Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hughes Constant of Peacetime Command

We've previously discussed that the Navy has taken on a peacetime mentality, is not prepared for war, and, worst of all, is no longer producing warrior leaders.  In broader terms, we've discussed the personal and administrative failings of Navy leadership. 

I just came across a passage from Capt. Hughes (1) wherein he describes his single constant of peacetime command, to use his phrase.  It is the one characteristic he considers most important - the single responsibility that peacetime commanders should hold most dear.  Here is his thought,

"... I would argue that nothing takes precedence over the peacetime commander's job of finding combat leaders.  Let him do his best to find them, send them to sea, and keep them at sea, longer than the U.S. Navy does now.  Let the first aim of every seagoing commander be to find two officers better than himself and help in every way to prepare them for war.  That done, everything else will follow."
  In this simple passage, Hughes has recognized the purpose of a navy - to fight - and the means to ensure its ability to do so - by finding combat leaders.  So simple in concept and yet so difficult in practice.  As I've stated repeatedly, we are promoting based on the wrong criteria.  We are training based on cost savings and safety rather than combat.  We are manning based on spreadsheets rather than the reality of damage control and combat casualties.  We are designing ships based on ease of construction rather than strength in combat.  And so on ...

There are, undoubtedly, warriors in the Navy but they are not among the leaders.  We must find them.

The Navy still has time to wake up and be about its real duties but the snooze alarm has already gone off and the Navy is in danger of oversleeping. 


(1) "Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat", Capt. Wayne Hughes, USN (Ret.), Naval Institute Press, 2000, ISBN-13: 978-1-55750-392-3, p.224 

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