Monday, December 26, 2011

Heinlein, Haldeman, ERB & Mars

by Bill Doughty
Robert A. Heinlein, whose Starship Troopers is a surprising fiction title on the mostly nonfiction Navy Professional Reading Program list, owes much to Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB).  But, unlike most of the fantasy and science fiction that preceded him, Heinlein’s literary fiction opened doors to a future history through human eyes, concentrating more on the heart and hands heading to Mars than on the tools those hands operated.
If former Lt. Cmdr. Heinlein represented the WWII and Korean War period SF of his generation, then Joe Haldeman is a Vietnam-era and Post-Vietnam counterpoint starting in the early-mid 70s, especially with his masterpiece The Forever WarBoth writers established powerful characters of both genders and moved away from earlier genre fantasy and SF that tended to objectify women or stereotype people of other backgrounds or cultures.
Sir Ridley Scott
Haldeman, praised by Heinlein and vice versa, served as a combat engineer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Purple Heart.  His combat experience shapes his writing and gives credibility to his military SF.  The Forever War concepts show up in the films Avatar  and Aliens. It will be fascinating to see how Ridley Scott brings Haldeman to the big screen if/when it happens. Scott, who created Blade Runner, Alien and now Prometheus, has the rights to make The Forever War.

Haldeman’s skill in writing about war, space and time led Stephen King to endorse him: “If there was a Fort Knox for the science fiction writers who really matter, we’d have to lock Haldeman up there.”
Haldeman’s latest work is a trilogy beginning with 2008’s Marsbound, which shows a Heinlein-like commitment to characters and heart but with a warped look into what can happen after first contact with a “Martian” race and “Others.”  Interestingly, Haldeman writes in the first person as a female protagonist.
Marsbound gives a distinct nod to Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Barsoom series -- A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, John Carter of Mars, etc.  The spaceship that carries characters to and from Mars is named the John Carter.  The aliens are red, green and yellow, like the characters created by ERB, but unlike ERB’s swashbuckling swordplay, Haldeman employs psychology, sex and Sun-Tzu.
Mars, named after the Roman god of war, has long been a destination for science fiction writers.
Giovanni Schiaparelli, Italian scientist, discovered what he thought were continents, seas and “channels” on Mars. American astronomer Percival Lowell hypothesized that the channels, interpreted as “canals,” showed signs of water and vegetation.  His views were part of a worldwide meme imagining life on Mars.
In the final years of the 19th Century, H.G. Wells captivated human imagination with the The Crystal Egg and War of the Worlds, where Martians who had depleted the resources on their planet came as predators to stake their claim on Earth.
Discoveries and conjecture about Mars inspired the young Edgar Rice Burroughs, who was educated at Michigan Military Academy and then served in the Army with the 7th U.S. Cavalry before devoting most of the rest of his life to writing.
Like Heinlein, ERB and Haldeman, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Lester del Rey, Philip José Farmer, Philip K. Dick and Frederik Pohl all had great works revolving around the red planet.
Heinlein created a mindbending look at Mars and spirituality with his Stranger in a Strange LandIn The Number of the Beast Heinlein pays tribute to ERB with characters named Zebedia John Carter and Jacob Burroughs traveling to Barsoom and Oz.
As we’ve seen in earlier posts, ERB as a staple reading choice of Sailors who fought in World War II.  Pearl Harbor Survivors enjoyed SF, westerns and other adventure books.  Like the Greatest Generation service members who inspire Sailors today, Golden Age SF writers and imagineers like Haldeman inspire the writers and filmmakers of today.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Pearl Harbor Survivors Read

