Wednesday, October 13, 1999
MILITARY INNOVATION & EXPERIMENTATION # 33 -- TRUST & CONFIDENCE
Two recently released reports (below) may present those of us in the Navy's senior leadership with a classic "to be or to do" dilemma.
A "TO BE" APPROACH
1. Stonewall -- This too will pass
2. Shoot the messengers -- Shift the focus
3. Spin (lie) -- Have the paid liars obfuscate, confuse, & doubletalk
4. Acknowledge there's a problem -- but do nothing
5. Repeat as necessary until another problem emerges
A "TO DO" APPROACH
1. Embrace the problem
2. Find those people capable of correcting the problem
3. Give them the necessary authority, responsibility, accountability, and resources to correct the problem
4. Repeat as necessary -- to include firing people -- until you get results
EMBRACING THE PROBLEM These two reports -- one from the Wall Street Journal and the other from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) -- suggest we senior leaders in today's Navy may be in the process of being fired.
Are our juniors losing trust and confidence in us and voting with their feet?
The Journal's report, "Life On USS Theodore Roosevelt Reveals A Waste Of Money, Men," highlights some significant problems but suffers from a lack of balance. My heart goes out to the overlooked sailors (thousands) who brought TR's flight deck and hangar bay to life 24 hours a day, 6.5 days a week for six months without complaint while receiving humble paychecks many Americans would find laughable. Their story of decentralized leadership, teamwork, and national service is well known. It is the jewel we carrier aviators love to hold up for the world to see. A couple of journalists looked behind our jewel and discovered some significant flaws. Good for them. Let's give them a standing invitation to return annually to an aircraft carrier of their choice to report on our progress. Next time, don't forget the salts on the flight and hangar decks and in the engineering spaces!
The Journal report may have highlighted a natural friction point in the Navy between two different orientations:
One is firmly rooted in the 20th century and reflects a top-down industrial orientation.
The other is an emerging 21st century bottom-up human orientation.
The 20th century orientation thinks in cycle times of years and decades. The 21st century orientation thinks in cycle times of seconds and minutes.
It appears some pretty smart folks are rediscovering and advancing the human sciences -- economics, linguistics, biology, history, anthropology, psychology -- and are expanding them with insights from the physical sciences to prepare for the future:
"...much as history has infiltrated physics, we must now allow physics to infiltrate human history.... if the different "stages" of human history were indeed brought about by phase transitions, then they are not "stages" at all -- that is, progressive developmental steps, each better than the previous one, and indeed leaving the previous one behind. On the contrary, much as water's solid, liquid, and gas phases may coexist so each new human phase simply added itself to the other ones, coexisting and interacting with them without leaving them in the past. Moreover, much as a given material may solidify in alternative ways (as ice or snowflake, as crystal or glass), so humanity liquefied and later solidified in different forms."
A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History by Manuel De Landa (MIT Press 1997) pp. 15-16
(more.... http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0942299310/ref=sim_books/002-0360235- 5767032 )
Thus it would be a mistake to think of the two different orientations in binary terms: 20th or 21st century. Each incorporates major portions of the other as an evolving, interacting set of structures we call the Navy.
The following excerpt from the Journal report is evidence of the friction that can be generated when the two orientations clash:
"If you force young, smart sailors to work this way, they will not stay with the Navy," says Rear Adm. William Cross, who is heading an effort to redesign all aspects of the Navy's carriers, from bridge to galleys. The first changes designed to reduce manpower will begin appearing on the carriers in 2008. The largest savings, however, won't be realized until 2018, at the earliest.
A 20th century orientation attempts to correct this problem in years and decades.
A 21st century orientation attempts to correct this problem in weeks or months.
20th century competence could quickly become 21st century incompetence.
MOORE'S LAW, FEDEX, AND THE INTERNET
In 1965, Gordon Moore (no relation) accurately predicted that the number of transistors per chip would double every 18 months. He forecasts this will continue until at least 2012.
Those of us born before 1965 must make a conscious effort to fully appreciate the impact of this rate of change on the way our juniors think. I would suggest our juniors understand it intuitively and use it (rightly or wrongly) to assess the quality of products and organizations.
FEDEX gave the world an evolving organization which made overnight delivery routine.
Without any central guiding authority, the Internet allows like-minded people to quickly find one another and come together to develop solutions to complex problems. The person with the most appropriate skill set for the problem at hand is "in charge."
