BZ to Petty Officer Wilson. Her sensible comments align with those I expressed in “The Uniform Gods Must Be Crazy” (Proceedings [online], November 2017). Updated policy rarely considers the hidden costs of uniform changes, whether financial, environmental, or as a function of the time commitment involved. Throwing Navy working uniforms into landfills (not to mention wash khakis, old coveralls, dungarees, and other discards) is not a smart thing to do. What say the gods?
—CAPT Vince Augelli, USN
For most of the past century, the Navy had a stable and reasonable set of uniforms—until some admirals and other bureaucrats decided to come up with “camouflage” type-1 uniforms. (Perhaps the sailors could hide in the ocean somehow?) Now the Navy is going to type-3 camos so they can look like the Army. Who are they kidding? Will these camos help them hide in the mess decks from the master at arms?
We have far too many admirals spending their time on these kinds of make-work projects so they can punch their promotion tickets, rather than making sure our ships are properly equipped with trained sailors and operating equipment. This mentality will ensure that our ships get sunk in the next war before these “admirals” change into their next uniform. I spent six years in the Navy and am astonished at the number of warfighting professional leaders and commanders who administer rather than command our forces.
—Howard A. Richmond II
Colonel Gibbons’ retrospective on Jim Stockdale’s philosophy prompts some memories. I knew Jim and Sybil fairly well, starting in the early 1980s when he was at the Hoover Institution. He wrote the foreword to my book MiG Master: Story of the F-8 Crusader (Naval Institute Press, 2nd edition, 1990.)
The quote from Jim’s speech to his USS Oriskany (CVA-34) pilots in 1965 still resonated three decades later. As banquet speaker at the 1988 Tailhook Association meeting, he recalled the comments of former Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara to Air Wing 16: “You must accept unlimited losses in pursuit of limited goals.”
Jim took that wretched message and ran with it. He told the Tailhookers, “There’s nothing limited about your efforts when you’re over the target.” Whatever the absurd political limits, pride in oneself and the profession of arms still pertained.
The sidebar reminded me of meeting a survivor of the Bataan Death March some three decades after the war. I asked him who survived and he told me, “The lifers and the kids. Lifers know how to pace themselves—they know they can’t do everything. And kids are tough. They can survive just about anything if they pay attention to the lifers.”
Thank you to Sergeant Major Horton for his inspiring story of 30 years in the Marine Corps during a time when both the United States and the military changed and matured. His ability to maintain a positive mental attitude in the face of institutional racism both within and without the Navy–Marine Corps team, combined with society’s willingness to grow and change for the better, is inspiring.
Sergeant Major Horton wrote, “I was somewhat apprehensive about writing my story.” I am glad that he did, as I am sure many others are, too!
—CDR Ed Griffith, USNR (Ret.)
Setting aside the controversial science behind “implicit bias,” Captain Calfee’s entire argument rests on warrantless assertions adopted from the “Protect Our Defenders” (POD) report. As he puts it, “Given that it recruits its own high-quality force, the military should produce racially/ethnically balanced military justice statistics.” The flawed assumptions underpinning this statement merit destruction in detail.
First, disparate outcomes of military justice exist when analyzing variables other than race. For example—just as in the civilian criminal justice system—women are far less likely to be incarcerated than men, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. A 2013 Naval Postgraduate School thesis by Oleksiy Kryvonos found: “Females have lower chances of being dishonorably discharged than men.” Rather than alleging implicit bias against men, he recommended considering recruiting more women.
Second, disparate outcomes do not equate to unjust outcomes. A study in the November 2016 edition of Military Medicine used multivariable analysis of Marine Corps recruits, finding African American males had an odds ratio—“OR”— (what Captain Calfee referred to as a “disparity index”) of 2.12 for drug-related discharges as compared to whites. Hispanics and what the study classifies as “other” races had ORs of 0.99 and 0.81, respectively. Given the mandatory Marine Corps separation processing policy for drug abuse that limits commander discretion (and presumably, implicit bias), this is a particularly valuable data point. Would Captain Calfee argue that urinalysis laboratories have implicit bias?
