I congratulate Lieutenant Carrington for his excellent article that highlighted an area of international concern for future peaceful uses of Antarctica. But my international law professors at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (1971) and the University of Miami School of Law (1980) would be quick to note that on page 72, the author fails to distinguish the difference between being “a signatory” to the Antarctic Treaty and being “a party” to it. A signatory only becomes a party to a treaty by ratification. A delegate’s signature on a treaty only indicates a government’s intention; a government’s ratification is required to become a party to the treaty and thereby be bound by it.
This difference is frequently overlooked, because it is somewhat common for countries to sign treaties and conventions then fail to ratify them. A well-known example of this phenomenon is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which the United States has signed but never ratified.
—CDR James T. Armstrong, USCGR (Ret.)
Chief Null writes very well about a perplexing situation that becomes more important all the time.
Every day, countries such as Russia and China boldly flaunt international norms and push back against long-standing international agreements they consider too constraining. This is a very difficult and frustrating situation, especially in shared domains or border zones at sea, as well as in other important areas such as cyberspace, the Arctic, and space.
The author is right on the money to point out that mere rules are not enough. (They never are.) A successful system also needs empowered policing, complete with the ability to impose real and consequential penalties—an ability that the United States or other bodies do not currently possess in many of these troublesome “gray zones.”
Null also rightly bemoans the practice of using mere “presence” in disputed areas as a means of deterrence. As he so correctly states, “presence without authorization for substantive action” can erode trust in policing forces and embolden bad actors “by showing a lack of resolve to decisively address their conduct.” He provides an excellent statement of a very frustrating and growing problem in the world. But can we heed his call and find a solution to this deteriorating situation?
There is a lot that is not quite right in this award-winning article. If an author is going to discuss solving a problem outside his area of competence, the place to start is to determine if there is a real problem. I do not see that Major Kerg cites any documentation from fleet sources indicating a significant intelligence shortfall in the area he has taken on. The fact that he appears to have access to sufficient information to deal with this topic at the unclassified level actually seems to suggest the opposite; there might just be enough collection/reporting/analysis on this topic.
Completely unaddressed in the article is what intelligence we are getting/ought to expect from theater security partners who live the problem every day. The U.S. military cannot do everything, and we need to rely on local expertise for many intelligence problems. Further, when one suggests that more collection, reporting, and analysis on a topic is needed, it is also necessary to identify what other problems will get less attention. Identifying the offsets is a zero-sum proposition, but a necessary one in the real world of intelligence.
Second, the author assumes that there is a near-complete crossover between counterintelligence (COIN) preparation of the battlespace and the process used by naval intelligence, but he does not reference any Navy publications, and he never walks us through the process. Proposing improvements requires proof of the existence of a problem and demonstration of how their suggestions fix it. This article does neither. Finally, it leaves unaddressed the question of what the role of Marine Corps intelligence in maritime COIN should be. Second prize, huh?
—CDR Robert McIntyre, USN (Ret.)
The author responds: I’m grateful to Commander McIntyre for continuing the dialogue on this issue. This is how we get better as a team: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Regarding his concerns:
First, it is critical to address the common but false logic he applies: “You’ve never personally done (X), therefore you can’t speak about (X).” This is a non sequitur; his comments do not actually address the ideas I raised. Instead, he appeals to experience, apparently assuming that only personal experience grants authority, similar to the fallacy that only those with military experience can speak on military matters. Such a view immediately discards the invaluable contributions of countless civilian scholars and policy makers, Sir Julian Corbett among them! This stay-in-your-lane mentality is poisonous to intellectual growth and development, and it contributes to the stove-piping that leads to cognitive errors of every stripe.
The writer also suggests that if no fleet sources indicate a problem, then there is no problem. This is, unfortunately, another common logical fallacy, known as the appeal to ignorance, which can assert that a proposition is false because it has not yet been proven true. This fallacy becomes particularly dangerous when applied to military and strategic thinking, as it prevents the anticipation of problems, threats, and enemy action, and enabling such anticipation is one of the purposes of intelligence.