by Bill Doughty
What did Pearl Harbor Survivors read before and after Dec. 7, 1941?
Clark J. Simmons
Clark J. Simmons of USS Utah told me last week, immediately after the 70th Commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day, “My mother was a librarian.  We did quite a bit of reading.  She inundated us with books.  I had three sisters and all of us were readers.  I would read anything I could get my hands on.”
Marshall LaFavor, son of Chief Warrant Officer Machinist Franklyn LeFavor, grew up in a Navy family.  “One of the first things we did when we went to a new base was check in at the library and get our library cards,” Marshall said.  “My dad was a big Zane Grey fan.  Being at sea for so long he said he wanted to read something with sand in his boots.”  LeFavor also enjoyed reading C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower books, and after the war he read Day of Infamy.
Ray Emory of USS Honolulu told me earlier in the year, on his way to a Sacred Tea Ceremony aboard USS Arizona Memorial, that he only had time for his ship’s manual during the war.  He distinctly remembered its oil-stained and sea-sprayed pages and mentioned losing it during action in the western Pacific.  Today, Emory helps write the books of what happened at Pearl Harbor; he is a champion of the unidentified casualties of WWII.
Delton "Wally" Walling
Delton “Wally” Walling, who happened to be with Watchstanders in the Shipyard water tower during the attack, even though he wasn’t on duty, also read only the manuals he needed be an effective signalman during the war.  “We were young kids coming in.  We had nothing, no supplies, no libraries,” he told me.  “After the war I wanted to try to forget.”
George Bennett, National Secretary of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, which is to disband at the end of this month, said he enjoyed reading books of short stories and, after the war, about the history of what went on behind the scenes leading up to and during WWII -- especially about intelligence and cryptanalysts and code breakers who did so much to help Nimitz and Spruance win at the Battle of Midway and across the Pacific throughout the war.
WIlliam F. Howell of USS Phoenix, was a fan of Adm. Halsey during and after the war.  “Read Sea of Thunder,” he told me.  “Read about Halsey.”
Simmons, whose librarian mother instilled a love for reading, said, “I recommend history books -- all history.  And don’t forget to study math and science!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

If Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work, What Does?

(Special thanks to shipmate Nancy Harrity for this guest review of two books that explore what science reveals about human nature and how those lessons can be applied by Navy leaders to motivate their teams.) 
By Nancy Harrity
With budgets decreasing and demands on our teams increasing, the best leaders are looking at what they can do differently to motivate their teams and improve morale. 
Author Daniel H. Pink looks into if what we know about motivation is true in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  He finds there is a gap between what science knows about what works and how leaders actually motivate people. 
Most Navy leaders have been taught some variation of reward what you want more of and punish what you want less of – an extrinsic, or outside of oneself, model.  According to Pink, this approach is all wrong because it doesn’t account for how we organize what we do, how we think about what we do nor how we actually do what we do.  Pink explains that carrots and sticks don’t work because they extinguish intrinsic motivation, diminish performance, crush creativity, crowd out good behavior, encourage cheating, shortcuts and unethical behavior, become addictive and foster short-term thinking – all things that helped to create many of the issues we face today.  So what has science learned that can help us effectively motivate our teams?
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy  Rick D. West, left, congratulates Basic
Underwater Demolition/SEAL Class 290 upon their completion of Hell Week, Aug. 5, 2001.
Pink discusses how scientific studies have uncovered that motivation must come from within and has three essential elements – autonomy, mastery and purpose.  Autonomy means focusing on results and allowing your team members to work on their own terms as much as possible.  To foster mastery of the work at hand, leaders need to match what their teams must do with what their team members can do and like to do as much as possible, as well as allowing the activities to be their own reward.  To foster purpose, leaders must allow their team members to find a way to do what is meaningful to each of them.  Leaders also need to answer the question of why the work is being done and how it fits into the bigger picture.
Lastly, Pink notes that constant rewards can transform interesting tasks into drudgery and play into work.  He advises his readers to shift from “if you do this, then you’ll get that” type of rewards in favor of the occasional “now that you’ve accomplished this,” type rewards.  He also advises considering the use of non-tangible rewards such as praise and feedback.
In The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White provide leaders with some concrete suggestions on how to use non-tangible rewards in the workplace. Many Sailors may recognize the five languages from Chapman’s The 5 Languages of Love from Fleet and Family Service Center homecoming briefs. 
The concept is a simple evolution of the basic communication model.  As with the five love languages, everyone has a way or language that he likes to receive appreciation in.  Message of appreciation (and of love, and in general for that matter) are best received when they are sent in the language valued most by the recipient, not the language most valued by the sender.  Chapman and White point out that many supervisors miss the mark when they try to show appreciation to their team members because they express their appreciation in the language they, as the senders respond best to, not the language the intended recipient responds best to.
The five languages are:
  • Words of Affirmation – using words to convey a positive message to the person you wish to show appreciation to, the classic “atta boy.”  When using words of affirmation, take care to keep in mind that the recipient may prefer private, one-on-one recognition over a public awards ceremony, or a written note over the spoken word.  Words of affirmation are most effective when they are specific and speak to the individual’s character or his personality.
  • Quality Time – giving the person you wish to appreciate your undivided attention for a period of time.  Quality time can take many forms from working closely together on a project, to small group dialogue, to quality conversation or even shared experiences.
  • Acts of Service – helping the person you wish to show appreciation to do what he does the way he does it.  When offering acts of service, volunteer, ask before you help, do whatever it is the way the recipient would, finish what you start and most importantly, check your attitude.
  • Tangible Gifts – giving a gift the person you wish to show appreciation to.  When giving tangible gifts, give the recipient a gift that he values – it could be time off, a small token or an experience.  
  • Physical Touch – giving the person you wish to show appreciation an appropriate, affirming, non-sexual touch.  Tread carefully when using physical touch as not everyone wants to be touched.
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
Commander Capt. Jeff James and Joint Base Command Master Chief CMDCM(SS/AW)
 Gregg Weber serve military families at JBPHH on Thanksgiving, Nov 24, 2011.
As you prepare for the New Year, take some time, look into yourself and consider how you might use these approaches to make 2012 your team’s best year yet.
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(Coming soon, a look at what Sailors were reading on Dec. 7, 1941.) 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tribute to Veterans

