(See K. Eyer, p. 16, June 2016 Proceedings)
Frank Morgan—I served as a nuclear submarine officer in the late 1960s. I still associate with a lot of other ex-submariners, and we have contact at least annually with a sample of current active-duty submariners, both officer and enlisted.
We believe that the submarine force has now joined the rest of the Navy as a Petri dish for social experiments by a group of civilians in the current administration and Congress. These people either do not know or do not care that the purpose of the armed forces is to deter war and win them if that fails; all they care about is implementing their ideology.
Consequently, we have been hoping for a long time that someone in the flag ranks would finally have the courage to say NO, or, as you phrased it, put their stars on the table. I don’t know if that would have any real effect, but it would certainly be refreshing, and worthy of our respect.
Commander Howard A. Brown, U.S. Navy (Retired)—When I started reading this issue I couldn’t put it down until I had finished the last page. It is the best issue I have ever read! Great articles, well written. A good spread of subject matter. I enjoyed the sub articles very much, even though I was an aviator. Do you think we might see the Second Revolt of the Admirals?
(See A. Walton, pp. 42–47, June 2016 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Thomas J. Rath, U.S. Navy Reserve—I want to congratulate Captain Walton on his article, but more so for the Combat Dragon II expedition he recounts. It would appear that his superb team maxed out the possible lessons to be learned with the OV-10G+, but it was also evident that they operated within a very constrained “box.”
Perhaps outside that “box” some lessons might be interpolated and expanded as follows:
Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance are always the primary roles for an “expeditionary-class” aircraft for which the OV-10G was a surrogate. Command, control, communications, and computers would be next, with light attack coming in at third place. But this imposes a range of requirements relative to the platform and expansion of the roles and missions (R&M) actually necessary in the tactical arena in which Combat Dragon II was operating.
For any modern “expeditionary” aircraft, signature reduction must take precedence over, but not replace, the requirements Captain Walton noted, “maneuverability, sustained ‘G’ performance, and speed.” For a variety of reasons this prohibits the use of turboprop engines, one of the “box” limits noted.
Without going further into combat R&Ms, a primary role in any irregular warfare is initiating training of indigenous crews as soon as possible. Certainly observer/systems-operator training should start within a month or two, at the most after the introduction of American personnel, preferably from Special Operations Command rather than regulars.
All irregular wars are “long wars,” and conventional warfare systems are inappropriate because of their enormously high cost versus effectiveness, plus the general fact that they function pretty much as hammers to swat insects. No nation can afford to long use conventional warfare systems in an amorphous war that does not allow for clear victories over defined opponents.
Basically, irregular warfare is very different from any conventional warfare. Captain Walton diplomatically illustrated this, but perhaps he needed to be blunter to be heard in certain Pentagon offices.
(See B. Stickles, pp. 24–29 April 2016; and A. Gideon, p. 11, May 2016 Proceedings)
Captain Rene Chicoine, U.S. Navy (Retired)—Commander Stickles’ article was well thought out and written, as were Lieutenant Commander Gideon’s comments on it. I agree that the drone-operator bonuses for our sister service is an attempt to fill billets that at present are not career-enhancing in that service. That may change.
What I have trouble with is the assumption that uncommanded and autonomous vehicles (I will use drones for brevity) will take over all strike fighter operations after the F-35! Flying a drone from downtown Las Vegas against a third-world target is great and cost-effective. We also need to think about military preparedness, however.
Against a better adversary the communication link between Las Vegas and the drone (or carrier and the drone) is not guaranteed. For instance, China has demonstrated that it can take out communications satellites. What happens when the operator on the ship cannot talk to the drone? Does anyone think that a drone that has lost communications with the carrier will be allowed to shoot to kill anything that comes near it?
The Navy always will need some aviators in the air. They probably will not need to be in first line fighter/attack aircraft, but could be. And the drone controller does not need to be a pilot; it could be an E-2, EA-18G, F/A-18F, or P-8 type of aircraft naval flight officer. But there needs to be someone in the area with direct (probably burst) communication ability controlling a number of drones that can do the more dangerous missions and also be the protection for the controlling aircraft. Unless someone is in the area, how do they know when the enemy is jamming the drone communications or spoofing the drone’s navigation, and what can they do about it from Las Vegas?
