(K. Mizokami, pp. 90–91, January 2021)
(See T. Hammes, pp. 40–44, January 2021)
(See R. Denny, pp. 41–45, April 1996)
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, I argued in Proceedings that Navy 127-mm (5-inch) and 406-mm (16-inch) gun systems coupled with smart projectiles could provide an effective and cost-efficient lower and upper tier antiballistic missile capability. Space limitations prevented me from arguing that gun-fired smart projectiles could also provide a cost-effective antiair capability. The arguments Mr. Mizokami presented support the idea of returning naval antiair and antiballistic-missile capabilities to gun systems.
In the 1950s, antiair capabilities shifted from guns firing simple proximity-fuze shells to relatively large missiles. Most of these systems were an outgrowth of the World War II German Wasserfall surface-to-air missile system. The Soviet SA-1 and SAN-1 and the U.S. HAWK and RIM-2 Terrier systems provided longer range and a guided capability that gun-based systems simply could not. While capable, these typically had large diameters ranging from 34 to 50 cm. By 1996 command, laser, infrared, and millimeter-wave guided projectiles had improved to the point they had become a viable alternative to missile systems. That argument’s validity has only grown.
Most armies, at least in the West, have decided 155-mm gun systems are the largest caliber that can be effectively dragged or propelled through the mud and sand of a battlefield. The guided projectiles available today are therefore typically 127-mm or 155-mm. For naval gun-based antiair and ABM systems, it makes sense to start with these calibers but, being naval systems, the size of the gun should be limited primarily by the mission, size of the ship, and cost. In the 1960s, the Navy developed and tested the Mk 71 203-mm gun turret on ships as small as destroyers. Improvements in ship and gun design likely would make a similar system even more viable today. Two- or even three-barrel automated gun turrets, reminiscent of the first half of the last century, would provide a capability surpassing any of the vertical launch systems (VLS) of today.
Colonel Hammes advocated for the conversion of merchant ships into long-range precision-weapon carriers. But a class of multiturret warships, armed with the land-attack projectiles described by Mr. Mizokami and the antiair and ABM capabilities advocated by me, could meet much of his requirement in a class of ships the size of the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), capable of firing thousands of smart projectiles before requiring resupply, not 96 vertical-launch missiles.
(See R. Foote, pp. 12–13, December 2020, and M. Purzycki, p. 9, February 2021)
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER FOOTE articulates for the sea services that which researchers have established and some private companies are successfully employing: A diverse workforce gets results. In October 2019, MIT Technology Review examined neurodiversity specifically in the example of a startup, Ultranaut, which saw—among other wins—a 56 percent apples-to-apples platform quality improvement when a competitor’s work was redone by an Ultranaut team of workers on the autism spectrum.
They also developed human “user manuals” for employees to facilitate communication and expectation management, removing barriers to individual and team performance. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday reminded the Navy as recently as NavAdmin 295/20 that “our people remain our number one asset.” The teams built across spectrums—neurological, cognitive, gender, racial, and others—are the teams that fight tonight and win decisively.
(See G. Arndt and B. Hernandez, pp.76–77, February 2021)
EVERYONE WANTS “BETTER” training (no matter the subject), but how do you measure better? The authors bemoan training deficiencies but do not cite examples of operational aviation missions that suffered as a result or document an intelligence support concern by a squadron or wing commanding officer.
As a former squadron intelligence officer and director of intelligence training—and having plenty of aviation-related experience from Vietnam to Desert Storm—I hold the issue the authors raise near and dear. We want to give the aircrews everything they need. When we come up short or struggle to get the most accurate threat estimate, blaming the schoolhouse alone is a weak excuse.
The fact is, intelligence officers have reported to squadrons with their heads full of time-late “book learnin’” for decades. Very few have any operational experience, unless they were former aviators and switched designators. As an ensign right from the schoolhouse, I gave my first Soviet-aircraft capabilities briefing and was chagrined to learn that my squadron’s operations boss and executive officer had years of experience flying Soviet aircraft. I learned tactical intelligence from them, and that was the professional development that propelled me to a long and successful career (another of the authors’ concerns).