Third, outcomes of courts-martial in fact hinge more on weight of evidence than the skin color of the defendant. While Captain Calfee writes, “African American sailors were significantly more likely to have military justice and disciplinary cases . . . adjudicated against them than their white counterparts,” he has selectively cited from the POD report with respect to the 2014–2015 statistics from the Navy specifically. The report actually says:
Notably, the disparity between black and white sailors nearly disappeared when examining how the military justice system treated the accused after the case has already been referred. In 2014, 68% of white sailors with a case referral were diverted from special or general court-martial, compared to 67% of black sailors. There was also little difference between the rates for 2015 (74% of white sailors and 75% of black sailors). The proportions of black and white sailors convicted at special or general court-martial were highly similar as well.
Finally, it is worth noting that the Manual for Courts Martial explicitly identifies race as an inappropriate factor that should not be considered when deciding to initiate or decline UCMJ action. Captain Calfee’s recommendations, which fixate on demographic statistics, seem to diverge from this guidance, likely at the expense of the 14 factors convening authorities should consider in all cases.
If Navy leaders would have taxpayer money and warfighter time spent on such tangential activities such as implicit bias training, it should be fully transparent with all the data that prompted such a decision—including a fulsome analysis of confounding factors. Then again, I have an explicit bias in favor of preparing for prompt and sustained combat operations at sea.
—LCDR C. Randolph Whipps, USN
Lieutenant Commander Wallace identifies a serious and longstanding problem. Going back to the opening phase of the Iraq War in 2003, I recall putting only one injured Marine onto a Marine Corps aircraft. The rest were handled by dedicated Army medevac flights. This works well in large joint operations, but—as the author points out—when the Sea Services operate independently, it’s a different story.
For historical, budgetary, and cultural reasons, I don’t see the Navy or Marine Corps developing dedicated medical evacuation squadrons. What we can do, at a minimum, is to make sure that every aircraft with the space to accommodate a litter is capable of doing so. We also can ensure air crews learn the basics of patient handling.
Training for enroute care will also be vital. If aircraft are not dedicated to medevac, the command loading the patient will typically have to supply corpsmen for care in flight. I was able to send a few of my corpsmen to an aeromedical evacuation course run by the Air Force, and their training increased our small unit’s medevac skills by an order of magnitude.
The United States currently has fewer people in combat than it has for more than a decade. Let’s use this time to train up our healthcare providers to care for sailors and Marines in a variety of evacuation scenarios. If we wait for the next major deployments to begin, it will be too late.
—CAPT David Scott, MD, MC, USNR (Ret.)
If The Admirals’ Advantage by Christopher Ford and David Rosenberg (Naval Institute Press, 2014) teaches anything, it is that we cannot afford to “mirror-image” our assessment of Russian intentions. One thing is clear—the Russians won’t be concerned about preserving their Arctic ballistic-missile submarine bastions for any postwar negotiations. The question is, how they will operate their naval forces in the “gray zone” along NATO’s periphery, where we are vulnerable. How can we deter the Russians?
Sixth Fleet’s website says that Task Force 63 controls Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One based in the Mediterranean Sea. A second squadron should be stood up to support operations in the North and Baltic seas, possibly using expeditionary fast-transport ships. In addition, in-theater military stock should be prepositioned in Norway and Denmark, and the United States should designate a Marine amphibious brigade for duty with NATO there.
NATO exercises such as Trident Juncture and Sea Breeze should be more visible, in the way Northern Wedding 86 and Ocean Safari 85 were. Both Seawolf-class submarines should be tasked to operate under the ice against Russian subs. And add two more Arleigh Burke–class destroyers to Destroyer Squadron 60, as U.S. European Command (EuCom) Commander General Curtis Scaparrotti, U.S. Army, requested in March. Base MQ-4C Triton drones at Keflavik airbase in Iceland.
