- Jul 9, 2006
Think anyone will take this guy seriously??
Too many technicians and not enough strategists in the officer corps makes the Navy badly suited for operations in the 21st century, according to a book released Dec. 3.
What’s more, its fleet is designed to re-fight World War II, not deal with a new generation of enemies, and unless the Navy makes dramatic changes, it’ll be irrelevant in tomorrow’s world picture, one of the book’s 13 authors concludes.
The book, “America’s Defense Meltdown,” published by the Center for Defense Information, faults the Navy’s culture of elevating officers with technical backgrounds — including aviators and engineers — rather than purpose-trained tactical thinkers. No matter how well engineers perform as commanders in peacetime, argues conservative author William Lind, a wartime Navy requires tactical experts qualified as engineers.
“The technical-engineering way of thinking and the military-tactical-strategic way of thinking are opposites,” Lind wrote. “War is not an engineering problem. ... Most engineers, which is to say most U.S. Navy officers, cannot deal well with challenges they do not expect and that do not lend themselves to quantitative calculation.”
The book is aimed at the incoming Obama administration, with recommendations for rebuilding the U.S. military after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the book also faults Navy shipbuilding, which has been roundly criticized in other reports, its main suggestion for the Navy is to remake the officer culture.
Lind, who wrote the book’s Navy chapter, contrasts the dominance of engineers in the Navy to what he describes as the preference for tacticians elsewhere. All U.S. submarine skippers are nuclear engineers, “in strong contrast to Britain’s Royal Navy, whose submarine commanders have nuclear engineers where they belong, in the engine room,” Lind wrote.
The first step to remaking the Navy’s officer culture is remaking the Naval Academy, Lind says. The curriculum at Annapolis should focus on “war-fighting,” he writes, rather than engineering, and male and female midshipmen should be educated separately. Co-ed classes create a “stultifying air of political correctness,” Lind wrote.
He also recommends sweeping changes to the fleet. The Navy should mothball its Aegis warships, he wrote, because it will never fight an open-ocean war against a peer competitor such as China or Russia. It should use aircraft carriers as cargo ships, carrying supplies or helicopters, if needed, rather than fixed-wing planes.
Lind also recommends the Navy develop its own carrier-launched low-level ground-attack aircraft. The F/A-18 Hornet isn’t built to orbit a battlefield and carry heavy ordnance loads, he wrote, even though that mission will be in ever greater demand.