by Bill Doughty
CNO Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert delivers Veterans Day remarks. 
(U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Jacob Sippel)
Veterans are being honored today from coast to coast and around the world.  Today, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert delivered remarks at Madison Square Park during the New York City Veterans Day parade opening ceremony.  This year the Navy is the parade’s featured service.
In San Diego, the Navy hosted a history-making sports event aboard a historic aircraft carrier.  More about that in a moment.
Last year Navy Reads reflected on Veterans Day and Sailors who transited both the Atlantic and Pacific.  The context was Tom Ashbrook’s On Point radio interview with Commander, U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Willard and Simon Winchester, author of Atlantic. We also discussed a special radio interview with veterans, including a conversation with former Command Master Chief Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor Survivor Liaison for Commander, Navy Region Hawaii.
Since then we’ve featured other posts of interest to veterans.
In “Faith, Fear and Tom Hanks” I reprinted some of Hanks’s remarks at a commencement address at Yale, including his challenge to the college graduates about veterans, especially wounded warriors, returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and other deployments.  His words are worth reposting today:
"Whatever your opinion of the wars, you can imprint the very next pages of the history of our troubled world by reinforcing faith in those returning veterans," Hanks told the seniors. "Allowing them rest, aiding in their recovery ... empathizing with the new journey they are starting even though we will never fully understand the journey they just completed, even though we will never understand what they endured. We will all define the true nature of our American identity not by the parades and the welcome-home parties, but how we match their service with service of our own."
Over the past year I reviewed Army veteran Wes Moore’s remarkable book, The Other Wes Moore.  Moore talked about the key that unlocked his passion for education, his mother’s encouragement to read Mitch Albom’s Fab Five, a book about the Michigan University college basketball team.  Moore writes: 
I was riveted by that book.  The characters jumped off the page, and I felt myself as engulfed in their destiny as I was in my own.  I finished Fab Five in two days.  The book itself wasn’t what was important -- in retrospect, I see that it was a great read but hardly a work of great literature -- but my mother used it as a hook into a deeper lesson: that the written word isn’t necessarily a chore but can be a window into new worlds.
Navy veteran Nancy Harrity guest-reviewed two windows into new worlds of strategic thinking, Seven Deadly Scenarios and Power RulesAlways insightful and thought-provoking, Nancy has a new review on the way. Stay tuned.  
In a review of Ganbare! I discussed the juxtaposition of achievements of the veterans and heroes like the 442nd Regimental Combat Team with what happened to some of their families -- the WWII interment of Americans of Japanese ancestry.
Guest reviewer Theresa Donnelly reviewed Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door, a book that can help new veterans who face challenges after leaving the service.  Theresa wrote, “This is why it is important to have a robust plan in place for your post-military transition.”
Since last November we wrote other posts with with a focus on veterans: a review of USS Arizona’s Last Band, Culturnomics (Honor/Courage/Commitment) and Revolt of the Admirals in the Centennial of Naval Aviation, with some interesting history and perspective on Congressman Carl Vinson and his vision of a two-ocean Navy.  Revolt ties in nicely, by the way, with the latest post on Courageous Followership and an interview with author Ira Chaleff.
The Navy Reads blogpost on the late Navy veteran “Amazing Grace” Hopper and her 2011 milestones was reposted on a number of other blogs, including GHC Bloggers in conjunction with the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing going on now (Nov. 9-12) in Portland, Oregon.
Rear Adm. Grace Hopper’s namesake, USS Hopper (DDG 70), recently transited the waters of the Battle of Leyte Gulf and observed a moment of silence exactly 67 years to the day of that historic battle. You can read about the veterans of WWII who fought in “the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour” in Leyte and off Samar, Philippines in James D. Hornfischer’s Tin Can Sailors.
This Veterans Day, 2011, in addition to tributes and commemoration ceremonies around the world, the Navy is hosting a season-opening college basketball game aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in San Diego.  The Commander in Chief and First Lady attended the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic featuring the University of North Carolina and Michigan State University.  That’s a pretty cool, all-American thing to do for and with our veterans.  The game is going on now as I post this.  
The University of North Carolina team practices aboard USS Carl Vinson. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 James R. Evans)
Check out how USS Carl Vinson was transformed, and see ESPN’s “a look at life on USS Carl Vinson.”  ESPN also featured a Veterans Day profile of J. P. Bolwahnn, a 34-year-old former Navy SEAL, who plays football at the University of San Diego as a walk-on.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Interview with Ira Chaleff - Courageous Followership