Many senior civilian leaders have added a 21st century orientation to their mindsets. They are using individual and collective knowledge to build highly flexible and agile -- human -- organizations capable of quickly solving complex, difficult problems. Efforts by other senior power holders to force 21st century people into mindless 20th century jobs as if they were interchangeable cogs in a machine may be exposing their organizations to the risk of extinction.
As we senior Navy leaders seek to prepare our service for the future, we need to demonstrate to our juniors the ability to solve problems with both 20th and 21st century competence. 21st century incompetence, either perceived or in fact, could drive increasing numbers of the Navy's talent out of the Naval Service.
Conversely, if we demonstrate 20th and 21st century competence by quickly and permanently correcting the problems sketched by the Journal's report we might end up inspiring many of the Navy's best and brightest into sticking around.
The second report -- Quality of Life and Retention (GAO/NSIAD-99-197BR) -- was released to the public this month.
Please take the time to consider the following information from the report consisting of three charts and ending with three comments by service members.
It will be discussed in MI&E # 34 -- 21st Century Leadership
Page 14 displays a chart -- Percent of surveyed service members in retention critical specialties who intend to stay or leave the military:
USA 53% 35%
USN 33% 37%
USAF 31% 42%
USMC 44% 39%
USA 55% 26%
USN 75% 15%
USAF 70% 18%
USMC 48% 34%
Page 16 displays a chart -- Percent of Surveyed Service Members in Retention Critical Specialties Who Are Satisfied and Dissatisfied with the Military
(Dissatisfied = DIS; Satisfied = SAT)
USA 43% 50%
USN 65% 29%
USAF 36% 53%
USMC 39% 57%
USA 46% 31%
USN 59% 29%
USAF 64% 28%
USMC 37% 47%
Page 20 displays a chart -- Rank Order of Quality of Life Factors Surveyed Service Members in Retention Critical Specialties Were Dissatisfied With --
1. Availability of needed Equipment, parts & materials
2. Medical care for military dependents
3. Level of unit manning
4. Retirement Pay
5. Access to medical and dental Care (in retirement)
6. Frequency of deployments
7. Civilian military leaders
8. Ability to spend time with family and friends
9. Amount of personal time I Have
1. Retirement Pay
2. Availability of needed Equipment, parts & materials
3. Level of unit manning
4. Base Pay
5. Frequency of deployments
6. Reenlistment bonus program
7. Morale in unit
8. Ability to spend time with family and friends
9. Medical for military dependents
10. Nature of deployments
Three quotes from a 16 AUG 99 GAO brief about the report (p. 13):
QUOTE # 1
"There is a great deal of talk about the military - civilian pay gap. However, I am more concerned about the gap between officer and enlisted. Each pay raise we receive increases the gap. The FY00 proposal makes it even worse. Officers usually don't complain about low pay. Enlisted constantly complain. Pay raises should be adjusted so that enlisted pay increases faster than officer pay and the gap is reduced."
"It is tiring and difficult to comprehend that we are unable to obtain repair parts or tools or proper test equipment. No officials want to notice these things when they happen, but when the questions arise from a higher ranking official, the lower ranking official looks stunned and comes down on his supervisors. This is not the way to conduct business. Even though we are a leader in the Naval military, at the rate we are going, in another decade, we will be a leader."
"Leaders at all levels must be willing to make decisions that will positively contribute to the morale and welfare of service members. Tough standards are set but seldom are met in an attempt to do with what is available. Personnel manning is low, even in currently deployed units. UNSAT. Overall professionalism among junior enlisted members is truly terrible. The basic focus of military service seems to have shifted toward sensitivity and personal attention and away from basic military discipline. Upper level leaders are chosen because they have filled all the right billets rather than actually awarding individuals who have shown true leadership ability. The result -- one individual can harm the morale of an entire unit and unknowingly create substantial retention problems for the Navy."
Wall Street Journal September 22, 1999
Life On USS Theodore Roosevelt Reveals A Waste Of Money, Men
By Greg Jaffe and Thomas E. Ricks, Staff Reporters of The Wall Street Journal
<<Article copyrighted and not reprinted here. Please visit the Wall Street Journal website at http://www.wsj.com – subscription required.>>
COMMENT #1: BY A USN SCIENCE ADVISOR-------------
Good articles, but that ground has been plowed many times before. Reread those articles and then reread "Sailing New Seas" and "Sailing Stormy Seas" -- some of the more recent plowings.
