Saturday, September 9, 2017

CNO Richardson Must Be Fired

Since the report came out about the lapsed certifications among the deployed 7th Fleet ships and crew, I’ve been trying to find out more about the mechanism by which this state of affairs was sanctioned.  The mechanism was the “risk assessment and management plan” (RAMP).  Apparently, RAMP was used to directly and consciously bypass mandatory Navy training and certifications.  Among 7th Fleet deployed destroyers and cruisers, around 40% of crew certifications in damage control, navigation, flight operations, and basic seamanship had lapsed (1)

Despite my efforts, I’ve been unable to find any mention of RAMP as an official Navy program.  It appears that it may have been a locally (local to the 7th Fleet) devised and implemented program that lacked official Navy sanction.  Whether it was universally know throughout upper Navy leadership and unofficially sanctioned is unknown.

The conclusion from this is obvious.  The program has led to disasters, deaths, and horribly damaged ships.  Someone must be held responsible and pay the price and, indeed, VAdm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the 7th Fleet, has been relieved.  Of course, the firing may have been largely symbolic since he was due to retire in a few weeks, anyway.

There is another person who must pay the price and that is current CNO Richardson.  

If he did not know about an unsanctioned program intended to bypass mandatory Navy readiness certifications for an entire major fleet then he should be fired for incompetence and obliviousness.  

If he knew about the program then he should be fired for violating the trust of the country, the Navy, and the sailors serving under him and hazarding the military preparedness and security of the country.  

Either way, he has to go.

Get used to it.  You’re going to hear me continue to harp on this.  CNO Richardson is the Captain of the Navy and the Captain is accountable for everything that happens on his ship – his ship being the entire Navy.  I have lost confidence in his ability to command.

Richardson has allowed, and may have actively aided and abetted, the readiness and basic seamanship of the Navy to fall to dangerously low levels.  If our Navy is no longer capable of basic navigation, anchoring, and other acts of basic seamanship, how are we going to fight a war?  If we no longer have a grasp of basic seamanship, what are the odds that we’re tactically trained and proficient?  Through actions and inactions he has endangered the security of the country.  That’s tantamount to treason.  Further, he is directly responsible for the deaths of sailors and hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to US military assets.  He should be court-martialed and punished severely.

Let’s be fair.  This didn’t all happen on Richardson’s watch.  His predecessor, Adm. Greenert is at least equally culpable.  He should be recalled to active duty and court-martialed. 

A Chinese or Russian mole agent could not do more damage to the Navy and our nation’s security than our own Navy leadership is doing.


(1)Defense News website, “US Navy worked around its own standards to keep ships underway: sources”, David B. Larter, 7-Sep-2017,


  1. Seems to me that part of this comes down to the Navy's readiness to take on tasks that it cannot afford to fulfil.

    There has long been talk of budgets being insufficient to allow the Navy to perform the tasks assigned to it -- with the implicit or explicit assumption that this means budgets should be increased.

    It seems to me that the Navy needs to be more prepared to say 'sorry Dave, I can't do that' than it has been to date. The task of aligning requirements and budgets cannot be fulfilled without the active involvement of the military, but it is not the military's responsibility alone.

    I don't know precisely how it unfolded, but the optics of the recent 'carrier gap' seem like Thale Navy could at least be taking steps in this direction, i.e. instead of putting a ship, air wing and crew to sea that wasn't ready, the Navy allowed the requirement to go unfulfilled, thereby drawing immediate attention to the mismatch between responsibilities and resources that has existed for some time, and which is manifested throughout the fleet.

    Unlike most who get this far, I don't think the answer necessarily involves more money, or at least not primarily more money. In fact I would suggest it involves some rather frank and uncomfortable conversations about the real strategic interests of the United States, the requirements and priorities that derive from those interests, and the programs, platforms and budgets required to fulfil those requirements.

    Based on evidence available to date, I think there is precisely zero chance of such a conversation happening.

    1. "frank and uncomfortable conversations about the real strategic interests of the United States, the requirements and priorities that derive from those interests, and the programs, platforms and budgets required to fulfil those requirements."


      Now, where do America's strategic interest lie? Where should the Navy be deployed, if anywhere. Conversely, where should the Navy NOT be deployed?

    2. "Now, where do America's strategic interest lie? Where should the Navy be deployed, if anywhere. Conversely, where should the Navy NOT be deployed?"

      Isn't that predicated upon whether or not Mahanian Naval Theory is still valid in the 21st Century?

    3. "Isn't that predicated upon whether or not Mahanian Naval Theory is still valid in the 21st Century?"

      No. America's strategic interests are independent of any naval theory or capability. Our strategic interests are simply the international goals that are in our best interests. Naval theories and capabilities are just the mechanism of how we achieve those goals.

  2. Fittingly, ramp is the dutch word for disaster.

  3. You might have too short of a list for firing. Squadron Cmdr, ComPacFleet, Cmdr Naval Surface Forces Pacific, and several in OpNav that have played budget games to where wee are at this state.

    1. You're quite right, of course. Every admiral in the Navy should be fired. All have aided and abetted in the hollowing of the Navy, decrease in readiness, deferral of maintenance, lack of training, etc. I just don't have space to name them all.

  4. At this point firing and hiring a new CNO wouldn't do much unless the President, Sec Def, Sec Navy, and congress made it very clear what the requirements and expectations entail.

    When I was young, I saw the military as something special. Even though it was a function of government, I thought it was different from other government agencies. While I was in the Navy, I became very frustrated as I saw careerism as the main goal rather than mission readiness.


    1. I understand and share your frustration and pessimism about the possibility of change. It is worth noting, though, that this situation is nothing new and has been the norm throughout history. During peacetime, careerism predominates and when war comes, a period of "weeding out" occurs during which the incompetent leaders are fired and actual warfighters eventually take their place. This occurred, for example, at the start of the US Civil War when President Lincoln fired commander after commander. It occurred at the start of WWII when timid leaders were replaced wholesale (the submarine community being a particularly good microcosm example).

      Today is no different and today is not unusual. That doesn't make it right or acceptable - just not unusual. Whether that gives you any tiny amount of comfort is probably unlikely but perhaps it offers a measure of assurance that the situation can and will be corrected when war finally comes again. One comfort we can take is the knowledge that our enemies will experience the same phenomenon.

    2. My concern is that with the speed with which a new, major war might develop, with the M&M nature of our Navy (Hard shell, squishy center), and looking at the state of our ship industrial base, we may not have time to weed out bad, peacetime commanders. Or make up losses incurred by bad, peacetime commanders.

  5. I feel that this whole "RAMP" program is an example of trying to run the Navy like a business.
    You can't apply the same standards as business to the Navy, business in most cases delivers a specific service at the lowest price possible in order to compete. On the other hand a military needs to be prepared to complete any task asked of them at a moments notice. So you spend extra, preparing for something that may never happen, but that doesn't help the bottom line and probably isn't defined as "efficient". Yes government needs to be efficient, but we need to stop pretending the same management metrics can apply to the military as business, they are fundamentally different beasts.


Comments will be moderated for posts older than 30 days in order to reduce spam.