In the 1980s, the intel community, in concert with operators, developed meaningful, tactical post-schoolhouse training at Fallon, in tactical wings, and at Tactical Training Group Atlantic. The impetus was lessons learned from Grenada and Beirut and development of the Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles and associated sensors/jammers. These schoolhouses continue to adapt to the needs of operators as missions and technologies evolve and adversaries and their capabilities change (as the authors point out). Desert Storm alone resulted in significant changes to the basic intelligence curriculum, but that was 30 years ago. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and the South China Sea issues continue to require changes.
That being said, I always felt our most operationally savvy intel officers were in P-3 squadrons—for the simple fact they got some decent flight time and worked the sensors, which is tough to do in a single-seat squadron. But, intel folks are creative. While you junior intel officers and specialists wait for new curricula, develop close professional relationships with the pilots, sensor operators, civilian tech reps, the maintainers, and whoever has a role in mission support. Create personal files on what you glean to share with the wing and aggressively seek out civilian analysts who have worked the threat for years. On board ship, your wing intel officer needs a strong relationship with both the ship’s and flag intelligence staffs. They often have extra resources for answering your squadron’s unique needs. And if you can’t get a hop in your squadron’s aircraft, plead for some simulator time, do walk arounds, and sit in the cockpit while a pilot leans over and gives you gouge you’ll never get in the schoolhouse.
As for the authors’ unhappiness with collateral duties, well, good luck.
(See D. Straub and H. Stires, pp. 18–23, January 2021)
THANKS TO THE AUTHORS for addressing the counterinsurgency (COIN) concept in the western Pacific.
The key takeaway from years of COIN in southwest Asia was that to defeat an adversary one must do more than simply defeat its platforms, tactics, and operations. One must defeat the adversary’s strategy and networks. Generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal explained it well: “You can’t kill your way out of an insurgency.” To defeat the adversary’s strategy, you must first have a deep understanding of it and adversary networks, then apply all elements of comprehensive national power and your own networks to defeat it, including the so-called DIME elements—diplomatic, information, military, and economic.
When it comes to a deep understanding of China’s grand strategy and the Indo-Pacific Theater as a whole, the U.S. interagency team has a data glut but an information and knowledge deficit. There are some centers of excellence (I am proud to observe that the Navy leads the way), but not enough to provide decisive, across-the-board advantage. Just as U.S. personnel needed to become fluent in understanding pillars of Islam, fatwas, mosque sermons, Sunni-Shia schisms, threat finance, foreign fighter flows, terrorist patterns of life, and asymmetric threats, today’s sailors, Marines, and other service members must increase their fluency in Chinese Communist Party ideology and strategy, crisis management historical case studies, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) joint firepower campaigns, PLA Navy operational concepts, asymmetric threats, and network analysis so that platforms such as the littoral combat ships can achieve their maximum effect.
Decade of War: Enduring Lessons from the Past Decade of Operations (Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2012) analyzed takeaways from COIN in southwest Asia. Among its key findings were: “a failure to accurately define the operational environment led to a mismatch between force capabilities vs. missions and goals . . . [and a] need to put more time upfront understanding the problem before racing out and try to solve it. Interagency coordination was uneven due to policy gaps, resources and organizational cultures.”
To succeed in COIN or other conventional scenarios against China, what will be needed is clear national guidance on threat prioritization, adequate resources to accomplish assigned tasks, and interagency policies linked to a comprehensive Indo-Pacific strategy that defends U.S. national security interests.
WHAT IS TRULY INSULTING to the American taxpayer is that, after 20 years and billions of dollars in research, development, manufacturing, operating costs and maintenance, the Navy is still trying to find a job the littoral combat ship (LCS) can do well.
The much-vaunted mission packages seem to be a bust, and the Navy having decided that we needed not one, but two, types of these duds really speaks to how the Navy designs and acquires ships today. And, when a program is deemed a failure by the Navy (it decided to cancel further production of the LCS), still no one is ever held accountable.
The LCS, as Captain Straub maintains, could be a fine maritime COIN platform. But at what cost? Couldn’t the same job be done by a Cyclone class or heavily armed Sentinel-class patrol boat, each of which can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a single LCS? If all you need is more space and a helicopter deck, there are many offshore patrol vessels out there that can be armed like a small frigate and still cost a fraction of what an LCS costs. And I doubt the Chinese will be intimidated by a single LCS patrolling the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait.