Those books were on the LANTFLEET web site, but you can't get them there now. They apparently were removed shortly after Admiral Reason was relieved. SNS can probably still be found in the NWC web page as Newport Paper #13. SSS probably has disappeared forever into the ether.
Both pubs have been carefully ignored by the Navy establishment. SNS was written to stir discussion within the Navy. It has not, at least not to any noticeable extent. SSS was written for all Sailors, but was primarily motivated by the rotten ethics demonstrated by naval officers over the past 10 years, including Commanding Officers and those at higher levels of the Navy. It has been similarly ignored and avoided.
In the case of SNS, some admirals had a junior officer write a book report on it and then they read the book report. They didn't read the book. In the case of ALL two star officers I queried during the first year after its publication concerning whether they had read the book, ALL said 'not yet, I'm too busy, but I intend to.' I'm sure some did.
We have banging our heads (or, at least, I have been banging mine) against this wall for decades, with no success. Now that the budget crunch has been getting worse (maybe only temporarily), and the rate of change in all areas accelerating, it is being discussed more. But is anything changing yet? Hell no. People like Danzig talk a good game, but what do they DO? I'll tell you what they do -- they talk some more. With brilliance, of course, and with style. But it is just a facade, hiding the Same Old Stuff. They look good. They sound good. But with respect to real change, they don't do squat -- except for rationalizing why they "can't do that".
I was conversing a few days ago with a high ranking civilian (not in DoD) I occasionally talk to. He asked what I was going to do next. I told him, and mentioned that on my own time I might take some new material, and some of my stuff from the four books I have written, and write a book on how to lead and manage in the new, trans-industrial era. In a rather sad voice, he said two things that were very significant. 1. Nobody reads anymore. 2. Businesses are prospering, the economy is good, and defense will soon get more money and everyone knows it. Why should anyone change?
By the way, which service has the best "QOL" for its enlisted? And which service has the highest dissatisfaction rate among its enlisted? The USAF. Ever wonder why that is?
COMMENT #2: BY AN INSTRUCTOR AT A SENIOR WAR COLLEGE
Dan, thanks for your message.
I have only two comments. First, beware of taking concepts from the physical sciences and applying them to the social world. The "social Darwinists" did that in the 19th century, with terrible consequences for thousands of individuals who were powerless to stop them from doing it. Leave your "theories" of history alone. Ask, instead, the question that should confront every naval officer: What is my mission? Why have I been trained? What am I for? Then ask the next set of questions: What is command? Whom do I command and why? What should be the distinction between enlisted personnel and officers?
Naval officers were once "officers and gentlemen." They had education, polish, skills in speaking, and the ability to move in any circle of society-plus the ability to inspire and command others. But is the classic notion of command applicable in a time when software systems communicate among themselves and fight battles? Is the distinction between officers and enlisted reasonable today-or in the next century? I advise you to look to yourself for the answers to these questions. Forget the theories of history you might find in books.
I have colleagues here who think that the advent of supercomputing (and hence the ability to "solve" dynamic, multivariate problems) will in fact allow the "social sciences" to mature the way the physical sciences have. Maybe. Maybe not. But so what? If there are obvious problems, then there ought to be obvious ways to solve them. If the nation's sailors aren't paid enough, then the CNO should keep the ships at home until the Congress and the president deal with the problem. If this nation means to be a "superpower," then the nation's citizens, acting through their government, have to pay for it. For example, there were problems with the old way of feeding sailors on big ships in the 1920s. The "old way" was for junior enlisted sailors to collect food at the galley and bring it back to their messmates in their divisions. The "new way," pioneered on carrier Ranger in 1934, was a cafeteria. But to work well, a cafeteria had to offer decent food. The last time I was on a big Navy ship, the cafeteria didn't offer decent food. Why not? Because the kitchen crew was made up of guys who didn't really want to be there.
Can that problem be fixed? NOT BY ITSELF. Why not? Because manpower is scarce. So the problem of providing sailors with good food gets tangled up with the whole Navy problem of personnel shortages.
My second comment is that the lists of what officers and enlisted liked and didn't like about service in the Navy didn't have anything about excitement or patriotism. I'd say more about that but my computer is jamming up. I'll get back to you later. Dan, my computer is giving me trouble-or I should say the server is. Anyway, I wanted to say that I thought Navy (and Army and Air Force) officers were usually very good at identifying problems and then solving them. They don't need to feel unprepared. It's also dangerous, I think, to get caught up in the latest "fad." The Revolution in Military Affairs became a fad. I don't want Network Centric Warfare to become a fad, but I think it may become that.
