Sunday, April 27, 2014

10 Reasons to Say 'Bravo Zumwalt'

by Bill Doughty

Adm. Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt Jr.:
  1. Became the first CO of a warship built from the keel up as a guided-missile destroyer, USS Dewey; was the youngest officer in the modern Navy to achieve flag rank and the youngest to become CNO.
  2. Fought for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks that would not give the Soviets an advantage; protected civilian control of the military under the Constitution before and during Watergate; and promoted peace through strength through a maritime balance.
  3. Broke down racial barriers. On his watch: The first African American admiral, opening of rates to minorities (including Filipinos, traditionally restricted to stewards), and increased minority enrollment in the Naval Academy; with respect to equal opportunity, he said, "equal means exactly that."
  4. Promoted women's rights. On his watch: The first woman admiral, first women to serve aboard ships (as part of a pilot program that led to women being able to serve aboard surface ships) and first women naval aviators.
  5. Accelerated "Vietnamization" turnover program to get the United States military out of the Vietnam War.
  6. Took a systematic rather than parochial approach to acquisition: pushed for development and use of the F-14 as a fighter jet for all services, advocated for Trident submarines, and championed littoral warfighting capabilities.
  7. Did away with "Mickey Mouse" rules, regulations and instructions he said were "irritating and unproductive barnacles"; directed that Sailors could take civilian clothes aboard ship, for example; communicated directly with Sailors in "rap sessions" and through Z-grams; and helped the Navy come to terms with the realities of an all-volunteer force.
  8. Improved Sailors' and families' quality of life, targeting sea-shore rotations, operational schedules and homeporting; established the ombudsman program; and fought for veterans, especially wounded warriors.
  9. Achieved a naval presence in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and in Bahrain and Iceland; and deployed warfighting-ready ships forward, including USS Midway (CV 41) to Yokosuka Japan.
  10. Was honored with official christening of namesake DDG 1000 April 12, 2014.
Take Adm. Zumwalt's autobiography "On Watch," add the best of "My Father, My Son," written with his son Lt. Elmo Zumwalt (and most of the extended family and with help from John Pekkanen), and then add a healthy dose of context, insight and good writing -- and you have Larry Berman's "Zumwalt: The Life and Times of Admiral Elmo Russell 'Bud' Zumwalt, Jr."

Berman's book begins at the end. The first chapter focuses on the great admiral's death and funeral honors. Readers can start at Chapter 2 and jump right into his life and achievements.

Zumwalt graduated from the Naval Academy just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and headed straight for the Solomons Campaign, Guadalcanal and the Battle of Savo Island, where he witnessed death and destruction.

Later, aboard USS Robinson he fought in the battle of Surigao Straits. He received the Bronze Star for meritorious conduct in action during torpedo attacks against enemy battleships. 

At the end of World War II USS Robinson was assigned to Shanghai and captured a fleeing Imperial Japanese Navy gunboat Ataka. Zumwalt was assigned as the prize captain of the Ataka, and he brought it up the mine-filled Yangtze River to Shanghai.

Berman introduces us to Zumwalt's close-knit family, including wife, Mouza, who he met in Shanghai. His beloved Mouza was the daughter of a French father and Russian mother who had fled Siberia after the 1917 Revolution and lived in Manchuria before the Japanese invaded. (To learn more about the family's trials and tribulations over several generations, read "My Father, My Son," which delves deeper into how the family was impacted by Agent Orange and other legacies of Vietnam. "My Father, My Son" includes mini essays by family members, shipmates and friends.)

After WWII Zumwalt studied the USSR at the Naval war College "as a way of understanding the dynamics of the Soviet system." An early shore assignment to the Bureau of Personnel gave him insights into institutionalized discrimination by the Navy in the early 50s. A later tour at BuPers as detailer would give him an opportunity to analyze how the bureaucracy constrained innovation and resolution of the Navy's personnel problems.

SECNAV John Chafee, CNO Adm. Zumwalt, CJCS Adm. Moorer and SECDEF Melvin Laird.
Zumwalt served throughout the Cold War, both aboard ships, including off the coast of North Korea, and in the corridors of the White House, including during the Cuban Missile Crisis, where he drafted orders on behalf of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Affairs Paul Nitze and President Kennedy to give the commander in chief, Atlantic Fleet.  He also drafted the letter under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's instructions that was given to Soviet prime minister Nikita Khrushchev.

The power of Berman's biography of Zumwalt is in its behind-the-scenes interactions between the Admiral and his advocates and adversaries -- on one side, George C. Marshall, John Chafee, Paul Nitze ("Socrates to Zumwalt's Plato"), Melvin Laird, Creighton Abrams and Gerald Ford; on the other side, Hyman Rickover, George Anderson, Donald Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon.

In this biography as in the two autobiographies, Zumwalt is open, forthright and strongly opinionated. Some readers will not agree with all of his opinions, but everyone can respect his fearlessness in speaking his mind and fighting for what he believed to be right.

Zumwalt championed a leadership style that was inclusive and humane. He backed the chain of command but encouraged communication up and down the chain, not just down. He listened to his Sailors. He had faith in the American people and in citizens' rights to know what their government was doing in their name. Berman shows us how he ensured his legacy of innovation, equal opportunity and humane leadership would continue after his career in the Navy.