Also, “nobody asked me, but . . . ,” the fact is, a carrier always should have two ways of projecting might. Aircraft airframes and engines are well built, but they at times do have flaws that will ground that particular fleet of aircraft. For her own protection if nothing else, the carrier should always have a backup that can be put on the catapult. A major crack in an airframe or an engine type that is spitting turbine blades can put a carrier out of business if she has only a single aircraft type. The Navy has solved this over the years by having F/A-18A/B/C/D along with the F/A-18E/F with its unique airframe. It also will solve it when they have F/A-18E/Fs along with F-35s. And it may be solved with F-35s and drones in the future. But it needs to be considered by all so that the carrier not only can project power but can survive whatever comes her way.
(See M. G. Kelly, pp. 24–28, March 2016; and M. R. Miller, p. 158, May 2016 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Colonel Shawn P. Callahan, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)—Colonel Kelly provides a confident exposition on capabilities of the F-35. It is a timely one, considering public concerns about the program’s cost.
Unfortunately, the author’s use of John Boyd’s observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loop to explain the substantive differences the F-35 Lightning II offers is problematice. To begin with, the article is based on a common misperception of Boyd’s theory, the oversimplified idea that OODA is a simple four-step cycle, and victory will go to the combatant who executes it faster than the other.
Boyd initially introduced the loop as a cycle of four processes, but within an extensive brief known as “Patterns of Conflict” centered on the nature of adaptive decision-making by individuals and organizations. In that brief, the OODA loop was less important than Boyd’s emphasis on variety, rapidity, harmony, and initiative. Boyd also was very explicit, even when first introducing the OODA loop, in warning against single-minded pursuit of speed. He saw that the quality of the information was at least as important as speed in completing the loop, and that making sense of information was a process fraught with human biases.
By the early 1990s Boyd substantially revised his OODA concept, replacing the simple loop with a “many-sided implicit cross-referencing process of projection, correlation, and rejection.” What Boyd offered was a sophisticated understanding that the vital central activity of warfighting is making sense of one’s environment, including enemy actions.
At the heart of Boyd’s theory, warfighting decision-makers and organizations must be learning organizations: Those who learn and adapt better and faster will enjoy decisive advantages over their adversaries.
If the F-35 is to convey some advantage in the context of Boyd’s theory, it will be because it allows its pilots and other information consumers to make better decisions, not because it suddenly creates a Fifth-Generation OODA loop based on information. The OODA loop always has been about information and making sense of it.
Misperceptions about Boyd’s theory are common. Our professional military education institutions are just beginning to address Boyd’s ideas in meaningful ways, which is surprising considering how central they are to portions of U.S. military doctrine. For those who want to dig deeper into these ideas, two good places to start are Grant Hammond’s The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security (Smithsonian, 2001) and Frans Osinga’s Science, Strategy, and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd (Routledge, 2007).
As for the F-35, I am glad we have it and sincerely hope the return on investment fulfills the promise Colonel Kelly sees in the program. John Boyd, however, would be skeptical. Also an acquisitions expert, he warned that programs never live up to all their promises. Fortunately, we don’t have to get it perfect—we just have to be better than our adversaries at acting with variety, rapidity, harmony, and initiative. The question is: Are we placing too much faith in technological advantages, and forgetting the primary importance of human decision-making? Boyd warned us against this pitfall in his mantra, “Terrain doesn’t wage wars, and machines don’t wage wars; people do, and they use their minds.”
(See J. Foggo and A. Fritz, pp. 18-22, June 2016 Proceedings)
EDITOR’S NOTE: In the text of this article, I introduced an error by inserting that the Kilo submarine is “nuclear-powered.” The latest (or newest) Kilo-class submarines are instead very effective, and quiet, diesel-electric submarines.
Norman Polmar, coauthor, Cold War Submarines—I must take exception to several of the facts and statements in Admiral Foggo and Mr. Fritz’s article.