Consider the history of aviation between World War I and II. It was a fad, but there were also some very hard-headed officers and enlisted personnel who turned aviation into a war winning technology. But the Army Air Corps had too many officers who thought of aviation as a form of ideology. I think that's bad. Finally, the Navy has to recognize that it has a problem that goes deeper than just offering sailors more money, more training, or more time with their families. I don't have the answer to that problem. But I have great confidence that Navy officers-if they aren't punished for thinking out of the box-will find an answer.
COMMENTS BY MOORE As I understand it "survival of the fittest" was a gross misunderstanding of Darwin's core ideas. Rather than the fittest design, getting the largest # of young to the age of reproduction, may be a key variable. There has been significant work -- neo-Darwinism -- that has filled in many of the gaps through the works of Theodosius Dobzhansky, Julian Huxley and Ernst Mayer. See Barry D. Watts' "Clausewitzian Friction & Future War" McNair Paper 52 dtd October 1996 from the Inst. for Nat'l Strategic Studies @ NDU. pp. 80-81
Here is the website for that Newport paper: http://www.nwc.navy.mil/press/npapers/np13/np13toc.htm
...went to the U.S. Naval Institute's Warfare Exposition & Symposium yesterday (it continues today) to listen to a couple of speeches...Hal Gehman and Secretary Danzig...Clark speaks this afternoon & I will go for that also.
Gehman gave an excellent, maybe even superb, speech...he hammered away at the need for innovation...the need for debate...the need for transformation...the need for Jointness. He cautioned the audience that there is a small, vocal and growing minority in congress who are prepared to dictate the terms and conditions of transformation if we in defense don't get off our butts and do it ourselves (not in those words but that was certainly the message). I think he mildly chided the Institute for not being the forum for debate that they once were. He asked for more debate on the Arsenal Ship, the priority of ASW , etc., as well as a whole host of what he termed cultural changes. He spent some time on the cultural issue...basically telling everyone that the "innovators" always lead the cultural change but we don't understand/encourage/reward innovation & that's a problem. He explained that innovation requires experimentation and we don't understand what experimentation really is...that we are a bunch of folks that are looking for expected results but that is what innovation/experimentation is all about...that it really is about failing & learning. Quite frankly, I think few in the audience comprehended the profound message he was delivering.
Then came Danzig...a 1000% Naval speech...did not hear the word "joint" once (he had to have said it...probably missed it). However, it was a superb "Naval" speech. He endorsed Gehman's call for debate, transformation & innovation...then talked about People, the Navy/Marine Corps Team, Sea to Land Operations and Information Management...he called them old issues in the context of the new millennium. For example, people...he explains that we design ships and systems with a "transcript" mentality...i.e., people are free so we have labor intensive platforms...crappy habitability...and we wonder why people walk. Why not staterooms for everyone...why not the same emphasis on chip/weax resistant paint as on an ordalt for a system. While I thought he did a brilliant job stepping through his four "Naval" issues, he made me a bit nervous because he seemed to imply that CNO, SYSCOMS, FLEETS and TYCOMS, in their current form, were more than capable of leading a transformation.
Then came the kicker...a Q & A session. The first question was from Greg Franceski...basically, he asked what, if any compelling reason, was there to retain two Fleet Commanders in the face of decreasing resources and evolution of a new Joint Force Commander who would have single Air Force and Army Components but this two headed monster (my words) to deal with in Navy. The Secretary's response was poor. He went through the advantages of going to a single fleet...he said you could call it Commander U. S. Naval Command...and he made a couple of other positive points as well. Then he went to the disadvantage side...basically said if you centered the command in Norfolk it would be to far from the Pacific to represent effectively, USCINCPAC, and if it was centered in Hawaii, the same problem would occur with JFC. He closed by saying he had high regard for the two new fleet commanders....it was their issue to resolve and he would trust in their judgment/look forward to any recommendations they might have. As brilliant as Secretary Danzig is, it was at that point that I decided he just doesn't get it...doesn't understand...and won't make a difference. Give me a break, that kind of change is never going to come from the "inside"...no disrespect to anyone...it just will not happen!
I left that place with major heartburn. First...I can't overemphasize the clarion call for debate...both by Gehman and the Secretary, in endorsing Gehman's remarks. So why, if there is this a burning desire for debate, was there deafening silence from Navy's uniformed and civilian Leadership when one of its' own did exactly that...the first words in SNS are "The purpose of this pamphlet is to stimulate thinking, discussion, and new approaches within the Navy". Why, in responding to Franceski's response, did the Secretary not acknowledge that seeds for this debate have been sown...thanks to a navy leader...Paul Reason. The answer is simple. The Navy does not want debate any issue unless expected results comply with the terms and conditions of a selected few in leadership positions. Navy leadership does not play in the absence of expected results.
