(See P. Kotlikoff, pp. 74–75, July 2019)
I was thoroughly disappointed in this article. Lieutenant Kotlikoff fuels the ideas that: today’s women sailors are routinely treated differently because of their gender, there are specific leadership challenges that only women can address, and there are standards that only women can set.
Her argument flipflops throughout. She acknowledges on the one hand that performance ultimately defines a successful leader and expresses her “distaste for being singled out based on gender,” and yet on the other she insists that “gender will not always matter, but for now it does.”
For now? When will it not “matter” anymore? After women have been on submarines for 20 years? Fifty? Should gender still matter in other communities in which women have been thriving for decades and are arguably no longer unique?
There is an undeniable transition taking place within the submarine community. To me, a curious onlooker excitedly asking how it is going so far is not cause for offense or assumed “significant unspoken undertones.” This entirely innocent question acknowledges the evolution taking place and seeks to hear from one of the first women involved. It would be ignorant to think the trailblazing women in the submarine community are not under the watchful eye of the public and Navy in a program less than ten years old.
Having served as a division officer on two different surface ships, I have observed a simple truth: Sailors care only about competence. Regardless of who you are or what you look like, you will be tested, you will be tried, and you will need to earn the respect of those you are charged to lead. For Lieutenant Kotlikoff to suggest she was being tested by sailors based on her sex alone is nothing short of accusatory. Every new officer is put in the same challenging position.
She goes on to say that a female leader has the ability to “reset expectations for professionalism,” suggesting that her male counterparts have failed entirely to do so.
Perhaps most upsetting, this article plants and waters a poisonous seed in the minds of our fellow female sailors. I think she would be hard-pressed to find a senior leader—officer or enlisted—who would find crying at an official ceremony to be either appropriate or professional. Worse, this article tells young women to view their professional interactions and experiences through this same gender-focused lens, a lens that generations of women have fought so hard to destroy. How sad. Instead of taking her significant responsibility as one of the first female submariners in stride, Lieutenant Kotlikoff chooses to express a truly regressive attitude.
—LT Audrey Talbot, USN
(See H. Lynch and J. Eady, pp. 54–57, August 2019)
(See S. Mercogliano, pp. 58–61, August 2019)
(See M. Vego, pp. 30–34, July 2019)
(See P. Pagano, pp. 40–43, May 2019)
Captain Lynch and Lieutenant (j.g.) Eady do not express just how bad the 61 sealift vessels in reduced operating status are, nor the deteriorated condition of the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
I was the Port of New York and New Jersey’s port security officer during Desert Storm. My team was shocked at the material condition of the vessels sent to load military cargo and munitions. Cargo handling equipment constantly broke under load, and one Ready Reserve Fleet ship had to be towed to the war zone from the East Coast. Later in my career, I was assigned to JCS J-4 where I monitored the rotation schedule for Military Sealift Command’s (MSC’s) 26 prepositioned vessels for hull, machinery inspection, and rehabilitation.
I agree with the authors’ proposal that now is the time to either purchase or build a new fleet of modern cargo vessels equipped with self-defense weapons. As for staffing these vessels, we have five Merchant Marine academies—put more of the Ready Reserve Fleet into a rotational operational status. Test the ships’ capabilities, and use them as training platforms for the academy students. Train them on the ships they will staff in the future!
—CAPT John J. Marks, USCGR (Ret.)
I served in the Navy with the predecessor to the MSC in afloat and shore assignments. I have been reading Proceedings for more than 50 years. The past few months is the first time I can remember at least four articles focused on or significantly addressing the plight of our Navy logistics and maritime commercial fleet in such quick succession.
I hope this frequency indicates a growing awareness of this huge problem. Succinctly, these articles collectively noted that: 1. We don’t have enough logistics ships; 2. if we did, we can’t crew them; and, 3. whatever we have we can’t protect. The latter point is particularly vexing. Mr. Vego quoted the Maritime Administration’s understanding that the Navy “will not be able to escort [MSC] ships during a major war. They should ‘go fast, stay quiet.’”
What!? Underway replenishment is the absolute pillar of our Navy’s worldwide power projection! Imagine a carrier strike or amphibious ready group without fuel, munitions, spare parts, or provisions for its aircraft and crew. Simply put, our fleet is crippled without logistics ships. And the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Russia’s military know this.
