Category Archives: Education Legislation

Book Review: The Generals by Tom Ricks

Book Review: The Generals by Tom Ricks

By:

Thomas E. Ricks, The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today. New York: Penguin, 2012. 558 pp. $32.95.

When Tom Ricks published Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq in the summer of 2006, the impact was immediate and extraordinary. The book shredded any pretense that the Bush administration knew what it was doing in Iraq and also brought to light myriad failures of the American military establishment in the war. A Naval Academy graduate and a senior U.S. senator told me that he could only read a few pages before having to take a walk around the block to cool down so that he could see straight enough to continue reading. He was not the only reader to react strongly to Fiasco; the book became a number one New York Times bestseller and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Fiasco contributed to a reassessment of military strategy in Iraq and focused attention on the failures of American military leadership in that war. One of the most pointed indictments came from inside the Army when my friend Lt. Col. Paul Yingling published an essay titled “A Failure of Generalship.” Yingling noted the Army’s failures to prepare for the Iraq war and to adapt to its requirements during the course of the conflict; his most damning line noted that “As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.”

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History of the USS Enterprise

History of the USS Enterprise

On Sunday USS Enterprise, the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, arrived at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. after its final deployment. For 50 years Enterprise was involved in every major U.S. conflict and is now scheduled for decommissioning.

Cid Standifer is a freelance reporter, web designer and translator based in Arlington, Va. She has written for Military Times, Inside Washington Publishers and the Roswell Daily Record.

Combat Fleets: Sweden

Combat Fleets: Sweden

On 3 September the first of Sweden’s newly upgraded Visby-class guided-missile patrol craft was turned over to the Swedish military after having completed extensive modifications that bring her up to “Level 5” standard. All five units of the class previously were expected to be operational by late 2007, but because of additional delays the decision was made to upgrade the class to enhance safety and performance—and to better support international operations, which often take place far from Swedish waters.

A. A. de Kruijf

A. A. de Kruijf

The subsequent Level 5 enhancements that are being added to the entire class through 2014 include additional command, control, and communications equipment and antennas; a helicopter landing system; enhanced mine-hunting equipment; and other improvements. The Visby class incorporates numerous advanced measures to reduce its radar, infrared, magnetic, acoustic, visual, laser, and wake signatures. Ships of the class include the Visby, Helsingborg, Härnösand (pictured here), Nykõping, and Karlstad, each of which measure 239 feet and displace more than 600 tons.

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Both Obama and Romney Proposals Don’t Meet Navy Requirements

Both Obama and Romney Proposals Don’t Meet Navy Requirements

In the run-up to Election Day, both campaigns have put an increased focus on national security, foreign policy and defense spending. President Barack Obama has touted, among other things, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, a strategic pivot to the Asian-Pacific and the killing of Osama bin Laden. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has criticized the President for his policies in the Middle East, decried defense-spending cuts from the Department of Defense efficiency push and the congressionally mandated sequestration process, and said he plans to pump more money into the Pentagon budget.

Barack Obama, Barack Obama

Most recently, Obama and Romney have clashed over Navy force structure. The President’s plan invests in nearly ten new ships a year, bringing the aggregate to 307 vessels by 2042. The Romney camp is advocating a 350-ship Navy based on a procurement rate of 15 ships per year.

Both Obama and Romney want to buy more submarines, destroyers and aircraft carriers, but Romney also wants a new frigate and a dedicated missile-defense ship. Both the President and his challenger are advocating more tactical fighter aircraft, including a mix of F/A-18s and F-35s. Romney advisers have said they want more of the legacy Hornets, in addition to the new joint-service platform and want to add an 11th carrier air wing, to match air units to each of the Navy’s eleven aircraft carriers.

The two also differ on the total number of ships the Navy needs. At the 19 October foreign policy debate, Romney stuck by his call for a 350-ship fleet. “Our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917,” Romney said. “I want to make sure we have the ships that are required by our Navy.”

The stand prompted one of the more terse exchanges between the two candidates during this cycle.

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Ohio-class Replacement Details

Ohio-class Replacement Details

The Ohio-class Replacement nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) is the Navy’s planned sea-based strategic nuclear deterrent. U.S. Navy officials outlined the capabilities of the boat this month.