They state that “Russia is rapidly closing the technology gap with the United States” [in underwater warfare]. Is there a gap? When the Cold War ended the Russians had submarine superiority in terms of: automation, speed, depth, torpedo payload and performance, torpedo decoys and jamming, hull coatings, escape/survivability, under-ice capabilities, non-acoustic detection and tracking, polymer drag reduction, and other factors. And the Russians were approaching (or equaled?) the United States in submarine quieting.
The most obvious U.S. undersea superiority was in passive acoustics/processing capabilities. During lengthy meetings that I had with Soviet-Russian submariners, submarine designers, and engineers, they were clear that they could not compete with the United States in this field. While striving in this area, the Russians have attempted to compensate by their great gains in non-acoustic submarine detection technologies.
There are several other statements in the article that I would question, such as the accolade “father of the modern Russian submarine force” for design engineer Igor Spassky. I had the privilege of knowing Spassky as a friend and tutor, having many lengthy meetings with him in Russia and having hosted him here in the United States (including his being a guest in my home); see “Let’s Talk Typhoon. . .” (Proceedings, March 1994, pp. 75–78) and www.navyhistory.org/2013/07/normans-corner-working-with-academician-id-spassky.
Academician Spassky’s Rubin design bureau developed many outstanding submarines for the Soviet-Russian fleets. But so did the Malachite bureau—including the remarkable Alfa nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), the Papa nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine (SSGN ), and the Severodvinsk SSGN cited in the article—while the Lazurit bureau designed the Charlie SSGN, the world’s first submarine with a submerged-launch cruise missile capability, among other advanced undersea craft. If any one person deserves the title “father” of the modern Russian submarine force, it is Admiral Sergey G. Gorshkov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy from 1956 to 1985.
The Russian submarine force—today and tomorrow—should be a major factor in U.S. defense planning. But more accurate and objective discussion is required if the West is to effectively counter Russian developments in this highly significant field.
(See A. Gordon, pp. 54–59, May 2016, and W. J. Holland, Jr., p. 84, June 2016 Proceedings)
Rear Admiral M. Dick Van Orden, U.S. Navy (Retired)—Rear Admiral Holland, in his fine comments on Dr. Gordon’s Jutland article, refers to the actions of Fleet Admiral William Halsey, Jr., and his “rush north off Luzon to get at the Japanese carriers. . . .” That description unintentionally adds to the unwarranted blame of Halsey that has been common among the unknowing national press and an uninformed public.
True, Halsey did take his Third Fleet north to demolish the remainder of the Japanese Navy’s carriers, but there is more to the story than just his undeserved blame for leaving the Leyte area. His unambiguous charge from Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was to “Get the carriers!” That mission he probably considered to be his most important one after being notified that the Japanese Central Force had been turned back at San Bernardino Strait. The blame, however, should be assigned to poor communications or poor staff decisions, or both, not to Halsey. My memory may be a bit hazy, or it may have been supplemented with later comments from other reporters, but here is the way it sticks in my mind.
I was a new ensign, serving in the combat information center of my first ship, the USS Independence (CVL-22), one of four carriers in Task Group 38.2. On 24 October 1944, U.S. submarines sighted the powerful Japanese Central Force headed for San Bernardino Strait to enter the Pacific. Task Force 38 planes quickly attacked, doing serious damage to the Japanese ships, thus forcing them to turn back—beyond the range of Navy aircraft. Their retreat meant that the Central Force would not transit the strait that day to attack the Leyte landing force—or so everyone thought.
Halsey sent a voice message in the late afternoon of the 24th saying: “If the enemy sorties TG 34 will be formed when directed by me.” Unfortunately, his message was sent by short-range ship-to-ship radio, so was not picked up by everyone. Just after sunset, one of our pilots on a scouting flight spotted a number of Japanese ships. He reported by voice radio to our aviation intelligence officer that he counted four Japanese battleships, eight or nine cruisers, and about a dozen destroyers entering San Bernardino Strait. The Central Force had apparently resumed its plan to attack the Leyte landing, hoping to transit unobserved under cover of darkness. The new report was relayed quickly by voice radio to the flagship, but was rejected by the Third Fleet staff, with a cryptic “We know that.” Knowing that they were not well informed, an attempt was again made to convince them that the sighting was a new one from a search plane. This too was rebuffed by a flagship staff officer, who tersely replied, “Yes, yes. We have that information.” Since there was no way they could have had it, Admiral Halsey apparently never got the new sighting information.
