From the Editor’s Desk
In addition to reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, since late May the United States has been reacting to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis and other violence against African Americans. The ensuing protests, mobilization of National Guard troops, and even the short-term deployment of some regular military forces, brought the issue home to our military family. It has been more than 70 years since President Truman abolished discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, or national origin in the Armed Forces, and nearly 50 years since Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt’s Z-Gram #66 “Equal Opportunity in the Navy.” Despite those critical pieces of guidance, racism and unequal opportunity persist. Commandant of the Marine Corps General David Berger’s recent ban against displaying the Confederate flag is an admission of the work that remains to be done.
Online in June we published “Racial Tension in America Requires Intrusive Leadership in the Military” by Commander Marcus Canady, U.S. Coast Guard. Then we had him and Navy Chief Petty Officer Aliscia Malone on the Proceedings Podcast to talk about their experiences as African Americans in the military and what they thought would further improve inclusivity and equal opportunity. A theme that emerged was the importance of having the hard conversations that surround race and racism.
Proceedings wants to engender that discussion in our pages, so we are asking Sea Service professionals—from all ranks and ethnicities—to share stories and ideas about how to further improve racial harmony in the force: stories about leaders who got it right, and those who got it wrong; ideas about what works and what does not. What next steps must Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, and DoD leaders take? As Commander Canady said on the podcast, “The reason why . . . it is so important for the military to get this right . . . is because we have a profession where we depend on each other with our lives.”
If you need help with a difficult conversation, read this month’s Leadership Forum (pp.74–76). In “Iron-Fist Leadership Is Not Leadership At All,” retired Marine Chief Warrant Officer Ted Schmit questions some recruit training practices and tells us intimidation is not inspiring. Schmit’s honesty is inspiring to me: “Unfortunately, it was not until my 11-year service mark that I recognized that rank and leadership are two different things.” What he learned after that is superb advice.
I always enjoy the contributions of our international authors. This month, retired Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Major General Nozomu Yoshitomi provides key insights on how Japan and the United States could defend the strategic terrain of Japan’s Southwest Islands, including Okinawa, in “Shore-to-Shore Amphibious Assault” (pp.36–41). Those steeped in “amphibiosity” will find this article an excellent addition to the ongoing discussions about expeditionary advanced base operations and littoral operations in a contested environment.
Finally, long-time editor-in-chief of Naval History magazine, Richard Latture, stepped down last month. Richard joined the Institute in 2005, and he personifies the term “quiet professional.” Issue after issue, Richard put together a rich, beautiful, scholarly, yet readable, magazine. It has been a pleasure working with and learning from Richard. He has an abiding respect for the subject of naval history and for our readers. Fortunately, Richard will continue to work part time as an editor and advisor on Naval History from his new home in North Carolina, so it is not quite time to wish him fair winds and following seas.
Until next month, be good to your shipmates and have one of those difficult conversations about race in America and in our military.
Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Life Member since 1993
Where We Were
July 1920 Proceedings—“Civilization was started by invention,” Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske, U.S. Navy, wrote in “Invention and War. “Its progress has been based on invention ever since, and it is based on invention now. The most important single agency in maintaining civilization has been war: for it was by war that wild beasts were subdued; it has been by war that the opposing forces of barbarism have been kept down; and it is by war that they must be continually kept down; otherwise the forces of barbarism will prevail.”
July 1970 Proceedings—“Considering the presently available aircraft for the V/STOL close-support mission,” Commander Henry C. Boschen, U. S. Navy, asked in “V/STOL New Force for the Amphibious Task Force,” “what do we really need? First, we want aircraft which the Marines can operate from relatively unprepared fields in advance areas with minimum repair facilities. The Marines, recognizing this requirement, have included 12 Harrier aircraft in their budget. The aircraft must be small enough to be helicopter-lifted back to a support base when repairs are required, and small enough to be stowed in the present-day LPH and LPD.”
July 1995 Proceedings—In “The Northeast Asia Nuclear Threat,” Commander Jonathan Sears, U.S. Navy, wrote, “Kim Jong Il’s answer to his political and economic problems is to develop a nuclear deterrent. There is a divergence of thought about the way Kim Jong Il plans to exploit a nuclear weapon if and when he acquires one. On the one hand is a conviction that North Korea is driven by a desire to gain political recognition, stature, regime survivability. On the other hand, North Korea’s interests include nuclear blackmail and foreign capital from a missile industry and advanced missile technology.”
A. Denis Clift
Golden Life Member