Finally, Commander McIntyre questions the role of Marine Corps intelligence in maritime COIN. I refer him to the history of the Pacific War and to Advantage at Sea, the 2020 triservice maritime strategy. These illustrate the relationship between the sea services in all functional areas, whether in the past, present, or future.
—Maj Brian Kerg, USMC
Photography in Proceedings
I applaud Proceedings for consistently selecting great Marine and Navy photographers.
As a 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit public affairs officer in the late 1990s, I did not have access to the speed and proficiency of being digitally connected. But your cover photographer for April, Lance Corporal Mackenzie Binion of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, consistently captures expeditionary warfare events and exercises with flair and timeliness.
And Parris Island’s Sergeant Dana Beesley, whose photos have also appeared in your pages, recently earned the prestigious Military Visual Awards 2020 Photographer of the Year. Documenting the Blue/Green Team, whether engaged on the high seas or in entry-level pipeline training, is more important now than ever.
—Colonel Riccoh Player, USMC, Commanding Officer, Headquarters & Service Battalion, Recruit Depot Parris Island
As I understand Ensign Frankenberg’s argument, she perceives three factors that necessitate changes to the Naval Academy curriculum: 1) “outrage and protests” having to do with the deaths of black Americans; 2) the violence at the U.S. Capitol on 6 January 2021; and 3) poor coverage of slavery in high school U.S. history courses. These changes would include a “diversity and inclusion” minor, a dedicated chair for a historian in “African American studies,” and increased attention to the history of slavery and civil rights.
The author believes these changes would advance two goals. In the near term, the Naval Academy would commission officers better prepared to succeed in a “diverse” fleet. In the long term, officers commissioned after exposure to this modified curriculum would serve as a data set to compare the degree to which “nonwhite” and “white” midshipmen and officers experience discipline, promotion, and so on. This all leads toward the ultimate objective—“an increase in the number of nonwhite senior military leaders.”
For the sake of argument, I will stipulate that the author correctly attributes to racism the incidents she cites. But what is the relationship between these incidents and the Naval Academy history program? Is it possible today for a midshipman to graduate without learning about slavery, the civil rights movement, or racial violence? If so, I agree with Ensign Frankenberg that the Academy’s history department needs to fix this. However, she seems to have had extensive exposure to these topics in her studies. These topics, by the way, should be a core part of any U.S. history curriculum, not treated as a distinct subfield of “African American studies.”
History is an essential component of any liberal education, perhaps especially for military professionals. In contrast, “diversity and inclusion” is an emerging and controversial discipline. Its most extreme proponents openly advocate for the use of present racial discrimination as a remedy for victims of past discrimination. The Naval Academy should encourage midshipmen to engage with provocative and difficult ideas, but not every such idea deserves a dedicated academic program.
Ultimately, this argument winds up in the same place as most pieces about “diversity”—if a specific demographic group represents X percent of the U.S. population, but less than X percent of senior officers, then two things must be true. First, more captains and admirals of that group are needed. And, second, white racism (or sexism) is to blame. There may be a reasoned argument for either or both of these propositions, but this article appeals to emotion, invoking the “sacred flag” and James Baldwin.
However, we are not living in 1965, and if the author believes the Navy should abandon current policies in favor of deliberate efforts to promote members of any identity group to high rank, she will need to make a much more compelling argument.
—LCDR Brian Hayes, USNR (Ret.)
The fact that the military has diversity training is evidence that the armed forces have issues rooted in unacceptable behaviors regarding race, gender, disability, and sexuality. Such ignorance is an indicator of either a lack of education or miseducation service members received before joining.
The way the Navy is combating it could be improved by incorporating service-wide education that inspires and that teaches that, in time of conflict, we are all Navy Blue.