by Bill Doughty
Remember the Hans Christian Andersen story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, in which the emperor is fooled into thinking he was wearing the finest regal wear even though he was naked?  His ministers were too afraid or powerless to tell him the truth even though he paraded in front of the townspeople (until a young boy, free of fear or pretension, told the truth).
How does a follower tell the emperor he’s not wearing any clothes?
Courageously.
A courageous follower can counteract evil advisors, sycophants and the leader’s own inner demons by taking initiative, assuming responsibility, building trust and challenging tactfully, always focusing on the common purpose (vision/mission).
Ira Chaleff shows how to do all of the above and more in The Courageous Follower: Standing up to and for our leaders The third edition is updated to incorporate strategies and techniques within a hierarchy.
I met Chaleff recently after he spoke at a conference and presented some of the science behind his revelations.  We conducted this interview on Oct. 10, 2011.
____________________________
Can your principles of questioning authority -- challenging the hierarchy -- really work in the military chain of command?  How?
“Challenging authority is best based on a record of supporting authority. When  senior leaders get push back from excellent performers they pay attention. Their reflexive action may be ‘You’re out of line!’ but if the high performing junior officer holds his or her ground, most senior officers know they need to pay attention.”
You make the point that “Complaining has become acceptable in the culture” as a “substitute for courageous, honest and productive dialogue.”  Do you think the pendulum will swing back?  How can we encourage less cynicism and sniping and more constructive engagement?
“Complaining may be less prevalent in the military due to the high degree of professionalism and discipline. When it occurs, what is needed to interrupt and transform it is peer-to-peer courage. ‘I know the CO acted like a jerk, but he’s under a lot of pressure. How can we help him?’”
Is questioning authority the ultimate expression of patriotism in a free society?
“Our relationship to authority is complex. Some people are always rebelling against authority. This isn’t by itself patriotic. But questioning authority from a serious, values based perspective, and backing up that questioning with action when needed is what keeps a free society free. In this case yes, it is a deeply patriotic act, often taken in the face of significant personal risk.”
You admit to a North American, English-speaking perspective, but many of your principles seem to come out of nature and may be universal.  Is it possible that courageous followership is a universal principle at work in the Arab Spring?
“It’s risky to claim knowledge of dynamics in another culture. We don’t know what we don’t know. Our military in Iraq and Afghanistan have learned more about cross cultural communication than most of us will ever experience. I will say that applying the principles of courageous followership effectively in different cultures requires framing upward communication in culturally sensitive ways. I have seen it done well in India where the underlying caste system still has a powerful hold. The challenge for the Arab Spring will be to sustain the free dialogue when cultural norms reassert themselves in each country. It’s high on my wish list to see The Courageous Follower translated into Arabic so it can be a resource for sustaining the transformation. If any reader can help connect me to an Arabic publisher (through one or more degrees of separation) please let me know.”
The nation’s Maritime Strategy is all about preventing war by building partnerships and cooperation, driving out fear between navies and nations.  Can cooperative courageous followership be used to support the Strategy -- between leaders and other leaders, Navy and other navies?
“Preventing war is the highest measure of a military’s success. But the vision of driving out fear between navies and nations is aspirational and borders on utopian. It seems to clash with principles in the military classics (Clausewitz, Sun Tzu) on the value of deception and surprise. So I doubt that it will ever be fully achieved. But it can be strived for through as much authenticity as possible in dealing with peers and allies. Trust is the currency of leadership and (along with shared interest) the glue of alliances. Followers can do their part by refraining from fueling mistrust between leaders with poor or biased data and working behind the scenes on ironing out the details that support trust.”
In Chapter 7 you address the issue of metrics.  What is the inherent dangers of relying on numbers and data alone to base decisions?  Aren’t there some things or some services whose value is unmeasurable (and perhaps immeasurable)?
