By Capt. Brent Ramsey, USN ret
A conflict with China is likely in the near term and fundamentally that conflict will be maritime in nature. China’s geography dictates the conflict will be at sea. Chinese early objectives are conquest of Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines. Thus, China’s provocative actions are manifest against those nations.
Non-kinetic skirmishes are already so commonplace that they barely excite attention in the West. Tensions are vastly different on the other side of the world. Asian nations are buying billions in advanced U.S. weaponry to get ready for the inevitable. The Middle Kingdom views its manifest destiny is to rule the world and that starts with conquering its nearest neighbors.[i]
Navy leadership should be laser focused on preparing for the coming conflict. They are not.
In recent years from Obama’s Presidency to the present, the Navy has gone woke in a big way and is rudderless in preparing for the coming challenges.
First let us examine the new woke Navy. Then, we will examine Navy basics like ships, leadership, and readiness.
The New Woke Navy:
• CNO recommends all hands read Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to be an Anti-racist, a book openly advocating racism against whites. Not explained is how reading this book makes for more lethal sailors. When confronted by Congress members about his choice of this book due to its divisive and political nature, he refused to remove it from his reading list. This is pure politics and has no place in our Navy.
• According to reliable sources inside the Navy known to this author, the next CNO will be a female officer with a degree in Journalism. So much for that STEM requirement as apparently that is not important in senior officers? Selection of the Navy’s leader based on gender is dangerous to our future success at sea in war but nary a word is heard from any serving officers on this “political’ appointment. Where are the senior Admirals who will call out partisan politics dictating to the Navy? Does anyone remember the revolt of the Admirals where principle meant more than career?[ii]
• The Navy Inspector General recently confirmed that the Superintendent at the Naval Academy made false statements about a midshipman he wanted to expel. The midshipman’s offense…he made private statements in support of the police, specifically his parents, both police officers, during the riots in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. Fortunately, justice prevailed, and the midshipman was commissioned and is now a serving officer. Yet the man responsible for enforcing the USNA Honor Code is let slide on the same honor code it is his manifest duty to enforce.
• The Navy is in a crisis to get people to join the Navy falling short of the numbers needed by thousands. Solution: Let’s use an active-duty sailor who performs as a drag queen to jack up recruiting. Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness captured it perfectly….” The U.S. Navy Steps on a Rake with Drag Influencers.[iii]”
• Maury Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy is renamed. So, also was the former USNS Maury, an oceanographic ship. Matthew Fontaine Maury for a hundred years and more was considered the father of the science of oceanography and was also a “professor of physics at VMI and had an internationally acclaimed career as an oceanographer, astronomer, historian, meteorologist, cartographer, geologist, writer, and commander in the United States Navy. Accordingly, he is affectionately remembered as the Pathfinder of the Seas, Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology, and Scientist of the Seas.”[iv] Not good enough for the politically correct so it was necessary to erase him from Navy history. Have America’s black citizens ever even heard of Matthew Fontaine Maury? Exactly who benefitted by eradication of his name and reputation?
• In recent remarks the Secretary of the Navy announced that dealing with climate change is a top strategic priority.[v] He said fighting climate changes is an “all hands on deck” priority. China, not so much.
• Stemming the scourge of sexual assault has been a high priority for a long time. The result, higher rates of sexual assault than ever with the Navy leading the way with the highest rates. Could it be accentuating sexual topics with gay pride celebrations, embracing so-called transgender people including paying medical costs to transition is stupid…essentially promoting more overt, more aggressive sexual behavior? Instead of service over self, the Navy promotes identity over service.
• The plague of suicides continues apace in the Navy with no solution in sight despite CNO after CNO promising to make suicide prevention a high priority. During Covid 3 times as many sailors killed themselves than died of COVID. In 2021 there were 328 military suicides. During the 18-month period from March 2020 to August 2021 there were only 43 deaths from covid.[vi] Tell me why the Navy mandated all hands to get the vax despite the extremely low risk and ignored the suicide epidemic. Had the thousands of hours spent persecuting sailors with religious objectives to the vax been devoted to helping despairing sailors, hundreds of deaths should have been prevented.
Core Navy Priorities
The essential Navy: Ships, readiness, and leadership:
• Heritage Foundation in its 2023 Index of Military Readiness finds the Navy to be, “Weak” down from “Marginal” in its last report.[vii]
• A deluge of senior leadership failures plagues the new woke Navy. A week does not go by without more skippers being relieved for cause. There is obviously something wrong going on here, exactly what is not clear. During the period of only 3 months in 2022, the Navy fired 13 commanders and refuses to comment on the causes.[viii] In his confirmation hearings, former Secretary of the Navy Braithwaite, said, “It saddens me to say: the Department of the Navy is in troubled waters due to many factors, primarily the failings of leadership.[ix]” Coming from a retired Admiral this should have been a wake-up call. Sadly, he only served a few months until the election brought us a new Secretary, an identity politics pick, Secretary Del Toro, a retired Commander of Hispanic ethnicity.