I say, to all of this, that there is a passage from "Riding the Tiger" (Chet Richards) that refers..."Structure is so intimately bound up with strategy that it is difficult to imagine how one could make any lasting change in an organization's behavior without first making equally profound changes in its systems". The seeds for profound change are in SNS...so where is the debate?
COMMENT #5 1 From a two star national guard general (ret):
A lot of high rollers have taken great pride and much credit for the fall of the Soviet Union. We don't know what the final outcome of outspending them and causing them to implode will be. In a way, I miss them as potential adversaries. They taught us much and in fact they were outstanding in many ways as a military force. "Their strategic theory, thought, and planning came from trained professionals working within a recognized and accepted framework of ideas, concepts, principles, and objectives.
Much of ours comes from a mixed coterie of ambitious civilian amateurs, each with his own set of ideas, concepts, personal objectives, and obligations. the most prestigious or articulate tend to set the pattern of the day."
I forget where I first encountered this paraphrase quote, but it has always had an uncomfortable air of truth in it.
I think that what we are trying to do in this country is maintain freedom without understanding the nature of freedom and what it takes to both gain and maintain it. Many of our civilian leaders, that "mixed coterie of ambitious civilian amateurs," certainly does not understand what makes a good soldier or sailor or airman or marine. America takes her freedom for granted because the majority has always known freedom but have not done anything to earn it beyond inheriting it and playing poker with it.. There is a lot of inertia in freedom; perhaps about 100 years.....or 300. Once that freedom train is slowed down, it takes a long time and a lot of energy and flesh and blood to get back up to speed. The physics of freedom. We are trying to recruit from a population that has no particular desire to be recruited. All of the services are in fierce competition with each other and more importantly, with other life attractions. We are feeding the chicken a bit (though not enough) but no one is hatching the next egg. No one is working to restore the sense of service that America has lost. America has lost contact with her Army and her Navy and her Air Force; God bless the Marine Corps.
One can examine statistics endlessly and conclude about anything that is desired. But no matter how one plays with the numbers, a general trend will emerge, which is, that very few Americans have served their country. Only one in 500 Americans alive today have served their country in uniform. That is one percent of one percent! If you examine the biographies of our Congress you will find some interesting facts such as: only 29% have ever served in uniform; 41% of the Senate and 26% of the House. These are good percentages compared to the populous, but in my view, not very good for the services. Young men and women of recruitment age today do not have an uncle or aunt or cousin or older sibling or parent or teacher or preacher or neighbor or hero who has served and who has instilled a sense of service in the young people of America. Young America's knowledge of the services comes from movies starring Sly Stallone, Arny Swarcheneger, Chuck Norris, and Steven Segal. Hollywood! The baseline for understanding what it means to serve selflessly, is essentially zero for the young people we would like to recruit. But it is not their fault. They are super people, these "X-Generation" citizens and "net-generation" citizens. We have a lot of them in the Guard already and I believe that once we get them in, they are second to none in performance and dependability and drive. I call them the "smart-generation." But we don't attract them with the same stale sales pitch and we don't retain them with the same promise of a pension after 20 years. Different things motivate them. They motivate themselves. We need to instill in them a sense of service and educate them to appreciate the physics of freedom. In future years we can expect the number of congressional members who have walked the walk in our boots to go even lower. Perhaps the same can be said of the "staffers" who provide the members so much of their perspective. Someday there may be no members (or staffers) who understand first hand the concept of selfless service, which is so basic to our entire way of life under our constitution. In future years we can expect that the "next-generations" will grow further and further from selfless service and lack any appreciation for the physics (inertia) of freedom; unless someone does something about it. Can we depend upon Desert Storms coming along at the right intervals, accelerating the train of freedom, and rekindling patriotism and nationalism? I suggest that hatching the egg should be some sort of national priority and if someone doesn't make it so, all the other things that you are aggressively seeking won't matter.
COMMENT #6 from a retired USMC 06:
I spent the last two days at the Naval Institute Symposium and would like to provide a different perspective on Admiral Gehman's and Secretary Danzig remarks at the symposium. I do agree with the general sentiment that there could have (and perhaps should have) been more "joint" issues raised at this naval forum. However, unlike the author of response #2 -- I was very impressed with Mr. Danzig's remarks and somewhat ambivalent about Admiral Gehman's comments.
