Sexual Assault: Not in Our Navy
(See B. Kennedy, p. 10, August 2017 Proceedings)
One could easily—and just as illogically and foolishly—come to an equally dubious conclusion as does Ensign Kennedy that the 5 percent conviction rate indicates 95 percent of the cases are baseless and the accusers should be prosecuted for making false accusations against their comrades-in-arms. This would be an equal and opposite stupid conclusion. Each case is judged on its own merits based on its own individual facts and circumstances. Comparing percentages is a fool’s errand, fraught with outcomes guaranteed to be inaccurate. No clear conclusion about anything can be drawn from such number games.
What would Ensign Kennedy suggest is an appropriate percentage of convictions that would indicate the Navy is “taking the issue seriously”—50 percent? 75 percent? 100 percent? And what makes any such number indicative of the command “taking it seriously enough?” What is her empirical evidence that any particular number equals “taking sexual assault seriously”? Anyone who is alive and breathing in today’s military cannot reasonably conclude that any of the services don’t take sexual assault seriously. The hypothesis is absurd on its face and flies against the overwhelming weight of contrary evidence that establishes that the services take sexual assault very seriously.
In fact, one could argue that they take such matters too seriously and focus extraordinary amounts of attention on such issues to the exclusion of training, mission accomplishment, and winning the nation’s wars. And both extreme positions, the one taken by Ensign Kennedy and the one suggested by some of my JAG colleagues for argument’s sake in this response, are equally silly.
What distressed me most about Ensign Kennedy’s screed was her very obvious bias against those found innocent, read as “men.” Regrettably, she has taken the position, currently the “in” thing to do, that the accused in a sexual assault case is automatically guilty, notwithstanding the opinion of a court or the facts. For instance, she states: “Of the 95 percent [primarily men] who were not convicted, whether you believe them to be guilty or innocent, many are still serving in the fleet.” In other words, the simple accusation of sexual assault, whether true or not, automatically bars the accused from further service in the Navy.
Sexual assault is a serious matter. It should not be written about nor adjudicated by obviously biased writers with an agenda separate from truth and justice. I would have expected more intelligent neutrality from a graduate of the Naval Academy. It is a pity that her bias probably will come through more strongly as she moves up in her career, which would show in her treatment of men under her command.
Inviting China to RIMPAC Is Appeasement
(See J. Fanell, July 2017, Proceedings Today)
Inviting China to RIMPAC is absolutely necessary, although the captain makes a compelling argument. I participated in RIMPAC 2016 as a Military Sealift Command deck cadet on board the USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187). Engaging with the PLA Navy was personally a very positive experience; the Chinese sailors with whom I interacted were all pleasant and professional as can be. I specifically recall sitting down for a quick dinner outside the Pearl Harbor exchange one night, when a PLA sailor decided to join me. He did his best to discuss American sports and life at sea in broken English. Although I don’t think he went on to become a fellow baseball fan and I can’t recall what the common menu items in a PLA Navy galley were, we both walked away from the conversation with a less pretentious view of the other, or so I hope.
Now, while I’m not saying we should cozy up to communism, these brief offline interactions are one of the greatest benefits of multinational exercises such as RIMPAC. Opportunities to draw similarities and build bonds between us and our perceived competitors at the personal level have a lasting impact on all who take part, and one would also hope that an afterthought of “Hey, these folks aren’t so bad after all” trickles up the chain of command on both sides. After all, as retired Admiral James G. Stavridis pointed out in a December 2014 lecture at the U.S. Naval War College: We need to be building bridges, not walls.
It is also hard to perceive China’s participation in RIMPAC as a surrender of critical intelligence on our part. In the absence of a formal invitation to participate, the PLA Navy could just as easily send an unannounced spy ship to linger off the coast of Oahu during the exercise. There they could collect information while claiming “innocent passage,” per the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. As was widely publicized, Russia did just that during RIMPAC 2016 with the auxiliary vessel Pribaltika.
And while it is regrettable that the international community has done little to enforce the Hague’s ruling against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, among other international issues further irritated by the PLA and its partners, one must consider what might be the case were it not for our biennial month-long defrosting of relations with the Chinese for the purpose of working side by side at RIMPAC. I point again to Russia, whose first and last RIMPAC was in 2012. Its behavior on the world stage has not exactly improved since then. Unfortunately, there is no scientific method to ensure peace with U.S. competitors, but isolating them is a surefire way to further damage existing relations.
