Monday, May 15, 2017

Professional Warriors?

This is the companion piece to the previous LCS incompetence post (see, “More [Unbelievable] LCS Incompetence”).  We discussed the blatant incompetence being demonstrated by Navy leadership and noted that professional warriors should already know what they have, what they need, what’s out there, and so on, without the need for endless study groups.  So, what’s wrong with our professional warriors?  The answer is simple.  We don’t have any professional naval warriors.  Here’s the reason …

Lately, the Navy has been dithering over many issues.  Do we need an LCS?  Should we have a frigate?  If so, what type?  What kind of over-the-horizon (OTH) missile do we need?  What kind of radar should an LCS “frigate” have?  Do we need F-35Cs or Advanced Super Hornets?  Should an anti-ship missile be supersonic or subsonic?  Should the America class LHA have a well deck or not?  What kind of uniform should sailors wear?  What size fleet do we need?  Should we retire the Ticonderoga class?  Is distributed lethality a good idea?  And so on.

The Navy’s response to all these questions has been to form myriad study groups, committees, Admiral-chaired panels, and the like.  All have the common attribute of delaying critical decisions.  These systematic delays reflect Navy leadership’s chronic inability to make decisions.  For example, the Navy just announced yet another delay, this time in the LCS “frigate” program.

“The Navy has slowed its frigate procurement timeline, looking at awarding a detail design and construction contract in Fiscal Year 2020 to allow more time to understand what it needs the ship to do and how it might affordably meet those requirements.” (1)

Another example of the inability to make decisions is the apparently constantly changing specifications for the OTH missile program (2).

Wouldn’t you think that a professional warrior would understand their craft well enough to be able to make timely and correct decisions without needing to resort to endless study groups of various types?

Consider another type of professional – a professional athlete.  The professional athlete practices his craft all day, every day.  The practice takes the form of film study of himself and opponents, physical skills practice, general physical training, scrimmaging (practice contests), and games against other athletes.  This regimen ensures that the professional athlete is the master of his craft.  If you ask the athlete about a new item of sports apparel or a new bat/ball/glove/whatever, he can tell you instantly whether it is any good because he thoroughly understands what is required and he has tried out every conceivable variation over the course of his career.  He has no need to conduct endless studies prior to answering.

Should not the professional warrior be the same?  Should not the professional warrior be able to define the characteristics of a new missile?  Should not the professional be able to evaluate a new doctrine or tactic without endless study?  Should not a professional warrior have developed an innate understanding of what characteristics make a good ship or aircraft?  Should not the professional warrior thoroughly understand the relationship between tactics and technology?

And yet, our professional warriors seem incapable of making such decisions.  Why is that? 

Well, the answer is simple – our warriors are not professional.  In fact, they are the farthest thing from it – bordering on amateur. 

Recall what we just said a professional does with his life – he studies his craft all day, every day, and practices it daily.  Now, what do our naval leaders do with their days?  They attend seminars on sensitivity, diversity, leadership, alcohol and substance abuse, ethics, gender respect, sexual assault, etc.  They process endless amounts of paperwork, mostly useless.  They strive to achieve ecologically friendly “green” initiatives.  They attempt to increase retention rates.  They host visitors and provide tours.  They perform humanitarian missions.  They build schools.  They frantically cross deck equipment for meaningless inspections.

How is any of that building up their warrior capabilities?

What they should be doing is conducting daily operational and tactical wargaming, conducting daily live tactical drills, engaging in frequent live wargames, studying friendly and enemy ship and weapon designs, conducting simulations of weapon performances, exercising live fire weapon system drills, etc.  If they did that, they’d know exactly what works and what doesn’t, what weapon system characteristics are desirable and what aren’t, what tactics work and what don’t, and what our gaps and needs are.  There would be no need for endless and unproductive study groups and delayed decisions.

Every day we see the end result of the lack of warrior focus.  Clearly, the sailors who allowed a vastly inferior Iranian “force” to capture them and seize their boats had not trained to be warriors.  The Captain of the Aegis cruiser that allowed an unknown and unresponsive fishing boat to ram it was not ready as a warrior.  The entire Navy leadership that keeps flip-flopping over the LCS direction are clearly not professional warriors.  And so on.