—Winn B. Frank, Golden Life Member
Captain Pagano hits the bullseye when he details the weaknesses inherent in the current combat logistics force (CLF). The vulnerability of logistics ships in high-end combat was well demonstrated in the Falklands War. The loss of the SS Atlantic Conveyor, with a number of badly needed helicopters and other supplies, showed how a logistics ship lacking a self-defense capability succumbed to an Exocet missile attack.
With budgets straining, conversion of a large number of MSC ships to uniformed Navy operation may not be feasible. A small-scale conversion, partly as an exploratory project, may be more tractable in the near term. The two Arctic-class fast combat support ships present an excellent type for such a pathfinder project. Their speed allows them to keep up with a carrier strike group, and they were originally designed to carry self-defense weapons—these still could be added.
The fleet needs survivable combat logistics ships. Hopefully, it will not require a mauling to get the Navy to implement Captain Pagano’s suggestions.
—Robert T. Zavala Jr.
I disagree with Dr. Vego when he writes, “After Pearl Harbor, the Navy was strategically on the defensive, but operationally and tactically it acted offensively.” When presented with the opportunity after Pearl Harbor to engage the Japanese carriers Hiryu and Soryu during Wake Island relief operation, U.S. forces canceled the operation. The planned attack on Rabaul in February was canceled after the Lexington task force had been detected, and in the Doolittle Raid the bombers launched early for the same reason.
In the first months of the war, the U.S. Navy needed to revise poor carrier doctrine that operated carrier air wings independently and to train aircrew. The Navy was in no condition to engage even a detachment of the Japanese First Air Fleet with its superior doctrine and better trained aircrew.
A common observation is the Japanese continued to hold on to the Mahanian concept of decisive battleship surface action after the United States had abandoned it. But it ignores that Pearl Harbor left the U.S. Navy no choice but to embrace carrier operations.
The country continued to build battleships after Pearl Harbor when the Navy desperately needed carriers. And when the Navy had modern fast battleships (as at the battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf), opportunities were sought to bring them into contact with enemy surface forces.
At the battle of Midway, for all practical purposes the entire air group from the Hornet was lost on 4 June, excepting only Torpedo 8, because of poor training and doctrine. If not for the good luck of the Enterprise CAG finding a detached Japanese destroyer trying to rejoin her fleet after chasing a submarine, it is likely the only dive bombers to have attacked would have been from the Yorktown.
The Yorktown wing and Admiral Frank Fletcher exhibited the best judgment at the battle, and if all air operations had been under Fletcher the results would arguably have been better. The Spruance attack was almost the disaster of losing all the aircraft without hitting the Japanese carriers. Midway was almost a catastrophe.
—LCDR Tim Stipp, USNR (Ret.)
(See A. Jampoler, online, July 2019)
Whether Admiral Moran should have chosen to retire following his confirmation as upcoming Chief of Naval Operations was a personal decision based on individual reflection. His decision to handle the situation with composure, maturity, and foresight should be commended as a responsible approach to managing his own reputation and the reputation of the armed services.
Captain Jampoler raises important concerns about preserving due process for those accused of misconduct. At no point should any service member, regardless of time in service or station, be concerned that unsubstantiated rumors can lead to legal or professional consequences.
But generations of sailors and Marines have been reminded that reputation does, in fact, matter. If Marines and sailors feel they cannot trust their superior officers, the command structure is degraded. Leaders may feel that if the Chief of Naval Operations can get away with questionable moral behavior, then they too are implicitly permitted to misbehave.
Furthermore, victims of sexual assault and discrimination will be less likely to report incidents to their chains of command if they do not trust that the command climate is conducive to maintaining a safe work environment or if they have reason to believe that senior leaders are not willing to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Language that implies we have to mourn the loss of “superstar” careers, as Captain Jampoler terms them, because we did not protect individuals who have made a “small mistake” is harmful to the culture of excellence we strive to achieve.
Safety violations due to negligence also are frequently classified as small mistakes, yet sailors and Marines are duly held accountable for them. There should be no tolerance for arguments that senior officers ought to be allowed greater leeway in reprehensible behavior owing to their rank or billet; if anything, officers are held to a higher standard of moral behavior.