The article by Hunter Keeter in Defense Daily provides an excellent and ACCURATE summary of Admiral Gehman's remarks. Admiral Gehman talked about the mandated UCP change from a "geographic" to "a more functional" role for his command effective October. He talked about how Joint Forces Command will now be involved in leading the transformation of the joint community in training, experimentation and doctrine. In his words -- the "future" is our AO. Admiral Gehman will maintain his NATO responsibilities as Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic. In response to a question, he stated that JFC's role in the acquisition process is under review, but it currently does not have a seat on the JROC or the DAB. He also said JFC will not be budgeted separately, and is being given "enough resources in terms of manpower and money" -- through a series of stand-alone training, experimentation and joint doctrine programs. He did make a remark about having difficulty dealing with folks that would attempt to cut our budget if there wasn't sufficient progress in the next twelve months. Finally, Admiral Gehman said this change in function will likely mean that the job will be filled in the future by senior officers from other services.
I find the speech to be politically correct and adequate -- it accurately portrays Admiral Gehman's new position as the JFC commander. However, I did not find it "superb" nor "inspiring". It would NOT have been appropriate for him at this time (not while the policy is under review) to talk about how JFC should integrate into the JROC, DAB or acquisition process. While he talked about the "need" for transformation, his remarks did not provide a vision for how JFC will "lead" the transformation process. He didn't offer any innovative views of how JFC was going to horizontally integrate across robust "vertically structured service experiment laboratories". He didn't talk about how he was going to lead "joint" experimentation within "service" experimentation programs. He didn't talk about the "experiments" he was going to DO. He talked about the difficulties of developing "interoperability" -- cited a fact that there were 45 organizations working on about 150 different interoperability programs. He made a passing remark about the experiment to track elusive targets, but didn't talk about the opportunities ahead for the coming years (ie. Millennium Challenge, wargames, etc) and what that might mean for joint experimentation. It was a good talk -- but I would not characterize it as superb!!
Danzig's remarks were SUPERB -- but naval in character (I guess that was why they called the gathering the Naval Symposium). He provided a focus on what he was going to do as SecNav in the remaining year of this administration. His focus was people, Navy/Marine Corps team, the Navy's contribution to military operations, information management -- he established his sights on "achievable objectives" over this period. He was fully at ease with the audience -- and responded well to questions on what the outcome might be regarding the use of ranges on Vieques to why do we have a Pacific fleet and Atlantic fleet. I disagree with the comment that Secretary Danzig may not understand change -- this is a man who understands the nature of the asymmetrical threat of the future, was a driving force behind the Marine Corps Chemical-Biological Incident Response Team, a man who has expanded the opportunities for women in the Navy. It would have been UNBELIEVABLE if he would have immediately endorsed the concept of incorporating PacFlt and LantFlt into NAVFLT without consulting with his fleet commanders just because a Commander in the U. S. Navy raised the question.
By the way, Admiral "Snuffy" Smith gave an excellent presentation on coalition warfighting -- using Bosnia as a primary example. Vice Admiral Bob Dunn led a very good discussion on why many good people in the Navy are opting to not go after "command".
COMMENT #7 by a student of John Boyd's:
There is a section in the Preface to B.H. Liddell-Hart's book Strategy where he talks about the difference between a prophet and a leader. He says that a prophet is someone who speaks the truth unreservedly. And that the lot of the prophets is to be stoned. Then he talks about a leader as someone who seeks a compromise between expressing the pure truth and man's receptivity to it. But he warns against a leader who so compromises the truth for the sake of expediency that he produces "a deformity from the womb of his thought".
I suspect that much of the dissatisfaction with our so-called leaders is because we believe they are sacrificing too much truth for expediency, and that the expediency is specifically for their own personal gain. Few of us want them to become prophets and be stoned for their efforts. But we'd like them to put their own gain somewhere below the gain of their service and their men. On the other hand, America is very much a "me first" society, and somewhere along the line the military has succumbed to the values of the larger culture in which it is immersed, rather than the higher standard that the military once sought to uphold.
John Boyd was so riled by the sellout to expediency that he took a more stringent point of view. John defined a person of integrity as one who speaks what he believes and then does what he says. From the Liddell-Hart perspective, John was a prophet and he was certainly stoned for his efforts. Those of us who he deeply inspired tend to share his values and strive to articulate the truth and the ramifications be damned. And many of us are stoned for our efforts too.
