Four Republican members of Congress are sounding the alarm about naval readiness following the release of a report intended to address “a series of high–profile and damaging operational failures in the Navy’s Surface Warfare community.”
Two retired military officers, Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, USMC and Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, USN, interviewed 77 members of the Navy for the report. The report was commissioned by Republicans Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher. They found that interviewees held a “broad consensus” that the Navy is “insufficient[ly] focus[ed] on warfighting skills.”
I broke some news in @WSJopinion about an important report commissioned by @SenCotton et al. on the culture of the U.S. Navy. Every American has a stake in making sure the fleet is focused on the next fight. A thread w/ additional details and analysis: 1/xhttps://t.co/rln8MWae6g
— Kate Bachelder Odell (@katebachwsj) July 12, 2021
Of those interviewed, 94% believed the incidents which sparked the report — including a pair of collisions, the capture of 10 sailors by Iran and a fire that incapacitated an assault ship — were indications of “a broader cultural or leadership problem in the Navy.”
Instead of “finding and sinking enemy fleets,” Navy leaders are reportedly focused on “administrative functions” and “negative news reports.” They reportedly do not allow ship captains to manage their vessels, instead “exercis[ing] greater, arguably unhealthy, levels of control over ship captains.”
Many interviewees expressed “frustration with nonessential training,” such as “programs to encourage diversity, human sex trafficking prevention, suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention, and others.” Those trainings “consume Navy resources, clog inboxes, create administrative quagmires, and monopolize precious training time,” according to the report. (RELATED: ‘I Want To Understand White Rage’: Joint Chiefs Chairman Defends Teaching CRT, Rips ‘Offensive’ Criticisms Of ‘Woke’ US Military)
“I guarantee you every unit in the Navy is up to speed on their diversity training. I’m sorry that I can’t say the same of their ship handling training,” an anonymous retired senior enlisted leader reportedly told investigators.
Navy leaders are overly concerned about negative media coverage, according to the report, which creates “an inversion of the chain of command.” Junior officers and sailors can easily contact reporters who will then publish negative stories. The report cites “a 30–year veteran of the Navy” who resigned after he instructed sailors to “clap like we’re at a strip club” during a visit from then-Vice President Mike Pence.
As a result, the Navy struggles to retain “some of the best officers [who] leave as Lieutenants, often for some of the top business and law schools in the country, even as they professed a desire to continue to serve.”
The Republicans who commissioned the report expressed concern that the U.S. will struggle to combat China in disputed areas like the South China Sea.
“At a time when the Navy’s readiness is more critical than ever before, this report depicts a Navy leadership that’s distracted from the number one threat to American national security: The Chinese Communist Party. As China’s Navy exceeds ours in size, the U.S. Navy must be ready to face any threat. I look forward to implementing the recommendations of the report and refocusing our Navy on threats from China,” Banks said in a press release.
“In order to beat China, we need a sense of urgency to provide and maintain the Navy that our nation needs. I look forward to working with my colleagues to implement the report’s recommendations and help ensure America continues to rule the waves,” Gallagher added.