Here’s the good Admiral’s thematic statement:
“Lethal and tough in today’s fight.”
What a great sentiment but let’s start with the obvious – there is no fight today and any confrontation that might occur, we back down from, as a matter of policy. So, the immediate flaw in the statement is that the leadership – meaning the good Admiral – doesn’t walk the talk, himself, as evidenced by his policies. Given that there is no fight today, how are we supposed to be lethal?
Let’s give the Admiral the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s talking somewhat generically and referring to the potential enemies we face.
So, moving on,
“During SWFOTS [Surface Warfare Flag Officers Training Symposium], we discussed establishing policies and providing funding to support our commanding officers’ efforts to build combat ready ships and battle-minded crews,” Brown said in his address. (1)
Hey, Admiral, a good start to helping your commanding officers build combat ready ships and battle-minded crews would be to stop replacing commanding officers for every picayune offense, real and imagined. How’s that for a helpful policy? So what if he had a drink? Who cares if he said something that might be construed to be offensive to someone, somehow. A little feistiness of spirit would be a good first step towards a battle mindset. Let the commanders exert themselves without constant fear of being second guessed over nothing. Stop kowtowing to the mothers of sailors who think their precious son or daughter is being worked too hard. Your Captains are scared to impose discipline because it will instantly be transmitted over social media and you’ll relieve them for “loss of confidence in their ability to command” because you, Admiral, won’t stand up to a bunch of mothers of whiny sailors.
Admiral, you created this lack of toughness by selecting for milksop commanders. You have no one to blame but yourself. Why don’t you start the process by toughening up yourself and not giving in to every politically correct (PC) impulse?
You want combat ready and battle-minded? How about getting rid of women? They, literally, can’t pull their weight or their shipmate’s in a casualty evacuation situation. They can’t lift damage control pumps. They can’t lift shells. But you won’t do that, will you? That would require standing up to PC, wouldn’t it, and you’re not mentally tough enough and battle-minded enough to do that, are you? Is it really a mystery to you why the fleet and your commanders aren’t tough and battle-minded?
Adm. Brown went on to offer two real-world examples of why crews need to be ready:
- Oct-2018 a Chinese Luyang destroyer approached the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur “in an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea" while the Decatur was involved in Freedom of Navigation exercises. When challenged, the Decatur veered off and went on its way, as Navy policy dictates.
- Jun-2019 a Russian Udaloy class destroyer in the Philippine Sea made an unsafe maneuver near the USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), closing to about 50-100 feet and endangering the ship and crew. Chancellorsville veered off, as Navy policy dictates.
Brown’s conclusion from these two examples?
“So we have to be lethal,” Brown said. “We have to be tough because we don't know when we're going to go into the fight.” (1)
That’s a nice platitude Admiral except for the fact that Navy policy is to meekly give way when confronted. So, while ‘tough’ and ‘lethal’ are inspiring words, the reality is that, by policy, you’re forbidding our commanders from taking any action. So, while you want to talk about ‘tough and lethal’ because it makes for a nice PowerPoint slogan, the reality is that our Navy is, by policy that you helped create and enforce every day, ‘meek and mild’.
Adm. Brown, you can talk the talk all you want but until you, personally, are willing to walk the talk, you’re just a hypocrite spouting slogans that mean nothing.
Sir, you are talking but not walking.