fact a thought leader in preparing for cyber operations planning long before “cyber” became a popular meme. All operational planners worth their salt weigh all their options when developing a synchronized campaign and certainly will include branches and sequels to account for contingencies—including cyberspace.
The most egregious error in Mr. Libicki’s article is the assumption that cyberwar is about “pieces of malware” and not the humans who write and develop the code. His claim that hacking has become automated is true for “script kiddies” but an inadequate interpretation of how cyber tools can contribute to the campaign as a whole.
While it is true that some senior leaders don’t understand the deep mechanics of complicated zero-day exploits, virtually all of the geographic combatant commanders for whom I have worked understand effects-based planning. These are smart people who grasp how hardware, software, and wetware contribute to the accomplishment of the mission. Generals Hugh Shelton and Peter Schoomaker, Rear Admiral Tom Steffens, and many others for whom I’ve worked in these matters were/are thought leaders in cyberspace operations dating back much earlier than 1999. The notion that cyber operations are not part of the campaign planning process is wrong.
Yet, cyber warriors do have to prove their merit, the same as any other component of the joint force. It is a fundamental truism that combatant commanders want to choose optimal courses of action. Thus, if anyone presumes, a priori, that a logic bomb is more suitable than a cluster bomb, he or she is mistaken. Choosing among a cyber exploit, a drone strike, or a diplomatic demarche (or the combination of these tools) always should be about picking the best options based on simple feasible, acceptable, and suitable calculus.
The only distinction between cyber warfare and kinetic warfare is, as Mr. Libicki notes, temporal. Cyber attacks can be exponentially faster than kinetic attacks. But that does not mean we should let cyber warriors operate outside of standard operating procedures. Cyber operations must be part of the Joint Automated Deep Operations Coordination System. Synchronizing the cyber arsenal amid all our elements of national power is the sine quo non for a properly executed effects-based campaign.
‘Z-Grams’ vs. ‘Chicken Regs’
(See T. Cutler, p. 93, October 2016, Proceedings)
Captain R.A. Bowling, U.S. Navy (Retired)—With regard to Z-grams, on 13 November 1972, 27 months after Z-001, Honorable F. Edward Hebert, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, appointed a special subcommittee to inquire into substantial and increasing reports of discipline problems in the Navy. He appointed Representative Floyd V. Hicks as chairman and directed the subcommittee to “inquire into the apparent breakdown of discipline in the USN.”On 2 January 1973, the subcommittee submitted its report to Congress (Special Subcommittee on Discipline Problems in the U.S. Navy of the Committee of Armed Services, House of Representatives, Ninety-Second Congress, Second Session, January 2, 1973, H.A.S.C. No. 92-81). Commonly referred to as the “Hicks Report,” it stated:
“The United States Navy is now confronted with pressures, both from within and without, which if not controlled, will surely destroy its enviable tradition of discipline. Recent instances of sabotage, riot, willful disobedience of orders, and contempt for authority, instances which have occurred with increased frequency, are clear-cut symptoms of a dangerous deterioration of discipline.
“Traditionally indicative of high morale has been pride in the uniform and one’s appearance in the uniform. The current relaxation of standards of appearance of Navy men has caused a lessening in the pride that some sailors take in their appearance and thus, in their service. . . . Admittedly, Z-57 and subsequent clarifying messages concerning standards of appearance were not designed to permit Navy personnel to become sloppy and slovenly in their appearance and grooming. Nonetheless such has been the effect. . . . the sub-committee received clear and irrefutable evidence that the men of the naval service do not present the smart appearance that once was their trademark. . . . the poor grooming of the crew were numerous.
“The record is replete with testimony that middle management, the junior officers and senior petty officers, perceived their authority to have been diluted by the Chief of Naval Operations when he addressed all naval personnel in a series of Z-grams which, being general in nature, permitted individual interpretations of his directions. . . . as long as individuals perceived these to be facts, the Navy will continue to have problems in maintaining good order and discipline.”