The difficulty is as I indicated during dinner up in Boston. Seemingly antithetical truths can exist side by side. Remember I asked which is truer: Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or... familiarity breeds contempt. Which is truer depends on circumstances. If it is your wife you are referring to then absence makes the heart grow fonder. But it may be that familiarity breeds contempt if it is your mother-in-law. So it is difficult to judge another person's truth without knowing the circumstances behind it. On the other hand, there is no mistaking a commander who puts his own interests before those of his men.
COMMENT # 8, by an active duty USN 06
Dan: this statement: Ask, instead, the question that should confront every naval officer: What is my mission? Why have I been trained? What am I for? Then ask the next set of questions: What is command? Whom do I command and why? What should be the distinction between enlisted personnel and officers?
shows an incredible lack of insight into dealing with human beings. scary. I've seen many too many officers display these characteristics over the years. they MAY, indeed, get the job done, but how many of their sailors and officers get out of the navy shortly thereafter?
COMMENT # 9, by an employee of a major aerospace industry:
The key to most of this is that, no matter how fascinated we become with new technologies, the true measure of things is man. That implies that everything we do ultimately devolves to a subjective judgment. A stream of good subjective judgments by the leader and the led is the essence of leadership and of trust and confidence upon which the relationship is built. It is also what will make network centric or any revolution in military affairs succeed or fail. Yet, the significant challenges associated with this human dimension are all too often ignored or belittled -- in the process condemning what we are attempting to do to failure. At Global, I referred to a story I had heard about Albert Einstein who, when asked why he did not turn his intellect to politics, replied, "That's too difficult; it involves people."
In a similar vein, I have been referring to chaos and complexity theory as the liberal arts major's revenge. The engineer and the physical scientist has difficulty coming to grips with non-linear answers. The liberal arts types deal almost exclusively with non-linear answers, while social sciences can only go so far with quantifying before they run into the brick wall of idiosyncratic variables and a human behavior that can never be exactly modeled. I have been playing around with network centric from this liberal arts perspective, that is, describing it from the standpoint of what it is supposed to do for humans and from that of the information that humans will need rather than the connectivity that is possible.
Please find below the signature block comments by an active duty USN 04. Given that he'll probably still be on active duty when most of us are watching WW IV on CNN, please give his remarks careful consideration. I'm underscoring the following:
"So, for my money, I would say that instilling patriotism is the benchmark of what we do in peacetime. We do that through teaching history, developing a sense of military purpose, demonstrating integrity and proclaiming a love for what we do. These are the discipleship aspects of patriotism and I would say that we are weak in all of them. Our focus has often been on greed, liberating social causes and compromise."
COMMENT #10, by an active duty USN 04:
I just reviewed all the bidding on this issue to date... very good and thoughtful contributions. The one that strikes a chord with me is that of Patriotism written by the National Guard General. I enlisted out of a sense of duty (for selfish reasons) and continue to serve out of a sense of patriotism. Interestingly enough, my own background would suggest an unlikely military career laid in my future 20 years ago. My dad was a conscientious objector in Vietnam and my own opinion of military was less than favorable. I did, however, recognize that service was just as the word implied. I knew that serving my country would be honorable (and most likely peaceable back then); it would instill discipline that would serve me well anywhere; and it would provide me an opportunity to make a contribution to something much larger than myself. But, my focus--as is common today--out of ignorance, was only on the duty aspect of patriotism. All of these expectations have been filled beyond my wildest imagination and a full measure of "patriotism" has been born.
My autobiographical point is that my service was selfish at the start, although it had noble possibilities. I had no sense of history or patriotism that stemmed from appreciating the freedom brought to me through our forefathers. It has been instilled in me by serving--by serving great leaders--and learning that without a patriotic corps of military members, our freedom would quickly become meaningless. Patriotism for me has in effect become duty plus discipleship. The analogy of freedom's momentum losing steam over 300 years is quite enlightening. If our serving members do not have and develop patriotism in those that follow, we are all the more doomed to gradual failure as a nation.
So, for my money, I would say that instilling patriotism is the benchmark of what we do in peacetime. We do that through teaching history, developing a sense of military purpose, demonstrating integrity and proclaiming a love for what we do. These are the discipleship aspects of patriotism and I would say that we are weak in all of them. Our focus has often been on greed, liberating social causes and compromise. But, there is hope. I know this is true from personal example.