Participation in RIMPAC is a step in the right direction for any maritime nation. From strategic partnerships forged at sea to friendly acquaintances made on liberty, the exercise is an invaluable tool in promoting peace around the Pacific Rim and beyond.
Sharing the Sacrifice Can Close the Gap
(See A. Fraser, p. 48, July 2017; S. Hertz, p. 86, August 2017 Proceedings)
I have had the same views as Captain Fraser for many years on both issues: deficit-financing our military conflicts and mandatory national service following high school. We should not go to war on a credit card. Congress should codify through legislation that all major military intervention be paid for while it is happening, by directly taxing the nation at the time of conflict. That will quickly get the attention of the public in general and focus them more on the reality of the sacrifice our men and women in uniform are making on their behalf.
The issue of mandatory government service is near and dear to my heart. We need to connect the young generations with what it means to serve the country and appreciate being a citizen. Without this general participation, the burden of defending and serving the nation will fall to an ever-smaller percentage of the population. It would be criminal to let this happen. I suggest the following as additional thoughts on the matter:
• All graduating high school students should be required to complete two years of government service.
• The armed forces should have the first pick of students, for whatever purposes they see fit.
• Those not chosen for military service could work in another government agency, for example the Veterans Administration or National Park Service.
• The only exclusions would be for physical or mental disability.
Granted, these are very general parameters, but the core of the issue is that more of our population needs to become better connected with the effort to support the nation. Obligatory government service at a young age is pragmatic way to achieve this.
LCS Needs a Win
(See M. Chien, p. 10, June 2017; K. W. Tidd, pp. 9, 84, July 2017 Proceedings)
Based on my experience on an LCS and recent command of a Cyclone-class patrol coastal (PC) ship assigned to support Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South, I would like to offer practical examples of how the LCS can contribute to the counterdrug mission. Even without an installed mission package, the ship would bring the endurance, airborne assets, and presence that JIATF South desperately needs. The inherent flexibility of the LCS’s modular nature allows the creation of a particularly capable platform that would significantly benefit the effectiveness of the counterdrug mission.
Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard embarks two key units on the PCs supporting JIATF South, and this should not change when the LCS is employed. The most critical embarked unit is a detachment from a tactical law-enforcement team, which conducts boarding operations to collect the evidence needed to build the cases used for legal prosecution. The second unit is an over-the-horizon pursuit crew from a maritime safety and security team. The pursuit crew allows the full spectrum of shipboard use-of-force, including warning shots and disabling fire while pursuing suspected smugglers.
The Surface Warfare Mission Package is the most directly applicable LCS configuration for counterdrug operations. Some easy adjustments can allow the ship to be employed more effectively without compromising essential capabilities. First, while the 30mm guns would make it easier to sink unseaworthy smuggling boats, they are not truly needed to execute the mission. Second, one of the two 11-meter small boats can be left behind due to augmentation by the Coast Guard pursuit crew. As a result, the mission package crew can be reduced to include enough personnel to operate the 11-meter boat and provide a single visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) team.
Air assets are crucial in the counterdrug mission. Embarked helicopters allow the LCS to search greater areas and to localize suspected smugglers. If the unit is certified for airborne use-of-force, the ship’s interdiction range is significantly extended. The MQ-8 Fire Scout equipped with radar or other sensor payloads will further increase the effectiveness of the LCS.
Keeping with the precedent set in Seventh Fleet, the LCS should deploy for 16 months with the crews rotating as needed. The extended deployment provides increased presence for tasking. A range of suitable maintenance hubs exists in the region. They have sufficient pier space and support facilities, and they provide easy access for contractors and maintenance teams. The LCS will be able to use ports throughout the region for refueling.
The ship’s draft allows the LCS to operate with ease in the shallow waters commonly exploited by drug smugglers. The Gorda Bank, Nicaraguan Rise, and the Panama Basin will no longer provide sanctuary. Ideally, at least two LCSs will deploy to the region simultaneously to allow coverage on both sides of the Panama Canal. The LCS should operate in conjunction with Navy PCs or Coast Guard fast-response cutters. A surface action group consisting of an LCS and two or three of the smaller ships would have a devastating effect on the drug flow. The LCS is able to operate in sea states that force the smaller ships to return to port. In addition, deploying an LCS for 16 months allows the smaller ships to concentrate patrol periods around times when weather is conducive to safe operations. This division of the battlespace will make best use of each platform’s capabilities, while ensuring that operations continue uninterrupted during all operating conditions.
While patrolling, the LCS will be able to operate on a single diesel engine, which brings fuel consumption to approximately 2 percent per day and significantly extends endurance. The longer on-station time of the LCS will ensure coverage while the smaller ships return to port to refuel and refit.
With 28 LCSs delivered, under contract, or funded, it is incumbent on professional naval officers to properly employ the ship. Today’s fleet faces severe readiness challenges caused largely by ineffective employment, overuse, and deferred maintenance. Clearly, the LCS is capable of removing the burden from our high-end ships. The LCS can immediately contribute to our national security through supporting JIATF South counterdrug tasking as well as any other Fourth Fleet tasking that arises. Operating independently or as part of a task force, the LCS can become indispensable to the mission.
—Lieutenant Commander Michael Chestnut, U.S. Navy
Reformers, Thinkers and Warriors Needed
(See H. M. Kamara, pp. 77-79, July 2017 Proceedings)
The importance of studying past naval leaders to prepare for contemporary challenges is an excellent practice. The naval services will certainly need reformers to modernize, thinkers for vision, and warriors to prevail, and familiarity with historical examples of those archetypes can greatly enhance the development of rising leaders.
In his conclusion, Major Kamara also notes that such study can lead to “badly needed reforms.” This point bears emphasizing, especially since the article focuses on the value of learning history for developing individual leaders, rather than fleshing out how institutional changes can and should be made to ensure the promotion of those leaders to confront the complex challenges described. Individual development aside, service policies and practices for selecting and promoting leaders to face the threats and trends of the future will have to be addressed at the enterprise level.
Cybersecurity issues, in particular, demand highly specific skill sets that are not necessarily easily adapted from more traditional fields of military endeavor. The services must quickly determine how the cyber threats should shape their organizations. For those already in uniform, what level of knowledge and familiarity with cybersecurity issues should be required to continue ascending the ranks? How do we balance that with the need to retain experienced leaders with other expertise (who just so happen to have been brought up in organizations that did not emphasize cybersecurity issues during the formative years of their careers)? A standard for those currently serving should be set, and the tools and resources for reaching that standard should be provided.
At the same time, the recruitment and retention of specifically cyber-focused leaders must be a priority. In the Navy’s nuclear program, the Sea Services have a relevant example of how to produce the architecture for a highly specific and technical operational community; that program would be a starting point for shaping cyber-workforce policies. Beyond that, the services would be well served by looking at ways to alter traditional employment policies to access the widest pool of potentially talented cyber-warriors. Opening uniformed cyber career paths to physically disabled individuals, for instance, would seem to make a great deal of sense. In addition, perhaps a tailored cyber reservist program should be created with more flexible service options, adjusted entry and qualification training regimens, and enhanced incentives to give nontraditional recruits a chance to contribute.
Revolutionary New Ship for the Navy?
(See W. Stearman, p. 87, August 2017 Proceedings)
The Expeditionary Ship (ES) could transport Marines in relative safety to within a mile or so of a hostile shore and then embark them on landing craft. They would then receive large-scale naval surface fire support and air support from the ship’s F-35Bs. The ES will also provide essential proximate logistical and life-saving medical support. The ship will eventually carry advanced weapons such as rail guns and laser weapons when it comes online. It will be able to transit the Panama Canal and will have a top speed of 18 knots, which can be increased with more power. To counter damage to rudders and screws and to enhance its maneuverability, there will be four retractable azipods (two forward and two aft). Since creating the ES will begin with a completed ship to be reconfigured, its creation should involve considerably less time and less cost than is the case with other amphibious ships. It is significant that before he became Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Corps General James Mattis had been supportive of the ES concept.
Editor’s note: With apologies, we would like to correct the following errors in the August 2017 issue, with thanks to our readers for bringing them to our attention:
• In page 49’s photo caption, the USS Crosley (APD-87) was a converted destroyer escort.
• On page 50, the USS Manley’s hull number should be DD-74.