In summary, the Hicks Report found in part a pervasive attitude of permissiveness, a sharp decline in the traditional smart appearance of naval personnel, a severely weakened chain of command, and a dangerous deterioration of discipline. The subcommittee attributed all of this to the Z -grams and/or the manner in which they were promulgated personally from the CNO directly to all hands. This bypassed—and in the process seriously weakened—the chain of command, without which military organization cannot operate for long.
Who Watches the Watchmen?
(See K. Eyer, p. 16, August 2016; R. Stockton, D. Daly, R. T. Zavala, pp. 7-8, September 2016; and R. Kornman, p. 84, October 2016 Proceedings)
Drew Brantley—Captain Eyer and Mr. Kornman both express their relief that the two riverine boats did not defend themselves against the Iranians. I take great exception to this attitude and the actions of the commanding officer of those boats. It is evident that the Navy has not fought much since World War II and seems to lack the aptitude for conducting combat operations. Captain Eyer and Mr. Kornman seem to believe that humiliation was far better than shooting, which could have led to war. As Winston Churchill said following Munich, “You [England] were given the choice between war and dishonour. You choose dishonour, and you will have war.”
The Navy Undervalues the Liberal Arts
(See J. Hebel, pp. 48-51, October 2016; K. J. Marra, p. 86, November 2016 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Albert Perry, U.S. Navy—As a Naval Academy political science major and Spanish minor working toward a master’s degree in international relations, I admire and identify with Midshipman Hebel’s passion for the humanities. His argument that the Navy undervalues the liberal arts, hurting our ability to operate, misses a few key points.
First, he points out that humanities backgrounds are well suited for “Marines patrolling with Afghan soldiers or officers involved in nation-building and reconstruction efforts,” arguing that more midshipmen should be allowed to pursue non-technical majors than the currently allowed 35 percent. Marines make up 25-35 percent of a typical class at the Naval Academy. Assuming that, as does Hebel, Marines are better suited to humanities studies while Navy officers should have technical backgrounds, then Marines and the few Navy personnel involved in reconstruction make 35 percent sound just right. Such a distinction between the Navy and Marine Corps is obviously not the right approach, but it illustrates that the fleet’s demand for humanities majors does not justify graduating fewer technical majors. In fact, the larger percentage of humanities majors in previous classes, including my own, likely contributed to the difficulties in recruiting enough officers for the submarine and nuclear surface communities.
Second, Hebel seems to underestimate the quality of the non-technical education that all midshipmen receive. The core curriculum of classes in history, literature, government, ethics, leadership, and law is in place for the purpose that Hebel argues for: to educate midshipmen on the context of their service and develop their skills and confidence to be successful naval officers. The Navy recognizes the value of the technical background that awards every graduate a bachelor’s of science degree, but it also understands the need to go beyond a purely technical education.
Finally, Hebel implies that without a humanities education, midshipmen might lack the “skills they will need to go on to lead in joint staff and strategy positions.” But an undergraduate major is not the only preparation required to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship, and government. Ensigns and second lieutenants, however strong their worldviews, do not work on staffs or design grand strategies of war and diplomacy. They stand watch and operate technically complex ships, aircraft, and vehicles. The Navy needs junior officers who can do their jobs, not those of captains and admirals. An academic major adds to perspective, and I agree that insufficient emphasis is placed on language studies. However, the experience that prepared officers for later jobs in policy and strategy includes far more than a background in the humanities.
As a submarine officer, I am grateful for my ability to study the humanities, which brought a fresh perspective to my technically oriented wardroom. That does not mean more people need my background. Having fewer humanities majors does not mean the Navy undervalues them; it means it understands what is needed to maintain a well-rounded fleet that can keep up with its technical demands while promoting a healthy amount of academic diversity.