So now you know the rest of the story: Halsey was unaware of the return of the Japanese Central Force through the San Bernardino Strait, either because of a breakdown in communications, or a protective staff not wanting to interrupt a badly needed rest period for their sleeping admiral.
Simon Harley, author, “‘It’s a Case of All or None’: ‘Jacky’ Fisher’s Advice to Winston Churchill, 1911, The Mariner’s Mirror, vol. 1, no. 2 (2016), pp. 174–190—In his article on Jutland, Dr. Gordon makes a number of claims regarding Grand Fleet Battle Orders (GFBOs) and Battle Instructions (GFBIs) that are at variance with his own account in The Rules of the Game (Naval Institute Press, 2000). Admiral Sir David Beatty did introduce GFBIs in March 1917 of “a few pages” (two actually), but they did not supersede Admiral Sir John Jellicoe’s GFBOs, which Beatty himself used through 1917 and which, if anything, grew in size. In February 1918 Beatty replaced the GFBIs and GFBOs with GFBIs of 34 pages, plus appendix, and Grand Fleet Manœuvring Orders of 33 pages, plus appendices. Copies of all the above documents may be found at the National Archives in London in ADM 137/1342.
The ISIS Conundrum
Captain Steve Kime, U.S. Navy (Retired)—Whether to attack ISIS decisively and how to do it is a question caught up in the last year of an American presidency, strong opinions about “boots on the ground” and who should bear the brunt of face-to-face confrontation. Uncertainties abound even before the question of what the region should look like after removing the ISIS cancer is addressed.
A couple of uncertainties need to be cleared up first. Doing so will speed a solution. Who is threatened? Here it is easy to drift off into grand images about Armageddon and an ideological, Manichaean struggle. This is not totally wrong, but it isn’t very helpful. It is also easy to see the problem as an internal Muslim affair best left to Muslims to resolve. There is some truth here, too, but it is not practical to deal with short-term dangers by insisting that a 1,600-year-old squabble be settled soon.
The fact that Americans finally understand that distant interventions and lengthy deployments in combat do not comport with the American way of warfare looms large. The solution to the ISIS problem cannot include another Afghanistan or Iraq experience, and it is useless to suggest anything like that.
We need to focus. Specifically, we need to understand that the ISIS phenomenon is a threat to Western Europe and, by extension, to the United States. History, along with recent events, suggests that this is a “threat to civilization” aimed first at the heart of Europe. It must be stopped. Notwithstanding Western opinion (including deeply held American opinion) about another fight in the sands of the Middle East, ISIS must be stopped.
Though it is not immediately obvious, this is a NATO problem. Of course it is necessary to get responsible Muslim countries involved, and it will be imperative that the face of the region be determined by Muslim leaders, but action is in the hands of NATO, whether it wants it or not.
What needs to be done? NATO must wipe out ISIS. It must do this decisively and quickly, and then it must get out. It must be understood at the outset that this cancer-removing operation is meatball surgery, not brain surgery. It must be nasty, brutish, and short. All the modern, high-tech tools must be applied first, followed by however many battalions of Marines and European supplemental forces it takes to clean up the mess. Weeks, not months, are needed.
Muslims can contend to decide the future of the region, and we should make an effort to set this in motion, but we cannot control it and we should not try. This may be an ugly, prolonged process, but let the chips fall where they may.
By the way, such an operation would serve as a model of the kind of projection of power that works in the 21st century. It would be a good example for Western civilization to show to the world. Not acting is a terrible signal to send.
(See J. K. Chock, p. 74, June 2016 Proceedings)
Chief Hospital Corpsman Bob Brandt, U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired)—The article written by Ensign Chock is very good. The picture of Marine First Sergeant Dan Daly on page 75, however, clearly shows the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). The Navy Cross was instituted in 1919, and the DSC was given prior to this. First Sergeant Daly was initially nominated for a third Medal of Honor at Belleau Wood, but the Secretary of the Navy felt since Daly already had two of them, a third was not warranted, thus a DSC was awarded in its place.