For example, by learning about Medal of Honor recipients, sailors will find all manner of gender, race, religion, culture, and ideology. Sergeant William Carney, Commander Ernest Edwin Evans, Privates First Class Ralph E. Dias and Thomas Doss, and Dr. Mary E. Walker represent not only the varied look of our nation, but proof that the greatest qualities a person can possess are something we all can share. These heroes provide the example of sacrifice and remind us that in our time of need, any of us might rise to the occasion and overcome seemingly insurmountable circumstances.
Historical inequality in this country is an unfortunate truth, though with every unfortunate truth there exists opportunity to demonstrate evidence of excellence. World War II provided many minorities the opportunity to fight against the Axis while fighting against prejudice and injustice at home. Sailors such as Eugene Tarrant and Leonard Roy Harmon of the USS San Francisco (CA-38) conducted themselves in a manner consistent with the best traditions of the Navy, despite the disrespect they experienced at home and at sea.
After the war, Tarrant said, “We all bleed, we all grieve, we love, we hate, we do all the things that any other human being does. We all learned that, and it really applied on that night [off Guadalcanal].” Racial difference did not matter in the time of battle; what mattered was the capability of those whose fates are bound together by action and the core values that resonate across the services.
The way the Navy currently teaches its history is not an effective way to combat the root cause of diversity issues—extremism and supremacy. The enemy is not our neighbors, crew, or coworkers, rather the rhetoric that has misled them. One method to combat ideology is to provide indisputable evidence that touches those infected with poisonous influences. We should start by celebrating our naval lineage.
A particular portion of the Naval Institute statement stands out:
Finally, our collective knowledge and experience tell us that diverse and inclusive teams are better and more effective than homogeneous ones. A diversity of experience, backgrounds, cultures, races, genders, and education gives ships, squadrons, battalions—and the military as a whole—a competitive edge.
Is there science behind this contention?
In July 2020, the Navy stood up Task Force One Navy (TF1N) to identify and make recommendations to dismantle barriers to equality while creating sustainable opportunities, ultimately achieving the desired end-state of warfighting excellence. TF1N’s report was issued on 26 January 2021. This report says: “Mission readiness is stronger when diverse strengths are used and differing perspectives are applied.” How does the Navy know this statement is true?
The report also asserted that “diverse teams are 58 percent more likely than non-diverse teams to accurately assess a situation. In addition, gender-diverse organizations are 15 percent more likely to outperform other organizations and diverse organizations are 35 percent more likely to outperform their non-diverse counterparts.”
The 58 percent statistic comes from “Ethnic Diversity Deflates Price Bubbles,” a 2014 study from the National Academy of Sciences. That study notes: “The evidence may inform public discussion on ethnic diversity: it may be beneficial not only for providing variety in perspectives and skills, but also because diversity facilitates friction that enhances deliberation and upends conformity.” Is friction what the Navy wants in a tactical situation during combat?
The “price bubbles” study goes on to say, “Ethnic diversity has been studied in multiple spheres, including economic growth, social capital, cities and neighborhoods, organizations, work teams, and jury deliberations. Some studies find benefits, but others do not.” It adds: “Some proponents of ethnic diversity justify it as a moral imperative, a reparation for inequality. Others argue that ethnic diversity can boost performance by bringing a broader range of perspectives, but the evidence is equivocal.” [Emphasis added.]
The 35 percent statistic comes from a McKinsey study, “Diversity Matters,” that reported its “analysis found a statistically significant relationship between a more diverse leadership team and better financial performance.” It also noted: “The relationship between diversity and performance highlighted in the research is a correlation, not a causal link.”
Neither study examined military units. Are studies of business financial performance analogous to a military setting?
Is there evidence that diversity and inclusion actually improve military team performance?
—CAPT Brent Ramsey, USN (Ret.)
Captain Tangredi quotes Sun Tzu as saying, “All war is based upon deception.” He also said, “The sublime art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
This is the opposite of what the Persians tried at the battle of Salamis, and they failed to win the port of Piraeus. It also is the opposite of what Imperial Japan tried when it attacked the Port of Darwin, Australia—and didn’t take the port.
Who controls the ports of Piraeus and Darwin today? China. And it didn’t even fight to take them over. Was this due to a lack of AI, or was it a more basic problem of identifying one’s enemy?
The Military Isn’t ‘Woke’—It’s Just a New Generation
There is a generational shift in the military as a result of profound changes in the nation. Every year we claim to address systemic issues and usher in the “New Navy.” The big secret is: Either the New Navy is already here, or it will never get here; there is no in-between. Claiming that change is coming ignores the fundamental nature of change—it is already happening.
This new phenomenon of being “woke” should not be political. It is an awareness of systemic problems which continue to cause divisions in the country and military.
The fundamental nature of being woke is to be aware of the problems confronting people who do not look like you or believe in the things you do. The job of military leaders is not to paper over these divisions with sweet-sounding words. They must instead recognize the groundswell that already exists among younger service members. The military has yet to conduct studies into LGBTQ+ statistics, it has an extreme diversity deficit at higher paygrades, and women continue to make up an unacceptably small proportion of the military.
Instead of issuing new directives to fix problems, the Navy must look at the institution as a whole to see why minority ethnic groups and women are underrepresented. It must ask why, as a whole, the officer corps is less diverse than the enlisted, and why problems of diversity only get worse with seniority.
A 2020 Department of Defense study found that while promotion and retention rates for officers are roughly equal until O-3, as soon as “automatic” promotion stops, gender and ethnic diversity precipitously declines. The problems of retention and recruitment at lower paygrades are being addressed with some effectiveness.
At the four-star level, however, the distribution is 92 percent white. It is a fallacy to think that this 92 percent can address the problems confronting people for whom the system is clearly not working.
I am not suggesting that the Navy is a systemically racist or sexist institution. I am suggesting that people who refuse to recognize change are actively damaging military institutions. The military is only as good as the people who comprise it, and retention rates are suffering from this generational gap. Today children aged 10 to 19 are 50 percent white, 50 percent from minority groups. By 2030 “minority” groups will make up a majority.
People need to see a sustained commitment to those principles on which our country was founded and which are beginning to be properly recognized. This does not mean getting rid of the meritocratic system the Navy is rightly proud of. It means recognizing the need for the many diverse groups in the Navy to see more admirals and policy makers who look like them. Only then does a piece of paper saying, “We want to do something to help this institution we both care about” inspire trust instead of ridicule.
—MIDN James Rice, USN
Dr. Folse’s article could not be more timely. I was a charter member of the Education for Seapower Study (E4S), along with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Mike Mullen; Marine General John Allen; former Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett; and current President of the Naval Postgraduate School Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau, organized by Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, who fully understood that an overhaul of naval education was long overdue.
This board could not have been in stronger agreement about its recommendations, especially for a naval university with a three-star president with the collateral duty of heading the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, all of which foundered—as every other naval education study has—on the impenetrability of Navy culture.
Interestingly, the Marines were fully on board. And despite the full support of then-Vice CNO Admiral William Moran, CNO Admiral John Richardson dissented from the report and the recommendations. The consequence was the failure of the Navy to exploit the extraordinary opportunities presented by turning education into a sixth domain of warfare and capitalizing on what former Marine Corps Commandant General Al Gray called our most potent weapon—the minds and intellects of our sailors and Marines.
Will the Navy learn? It will take a CNO with the courage of a Zumwalt or a Secretary with the determination of a John Lehman to bring naval education into the 21st century.
The chart in Need to Know outlines the recommendations for the reorganization or elimination of certain Marine Corps units. It appears the end-strength of the Marine Corps will drop below 120,000 Marines. Elsewhere in the issue, the flag list reports the 106 general officers serving on active duty in the Marine Corps.
This raises several questions: If the manning level is to drop, how many of those general officers and their staffs will be disbanded? How many civilian contractors should be let go? How many federal employees (GS) should be let go or retire?
If amphibious operations are to be conducted, I cannot see the Corps doing so without tanks and artillery. From news reports the Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians, Russians, and Taliban have not cut spending on weapons, training, or operations.
—E. J. Yochum