Greg Olsen—Midshipman Third Class Hebel makes an impassioned case for lifting the quota for STEM majors at the U.S. Naval Academy. The most devastating comment was the quote from W. J. Astore: “A technical emphasis may make sense for Air Force test pilots or Navy nuclear engineers; it does not make sense for Marine or Army lieutenants patrolling the mountains of Afghanistan. Nor does it make sense in counterinsurgency warfare and nation-building operations, which involve soft skills and judgment rather than kinetic action and calculation.” I must disagree.
A technical education ensures that the junior officer will not be innumerate upon commissioning. The acquisition of leadership and associated soft skills and a technical education are not mutually exclusive. A strong technical foundation, however, cannot be acquired coincident with a liberal arts education. Modern warfare is increasingly technological even in infantry, and cyberspace is a domain unlike any other.
As to the need for the knowledge acquired in liberal arts such as history and cultural anthropology—the importance of which is indisputable in counterinsurgency—the Marine Corps has an aggressive reading program. The Commandant’s Professional Reading List (CPRL) offers an excellent selection of materials. The CPRL is part of a Marine’s continuing education: “Completion of the CPRL reading requirement shall be noted in the individual Marine’s fitness report or taken into account when assigning Proficiency/Conduct (Pro/Con) marks. . . . How a Marine demonstrates completion of the annual requirement is at the discretion of the Commander.” (ALMAR 009/16, 30 MAR 2016)
Winston Churchill in My Early Life: A Roving Commission dedicated a chapter to his education in “history, philosophy, economics, and things like that” (p. 111). None of this was part of his training as a cavalry officer at Sandhurst. He wrote to his mother to send books on these subjects, and he devoured them while deployed in Bangalore. He was an autodidact, who became an authority on history.
Captain John G. Shannon, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)—Midshipman Hebel presents a thought-provoking argument with respect to the U.S. Naval Academy’s current emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in educating the next generation of naval officers. I was commissioned through Officer Candidate School and not the Naval Academy. I believe we can all benefit from reflecting on this sage advice on forming a well-rounded naval officer:
It is, by no means, enough that an officer of the Navy should be a capable mariner.
He must be that, of course, but also a great deal more.
He should be, as well, a gentleman of liberal education, refined manner, punctilious courtesy, and the nicest sense of personal honor.
He should not only be able to express himself clearly and with force in his own language, both with tongue and pen, but he should [also] be versed in French and Spanish. . . .
He should be the soul of tact, patience, justice, firmness, and charity.
No meritorious act of a subordinate should escape his attention or be left to pass without its reward, if even the reward be only one word of approval. . . . Conversely, he should not be blind to a single fault in any subordinate, though at the same time he should be quick and unfailing to distinguish error from malice, thoughtlessness from incompetency, and well-meant shortcomings from heedless or stupid blunder.
As he should be universal and impartial in his rewards and approval of merit, so should he be judicial and unbending in his punishment or reproof of misconduct.
(Code of a Naval Officer by John Paul Jones)
Navy Ratings Sail into the Sunset
(See R. Smith, P. Bly, and J. Port, pp. 44-45, November 2016 Proceedings)
Sonar Technician Submarines Senior Chief Scott “Angry Old Salt” Ragsdale, U.S. Navy (Retired)—Having read through this as well as other items regarding this change, it is apparent that those supporting it are struggling to justify such an action. The reason for this is simple. It isn’t justifiable. The system was not broken. It worked and worked well. Was it tweaked along the way? Sure, as the jobs changed so did some aspects of the system, including the names of some ratings.
Further, the promotion of the idea that the Navy will be more like the other services is not justification but condemnation. Ships and submarines are a whole different environment than units on the ground or at an airbase. These units require people with specific job skills to do specific things. The beauty of the Navy system is a real strength our service has enjoyed over the other services. A submarine operating under the ice cap suffering a failure of a sonar or other system will find it has crewmembers who are working to fix it on board. There are many electronic-related techs on board and with varying job skills to complement each other to get the repairs accomplished. I have seen it and participated in it. Making these skill sets more general is a move in the wrong direction that will hurt readiness and sustainability.