We cannot introduce a just war to build patriotism (where history comes to life, causes are worthy, and integrity survives), but we can instill the values necessary to keep the candle flickering until the nation repents or finds a noble cause. My only caution is that patriotism is easily confused with duty alone and there are many patriots that miss the opportunity to instill the love of patriotism with her obligation to duty.
Comment #11, by an active duty USN O-5:
I agree with my fellow officer's comments 100%. For the vast majority of us, joining the armed forces was an act of patriotism and duty as well as seeking employment.
For those in the service, we must instill a sense of pride in the USN's vital role to our nation's history, and that includes the 'bad' as well as the 'good.' The Navy has a record of service and sacrifice that we are damn proud of ------- so, why not nurture and cultivate it; its bonds us to one another. Our common sense of purpose will get us thru the most difficult of times.
When I retire next summer, I intend to speak about LEGACY. We often talk about the TRADITIONS of the Navy, but traditions are nothing more than customs acquired and passed down over time, like bell-bottom trousers and nautical terminology.
LEGACY, on the other hand, is built on the actions of real people performing in the service of their nation. When we don the uniform and swear the oath, we inherit the Navy LEGACY, to which we can add or subtract through our actions and behavior. When we depart the service, we are forever linked to that legacy. While we might look nostalgically at a Navy sub, ship, or aircraft, it is not because THEY are the Navy; it's because WE are the Navy; we man those platforms and make them work to defend our country, and we are inextricably linked to sailors past, present, and future through our legacy.
I often tell folks the story of LCDR John Waldron and Torpedo 8 at the battle of Midway. Flying the obsolete TBD Devastator against the Japanese carriers, all 15 planes and 29 of 30 air crewmen were lost to diving Zero fighters and the screening cruisers and destroyers without scoring a single torpedo hit. Waldron knew the danger he was leading the squadron into, but he must have realized that in that desperate battle, they might never get another chance ----- that turning back might mean certain defeat. His 'commander's intent' was mimeographed and distributed to his TBD crews the night before the battle, and it was clear as a bell:
. . . If there is just one plane left in the squadron for the final run ( into the target), I want that man to go in and get a hit.
Waldron led VT-8 into the suicidal attack, and not one of his pilots failed to make the run in with him. (It should be noted that the ensigns in the squadron had never dropped a live torpedo, nor taken off a carrier deck with a torpedo loaded up prior to the 04 June attack on the Japanese fleet). Their sacrifice, along with those of VT-6 and VT-3, unwittingly allowed the Dauntless SBDs to arrive over the CVs uncontested, and turn a near disaster into the greatest victory in USN history.
Are we cut from the same cloth as the Arleigh Burkes and John Waldrons? Are we worthy of the legacy?
CASE IN POINT: During Operation 'Earnest Will', USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS struck a mine which nearly broke her in two. Working diligently and skillfully, her crew labored in rising water and darkness for hours --- AND THEY SAVED THEIR SHIP. A Royal Navy officer told me that had she been an HMS, she would have sunk, because RN crews don't have the DC skills to save a ship so damaged. But it took more than skill --- it took guts, and a commitment to each other to give their all. And what did ROBERTS's C.O. have to say? His OPREP comments simply stated the following:
"We saved her. We'll fix her. We're back in the fight."
Damn !! Think those hearts weren't on the BON HOMME RICHARD, or the MONITOR, or THE YORKTOWN? I'd ship out with those guys anytime. Those words are as historic to me as "I've yet begun to fight," (J-P Jones) ; "Scratch one flattop!," (LCDR Dixon at Coral Sea); and "Attack repeat attack !" (Halsey).
As for recruiting new service members, I totally agree with the LCDR. A weak sense of our people's history undermines the cultivation of patriotism and a sense of duty for the common good. I recently saw the results of the new Virginia state-wide standardized high school tests. It came as no surprise to me that almost across the board, school by school, the percentage of students who passed the history test was much lower than that of any other subject. We need to teach our history ---- its high and low moments ---- in order to turn out young citizens who care enough to vote, to volunteer in their communities, etc. And out of that knowledgeable pool of citizens, we'll attract those who wish to manifest their devotion through military service.
Perhaps we need to get more former/retired service members teaching history in the schools.
PS- The Marine Hymn is arguably the most recognized military song in the US. Many who have never served in the USMC know its words as well as its tune. In its first verse, it defines the Corps like no other service song . . .
PPS --- Thanks for letting me vent a little emotion on this subject.