“You are right that the value of the most precious resources such as trust, love and honor are immeasurable. They are qualitative, not quantitative. At the same time we need to know the measure of things that are measurable to make decisions – ship readiness, personnel complements, fuel range, spikes in communication patterns, etc.
“The danger arises when we become so focused on what we are measuring that we neglect to pay attention to the risks and opportunities in the things we are not measuring. If we then tie performance rewards and penalties to measurements we further fixate attention, and we create incentives for gaming the metrics. This is very dangerous. Courageous leaders and courageous followers must stay alert for the consequences of the way metrics are being used and correct for distortions they create in the decision making field.”
Bob Dylan wrote, “You may be a businessman or some high-degree thief, They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody...”  Isn’t nearly everyone in the military a leader, serving and accountable to someone else?
“Everyone in the military had better be accountable to someone else or we have rogue units and potentially a constitutional crisis.”
Bust of Aristotle
A thread running through your book is “balance.”  Is the successful balancing of leadership and followership the definition of success itself?  Is it helpful to redefine “success”?
“Balance is a condition of success. We go back to Artistotle’s golden mean here. Virtue is not at either extreme of the spectrum. For example, courage is a great virtue but courage without prudence is recklessness. Sometimes a leader operates at the extreme in a situation and pulls off a victory. There is a danger that he then comes to believe that operating at the extreme is at the core of his personal success strategy. That is a recipe for disaster.”
Another common thread seems to be the art of listening.  What’s the most important thing to know about listening?
“A senior officer who is being given critical feedback or a divergent perspective will have the very normal human impulse to defend herself and explain her actions. A core competency of leadership is learning to override this impulse and substitute genuine interest and curiosity in what is being said. Seek to understand fully by asking clarifying questions and for examples that will help you understand what you are being told.” 
You were inspired by a book: M. Scott Peck’s “People of the Lie” about My Lai.  Should everyone, especially everyone in the military, read Peck’s book?  Why?
“Scott Peck is both a psychiatrist and a clergyman. His book People of the Lie is a courageous attempt to understand evil from both religious and psychological perspectives. It is an exploration, not a definitive mapping. As in all explorations the work is uneven. I would not necessarily put it at the top of the reading list. I probably would put Stanley Milgram’s book Obedience to Authority high on the list of training officers and enlisted personnel on the dynamics of appropriate and dangerous obedience. With some sensitivity to recommending a resource from a foreign military, I would encourage viewing the Singapore Defence Force’s training video on Followership viewable on YouTube, and even more strongly encourage the development of similar resources of our own.”
You also recommend Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For MeaningBesides the books in the bibiliography of Courageous Follower, are there other inspiring works by other philosophers/thinkers you’d recommend, especially for a Navy audience?
“Frankl’s book, Man’s Search For Meaning is the ultimate expression of our internal freedom to choose our response even in the most dire circumstances.
“For those working closely with Flag Officers I would also recommend the book Lion Taming by Steve Katz. After working in senior political environments such as the White House, Katz studied lion taming at Ringling Brothers school for lion tamers. The lessons he extracted from observing the behavior of lions in a hierarchy, and of lion tamers who successfully interact with them, are extraordinarily applicable to working with elevated leaders of different ranks.”
How important is reading to the leader and follower?
Statue of King Alfred
“One of my heroes in history is Alfred the Great, 848 – 899, the first Anglo-Saxon King who repelled the Viking invaders and effectively founded what became England. He and those in his court were illiterate. He knew that military victory alone was insufficient. He invited a literate monk to his court to teach him to read and insisted the same of his senior officers. He then personally engaged in the project of translating key Latin works into the Anglo-Saxon language and began the process of creating an educated citizenry.  Alfred divided his time between ruling, reading and contemplative reflection. A balance we would do well to achieve in our own lives!” 
_________________________

