ComNavOps is ever one to try to place events into an historical context and try to learn lessons from history. With that in mind, I’ve often lamented that it will take a major debacle inflicted on the Navy to shake the current leadership out of a peace time mentality and into a warfighting posture. Indeed, the bulk of that shakeup would, undoubtedly, come in the form of relieving most of the current crop of Admirals and ship’s Captains, just as occurred at the start of WWII.
Just recently, a commenter echoed that exact observation and my immediate reaction was, “Yep, the Navy is in the same place they were just prior to WWII.” The Navy is just repeating a cycle and, while we see today’s problems more clearly due to the Internet and open media, it’s no different than it was just prior to WWII.
But then I thought about it a little more. Are we really at the same point as just before WWII? There are certainly a lot of similarities.
- Untested weapon systems that the Navy refuses to subject to realistic testing. Now it’s Aegis. Then, it was the torpedo.
- A no-risk attitude inculcated into ship’s Captains. Now, it’s probably every Captain as evidenced by the never ending firings. Then, it was, famously, the submarine Captains.
- An utterly unrealistic presumption of superiority on our part. Now, it’s the absolute certainty that our enemies can’t match or disrupt our networks, GPS, and communications combined with our dismissive attitude towards Chinese ships and planes. Then, it was the belief that the Japanese soldier and technology was inherently inferior.
- A badly flawed belief in one of the main components of our fleet. Now, it’s the LCS which will make up a third of our battlefleet. Then, it was the battleship.
On the other hand, there are some striking differences.
- Arm’s race.
Now China, Russia, Iran, and almost every other country is in a
flat out arms race which we seem to have no interest in and what interest
we have is being misdirected towards toothless LCS’s and an F-35 the Navy
doesn’t seem to really want. Then, we
were in it to win it with
, North Carolina , and South Dakota class battleships, the Iowa Essexand Midway class carriers, new destroyers, and new aircraft – and those were all pre-WWII in origin.
- Obvious enemies.
Now, we’ll barely even name our enemies. Then, we knew with absolute certainty
that we would fight
and Japan – the only question was the timing. Germany
Now, we have lost all concept of strategy and tactics and are proud
of ourselves for re-instituting a watered down version of surface warfare
tactical training after decades of neglect. Then, we conducted extensive strategic wargaming
that, by the time war came, had explored every scenario against
to the point that it was claimed that Japan showed us nothing unexpected except the Kamikazee. Japan
- Leadership. Now, we have leaders who seem fixated on career above all else and exhibit absolutely no integrity or courage of conviction. Then, we had at least a few warfighters such as Halsey, Spruance, and a few others.
On reflection, then, while today’s situation is part of a peace-war cycle of unpreparedness that we’ve seen before, we seem markedly worse off than prior to WWII. Given how poorly that war started for us, I’m not sure we can afford the same kind of behind-the-curve performance against
and China if hostilities start. Russia
History is screaming words of warning at us and we’re not listening.