• Everyone remembers the tragic collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain in the Pacific in 2017. It was a wake-up call we were told. The surface Navy was in decline and sailors were dying because of it. Navy leaders pledged to fix it. It didn’t happen. The latest INSURV report shows the deplorable readiness of our ships. This is on Navy leadership and nothing else.
• In 2020 the USS Bonhomme Richard burned pier side. It was a total loss. A capital ship with a replacement cost of $3B was lost due to institutional failure to perform a fundamental Navy function since Navy’s have existed in the history of man…. effectively fighting a fire on a ship. The result? Essentially nothing. A JAG manual investigation that never conclusively proved the origin of the fire and ends of the careers of a few of those involved. Nothing of substance was the result and the Navy was out a $3B dollar ship. For a full summary of the failures of leadership in this debacle are contained in this report by Defense News.[x]
• The Navy has finally given up on the LCS class. Billions were wasted on a ship that never reached mission capability and now ships are being decommissioned after as little as 8 years in commission. The expected life span of an LCS was 30 years. The Navy is still building LCS’s even though it is decommissioning earlier built ships after a few years in commission. No wonder sailors called it the “Little Crappy Ship.”
• Zumwalt class is still searching for a mission. Billions for a 3-ship class that the Navy still does not know what to do with. The latest in a series of ideas on what to do with the ship is to arm it with hypersonic missiles. Missiles that the Navy does not yet have. The ship has been retrofitted with VLS missiles but packs less punch than the Burke Class which is half its size (80 missiles versus 96 on the Burke class).
• The Navy has failed to produce a Congressionally mandated Shipbuilding plan for years. The result is that Congress has decided to create its own Commission to produce a plan for the Navy.[xi]
• For decades, the Navy was required to maintain 38 Amphibious ships to support the mission of the USMC. Now the USMC wants 31 and the Navy and Congress disagree planning to take than number even lower.[xii] Confusion reigns, it seems, in even knowing the requirement for the number of ships in light of the Commandant’s remaking of the USMC. Bing West, probably the most decorated and experienced living Marine, had this to say, “General Berger concocted his concept in secret, not consulting the retired four-star community that, appalled by his extensive cuts, has united in opposition. Multiple articles have been written, laying out the irremediable defects in the anti-ship strategy. To sink some Chinese warships in a dubious war scenario, Marine resources and organizational cohesion have been severely damaged. General Berger’s injudicious change of direction will adversely affect Marine warfighting capabilities, internal morale, and recruiting for years to come.”[xiii]
• The Columbia Class submarine is behind schedule.[xiv] The GAO has issued reports that outline the risk that the program to replace our aging Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines the oldest of which is already 41 years old. To achieve the milestones that it has met, it has robbed personnel from another critical submarine program, the Virginia class advanced SSN.
• The USS Ford took 9 years to build, cost $13B, and still has operational capability problems with both launching and recovering aircraft 6 years after being put into commission.[xv]
• USS James E. Williams (DDG-95) and flagship of the Standing NATO Maritime Group based in Spain. A recent picture of this flagship of our forces in Europe is below. Enough said.
Whether it is manning, managing the personnel, effectively leading and taking care of sailors, or actually building and operating ships needed to have the ability to fight our enemies, the Navy is doing a poor job.
The record is clear. The foregoing is common knowledge among thousands of retired naval personnel. There is a growing chorus of voices from retirees and organizations like Calvert Task Group, STARRS, Center for Military Readiness, USNA-At-Large, Restore Liberty, Veterans for Fairness and Merit to alert the public.
Heritage Foundation, Judicial Watch, Armed Forces Press, Legal Insurrection, and the Federalist have also sounded the alarm as to the danger if we don’t change course.
It is past time for citizens to wake up to the danger of an ineffective Navy to call upon the Congress to mandate changes needed to restore the Navy to high quality leadership, effectiveness in shipbuilding, and readiness.
Equally important, get woke politics out of the Navy!
Brent Ramsey is a retired Navy CAPT. He was a military advisor to Congressman Mark Meadows 2016-2020. He is the author of dozens of published articles on national defense.
[iv] Institute for Creation Research, Jonathan K. Corrado, Ph.D., P.E., Matthew Fontaine Maury: The Father of Oceanography, October 27, 2022.
[vii] Heritage Foundation, Index of Military Strength Executive Summary October 22, 2022.
[xi] National Defense Authorization Act, Section 1092.
First published on Real Clear Defense – read the comments — more BOOM