A recent Congressional Research Service report on EuCom expressed concern about Russian exclave Kaliningrad’s use as a base for Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea, North Sea, and Arctic Ocean. Perhaps NATO should stand up a NATO patrol to keep an eye on this.
As former Navy Secretary John Lehman has written, the 1986 Maritime Strategy was designed to deter Soviet action against NATO’s Central Front by putting pressure on the USSR’s northern flank and threatening the submarine bastions in the high North Atlantic. Any new maritime strategy must be designed to deter any adventurism on the part of Russia to threaten its NATO neighbors.
John Paul Jones, considered the father of the U.S. Navy, grew up in Scotland near the Solway Firth. Today, the cottage where he was born is under the care of the John Paul Jones Birthplace Cottage Museum. It is preserved as it was during Jones’ time and has magnificent views of Scotland and England (including Whitehaven on a clear day).
For decades, however, the cottage was abandoned and fell into disarray. Fortunately, in 1831, U.S. Navy Lieutenant A. B. Pinkham spent approximately two weeks on leave fixing the cottage. He left behind a small sum of money for upkeep, and since then, the good people of Dumfries (population 19,000) have maintained the cottage using private donations and a small appropriation from the local government.
The museum contains many priceless artifacts and is recognized internationally as an invaluable source of information on John Paul Jones. Each year, thousands of visitors, including schoolchildren and high-ranking leaders/military officers from all over the world, visit. Scholars use the museum for research. To understand this incredible American hero, visit the museum soon!
—CDR Jim Poole, USN (Ret.), Life Member
Good work, Captain Taylor, highlighting the important role of the oft-overlooked and potentially force-multiplying effect that foreign area officers (FAOs) bring to the fight.
It is worth emphasizing that the network of U.S. alliances and partnerships around the world is a strategic center of gravity. FAOs play a huge role in building and expanding these relationships.
My experience working with Navy FAOs at the fleet and combatant-commander level was positive. Their language and cultural expertise and network of relationships added value to staff decision-making. They frequently added useful perspective to the strategic Why? vs. the routine operational and tactical How? and What? of planning in peace and crisis.
—RADM Paul Becker, USN (Ret.), former JCS J2, PACOM J2, and NAVCENT N2
The Future of the Large Carrier
A recent study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) concluded that, for aircraft carriers to remain operational in near-peer war at sea, they must stay beyond the range of antiship missiles. The study calls for the development of lethal unmanned aircraft (UAVs) with a 1,000-mile radius of operation, to fly combat air patrols.
A primary and immediate target of the enemy would be U.S. satellites—communication, global positioning system, and others—either to destroy or jam them. But this would leave only shipboard radio to control such UAVs—not exactly a robust system.
Missile-saturation tactics can overwhelm an aircraft carrier’s antimissile defenses, allowing some missiles to strike. If the flight deck and/or the hangar deck are hit, the carrier will be unable to launch or recover aircraft until repairs are completed. With only 11 in the fleet, the operational loss of just one carrier represents a significant blow.
Rather than trying to keep carriers out of enemy missile range, a better solution might be to distribute strike fighters among the fleet, a move now possible thanks to the F-35B.
By ceasing construction of additional nuclear-powered carriers, money would be freed for modifications to guided-missile cruisers and destroyers to allow them to launch and recover at least four F-35B aircraft each. Additional use of amphibious ready group ships would add to the available strike aircraft at sea.
The CSBA study’s findings tell me it is time for the Navy to accept that missile development will end the dominance of the carrier in a war at sea, just as carrier aircraft ended the dominance of the battleship.
—VADM J. A. Sagerholm, USN (Ret.)
April’s “Lest We Forget” contained two errors. The column incorrectly stated the hull number and date of sinking for the cruiser USS Helena. CA-50, not CA-75, was sunk in July 1943, rather than August.