Category Archives: Military Personnel

Outgoing Fleet Forces CO: 'I Could Have Done Better'

Outgoing Fleet Forces CO: ‘I Could Have Done Better’

More than a decade ago, Navy leaders decided to abandon historic standards for ship-manning levels and for shipboard maintenance, supposedly to make the Navy more “business-like” and “efficient” and to make more money available to buy a new generation of ships and weapons.

But the result instead was a sharp drop in the material readiness of the surface ships and a continued decline in fleet size, which forced the leadership to work the remaining operational ships and their smaller crews harder, thus aggravating the problems.

With congressional committees, Navy inspectors and a high-level outside panel issuing increasingly shrill alarms, the leadership finally is acting to correct those mistakes.

A sailor removes deteriorated paint and rust with a disc sander on a weather deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan on Sept. 6, 2012. U.S. Navy Photo

A sailor removes deteriorated paint and rust with a disc sander on a weather deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan on Sept. 6, 2012. U.S. Navy Photo

This week, as he prepares to retire and turn over Fleet Forces Command on Friday, Adm. John C. Harvey has fired off a lengthy message to the surface warfare community and its supporting organizations warning that “the cumulative impact of individual decisions made over long periods of time had put the future readiness of our surface force at risk.”

And he charged those who will remain on watch to adhere to the old proven standards and procedures to restore the surface fleet to its historic state of combat readiness.

It was a strong message from Harvey, who had remained surprisingly quiet about the growing readiness crisis earlier in his tour at FFC.

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One Giant Leap

One Giant Leap

In preparation of the nation’s first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11, crew members underwent training to practice activities they would be performing during the mission. In this photograph Neil Armstrong approaches the helicopter he flew to practice landing the Lunar Module (LM) on the Moon.

In preparation of the nation’s first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11, crew members underwent training to practice activities they would be performing during the mission. In this photograph Neil Armstrong approaches the helicopter he flew to practice landing the Lunar Module (LM) on the Moon.

Before Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, he was a naval aviator and flew one of the U.S. Navy’s first carrier-based jet fighters the F9F Panther in the Korean War. He left the Navy, went to college and joined NASA as a test pilot before being selected as the second generation of American astronauts, ultimately bound for the moon.

In memory of Armstrong’s passing, we are presenting a Proceedings photo gallery from 2009 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Remembering Tony Scott

Remembering Tony Scott

Dave Baranek was a technical advisor for the film, “Top Gun.” 

When Tony Scott was hired to helm the motion picture “Top Gun,” he had been directing television commercials and music videos during a time-out from Hollywood after his first movie failed to achieve expectations. Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer wanted offered Scott the job of director, thinking his talent for 30-second spectacles would give the film a look of tightly controlled chaos of the dog fighting and life onboard an aircraft carrier. Scott quickly fell in love with the concept and signed on.

To use fighter pilot lingo, Scott re-engaged into movie making with a bag full of knots and guns blazing. The result was not only the highest-grossing movie of 1986, but an enduring film that still finds an audience on television and it continues to be the most familiar image of Naval Aviation for a great many people.

Tony Scott died last week, an apparent suicide at age 68.

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The Smooch that Ended World War II

The Smooch that Ended World War II

kissingOn August 14, 1945, President Harry Truman took to the airwaves to announce that Japan had accepted the terms of surrender and that the war was over. The news sparked spontaneous celebrations across the United States, including in Times Square where photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured a joyous sailor kissing a passing nurse. First published in Life magazine as part of a pictorial titled Victory, Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square has since become one of the most iconic images of the Second World War. Although several people have claimed to be the kissing couple, their true identities were a mystery until the 2012 book The Kissing Sailor revealed the results of extensive forensic analysis which determined that George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman were the sailor and nurse in the photo. Interestingly, helping establish the identity of Mendonsa’s as the sailor is that fact that his future wife can be seen just over his right shoulder. The two had been out on a date when Mendonsa felt compelled to kiss the first nurse he saw in appreciation for what they had done for the wounded during the war.

Like Joe Rosenthal’s Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square has been endlessly copied, reenacted and parodied.
Here are examples of the photo’s impact on pop culture:

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The original: V-J in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt

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Rise of The Asian Cyber Armies

Rise of The Asian Cyber Armies

States are increasingly standing up military and intelligence organizations for computer network operations. While countries everywhere perceive a need to attack and defend in cyberspace, cyber forces are of particular interest to security in Asia because they coincide with a regional investment in naval, air, and command, control and communications systems. And although American society may be vulnerable to disruption, highly technical and increasingly informatized Asian societies also face complex security challenges.

For years, most understood Asian cyber issues through the prism of China. Since the early 1990s, the Chinese have evinced an intense doctrinal and practical interest in information warfare. The Chinese simultaneously desired to “informatize “their conventional forces in imitation of the United States while developing command and control warfare tools as part of a larger asymmetric warfare strategy.