Chaleff’s work belongs on book shelves with the best business and management books: Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Deming’s Out of the Crisis, Drucker’s The Practice of Management and Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People
Chaleff offers philosophical insights and common sense tactics. He gives practical advice not only to followers but also for leaders, who must have the courage to accept criticism, dissent and challenge. His guidance can be applied beyond the workplace. And, because his cited research is based on human nature, many of his conclusions are universal.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spruance

by Bill Doughty
Now read this:
“He is a man of the age ... not rash, but a go-ahead man, he combines valor with discretion, and will not rush into anything he cannot see his way out of.  Everyone respects him, and our men will fight to the death for him.”
These words were written of David Farragut in late April 1862 just after his dramatic conquest of the “impossible” at the Battle of New Orleans.  It was a truly decisive battle of the Civil War, capturing the South’s largest city ... Without change the same words could have been said of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance after his conquest of the “impossible” in the Battle of Midway -- as the years lengthen this significant victory will loom larger and larger as another of the decisive battles of history.
The highlighted words in this post of Navy Reads come from the introduction in a 1966 edition of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN: A Study in Command.  The introduction is by Rear Adm.(ret.) E. M. Eller, former Director of Naval History.  The words were written 45 years ago this year, yet only 24 years after the Battle of Midway!
Vice Adm.(ret.) E. P. Forrestel, who served on Spruance’s staff during WWII, wrote A Study in Command, commissioned by the Navy as a Command Study to help chart a career course for other naval officers.  It’s packed with great photos, a foreward by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and personal eyewitness insights, but for me the highlight is Eller’s introduction, which puts Spruance’s leadership style in context.
Eller quotes Spruance discussing his biggest revelation from the war:
Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Commander, Central Pacific Force, (center) 
is flanked by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific, (right)
 and an unnamed Brigadier General, touring Kwajalein Island.  NHHC.
“The things that I remember best are the times when we had considerable differences of opinion about what we should do,” writes Spruance.  “These were generally resolved satisfactorily, and there is no point in rehearsing them.  I think the fact that we could have differences in our ideas, and could argue and debate our various points of view up and down the line is the important thing to remember.  Time for preparing our plans was short, and they had to proceed more or less simultaneously on all echelons to get things done.  If orders had been handed down the line from on high, and no one had been allowed to question or any part of them, things might, at times, have gone differently.”
In other words, Spruance encouraged “courageous followership,” a concept we’ll explore in my next special blogpost (or preceding post depending on when you read this.)
And, Eller shows how Spruance embraced change in technology and innovation in warfighting.  Eller then makes the case that the Navy has promoted change throughout its history.
Unknowledgeable men often speak of the Navy as “barnacle crusted,” or of “battleship admirals” opposing change of every sort.  The truth of course is the contrary.  The Navy is always changing.  It has always led the nation in much major progress ... ship building ... astronomy and hydrography ... in many fields of physics ... in radio and radar ... aviation and underwater operations; in a host of other developments of this century including, particularly, atomic energy for ship propulsion.
Admiral Spruance saw nothing but “a changing Navy.”  His career encompassed more fundamental changes in navies than in any other period of history.  From crude beginnings, the United States Navy developed strength under the sea and in the sky with dramatic increase in total power...
The most significant part of these almost unbelievable changes, as demonstrated by the universally successful amphibious assaults in World War II, was the growing shift of power away from the land to the sea.  As one looks back into history, he sees that this is not a sudden shift.  It is a long one that has steadily expanded with the growth of science, invention and technology.
An early revolution of large import came with the age of sail.  Great Britain led the world toward freedom, that the free sea offers, through the power of wind on sails.  This brought navies easily into the great oceans and opened all horizons to man.
Yet, as we have noted, even greater change lay ahead; in steam, for example, that released ships from wind and tide.  Electricity and internal combustion engines were some of the developments that projected navies under the sea and into the heavens with far reaching impact on destiny.  In this century progress has accelerated with lightning speed comprising such fundamental changes integrated into deep sea navies as submarines, aircraft, radar, guided missiles and atomic energy.  Admiral Spruance himself, like most officers to some degree, played his part in shaping these momentous changes.
Vice Adm. Spruance presents the Purple Heart to 
Cpl John K. Galuszka, USMC, aboard a hospital ship 
at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 17, 1943.  NHHC.
Eller remembers conversations he had with Adm. Spruance “on the staff at Pearl Harbor and at times on his flagship afloat,” and reflects on Spruance’s understanding of the strength and synergy of a force -- the United States Navy -- that provides defense not only on the surface of the sea but also above and below.
Eller’s words should not be lost in the ether of history.  Spruance’s legacy will not be forgotten.  Tomorrow, USS Spruance (DDG 111), one of the newest ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, arrives at San Diego.  Like her namesake, Spruance will work to keep sea lanes and people free.