Amazingly, I have witnessed no one discussing the considerable cost incurred to make this ridiculous and unnecessary change. How many millions of dollars will this cost? Show us the cost-to-benefit analysis that was conducted. Consider the man (can I say “man”?) hours that will be used to update publications, training, uniforms, and culture.
I believe one can make a case this move is a poster case study for the Office of Waste, Fraud, and Abuse for the waste of money, resources, and time. Certainly this is a case of abuse of power by inserting one’s version of political correctness.
This decision will not make the Navy better; it does not increase readiness; and it does not enhance any capability.
New & Noteworthy Books
(See p. 83, October 2016 Proceedings)
Stewart A. Carpenter—As a 60-year member of the Naval Institute who has been involved with naval craft almost my whole life, I am perturbed by an error in the October issue. The first review in this section speaks to the USS Rathburner (FF-1057). There was no such ship. There was a Rathburne, a vessel named after a Revolutionary War naval hero and memorializing one of “our men” (a sailor)—not a congressman, social activist, or politician.
This leads me to raise the issue of recent ship-naming practices that have gutted the traditional system. I don’t understand why more Naval Institute members haven’t argued for keeping the old system, especially since with a much smaller Navy there aren’t enough vessels to carry on the names of our real heroes and heroic past ships.
As a boy, I remember Fleet Admiral E. J. King’s pronouncement: “There will always be an England in the USN.” Well, there hasn’t been a ship by that name in years. Why isn’t one of the new oilers being named Neosho, after the heroic World War II oiler by that name? Why no tug Pawnee of “We will stand by you” fame? The Navy lost 52 gallant submarines in World War II. How many of their names have been carried on? In my opinion, the current Secretary of the Navy should be ashamed.
It seems that one tradition after another is being dismissed. In a few more years the Navy will have no connections to its past, and we might as well save maintenance money and destroy Old Ironsides too. After all, why do we need to preserve a wooden sailing vessel?
Proceedings Needs Attention
Captain Steve Kime, U.S. Navy (Retired), past member of the Board of Control and Editorial Board, frequent contributor, and life member—The Naval Institute is failing to serve its purpose to “provide an independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to global security.”
We are doing a creditable job of presenting authoritative views of senior naval personnel in Proceedings and in public gatherings. Naval operations, shipbuilding, weaponry issues, etc., are well covered. This is a good thing. So is the effort to bring the technical workings of the Institute into the 21st century. There is so much to be proud of that listing it all would keep me from stating my concern—that the strategic and doctrinal content of Naval Institute publications needs improvement.
Those disappointed with the content in Proceedings are not alone. A. T. Mahan and the officers who gathered in 1873 to create the Institute would be unsatisfied. The officer-thinkers who inspired the Naval Institute were interested in the big picture. What was the influence of sea power on history? What broad national doctrine is appropriate for a nation between two oceans in the current international environment? What role does our Navy best play in that doctrine? How do geopolitical concepts and the national economic and political realities affect the Navy and the doctrine that determines it? What strategies fit our national doctrine? Failing articulation of a broad doctrine, what naval doctrines and strategies make sense?
Our founders would expect such matters to be explored in our pages, and they would relish the give and take of heated discussions about them. They would not be happy with a cautious attitude about upsetting political or military apple carts, airing sensitive and controversial opinions on the nature of war, even nuclear war, or about “documenting” every thought as if we were in the business of publishing journal articles and not original thought and analysis. We who are interested in doctrine, policy, and strategy are concerned, but our founders are probably spinning in their graves.
Encouraging younger officers to dare to think and publish on big-picture issues has been as important in our history as has been the objective of providing a forum for senior officers. We say the right things, but in practice we see little big-picture thinking and publishing by either junior or senior officers. It may be understandable that a naval career provides scant opportunity for this, but that is why the Institute was created as a forum. It is not working.
Why? Is it because Navy writers lack courage? Is it because senior officers lack the guts and intellectual range to fly cover for their juniors? Is it because the Navy culture does not naturally produce contrarians, innovative thinkers, or career-riskers? Or do our editors lack something along these lines? Has an attempt to make our Editorial Board reflect the younger generation had the unintended consequence of denying Proceedings of wisdom and big-picture perspective?
