Thursday, August 25, 2005

I stand corrected...

...about the speech I posed yesterday. Apparently it wasn't made by thge current CNO, but rather by a retired Chief who posted to my site yesterday. I've posted the reply below so that the proper disclaimer and credit can be conveyed:

I'm glad you liked "The Wrong Army," but it is not a speech by the Chief of Naval Operations. It's actually an opinion column I wrote for Military.Com.

A reader copied the column off the Military.Com website and began emailing it to friends. So far, so good. But somewhere in the strange netherworld of internet email, it picked up the headline "Navy Chief Fires a Broadside." I have no problem with that. I am a retired Navy Chief, and I was definitely firing a broadside.

After a few hundred more bounces, that became "Navy Chief of Operations Fires a Broadside," which eventually morphed into "Speech by the Chief of Naval Operations."

The CNO’s Public Affairs staff has been jumping through hoops, trying to make sure that the big boss doesn’t end up taking the heat for something I said.

For the record, I am not the Chief of Naval Operations. I may have delusions of grandeur, but they don't stretch the boundaries of reality quite that far. Also for the record, the CNO did not write "The Wrong Army." I did. If you like it, the credit goes to me. If you hate it, I get the blame. It's not part of a CNO speech, nor any part of his professional writings. "The Wrong Army" is my baby, warts and all.

Please set your readers straight on this. Admiral Mullen has quite enough on his hands, without catching flack for something he didn't say.


-- Jeff Edwards


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Great speech from the CNO

Here’s a speech that was sent to me today by the new CNO, ADM. Mike Mullin. As a fellow shipmate, I think his speech says it all.

Subject: New CNO's Speech

On the 22nd of July, Admiral Mike Mullin
became the Chief of Naval Operations. Below is his speech.


America's military can win wars. We've done it in the past, and I have absolute confidence that we'll continue to do it in the future. We've won fights in which we possessed overwhelming technological superiority (Desert Storm), as well as conflicts in which we were the technical underdogs (the American Revolution). We've crossed swords with numerically superior foes, and with militaries a fraction of the size of our own. We've battled on our own soil, and on the soil of foreign lands -- on the sea, under the sea, and in the skies. We've even engaged in a bit of cyber-combat, way out there on the electronic frontier. At one time or another, we've done battle under just about every circumstance imaginable, armed with everything from muskets to cruise missiles.

And, somehow, we've managed to do it all with the wrong Army.

That's right, America has the wrong Army. I don't know how it happened, but it did. We have the wrong Army. It's too small; it's not deployed properly; it's inadequately trained, and it doesn't have the right sort of logistical support. It's a shambles. I have no idea how those guys even manage to fight.

Now, before my brothers and sisters of the OD green persuasion get their fur up, I have another revelation for you.

We also have the wrong Navy. And if you want to get down to brass tacks, we've got the wrong Air Force, the wrong Marine Corps, and the wrong Coast Guard.

Don't believe me? Pick up a newspaper or turn on your television.

In the past week, I've watched or read at least a dozen commentaries on the strength, size, and deployment of our military forces. All of our uniform services get called on the carpet for different reasons, but our critics unanimously agree that we're doing pretty much everything wrong.

I think it's sort of a game. The critics won't tell you what the game is called, so I've taken the liberty of naming it myself. I call it the 'No Right Answer' game. It's easy to play, and it must be a lot of fun because politicos and journalists can't stop playing it.

I'll teach you the rules. Here's Rule #1: No matter how the U.S. military is organized, it's the wrong force. Actually, that's the only rule in this game. We don't really need any other rules, because that one applies in all possible situations. Allow me to demonstrate...

If the Air Force's fighter jets are showing their age, critics will tell us that Air Force leaders are mismanaging their assets, and endangering the safety of their personnel. If the Air Force attempts to procure new fighter jets, they are shopping for toys and that money could be spent better elsewhere.

Are you getting the hang of the game yet? It's easy; keeping old planes is the wrong answer, but getting new planes is also the wrong answer. There is no right answer, not ever. Isn't that fun?It works everywhere. When the Army is small, it's TOO small. Then we start to hear phrases like 'over-extended' or 'spread too thin,' and the integrity of our national defense is called into question. When the Army is large, it's TOO large, and it's an unnecessary drain on our economy. Terms like 'dead weight,' and 'dead wood' get thrown around.