“The Ohio Replacement is not, is not, a multi-mission platform,” Capt. William Brougham, US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Ohio-class Replacement Program Manager, said at the 2012 Naval Submarine League Symposium in Falls Church, Va. on Oct. 18.
“We don’t turn into a multi-mission platform that’s going to go off and do things that you see on television,” he said.

The Ohio Replacement is scaled back from the initial Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) for the program, then dubbed SSBN(X), conducted by NAVSEA in 2009. The initial AoA called for a boat that would have cost $6 to 7 billion but with the reduction in capability the Ohio Replacement drove costs down to $5.6 billion a copy. The eventual goal of the reductions is to produce the boats at $4.9 billion a copy.

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Timeline of the Polaris Missile

Timeline of the Polaris Missile

On late October 1963, USS Andrew Jackson launched first Polaris A-3 missile from a submerged submarine, off Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Polaris program served as the template for the current Trident missile program which forms the backbone of the US strategic sea-based deterrent.

Cid Standifer is a freelance reporter, web designer and translator based in Arlington, Va. She has written for Military Times, Inside Washington Publishers and the Roswell Daily Record.

Shifting Targets

Shifting Targets

Proceedings, October 2012
We must reconsider our strategic perspective and organizational culture amid an emerging naval revolution.

Today’s U.S. Navy faces trying times in every dimension. Accelerating technological trends are stressing naval development and adaptability, while the Army and Marine Corps contend with costly rebuilding after the long wars in southwest Asia. Yet domestic economic and infrastructure demands and the growing national deficit are cutting into defense resources. After a half-century of U.S. maritime dominance, rival naval powers are emerging. While technological developments threaten accelerated depreciation of the Navy’s capital assets, growing international competition, rising costs, and declining resources all pose severe challenges.

The rules of the game are changing in fundamental ways. Is the Navy organizationally and culturally prepared? Specifically, will the systems currently under development help expand or reduce the range of scenarios in which the service can be effective? What balance should be struck between investing in legacy systems rather than emerging technologies? These are questions we should be investigating.

Naval support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been critical for a decade, but the Navy has been unable to focus on sea control and naval warfare at the same time. Marines and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 8 conducted Operation Eastern Seal in Helmand province in November 2011. U.S. Marine Corps Photo

Naval support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been critical for a decade, but the Navy has been unable to focus on sea control and naval warfare at the same time. Marines and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 8 conducted Operation Eastern Seal in Helmand province in November 2011. U.S. Marine Corps Photo

During the past ten years, naval support for the land wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been substantial and critical, even if largely unnoticed by the American public and political leadership. But this effort has come with a cost: the Navy has been unable to concentrate on its broader missions of sea control and naval warfare. Future strategic perspective will have to shift from one of small wars to the full range of naval warfare. In this process, history can play a productive role. Scholars believe history helps us empathize with the past and see it on its own terms, while decision-makers often look to it for lessons that shape solutions to real-time problems. Even though that approach runs the risk of superficial and inappropriate analogies, properly conducted case studies can broaden perspectives, illuminate issues, and structure questions that are key to informed and creative problem-solving.

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Ringside at the Missile Crisis

Ringside at the Missile Crisis

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral George W. Anderson Jr. was part of the inner circle of military officers advising President John F. Kennedy on how to deal with the Soviet Union’s shipping missiles to Cuba.

In October 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union perched precariously on the brink of nuclear war. At this time of extreme challenge for U.S. leadership, there were serious disagreements within that echelon. In the event, the United States prevailed.

In 1983, the U.S. Naval Institute published The Reminiscences of Admiral George W. Anderson , an oral history in which the former Chief of Naval Operations reflected on his role in the crisis and on the controversial nature of his one-term tour as CNO. Excerpts from those recollections presented here are of enduring value.

President John F. Kennedy and a new generation took office in January 1961. If there were hopes for improved relations at the outset, Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev soon found themselves on a road turning rocky. In April, the U.S. move to oust Fidel Castro from Cuba in the Bay of Pigs invasion failed miserably. In June, during their summit talks in Vienna, Austria, Khrushchev measured Kennedy as weak and pushed ahead on three fronts: strengthening the Soviet strategic nuclear arsenal; cutting off East and West Berlin with the Berlin Wall; establishing a stronger presence in the Western Hemisphere; and introducing a growing array of arms to Cuba.