Can it be, after we thought we had resolved the issue of whether to let the Naval Institute devolve into an institutional mouthpiece a while ago, that the content of the Institute’s work, especially its public meetings, has in fact done just that? Why is the lack of “dare” in Institute conferences so glaring, and why is there so little in Proceedings that is out of the Navy “box”?
The answers to these uncomfortable and annoying questions are not easy. But we need to be asking these questions, and lots of other equally tough ones, because we are failing to do an important part of our job. We are not creating and maintaining a rich and fruitful discussion of the doctrinal and strategic issues that will determine the future of our Navy and our profession.
Readiness & Warfighting Must Drive the Navy
(See J. Port, p. 14, October 2016 Proceedings)
Sergeant David Briggs, U.S. Army—Force Master Chief Port seems to forget the very big differences between life in the military and in the civilian world. In the military, commanders and senior noncommissioned officers (NCOs) know where the members of their unit live, and they control much of their subordinates’ lives. Imagine a civilian woman who has been raped, sexually assaulted, or otherwise inappropriately physically touched by her superior at work. The victim could choose to leave her position, and she could have recourse to an investigation of the crime, possibly bringing the guilty party to justice.
On the other hand, if it is a military woman who is harassed, touched, or even raped, she cannot leave her position and is forced to continue working in the same place. She may be able to request a transfer, but all too often the request will have to go through the person who sexually assaulted her. And since the guilty party is supposed to carry out any investigation that takes place, is he going to find himself guilty? I think not! Because the guilty party knows where the victim lives, he could harass and otherwise make life even worse for the victim.
Sexual assaults by service members have been a problem since World War II, when women started joining the military in large numbers. Only recently do we have better information available on the actual number of assaults, and only recently do we have political leaders willing to force the military to tackle this problem.
‘Respect and Resolve Are Not Mutually Exclusive’
(See J. Gagliano, pp. 32-37, October 2016 Proceedings)
Alexander Mackay-Smith IV—Commander Gagliano understates the real nature of our relationship with China. The United States and China are not strategic rivals. We are strategic opponents. Our most fundamental interests are directly opposed, and there is no gainsaying this.
From a Chinese standpoint, it is a strategic imperative: to take control of China’s offshore waters, most particularly the South and East China Seas; to expel the U.S. Navy completely and permanently from those waters; and to ensure no other power has or ever could have the ability to challenge China’s control. One has only to put oneself in the figurative shoes of any Chinese officer, or indeed any patriotic Chinese citizen, to understand this imperative.
For the United States, given our position in the world and our dependence on global free trade, it is an equally strategic imperative to prevent all this from happening. We must keep a strong and effective naval presence throughout the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, ensure free traffic under the rule of international law through the South and East China Seas, and guarantee smaller nations of the region legitimate control over their own coastal waters.
The Chinese are patient. They play a long game. They have shown resolve in taking the forward positions that will give them control over the South China Sea, as Commander Gagliano and many others have pointed out. So far the United States has done nothing effectively to counter them. Gestures such as freedom-of-navigation transits by the USS Lassen (DDG-82) are meaningless in the face of Chinese bases built at Mischief Reef and elsewhere along the nine-dash line. Diplomatic protests and claims under international law are without effect. The Chinese reject all protests and have openly stated that they are not governed by international law in these matters.
The United States is plagued by short-term thinking. If we allow China to continue on this course unopposed, we resign our position of world leadership. The smaller nations of the region, from Indonesia to Japan, unable to rely on us, will have no choice but to accept Chinese hegemony, whatever that may entail. Our other enemies will be emboldened, and our economy will be under threat of strangulation.
Respect is good, but resolve is more important. In the end, the matter will be decided either by U.S. capitulation and withdrawal from the region or by force of arms. To pretend anything else is wishful thinking.