(See C. Richard, pp. 12–14, February 2021)
ADMIRAL RICHARD MADE several worrying assertions. The most troubling was this: The U.S. Strategic Command assesses the probability of nuclear use as low, but not “impossible,” particularly in a crisis and as nuclear-armed adversaries continue to build capability and exert themselves globally.
The basis for this assessment and what low but not impossible means were not spelled out. If the admiral is suggesting a “limited” nuclear war could be fought without escalation, that calls for drastic and probably unachievable changes in capabilities, strategy, planning, and missile defense. If the reference is to North Korea, what has changed?
Or is the admiral saying that the concept of 20th-century deterrence no longer works or fits the 21st century? If so, what are the options?
Beyond those questions, the United States did face two nuclear adversaries during the Cold War, one of whom we fought a real war against in Korea—China. While China arrived late as a nuclear power in 1964, Mao always argued “a few atom bombs” were enough to destroy a sizable chunk of America.
The admiral did not mention that, from the perspective of Moscow and Beijing, the United States was not the only nuclear power. In Europe, Britain and France have powerful but small retaliatory capacity on board ballistic-missile submarines. China cannot dismiss India or Pakistan’s nuclear forces, either, and North Korea remains problematic.
Last, while the nuclear triad must be modernized, budgets will be a huge issue as with fixed or declining defense spending and given overruns in costs and time that seem inevitable, more of the same mix of air, sea, and land capacity does not appear affordable without deep cuts in conventional forces.
In many ways, a better deterrent mix might include B-52s carrying scores of long-range standoff weapons, fewer potentially vulnerable land-based ICBMs, and (while Admiral Hyman G. Rickover might return from the dead) diesel air-independent propulsion ballistic-missile submarines because of limits on spending.
One way out is to accelerate arms control negotiations. Returning to NEW START was an excellent beginning. China may not be interested, but clearly Vladimir Putin is.
Keeping the nuclear genie in the bottle has been a shared interest for eight decades. A tougher review of nuclear strategy, capability, and targeting options is obviously needed. And answering “How low is ‘low’?” in terms of possibility likewise would be a good start.
(See S. Callihan, pp. 34–37, January 2021)
I SUPPORT THE PREMISE that Lieutenant Commander Callihan proposes based on my own experience. I entered the Navy as an aviation officer candidate. After completing military training (boot camp, in effect), we proceeded to ground school, which was solely devoted to aviation-related subjects to familiarize us with the workings of an airplane before we were allowed in one. We then began primary training in a simple aircraft. Those who successfully completed that phase proceeded to bigger and bigger aircraft until fully qualified to fly. At that point, you earned your wings and were assigned to an active squadron. Unfortunately, I did not make it that far.
After bouncing around for a while in aviation ground-support billets, I elected to trade my brown shoes for black. I was first assigned to a destroyer tender. That might as well have been shore duty. After a year, I was transferred to a destroyer, preceded by two weeks of combat information center training and a week of air-intercept controlling. Not a thing about shiphandling—that was strictly on-the-job-training.
To my misfortune, after a year on board, my ship was slated to go into fleet rehabilitation and modernization overhaul. I managed to qualify as an officer-of-the-deck underway just before we went to the shipyard. From there, I transferred to a destroyer division where I learned a lot about tactics but still no shiphandling. After shore duty, I was assigned to a combat stores ship where, as a department head and with about seven years in the Navy, I was finally getting some shiphandling experience. Not quite the same as a destroyer, but shiphandling nonetheless. It was during this tour of duty that the surface warfare officer (SWO) program came into being. I was grandfathered in based on my experience. That was some way to earn your SWO pin.
I found myself always trying hard to catch up with my contemporaries. What I would have given to have learned about shiphandling the way they taught me to fly. Nevertheless, I was able to find my niche in the Navy and made it to captain before I retired.
(See K. Cregge, pp. 30–34, January 2021)
LIEUTENANT CREGGE’S EXCELLENT article reminded me of my first submarine command, the USS Marlin (SST-2). The crew consisted of 2 officers and 16 enlisted men, all qualified in submarines. Electric Boat Company built only two of the Marlin’s type. They had an integrated control column for steering and depth control, one torpedo tube, and two Mk 37 torpedoes.
