Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seeing VADM Tom Connolly in a dream ...

Do you ever sometimes drop to your knees and wish for someone - anyone is a position of significant power - to say something in public that you can highlight and show to your JOs as the truth as we all see - and that person can speak it with style, enthusiasm and a clarity that all can see?

Passion is a great thing. Not ranting, raving, foam speckled passion; that is a blogger's job. No, someone with style and a brave kind of passion. Not a functionaire - but a leader of Sailors kind of passion.

Someone to sound off like VADM Connolly did to those who wanted to cram the F-111 down the USN throat -
foundational leadership - that is willing to lay it on the line where and when it counts. I wish there was someone that copied the video of this, I can't find it - but here is the story.
It was the time in which Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and the Whiz Kids he had brought to the Pentagon from the Ford Motor Company were pressing to save money by building a common plane, with slight variations, for both the Air Force and the Navy.

In theory it was a brilliant idea, but to the Navy, the execution was weighted dangerously in favor of Air Force needs. Indeed, to a man, Navy aviators and naval aviation specialists argued that the plane, the F-111, was unstable and too heavy for its thrust to take off from carriers.

In the political climate of the Johnson Administration, however, the Navy's concerns were swept aside, and like the loyal officers they were, the Navy's admirals kept their objections quiet in public.

Then came the day Vice Admiral Connolly joined a team headed by the Secretary of the Navy at a Senate hearing conducted by John C. Stennis, the chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

Gerald E. Miller, a retired admiral who was present as an aide to Admiral Connolly, recalled that Mr. was sympathetic to the Navy's position. But with Secretary Paul R. Ignatius of the Navy fielding every question, no matter how technical, and following the Pentagon line to the letter, Mr. Stennis despaired of getting the explicit criticism he needed.

Finally, in desperation, he singled out Admiral Connolly, noted his renowned expertise in naval aeronautics, and asked him pointedly to give his personal, not his official, opinion. Admiral Miller remembers vividly that Admiral Connolly swallowed hard, then declared, "There isn't enough thrust in Christendom to fix this plane."

With his answer, Admiral Miller noted, the Navy version of the F-111 died aborning and Admiral Connolly's dream of promotion to full admiral died along with it.
Remember the link to the CNO's testimony from last week? Well - here is what I mean.
When will the Navy decide whether to base a nuclear aircraft carrier in Mayport, Fla., asked Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.

Those decisions will be made as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review,” answered Adm. Gary Roughead, the Navy’s chief of naval operations.

Where is the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan, required to be sent to Congress every year, wondered Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va.

Those are questions that have to be answered in the QDR, which will have an effect on what the plan will be,” Roughead replied.

How many new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles will the Marine Corps need, asked Rep. John Kline, R-Minn.

The number of amphibious ships in the QDR in part will determine the future of the EFV,” said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway.
Roughead, speaking to reporters Thursday in one of his first public appearances since the budget was sent to Congress on May 7, was asked if the QDR would contain force-structure numbers.

The QDR will address some of the areas we have to resolve,” Roughead said. “The QDR will inform [the 2011 budget request], and then with ’11 we can get back on track.”

So will the QDR effort produce force-structure numbers?

“The force structure numbers,” Roughead said, “needs to be a plan that I can certify to the Congress is affordable. I think the QDR will give a clear indication of the magnitude of the force. And then once we take the amphibious piece, the Nuclear Posture Review will obviously get into sea-based strategic deterrent that will define the capabilities and capacities and how that goes into the total shipbuilding plan. And I have an obligation to make that fiscally executable.
QDR - I guess that answers all; sigh. Oh, and what has 'ole Phibian been telling 'ya about 313?
“I don’t think I can give the plan per the terms of what I have to submit here without having a view of the budget as well. QDR is going to define certain things we need to know. That will go into the overall shipbuilding plan. That has to be tempered by what I can certify as affordable.”

During the House Armed Services Committee hearing, Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., expressed his concerns about several Navy programs, including keeping down costs on the Littoral Combat Ship, watching technical issues with development of the new electro-magnetic launch system for the next class of aircraft carriers, and monitoring how the service would deal with a looming shortage of strike fighters. Skelton also highlighted concerns over the transfer of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam and other islands in the Marianas, and over Navy readiness and the material condition of its ships.

Ranking member Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., noted the Navy’s reluctance during the May 7 budget rollout to recertify the “floor,” or minimum number of ships, of 313 for its fleet.

“It would appear that the situation has changed,” McHugh said.

He recalled that Navy budget chief Rear Adm. John Blake, in response to a reporter’s question, said that “one of the significant pieces in the QDR is force structure.”

Blake did not reaffirm the number, although at Thursday’s hearing Roughead declared “the floor is 313.”
There - is that clear enough for you?

But... if you want a good holl'ah'n match about what ails our Navy, we are going to have to wait.

It takes two to tango.

Someone, anyone, should be all over the CNO like a pit bull on a pork chop to get some answers. Not because the CNO is at fault - but because he is on point and there are too many answers out there that are not being answered. Congress isn't being told much mostly because they don't have to.

Congress has the money - and they ain't acting like it.

The CNO and his briefing team should look like
Admiral Ackbar .... or sump'n after the questions start flying, not this guy.

.... but .... but ...... Congress has to show up.

Never mind CNO. We're good - your Mayport answer was perfect; I owe you a bottle of single-malt. I do like the Jedi QDR mind trick. I need to use that on Mrs. Salamander sometime. "The QDR will outline when I paint the house ...."

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