Captain Jampoler’s rhetoric is dismissive of victims, both present and historical. Ironically, it ignores the reality, which persists to the modern day, that those who experience discriminatory behavior are often those who receive personal and professional repercussions, from physical violence to threats of career retaliation. Harassment drives victims of sexual assault to leave the service. Implying that the retirement of a perpetrator is more harrowing than unknown numbers of service members harmed by violence or discrimination is disturbing.
Admiral Moran’s statement that “every Sailor is entitled to serve in an environment free of harassment or intimidation” should set the example for an appropriate response to concerns over questionable behavior by a senior officer. To imply that voluntary retirement is equivalent to “defenestration” is hyperbolic and indicative of a culture that excuses misconduct. To maintain trust and excellence, appropriate application of high standards of moral conduct must be celebrated, not bemoaned.
—2NDLT Tova Levin, USMC
(See B. Chiacchia, online, July 2019)
To his credit, Midshipman Chiacchia has dared to think and write. His article took moral courage, and some of his recommendations hold genuine value. We should recognize that and encourage further efforts by this prospective officer.
Unfortunately, to use the author’s words, the atomic bombing focus of the article is “a counterproductive exercise in historical illiteracy.” Despite criticizing the NROTC ethics curriculum for relying on a 1947 article by Henry Stimson, the author relies on quarter-century-old articles by Barton Bernstein and Michael Beschloss. Although the articles have the ease of being available on the internet, they are far from the latest scholarly research on this topic and do not reflect the information available to decision makers in 1945 or to historians today.
More recent scholarship by D. M. Giangreco, Richard Frank, and Edward Drea has conclusively proven that the prospective invasions of Kyushu in November 1945 and the Kanto Plain around Tokyo in March 1946 would have entailed a significant number of casualties, well over half a million to a million personnel. The Japanese had not only correctly assessed where the United States would land, but also had massed substantial forces in these areas, far more than those estimated by U.S. intelligence. They also had stockpiled more than 12,000 kamikaze aircraft in the home islands, expanding the threat well beyond the landing beaches.
Although U.S. planners underestimated how many troops the Japanese massed, they knew enough to be able to call for a new national draft of 900,000 more Americans. By August 1945, the situation seemed so grim that U.S. leaders were considering the use of remaining fissionable material in tactical nuclear weapons to try and clear out the invasion areas ahead of the first wave of landing craft.
I agree with the author’s points about the need for historical study and understanding context. To do so, I advise budding historians to start by finding all the references. Instead of relying on articles available on the internet, go to the library and find the latest scholarly works on a subject. Study those works’ bibliographies and notes. Who relied on archival research or foreign language sources? What did other historians write about those works? Take the time to become immersed in the topic to better understand the context of events and the viewpoints of decision makers. The atomic bombings make more sense when viewed against the bloody backdrop of Saipan, Okinawa, daily kamikaze attacks, ULTRA and MAGIC intelligence intercepts, fire bombings, and the relocation of the Kwantung Army.
Midshipman Chiacchia is correct to call for “a sophisticated knowledge” of history. And after he gains it, I hope he will continue to dare to think, read, speak, and write boldly.
—CDR Joel I. Holwitt, USN
(See J. Hinkle, p. 11, July 2019)
I recently read Rear Admiral Hinkle’s “Thoughts” with interest but with appropriate skepticism. However, while we all have our own thoughts concerning improvements across our Navy, I believe Admiral Hinkle has done a remarkable job of capturing several improvements that warrant serious consideration.
I understand the surface community’s logical decision to replicate the XO-to-CO fleet-up approach historically rooted in the aviation community. But it appears from all assessments not to have served surface forces very well for the reasons he enumerates. After all, not all communities are the same, in how they operate or how they develop their talent. Therefore, what works for one may not work for another. All we have to do is look to our brethren submariners who have not followed a similar course.
Second, I strongly agree with Admiral Hinkle as to his concern for “gaming” the fitrep system. To rate a more senior officer in zone who may be up for a last look at promotion over a more capable junior officer in zone is a disservice to the Navy, and over time it creates a weaker officer corps.
