Winslow Wheeler: US Navy Status Quo Culture — Lessons Not Learned, Substituting Pork and Lies for Effective Weapons Systems + US Flag Officer Lack of Integrity RECAP

Corruption, Military
Winslow Wheeler
Winslow Wheeler

I recently finished reading Roger Thompson’s Lessons Not Learned: The U.S. Navy’s Status Quo Culture (Naval Institute Press, 2007).  I urge those who think we enjoy now and will enjoy in the future some sort of superiority on the seas to read this book.  You will find tidbits that you contest, but you will also find overwhelming evidence that the biggest, most expensive navy in the world has hollowed itself out thanks to its own rampant hubris and careerism.  This has been the case for a long time, and there is nothing on the horizon to indicate any real improvement.

I encountered exactly the kind of behavior Thompson describes when I worked at GAO.  I was assigned to look at the Navy’s operational testing of its vaunted Aegis air defense system on CG-47-class cruisers.  I found that in cooperative, even fudged testing (as described by inaccurate and incomplete test reports) Aegis performed at a mediocre level against the easier targets and extremely poorly against the most stressful targets–such as the extremely low, extremely fast anti-ship cruise missiles that today populate the inventories of Iran, North Korea, China, Syria and others.  The Navy was incensed, convened a kangaroo-court hearing at the Seapower Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee and declared the problem solved because it won a superficial public relations battle over GAO with the porkers and Navy boosters who densely populated the subcommittee.  The Navy proved itself much more adept at PR struggles than it has in anti-mine warfare in real combat since World War II and in anti-submarine exercises over the same period, as Thompson explains in painful detail.

I also wrote a three part series at Time’s Battleland blog; one of those pieces touched on several of the issues that Roger Thompson more thoroughly and articulately raises; that piece is at http://nation.time.com/2012/12/04/more-than-the-navys-numbers-could-be-sinking/.

Pierre Sprey wrote a review of Roger Thompson’s excellent book; it follows:

Lessons Not Learned: An Appreciation

For a comprehensive, thoughtful and independent-minded critique of today’s U.S. Navy, I know of no work better than Professor Roger Thompson’s Lessons Not Learned: The U.S. Navy’s Status Quo Culture. I recommend the book as essential reading for anyone interested in or professionally involved in naval matters, whether officer, civilian analyst, contemporary historian, defense journalist or navy buff. It is of particular value and importance to those who are courageous enough and patriotic enough to be committed to military reform. The military reform literature is well endowed with strong critiques of American air and ground forces, but is relatively weak in insightful writings on the Navy’s ineffectiveness and waste of men and money. Thompson’s book fills that gap.

Lessons Not Learned is particularly hard-hitting in documenting the evidence for the U.S. Navy’s ongoing and shocking vulnerability to diesel subs and mines. As he makes clear, both weapons systems are nearly ubiquitous in the maritime Third World and the presence of either turns U.S. control of the seas into a delusion. Equally valuable are Prof. Thompson’s blunt comparisons of the strengths and weaknesses of American naval forces vis a vis the strengths of smaller allied forces. Unsurprisingly, these disparities in combat readiness, tactical skills and exercise outcomes prove to be greatest in anti-mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare—though sadly declining American aerial tactical skills are certainly not glossed over.

But Thompson’s most valuable contribution of all is the thread that runs throughout the book: the most crucial weakness of the U.S. Navy is not materiel or money. It is, plain and simply, the closed-mindedness, hubris and rampant careerism of the Navy’s leadership, greatly magnified by a mindless up-or-out personnel system. That leads to an enlisted force with inadequate skills, morale and training plus an officer corps more focused on promotion and plush retirement jobs than on building a navy competent to win wars.

Pierre Sprey

Phi Beta Iota:  At what point does extreme negligence and total lack of integrity become treason?  This is not a problem unique to the US Navy.  Marine Corps aviation, US Army ground systems, Coast Guard hulls, and just about everything in the US Air Force are all flawed by neglect, dishonor, and a cavalier lack of concern for the men and women who actually fight and die for their country.

See Also:

2013 Robert Steele: Reflections on Inspectors General

2013 Robert Steele: Reflections on Lincoln, Principle, Compromise, Autonomous Internet & Citizen Intelligence / Counter-Intelligence 2.0 with Meta-RECAP

2010 Robert Steele: Reflections on Integrity UPDATED + Integrity RECAP

Chuck Spinney: Hardware Über Alles in the Spendagon — Paneta Pumps Corporate Profits While Veterans Commit Suicide + Meta-RECAP

Chuck Spinney: The Arrogance of Ignorance Plus Meta-RECAP

Chuck Spinney: The Real Challenges Facing the Next Secretary of Defense, Robert Steele Comments

Chuck Spinney: Treason Thy Name is F-35A aka “Acquisition Malpractice”