The crew were experienced and highly selected. They represented virtually every enlisted rating in submarines. By necessity, new responsibilities were assigned outside their official technical skills. They were department heads, division officers, officers of the deck, and diving officers and did collateral duties. They got the ship under way and made the landings. (One of our best was the cook.) They were outstanding in all areas, and I slept well when under way at night—or as well as any commanding officer sleeps. We had to do all the same reports and paperwork required of larger submarines, which the crew competently completed.
Do not underestimate the potential of your enlisted sailors. But for personal circumstances, many could have been commissioned officers when they joined the Navy. Many did become officers through the limited duty office program (LDO). In a later assignment as squadron engineer, I got both of my LDO division engineers augmented to regular Navy as line officers. One became commanding officer of a new submarine rescue ship.
(See S. Wallace, p. 15, February 2021)
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER WALLACE brings up several important points.
He is correct that civilian backfill has no basis in reality. There already is a shortage in most medical specialties and critical-care nursing throughout the country, so sourcing from this population would be a major problem. For a wartime backfill scenario, there would be no reliable way to predict the duration, which would further complicate planning. As the author points out, credentialing civilians would also introduce major delays. The number of cuts proposed by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) will absolutely result in deficiencies in care at continental U.S. bases worse than was experienced during the Iraq/Afghan wars.
Use of reserve forces is a different matter. First, a properly functioning central credentialing system should be able to resolve most credentialing problems. As to utilization, reserve physicians are typically older and frequently more specialized and experienced than their active-duty counterparts. I was deployed to a field hospital during the Iraq War that had both reserve and active-duty surgeons. Two reservists were full-time trauma surgeons at large teaching hospitals, and the orthopedic surgeon did primarily major trauma. The active-duty physicians were capable, but with limited experience in major trauma, as would be expected from their billets at U.S. military hospitals. Sending the experienced trauma surgeons to Camp Pendleton would have been a poor use of the reservists’ skills, and such a policy would likely result in problems with recruiting and retention.
Operational physicians such as flight surgeons and battalion surgeons should obviously deploy with their units. They would require no backfill, as they would deploy along with their patient base. Operational physicians, however, represent a relatively small part of military medicine, so even optimal staffing and use of these providers would not help much with the overall manpower shortage likely to be associated with a major wartime deployment.
The problem DHA faces is that it can staff for wartime and accept the added cost of doing so, or it can staff for peacetime and accept the diminished access to and quality of care that will inevitably result. Perhaps, with a combination of wisdom and luck, we can defer the next war well into the future.
(See J. Landreth, pp 30–35, December 2020)
AFTER I READ THE PROLOGUE to Lieutenant Commander Landreth’s article, I was in turn amused, befuddled, and outraged. I don’t believe he intended to malign Chinese-Americans by choosing one as his villain, but the result is to malign all Asian-Americans. In recent news, in the San Francisco Bay area, there have been unprovoked attacks on Asian-Americans, resulting in at least one fatality. The ability of the average U.S. resident to differentiate among people of various Asian ancestries is close to nil.
This article does bring up a relevant question: Is there discernible difference in loyalty to the United States of people who grew up here compared with people who grew up in a different country? I would like to believe that most who grew up as Americans would be less likely to commit treason.
I am a 4th generation Chinese-American. I don’t speak Chinese. In grade school, junior high, and high school, students could learn Spanish or French. I served in the Navy for six years, trained as an electronics technician (communications) and as a nuclear reactor operator. My father served in the Navy during World War II, and my oldest brother served in the Navy in Vietnam.
Over the years there have been numerous laws specifically targeting the Chinese in America: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Geary Act of 1892, and the Immigration Act of 1924.
TACTICAL EDUCATION FROM MARTIAL ARTS
(See C. Warren, p. 87, January 2021)
MR. WARREN’S OBSERVATION—“The attackers may think of you as outnumbered but you should think of them as a target-rich environment”—is exactly right. Two of my treasured friends were Guadalcanal fighter pilots Marion Carl and Joe Foss. Both had similar experiences, leading 8 Wildcats to intercept perhaps 27 Japanese bombers escorted by a dozen Zeros. Rather than thinking, “My gosh, we’re outnumbered 5 to 1!” their attitude was, “Look at all those targets!”
In “The 20th-century Roots of EABO” (p. 24, February 2021), the 5-inch/51-caliber naval gun is incorrectly called a 5-inch, .51-caliber gun.