I'll be nice though and get a pull quote for you. Let me babble a bit first.
Only after it was pointed out to me and I read it did I remember reading it over a decade ago. A little embarassed that I didn't remember it as of late. Reading it a third time I realized how much it was an influence in the then LCDR Salamander - a "I'm not alone" moment in the pre-blogg'n world.
The junior officers he is speaking of are todays CDR and CAPT - my generation.
The problem then also applies to the problem we see now. Bask.
Military subservience to political control applies to existing policy, not to policy debates. The political process requires the unfettered opinions of military leaders, and military leaders who lack the courage to offer such opinions are just as accountable to their people as the politicians who have secured their silence.I've bragged about warning about a 220 ship Navy for years ... but Webb was calling 200 ships 11 years ago. A nod to James.
The silence of the admirals as the fleet shrinks and their sailors continue to do more with less has not gone unnoticed. An October 1998 Proceedings article pointing out that only one in ten Navy junior officers in a recent study aspires to command—and that number not even addressing the issue of quality—is an ominous warning. A lot of reasons were given, but two messages came through loud and clear. The first was that money alone won't solve the problem. Americans never have been mercenaries, and although it is the duty of their leaders to provide for their well-being, they cannot be bought. The second was an overwhelming disenchantment with the Navy's senior leaders. I heard these same two messages again and again during a recent discussion with junior aviators in Japan.
This breakdown in the junior officer corps is troubling, for it hints of a fundamental change in the Navy's culture, probably fueled in equal parts by the Goldwater-Nichols legislation and the effects of the Tailhook scandal on Navy leadership. Command is tough, risky, lonely—the most challenging job an officer can have. But it also is the very emblem of traditional military service. It is what dedicated officers always have lived for and aspired to. ...
These young officers did not come into the Navy with this attitude. The circumstances of their careers have inflicted it on them.
When leadership fails, sometimes a fundamental shift overtakes a unit, or a military service, or a nation, that is so profound that it can change an entire ethos. Most often it occurs gradually, not because of decisions taken by senior leaders so much as from their inaction, an acquiescence to insistent, incremental pressures generated from the outside. Usually, the leaders, reacting to and sometimes overwhelmed by these pressures, are the ones who comprehend the changes the least, and in some cases cannot perceive what has happened until it is too late for them to protect even their own legacy.
Let's hope that this will not be the epitaph for a U.S. Navy on its way to 200 ships and a third-rate future. Its history, its traditions, and its special place at the center of all that is great about this country demand that those who serve—of whatever rank and level of experience—do what they can to explain to the American people that the Navy must be led from within, that what has happened over the past ten years is not right, and that what is left is not enough.
Here is my question - where is Senator Webb now when his Navy needs him the most? His silence about what was done to USNA over the last half-decade is bad enough; but the rest as well?
Where is your leadership Sen. Webb? You have the power. Your Navy needs you.
UPDATE: Hey - it's up on USNIBlog. Give the full thing a read.