To read more about Adm. Spruance, the Navy Professional Reading Program recommends a well-documented biography by Thomas B. Buell, The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance.  The NPRP is endorsed by the Chief of Naval Operations.
USS Spruance (DDG 111) heading for San Diego. U.S. Navy file photo.

Monday, October 10, 2011

‘The U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour’

Review by Bill Doughty
The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour is James D. Hornfischer’s powerful tribute to surface warriors and naval aviators and one of the very best books in the Navy’s Professional Reading Program.
Through exceptional prose the book explores the WWII Battle off Samara -- part of the Invasion of Leyte, Philippine Islands, Oct. 17-25, 1944.  It’s a good read for the Navy’s Birthday this week (Oct. 13).  
In The Last Stand Hornfischer explores:
  • The bravery and sacrifice of American Sailors
  • The hubris of Adm. Halsey
  • The strategic mistakes of Imperial Japan
  • The power of creative, instinctive free-thinking, even in the heat of battle
The author shows a McCullough-like historian’s skill in revealing characters, introducing us to heroes like leaders Lt. Cmdr. Robert W. Copeland, CO of USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413); Cmdr. Ernest E. Evans, the Cherokee American CO of USS Johnston (DD-557); pioneer of aviation Rear Adm. Clifton A.F. “Ziggy” Sprague, commander of Escort Carrier Group Task Unit 77.4.3 “Taffy 3”; and dozens of others.
Hornfischer introduces us to real sailors like Chief Radioman Tullio Serafini and Gunner’s Mate Paul Carr and describes the horrors of the sea battles.  And, in a compelling tribute, he publicizes the names of the Sailors of Task Unit 77.4.3 killed in the battles, with hundreds of names listed from USS Heermann (DD-532),  USS Hoel (DD-533), USS Johnston, USS Samuel B. Roberts, USS St. Lo (CVE-63), USS Gambier Bay (CVE-63), other ships and various composite squadrons.
In The Last Stand the surface Navy Sailors seem to breathe again.  The ships -- from the Tin Can “Kaiser coffins” to the giant Japanese battleships bristling with “armor and steel” -- sail again.  The reckless, fearless American pilots who changed the balance of the battle through innovation and bold action fly again.
Some excerpts:
(A description of the Imperial Japanese high command’s plan) “The Sho-1 plan was massive in scale, Byzantine in complexity, and exacting in its requirement that four fleets separated by thousands of miles of ocean time their movements with near-impossible precision.  From the far-flung imperial anchorages in Japan’s Inland Sea, from Borneo in Malaysia, and from Singapore’s Lingga Roads, the fleets would sortie to the attack.”
(At the moment of discovery of the enemy fleet by naval aviator Ens. William C. Brooks and turret gunner Joe Downs) “Looking down as the armada filed by below him, Brooks made out the tall pagoda towers of Japanese battleships and cruisers.  The doubt evaporated into a stunning realization: they are Japanese.”
(On the realities of warfare at sea) “The shells’ screeching impacts scrapped the innards of the Kalinin Bay right before the crew’s horrified eyes.  Armor-piercing shells penetrated the thin hull and flight deck without exploding, turning the ship into an oversized colander.  Shells hitting below the waterline let torrents of ocean water rush in.”
(After the battle) “At one point Copeland counted as many as fifty shark fins cutting the surface near him.  Thanks to the oil that bathed the survivors in his group, these predators were all swim and no bite.  But because no one could be too confident of that, the men feared the worst whenever a fin moved closer and then disappeared under water.”
(The context) “The three-day series of melees around the Philippines in October 1944 was by multiple measures the most sprawling, spectacular, and horrible naval battle in history.  If it was not as decisive, in the word’s purest sense, as the victory at Midway, it was the greatest naval battle ever fought for the distances it spanned, for the tonnage of ships sunk, for the duration of the duels between surface ships,and for the terrible losses of human life...”
Adm. William "Bull" Halsey
Hornfischer focuses on the desperate requests for back-up support from U.S. Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid and how Adm. Halsey’s and Gen. MacArthur’s personalities influenced the placement of forces.  
Halsey, ever on offense, was chasing a Japanese fleet decoy with his Task Force 34, leaving San Bernardino Strait unguarded.
MacArthur had insisted all Third Fleet and Seventh Fleet messages be routed through his headquarters, which ultimately delayed the Seventh Fleet requests to Halsey for help.
Adm. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, saw the delay and intervened with a message that included a possible historical literary reference from Lord Tennyson’s poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”  The explanation, context and Halsey’s strong negative reaction to receiving Nimitz’s message is just another reason to pick up this great book.