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India is centralizing network defense around the National Critical Infrastructure Protection Centre, with the Intelligence Bureau in charge of patrolling government networks. The Indian Defense Intelligence Agency may be vested with power to conduct offensive attack. While India has not developed a cyber strategy like the United States, it is taking cyber seriously. As in the United States, India’s cyber efforts are split between civilian cybersecurity and the offensive tools of the state. Symantec recently decried a lack of security knowledge.

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At Sea in the Great War: A Coast Guardsman’s Letters Home

At Sea in the Great War: A Coast Guardsman’s Letters Home

You may send my new camera to me, without the tripod, as I am allowed to use it.” So wrote Frederick Richard Foulkes in a letter home on 17 April 1917, just four days after enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard. Seaman Foulkes, the son of a Presbyterian minister, very quickly had acquired the nickname “Parson.”

When the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, the Coast Guard had been transferred from the Treasury Department to the Navy Department. Veteran crews were augmented with fresh recruits; Foulkes was assigned to the cutter Manning . A small warship by today’s standards, she was 205 feet long and displaced 1,155 tons. Commissioned on 8 January 1898, the Manning was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, one of the last class of U.S. revenue cutters rigged for sail, and the first to carry electric generators.

Powered by one steam engine, she could attain 17 knots and boasted two 3-inch gun mounts and two 6-pounder rapid-fire guns. Filled out to a full complement of 8 officers, 4 warrant officers, and 100 crew, the Manning was deployed to Gibraltar. She escorted her first convoy out through the danger zone, some 215 miles, on 19 September 1917.

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Next Generation USMC Unmanned Vehicles

Next Generation USMC Unmanned Vehicles

Today the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory will complete a more than weeklong experiment to test unmanned ground vehicles designed to lighten the load for embarked fleet Marines.

Limited Objective Experiment 2.2 featured a modified Polaris all-terrain vehicle designed to assist dismounted Marines carry ammunition, supplies and provide deployed Marines to more easily evacuate casualties.

The Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) isn’t a final program of record for the service but a platform to prove concepts that could be useful for Marines in the future.

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Sailor and Marine Olympic Medal Winners

Sailor and Marine Olympic Medal Winners

Carl T. Osburn

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You would think that the affinity that Americans have for guns would make competitive shooting a more popular sport, but one of the nation’s greatest Olympians is largely unknown. U.S. Navy Capt. Carl Osburn won 11 Olympic medals with his rifle between 1912 and 1924. He held the record for most U.S. medals until swimmer Jenny Thompson surpassed him eighty years later in Athens.

Charley Paddock

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A gold medalist at the 1920 games in Antwerp, the flamboyant sprinter previously served as a Marine field artillery officer in World War I. His defeat by Brit Harold Abrahams at the 1924 games was depicted in the 1981 film, “Chariots of Fire.” Paddock was killed in a plane crash during World War II while serving on the personal staff of Maj.Gen. William Upshur.

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Remembering Ernest Borgnine

Remembering Ernest Borgnine

Ernest-Borgnine_2004On Sunday, Ernest Borgnine died at 95.
Best known for his screen roles in films like Marty, From Here to Eternity and television shows McHale’s Navy and Airwolf, Borgnine also spent ten years in the U.S. Navy retiring as a Gunner’s Mate First-Class. Borgnine was a lifetime member of the U.S. Naval Institute.

Borgnine’s Navy

By Ernest Borgnine
Proceedings April 2009

It was just like in the movies.

The year was 1935, and I was right out of high school, restless, and bored with my temporary job working on a vegetable truck. One day, on a delivery run through New Haven, Connecticut, I spotted a sign on a storefront that said “JOIN THE NAVY—SEE THE WORLD.” Hey, I thought, I ought to look into that. So I stopped in to see the recruiter. Two days later, I was on a bus to the U.S. Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island. more

 

Stolen Valor Still an Option

Stolen Valor Still an Option

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Xavier Alvarez

The oath taken on commissioning or enlisting in the armed forces, begins, “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” In constitutional law classes at our military service academies, cadets and midshipmen are taught that in honoring that oath they may be called upon to fight and die to protect a citizen’s First Amendment right to burn the flag, preach hate or damn U.S. warfighters.

Last week, in a less melodramatic vein, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Alvarez that service members also may fight and die to protect the First Amendment rights of frauds who falsely claim military decorations for heroism. The Stolen Valor Act criminalized the act of falsely claiming to hold the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross and Purple Heart, among other awards. With sad regularity, we hear of imposters claiming outrageous feats in combat that resulted in high decorations. Quickly recognized as pathetic liars by those of us with military backgrounds, an unknowing public, eager to honor heroes, embraces the liars. The 2005 Stolen Valor Act finally gave authorities the means to convict and imprison imposters. Dozens of convictions followed. Athough sentences were usually no more community service, at least a federal criminal conviction resulted.

Xavier Alvarez was a particularly bold liar and fraud, claiming to be a retired Marine officer wounded multiple times and awarded the Medal of Honor. In fact, he never served a day in uniform. Across the nation, many others who wove heroic fantasies for themselves have been honored in a variety of ways, but it was Alvarez whose 2010 conviction came before the Supreme Court.

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