Chuck Spinney: US Navy – More Admirals than Ships? Comprehensive Survey of Flag Officer Bloat as Foundation for Failed Militaries Across History

Daniel Ellsberg: On Secrecy & Whistleblowing with Comment by Robert Steele

DefDog: Army’s Mental Health Questionable

DefDog: Defense Contractors Start the Big Lie Again–Jobs PLUS Winslow Wheeler Defense Budget Facts RECAP

DefDog: Rent-A General Business Continues As Usual…

Del Spurlock Jr.: Requiem for the All-Volunteer Force — and a Comment on Thomas Ricks’ “The Generals”

Daniel Ellsberg: On Secrecy & Whistleblowing with Comment by Robert Steele

Graphic: Pentagon Budget Fraud — Lies as Treason

Graphic: US Defense Outlays vs All Others

Josh Kilbourn: 80% of Retired Admirals & Generals Roll Into Defense Contracting Positions — the Conflicts of Interest are Legendary — and Allowed

Journal: A Tale of Two Flying Pigs

Journal: Dumbest Weapons Money Can Buy…

Marcus Aurelius: Defense “Strategy” & “Budget” — Ignorant Duplicitous Theater + META-RECAP

Marcus Aurelius: Pentagon Plays the 800,000 Cuts Card, Dishonest to the Bone

Marcus Aurelius: SecDef to McCain on Sequester + RECAP on DoD Fraud, Waste, & Abuse

Marcus Aurelius: US Army Chief of Staff Toes the Party Line + Meta-RECAP

Marcus Aurelius: US at Permanent “War” + War RECAP

Marcus Aurelius: White House Corruption + Flag Corruption = Defense Meltdown [Robert Steele: 2 Out of 3]

Mini-Me: Air Force Nuclear Rotten; Nuclear Budget Waste to Point of Treason — Where, We Ask, Does the Buck Stop on This Nonsense?

Mini-Me: Leon Panetta on Dysfunctional Government + Meta-RECAP

Mongoose: 20130309 Added Transcripts for Mrs. Kay Griggs Interviews — “German Disease” Across USMC & US Army Special Operations + Treason RECAP

Pentagon Pathology: Follow the Money

Reference: CJCS (USA) on Profession of Arms = Trust [Twilight Zone at the Top]

Reference: Russell Ackoff on Doing Right Things Righter

Reference: The Pentagon Labyrinth

Review: Lines of Fire – A Renegade Writes on Strategy, Intelligence, and Security

Review: The Military Industrial Compex at 50

Robert Steele: Cutting the US Military Budget – and Firing the Civilian and Uniformed “Leaders” Betraying the Public Trust + RECAP

Theophillis Goodyear: US Veteran Suicides: 25 for each combat death, 18 a day every day year after year + Meta-RECAP

Winslow Wheeler: Analysis of US Bases Abroad

Winslow Wheeler: Elitist Corruption on the Defense Budget

WInslow Wheeler: USAF Cost Over-Runs–DoD Micro-Look

Winslow Wheeler: Facts on US Military “Superiority”

Winslow Wheeler: If OMB Cannot Manage, and DoD Cannot Win Wars or Secure Peace, Who Is to Blame? Sub-Text: Obama “Team” Has No Plan B — They Cannot Even Find Plan A!

Winslow Wheeler: John Saven on the Navy’s New Class of Floating Pigs

Winslow Wheeler: Lies, Damn Lies, & Panetta-Pentagon Criminal Insanity

Winslow Wheeler: Marine Corps and the F-35 — Outright Lies, Deception, and a Total Lack of Intelligence with Integrity

Winslow Wheeler: Marine Aviation in the Toilet (Ethically, Technically, & Financially)

Winslow Wheeler: Military Spending True Lies True Costs

Winslow Wheeler: Military Spending versus Competence

Winslow Wheeler: Morally Bankrupt Flag Officers Need to Go + Pentagon Corruption RECAP

Winslow Wheeler: ONE COLONEL TELLS THE TRUTH – Major Investigation Called For + Meta-RECAP

Winslow Wheeler: Pentagon Aviation Plan Over-Budget Lacking Both Intelligence and Integrity

Winslow Wheeler: The China Pivot and Air-Sea Battle — Institutionalized Idiocy and the Moral-Intellectual Death of Andy Marshall

Winslow Wheeler: The F-22, Toxic Stealth, Secrets Screw Sick…

Winslow Wheeler: Treason Thy Name is F-35A — We Expect Hagel to “Do A Cheney”

Winslow Wheeler: True Cost of Post-9/11 Wars $5T+

Winslow Wheeler: USAF Lies Big on F-22, Sacrifices Pilots, Zero Integrity

Winslow Wheeler: US Generals/Admirals Corrupt & Bloated — Panetta Reverses the Token Cuts by Gates

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Dereliction of Duty (Defense)