Two more reads to add to the (growing) to-read list: Hornfischer’s Ship of Ghosts and Neptunes Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal.
The Clifton A. F. Sprague memorial, near USS Midway Museum, San Diego.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Damn the Torpedoes...

Review by Bill Doughty
The Navy’s first four-star admiral began service as a preteen in the War of 1812.  He was a son of the South who fought for the North in the Civil War and later served as a pallbearer at President Lincoln’s funeral.  He commanded blue-water naval warships in brown-water littoral operations in the Mississippi river, reclaiming New Orleans and later winning at Mobile Bay, famously having himself lashed to the upper rigging to ensure command and control.
“...full speed ahead.”
It’s not till the final pages of Robert J. Schneller, Jr.’s Farragut: America’s First Admiral that Farragut’s hispanic ethnicity is discussed.
At the tender age of 12 Glasgow “David” Farragut sailed as a midshipman with his mentor Captain David Porter aboard the 32-gun frigate USS Essex, fighting in the War of 1812 to stop the British from interfering with commerce on the seas.
After a stormy passage around Cape Horn and a stop in Valparaiso, Chile, the Essex roved through the Galapagos Islands, capturing a dozen British whalers and earned Porter the distinction of commanding the first American warship in the Pacific.  During the voyage Farragut saw albatrosses, flying fish, seals, sea lions, redheaded lizards, iguanas, Galapagos terrapins and other exotic wildlife.  He also weathered fierce storms and choked down his share of worm- and weevil-ridden food.
Farragut served aboard, sailed with or commanded USS Vandalia, USS Boxer, USS Consellation, USS Erie, USS Pennsylvania, USS Saratoga and USS Hartford.  Ashore, he served as commandant of Mare Island Navy Yard.
Commodore Farragut aboard USS Hartford, 1864.
Schneller describes the admiral’s distinguished service in the Civil War, fighting against the Confederate Navy, despite his roots in the south -- born in Tennessee, a resident of Virginia.
Farragut achieved a hero’s status after the Civil War.  He was promoted as the nation’s first four-star admiral on the same day that Ulysses S. Grant became the nation’s first four-star general.
After his final promotion to admiral,  Farragut was assigned by Secretary of State William Seward as commander of the European Squadron, where his Hispanic heritage and Spanish fluency helped him succeed in building partnerships and promoting peace.
The author provides a CliffsNotes version of Farragut’s life, purposely focusing on the historical details of key battles and military strategy.  Farragut is revealed as a courageous leader unafraid to make bold decisions in the heat of battle but unwilling to fully adapt to new technologies of ironclad ships, rifled cannons and mechanical means of propulsion.
For those who wish to delve deeper into Farragut’s life, Schneller offers these suggestions:  Loyall Farragut’s The Life of David Glasgow Farragut, First Admiral of the United States Navy, Embodying His Journal and Letters, Alfred Thayer Mahan’s Admiral Farragut, and Charles Lee Lewis’s two-volume study, David Glasgow Farragut: Admiral in the Making / Our First Admiral.
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Today Adm. Mike Mullen turned over the reins as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The former Chief of Naval Operations prior to Adm. Gary Roughead and now Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Mullen initiated the Navy Professional Reading Program.  
As a student and teacher of history, Mullen often invoked memories of naval heroes.  Six years ago at a dedication ceremony of the Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Mullen said:
“I believe in the power of our past to inspire and instruct, and I believe in the power of our convictions, which have sustained generations of leaders...
“We think of heroes like John Paul Jones, Stephen Decatur, David Glasgow Farragut; as well as Carl Brashear, Grace Hopper, and Jim Stockdale.     

“Their legacy is our tapestry, a uniquely American tapestry, sewn of many diverse faiths and beliefs, cultures and backgrounds, colors and creeds.  
“We recall those leaders not in terms of where they came from, but for what they left us.”
President Barack Obama, left, shares a moment with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff change of responsibility ceremony on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Sept. 30, 2011. Mullen was succeeded by Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who became the18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during the ceremony. DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey