The U.S. Navy is not prepared for a major conflict at sea—a belief based on my observations as a repair locker scene leader on board the USS Makin Island (LHD-8). As the ship completed her final predeployment underway in September 2016, I spoke to my repair locker about the end of unchallenged U.S. Navy supremacy at sea. I warned it was a matter of when, not if, a U.S. Navy ship would be intentionally fired on by hostile forces. My warning mostly was ignored, as naval combat is a foreign concept to the majority of the fleet, especially since the end of the Cold War. Even then, it was only a concept. To most sailors, the crews’ biggest threat is within the ship itself.
1. Andrew Tilghman, “Cruise Missile Attacks on Navy Ships Will Likely Warrant Rare Combat Ribbons,” Military Times, 8 August 2017; Geoff Ziezulewicz, “Four Ship Crews Receive Combat Action Ribbon,” Navy Times, 3 November 2017.
2. LtGen Robert T. Ashley, U.S. Army, China Military Power, Modernizing a Force to Fight and Win, Defense Intelligence Agency, 3 January 2019.
4. Paul McLeary and J. Freedberg Jr., “‘Be Ready to Fight Now’: Top Admiral on Russia & China,” Breaking Defense, 15 January 2019.
5. Jim Proser, No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy: The Life of General James Mattis (New York: Broadside Books, 2018).
6. Mark D. Faram, “MCPON’s Marching Orders,” Navy Times, 13 February 2019.
7. Ralph G. Burr et al., “Physical and Psychological Effects of Sustained Shipboard Operations on U.S. Navy Personnel,” Navy Health Research Center, 2 August 1990.