Finally, as a former (long ago) midshipman, I agree that to send a young impressionable mid on a summer cruise where she or he ends up sitting on a ship in the yards or in an office at an air station or—worse yet—on the beach at Dam Neck is a huge waste of resources all the way round. More important, it may give that soon-to-be young officer a poor or inappropriate perspective on what it is to serve as a junior officer. The “system” must ensure that every midshipman receives a summer training opportunity that enhances his or her understanding of the duties of a naval officer, period!
BZ to Admiral Hinkle for sending this round across our bow. Let’s hope the folks who have the deck are listening!
—RADM Kenneth J. Braithwaite, USN (Ret.), U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway
(See N. Friedman, pp. 88–89, June 2019)
Dr. Friedman is correct that in most cases a programmer or coder—the person actually writing the software—is not familiar with the dynamics of the vehicle being controlled by his or her software, or the operation of the vehicle, or the procedures used by human operators/pilots.
But this should not be the responsibility of those who actually produce computer-readable lines of code. When I worked in aerospace, we had a thorough system engineering process that ensured all stakeholders—customers/users, domain experts, analysts, designers, coders, testers/integrators, installers, etc.—had the opportunity to provide input and to review intermediate products such as specifications, designs, and test/integration plans. I have been retired from industry for more than 20 years, but I hope practices have gotten better, not worse.
Most developers in recent years have moved to “agile methods,” with the objective of speeding development and probably providing intermediate deliveries with incremental capabilities. There may be a less formal process (e.g., little detailed planning beyond the next few weeks; programmers always test their own code), but the presence of users/user representatives, domain experts, and engineering specialists should always be part of the process.
I might also mention that the so-called sunny-day scenario, when the system operates exactly as intended, may represent as little as 25 percent of the code. The rest is error/exception handling, such as when sensors or processors fail (how to determine that they have failed, and how to respond), human or remote inputs do not occur as scheduled or are unacceptable, etc. Software responses in such cases should not be left to the programmers to decide—or to ignore. Analysis of likely and important exceptions that the system must handle is less intuitive when using agile tools such as stories and use cases, but it is essential that the determination take place.
(See G. Heinemann, pp. 64–65, June 2019; E. Stoffregen, p. 90, July 2019)
I have to take issue with the information provided by Lieutenant Colonel Stoffregen on whether the designation “CVL” properly stands for “light aircraft carrier.” The 1945 “Victory Edition” of The Ships and Aircraft of the United States Fleet (James C. Fahey, Naval Institute Press, Reprint 1976) on page 9 designates CVLs as “aircraft carriers–light.” This has been the “go to” reference since the first edition was published in 1939.
In the foreword, Fahey writes, “The standard naval nomenclature is used throughout these pages.” I don’t think he got it wrong.
Later postwar editions show that the designation changed to “aircraft carrier–small.” I’m going to speculate that the designation changed from “light” to “small” because the Navy’s original designation for the Midway class was CVB, “aircraft carrier–large.” Someone probably figured that since you had a “large” carrier, you also needed a “small” carrier.
—COL Thomas C. Hathaway III, USA (Ret.)
I just finished reading the June issue. I don’t remember ever having enjoyed an entire issue so much.
The articles and departments were filled with well-written and thought provoking items.
In “Firing on the Uproll” (pp. 90–91, August 2019), due to an editing error, the TBF aircraft was incorrectly referred to as the SDF.
USS Billings (LCS-15) Joins the Fleet
The Navy commissioned the USS Billings (LCS-15) during a ceremony in Key West, Florida, on 3 August 2019 with Commander Nate Rowan, USN, in command.
The Billings is the first U.S. Navy ship named for the largest city in Montana. The 3,500-ton Freedom-class littoral combat ship was laid down on 2 November 2015 at Marinette, Wisconsin, by Fincantieri Marinette Marine; launched on 1 July 2017; and sponsored by Mrs. Sharla Tester, wife of Montana Senator John Tester.
The Billings continues the strong historical connection between the Navy and landlocked Montana. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, “At least 30 U.S. Navy ships have been named after the state of Montana, its cities, places, and people.” Some of the notable U.S. Navy ships with ties to the Treasure State include the USS Helena (SSN-725), USS Montana (SSN-794), and two USS Helena cruisers (CL-50 and CA-75). Montana is also home to Naval Operations Support Centers Helena and Billings.
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