On 1 October, the President appointed Army General Maxwell Taylor, center, to take over for General Lyman Lemnitzer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Taylor had been serving in the White House as military representative to the President. Flanking Taylor, left to right, are Army Chief of Staff General Earle Wheeler, Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral George Anderson, and Commandant of the Marine Corps General David Shoup. Navy History and Hertigae Command

On 1 October, the President appointed Army General Maxwell Taylor, center, to take over for General Lyman Lemnitzer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Taylor had been serving in the White House as military representative to the President. Flanking Taylor, left to right, are Army Chief of Staff General Earle Wheeler, Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral George Anderson, and Commandant of the Marine Corps General David Shoup. Navy History and Hertigae Command

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Soviet Perspective on the Cuban Missile Crisis from Nikita Khrushchev's Son

Soviet Perspective on the Cuban Missile Crisis from Nikita Khrushchev’s Son

Sergei Khrushchev is the son of Nikita Khrushchev, the premier of the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He shared his impressions of that showdown from a Soviet perspective and the lessons for current and future leaders.

Sergei Khrushchev, Brown University Photo

Sergei Khrushchev, Brown University Photo

What you consider to be the largest American misconception about the Cuban Missile Crisis?

The largest misconception was the idea that America thought this crisis was about defending Cuba against possible invasion [or] some broader implications with relations to Germany or infiltration into South America . . . theories that have nothing to do with reality.

What would those realties be?

The reality is that after the Bay of Pigs Fidel Castro announced he officially joined the Soviet bloc. Through that [declaration] the obligation of the Soviets was to defend all their clients, all their allies because otherwise they would lose face . . . and your allies would not trust you. Cuba, after 1961, became for the Soviet Union the same as West Berlin to the United States—a small useless piece of land deep inside hostile territory. But if you don’t defend it, you will not be treated as a superpower. The United States was ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Berlin. The Soviet Union sent missiles to Cuba . . . as a powerful signal to the United States: Don’t invade Cuba.

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The Soviet Navy’s Caribbean Outpost

The Soviet Navy’s Caribbean Outpost

Naval History Magazine, October 2012

After ‘defeat’ in 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis forestalled a massive Soviet military buildup in the island nation, Moscow relied on its navy to re-establish its political-military presence there.

The Cuban Missile Crisis often is remembered in the context of U.S. naval forces conducting a quarantine to prevent Soviet strategic missiles from being transported to the island nation. A critical factor during the blockade was the presence in the area of several Soviet Foxtrot (Project 641)–class dieselelectric submarines.

Former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy later wrote of the concern that his brother President John F. Kennedy had for those submarines during the tense crisis: “Then came the disturbing Navy report that a Russian submarine had moved into position between the two ships. . . . I think these few minutes were the time of gravest concern for the President. . . . I heard [him] say: ‘Isn’t there some way we can avoid having our first exchange with a Russian submarine—almost anything but that?’” 1

Those few boats were to have been the precursor of a massive naval force that the Soviets planned to base in Cuba. Operation Anadyr—the Soviet codename for the movement of strategic missiles and protective air, ground, and naval forces almost 8,000 miles from the USSR to Cuba—was one of the most remarkable undertakings of the entire Cold War. Earlier, Great Britain, Japan, and the United States had on numerous occasions transported hundreds of thousands of troops and their weapons across oceans and seas, but they were traditional sea powers with large navies and merchant fleets.

The Soviet Union had neither a major surface fleet nor a large merchant marine in 1962. Indeed, its navy did not possess a single ceangoing amphibious or landing ship. Further, beyond military advisers, the USSR had never sent troops great distances by sea. Under these severe limitations, the Soviet Union had begun the massive movement of troops and weapons from its home ports to Cuba. While the Soviet leadership realized that the shipments could not be hidden from the prying eyes of U.S. and other NATO nations’ intelligence services, Kremlin officials believed that their precise contents could be kept secret. Indeed, even after the weapons and troops arrived in Cuba special efforts would be made to keep their numbers and identification secret from Cubans as well as Americans.

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