Do you recall my post calling for a dual path of Administrators and Warriors (see, "Promoting Warriors")?  Now you begin to understand the need for it.

We need professional naval warriors and we currently don’t have any.  We’d better start developing them or we're going to wind up with more LCS's, more Zumwalts, more Fords, and more F-35's and nobody but the Navy wants that!


(1)USNI News website, “Navy Slowing Frigate Procurement To Allow Careful Requirements Talks; Contract Award Set for FY2020”, Megan Eckstein, 3-May-2017,

(2)Defense News website, “Boeing Pulls Harpoon From US Navy Missile Competition”, Christopher Cavas, 2-May-2017,


  1. The war on Terror and fall of the Soviet Union hasn't helped.
    Anyone who dares say we need a peer fleet is accused of "cold war thinking" and ignoring "modern threats" like piracy and terrorism.
    The LCS was an obvious "hey we can do low intensity conflicts too" with its patrol boat armament and shallow draft. And anyone who dared say "Russia is still a potential threat" is dismissed as "cold war mentality".

    But the Cold War fleet with its "out date thinking" was also a better fleet for dealing with all the things the Navy now says we may or may not need the LCS, Etc for with including terrorism and piracy.
    Terrorists blew up the embassy in Lebanon and then had to face being attacked by 16" battleship guns and Tomahawks From the Iowa class. Cold warriors sent F-14 tomcats to intercept a hijacked airliner over Egypt. The 1980's air attack on Libya in retaliation for the Lockerbie bombing was the first step in getting Libya out of supporting terrorism..."Modern thinking" now has Libya supporting ISIL.

    Perrys were straight up ASW but were also fine for anti-piracy duties and can carry a helo full of Seals just fine. The Stark survived two Excocet missiles, and the Sam B. Roberts survived a mine that should have sunk her (great crew). Compare that to the LCS which the Navy didn't even ask to be survivable.
    The Burkes the Navy cant stop building are the result of Cold War thinking.

    Present thinking lets gunboats get captured by Iranian gunboats. Cold Warriors in 1988 were attacked by Iranian gunboat Jushan and responded by sinking said Iranian gunboat with missles and gunfire from now early retired Perry class vessels. Not bad for a ship meant for ASW.

    The current admirals need to sit down, shut up, and take notes from those outdated thinking cold warriors.

    PS...what are they teaching at Annapolis anyway? I can maybe excuse this current thinking form some NROTC candidate from some politically correct college that wont teach anything of real history, but what about the Academy? Are they teaching the same anti-warrior thinking? It's a genuine question, not a criticism.

    1. USNA is far worse than most big name universities.

    2. "USNA is far worse than most big name universities."

      What are you basing that on? I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing. This site is based on facts. What is your source for that statement?

    3. Cold Warriors would have never let a USN boat out of range of immediate NGS or air support in the Persian Gulf.

      Big picture I think the major failing was at the end of the Cold War. Instead of maintaining (and expanding) existing capabilities and shrinking the overall size of the Navy to meet needs, we just started effectively writing off capabilities (MCM & NGS for example) as unnecessary.

      Adding to the problem is the revolving door for people leaving military service and going directly into 6-figure jobs in the defense industry to sell new junk to the services because we "need" it. Sadly that is a problem across the board with the government currently, not just the military & defense industry.

    4. The 1988 action wasnt an isolated incident , but Operation praying Mantis, the largest major US navy single action since WW2.
      It was clearly a planned and excuted using major fleet units, not just a couple of harbour defence launches ( not thats an excuse|)
      1 aircraft carrier,
      1 amphibious transport dock
      4 destroyers
      1 guided missile cruiser
      3 frigates

  2. For your reading pleasure:

    Seems like a good step towards what you have been advocating

  3. It seems this very same way of thinking is also installed on NATO navies accross Europe. Wargaming, Warfighting training is being replaced by seminars on gender equality and prevention on occupational hazards... We need a conventional war (one we can win and survive, something like the Falklands) so we start focusing again on what a Navy and its officers and crews are supposed to provide: the ability to control the sea by winning naval battles.


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