I know what you're thinking. We could build a medium-sized Army, and everyone would be happy. Think again. A medium-sized Army is too small to deal with large scale conflicts, and too large to keep military spending properly muzzled. The naysayers will attack any middle of the road solution anyway, on the grounds that it lacks a coherent strategy.

So small is wrong, large is wrong, and medium-sized is also wrong. Now you're starting to understand the game. Is this fun, or what?

No branch of the military is exempt. When the Navy builds aircraft carriers, we are told that we really need small, fast multipurpose ships. When the Navy builds small, fast multi-mission ships (aka the Arleigh Burke class), we're told that blue water ships are poorly suited for littoral combat, and we really need brown water combat ships. The Navy's answer, the Littoral Combat, isn't even off the drawing boards yet, and the critics are already calling it pork barrel politics and questioning the need for such technology.

Now I've gone nose-to-nose with hostiles in the littoral waters of the Persian Gulf, and I can't recall that pork or politics ever entered into the conversation. In fact, I'd have to say that the people trying to kill me and my shipmates were positively disinterested in the internal wranglings of our military procurement process. But, had they been aware of our organizational folly, they could have hurled a few well-timed criticisms our way, to go along with the mines we were trying to dodge.

The fun never stops when we play the 'No Right Answer' game. If we centralize our military infrastructure, the experts tell us that we are vulnerable to attack. We're inviting another Pearl Harbor. If we decentralize our infrastructure, we're sloppy and overbuilt, and the BRAC experts break out the calculators and start dismantling what they call our excess physical capacity.' If we leave our infrastructure unchanged, we are accused of becoming stagnant in a dynamic world environment.Even the lessons of history are not sacrosanct. When we learn from the mistakes we made in past wars, we are accused of failing to adapt to emerging realities. When we shift our eyes toward the future, the critics quickly tell us that we've forgotten our history and we are therefore doomed to repeat it.

If we somehow manage to assimilate both past lessons and emerging threats, we're informed that we lack focus.Where does it come from: This default assumption that we are doing the wrong thing, no matter what we happen to be doing? How did our military wind up in a zero-sum game? We can prevail on the field of battle, but we can't win a war of words where the overriding assumption is that we are always in the wrong.

I can't think of a single point in history where our forces were of the correct size, the correct composition, correctly deployed, and appropriately trained all at the same time. Pick a war, any war. (For that matter, pick any period of peace.) Then dig up as many official and unofficial historical documents, reports, reconstructions, and commentaries as you can. For every unbiased account you uncover, you'll find three commentaries by revisionist historians
who cannot wait to tell you how badly the U.S. military bungled things.

To hear the naysayers tell it, we could take lessons in organization and leadership from the Keystone Cops.

We really only have one defense against this sort of mudslinging: Success. When we fight, we win, and that's got to count for something. When asked to comment on Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. Army's Lieutenant General Tom Kelly reportedly said, "Iraq went from the fourth-largest army in the world, to the second-largest army in Iraq in 100 hours." In my opinion, it's hard to argue with that kind of success, but critics weren't fazed by it. Because no matter how well we fought, we did it with the wrong Army.

I'd like to close with an invitation to those journalists, analysts, experts and politicians who sit up at night dreaming up new ways to criticize our armed forces. The next time you see a man or woman in uniform, stop for ten seconds and reflect upon how much you owe that person, and his or her fellow Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, and Airmen. Then say, "Thank you." I'm betting you won't even have to explain the reason. Our Service members are not blind or stupid. They know what they're risking. They know what they're sacrificing. They've weighed their wants, their needs, and their personal safety against the needs of their nation, and made the decision to serve. They know that they deserve our gratitude, even if they rarely receive it.

Two words -- that's all I ask. "Thank you." If that's too hard, if you can't bring yourself to acknowledge the dedication, sincerity and sacrifice of your defenders, then I have a backup plan for you. Put on a uniform and show us how to do it right.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Back from vacation

Folks, I’ve been taking the summer off from blogging since I’ve had a lot of things happening this year, plus I needed a break from the rigors of the past campaign cycle and the stress of the world. This summer reminds me a lot of the John Cusack/ Demi Moore film “One Crazy Summer”, but without Rich Little as the ever present DJ. But now I’m back, refreshed and ready to post my own brand of logic and wit again, and I couldn’t have picked a better time to return. So to my loyal readers, I apologize for my unannounced absence. And to my new readers, welcome to my blog, fresh for the new year. Now, on to the posting…

1. The Judge Roberts nomination “battle”

President Bush couldn’t have picked a better nominee, someone who is low-profile, anonymous, and not a political hack with his hand out for payback. This has created more than a small dilemma for the Dems, since there is little to no dirt on Mr. Roberts that can be dug up and plastered across the news media for all to distort. And digging into his children’s adoption records, that’s low even for the most biased of the leftist muck-rakers. I feel that Judge Roberts will come through the nomination process with flying colors and will be a superb associate justice for the SCOTUS. A home run pick by POTUS.

2. Robert Bolton and the UN

Here’s another great pick, one who’s in the right position at the right time. With the UN on the verge of implosion due to the various scandals and other corruption that has surfaced, we need an ambassador who will represent our interests correctly and not be swayed by the elitist intelligentsia that dominates the UN. In short, he’ll tell the UN to straighten up or ship out as that body has become less and less relevant to the world order since the end of the Cold War, and then be able to pick up the pieces and possibly create a new body that’s more in tune with the needs of the US and the western world. That or be there to sign the lease over to Donald Trump for a new revitalization project. One can only hope.

3. NASA and the Shuttle: RIP…

While I’m a big space exploration fan (yes, I’m a child of Star Trek), I do think that its time to say goodbye to the Shuttle program and RIP to NASA in general. Richard Branson has already proven that the private sector can launch a man into and return him safely from space for a small percentage of the cost of a NASA launch, and with a much faster turn-around time. In short, the private sector can do it “better, faster and cheaper” than NASA, which carries the same motto. This would also lead to an unencumberence of billions of dollars that are currently being fed into the NASA bureaucracy. I can only imagine how this would help the federal budget process or where the money would be redirected to, but at least it wouldn’t be going into a black hole with little accountability and few tangible or justifiable results.

4. Multiculturalism and terrorism: another “axis of evil”

I read an interesting commentary by Michael Barone in this morning’s paper titled “Blowback from multiculturalism”. Multiculturalism as we all know, is the idea that all cultures are equal to all others and should be equally embraced and studied, most notably by the liberal elite, intelligentsia, college professors and the news media, as well as many others. This thought process helped give rise to the idea of political correctness which as swept our nation and attacked many pillars of our society, but that’s another discussion.

What his column dealt with today is how the West’s obsession with multiculturalism has lead to the current round of terrorist bombings in England and the destabilization of European society as a whole. This is because most western European governments adopted an attitude of “move here and you’ll be tolerated, no matter where you’re from or what you believe”. Unfortunately, this tolerance of differences over assimilation into a nation’s cultural fabric has led to a breeding of intolerance among these various “exile” communities, with the results manifesting themselves over the past month. Well, the Brits and Dutch have tired of this, with PM Tony Blair announcing that his government’s tolerance of intolerance is at an end, and that if you don’t get with the program, stop spewing hatred and assimilate into English society, then you’re going to face a plethora of restrictions, including deportation to your county of origin.

I think that this is a proper stand for PM Blair to take and it has been long overdue. I also feel that this is a stand that we need to take in this country as well. I understand that we are a nation of immigrants, but our immigrant population assimilated their cultural identity into ours and helped create a unique “American” culture, somewhat akin to the Borg (Trekkies will understand this reference). However, if we tried to do something like that here in today’s society, every group from the ACLU to RainbowPUSH would be screaming that our government is being unfair and not taking cultural differences into account, a common cry from all these groups already.

Unfortunately for these groups, they don’t represent the majority of America or the general feeling of insecurity and the need to do something that’s sweeping the country. People are tried of watching old ladies and children strip searched by the TSA or NY Transit Police while others pass on by in the name of non-profiling, and they want something to change, even if it means offending some by singling out those people in the suspect group for more stringent searches and security measures. And if these people don’t like it, then our borders are equally porous on the exit side and they’re free to leave at any time. Either way, they must either learn to live in our society and assimilate or go back whence they came. Our national safety depends on it.