Promoting Rear Adm. Alene Duerk
Berman's book is an in-depth biography of the CNO who not just reformed but really revolutionized the Navy at a time of great transition for the nation and the military.  Vice Adm. Earl Frank "Rex" Rectanus wrote, "'Father of the Modern Navy' will remain a unique epitaph to this man."

Among Zumwalt's famous Z-grams was Z-57, eliminating what he called "Mickey Mouse" rules, but which went out as "Demeaning and Abrasive Regulations." Berman, who refers to Zumwalt as "Bud" to distinguish him from other family members, writes:
"Z-57 liberalized regulations and practices in twelve areas: style of hair, beards, sideburns, civilian clothes, uniforms for trips between home and base and when visiting commissaries and snack bars, attire for enlisted men at officers' clubs, salutes, motorcycles, conditions for leave, and overnight liberty. It's impact spanned the oceans. Inside the Hanoi Hilton, longtime POW James Stockdale tapped on the wall in Morse code to ask a recent arrival if there was any news from home. 'Got a new CNO, named Zumwalt. No more Mickey Mouse or chickenshit.' Stockdale could not know that Bud was wearing a POW bracelet imprinted with Stockdale's name. Once home, Zumwalt gave Stockdale the bracelet. 'No single memento of my return or imprisonment will have as profoundness [sic] of meaning comparable to this emblem of your faith in me," wrote Stockdale. On October 11, 1995, Stockdale gave Bud a copy of his book, 'Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot.' The handwritten inscription read, 'For my Boss at a crucial time, Bud Zumwalt. It was he more than any other man who gave me a boost when I came out of prison, and the confidence to press ahead in the Post-Vietnam years.'"
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000)
Along with reading about the christening of USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) this month, reading Berman's 2012 account of the life and times of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr. helps us understand the lasting influence he had in a time of great turmoil.

According to Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, Director of Surface Warfare, N96, writing for NavyLive blog, "Like the admiral, this ship named in his honor challenges conventional wisdom. Unlike any other destroyer ever built, USS Zumwalt is the most advanced warship in the world and represents a great technological advancement in United States naval shipbuilding."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How WWII Began in China

Review by Bill Doughty

The Second World War in the Pacific did not begin on December 7, 1941 and it did not begin at Pearl Harbor.

Of course, that's when and where the United States entered the war after that Day of Infamy, but infamous acts of aggression had already been launched against America's key Pacific ally -- China -- in the ten years leading up to the attack on U.S. military installations on Oahu.

"Forgotten Ally: China's World War II 1937-1945" by Rana Mitter presents the history of China in  those volatile years. The book outlines Chinese resistance against Imperial Japan's military colonization and dominance, internal struggles between Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek and Communists led by Mao Zedong, and how China perceived treatment by other key Allies -- Great Britain, United States and Soviet Union, especially at the end of the war.

Mitter contends the Second World War began at the Marco Polo Bridge, in the summer of 1937. On December 12 of that year Japanese military aircraft bombed and sank the American gunboat USS Panay on the Yangtze outside Nanjing, killing tree Sailors and wounding forty-eight people. War was averted with the United States, but "the Panay affair was a clear warning that the West could not rely on neutrality to shut itself off from the ever-spreading war."

Chiang, Song and Stilwell in happier days. Photo from
In an era of industrial competition and resource control -- rather than global cooperation and interdependent trade -- Japan saw its survival dependent on access, by force, to natural resources, especially petroleum.  As early as 1938, Japan was dedicating 70 percent of its budget to military spending. And the homeland was being primed for war through nationalism, xenophobia and paranoia. (A companion book to read with Mitter's that shows how these changes came about in Japan is Eri Hotta's "Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy.")

Mitter explores the contentious relationship between China's Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek and the appointed U.S. military alliance leader in the region, Lt. Gen. Joseph Warren "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell. Despite the efforts by Chiang's popular and outgoing wife, Song Meiling, for everyone among the Allies to get along, Chiang and Stilwell didn't trust each other or agree on strategies for defending Burma and British India, not to mention key strategic areas in eastern China.

In Part IV of "Forgotten Ally," titled "The Poisoned Alliance," Mitter writes of the "duel" between the two military generals. "That encounter would last only four years, but the aftermath of his tenure would shape Chinese-American relations for more than half a century." FDR firmly demanded Stilwell have unrestricted command of all of Chiang's forces, and the Chinese were made to feel expendable, according to the author.

The author describes the bombing of Chonqing, the dissipation of power with the rise of the Communists, the horrors of the occupation of Nanjing (Nanking), and the unintended aftermath of the Doolittle Raid 72 years ago this weekend and less than five months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"As the Burma campaign ground on, another incident took place which showed the low status that China held in the minds of the Western Allies. On April 18, 1942, sixteen B-25 bombers took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and raided military and industrial targets in cities including Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. They did relatively little damage, but the raids showed that Japan was now vulnerable to attack from the air ... The news of the attack was a huge propaganda boost for the American war effort. But it appalled Chiang ... they all crash-landed at various points in eastern china, bar one that landed in Vladivostok on the Russian coast and was interned for a year. However, the Japanese reacted with fury. They attacked and committed atrocities agains the local population in the surrounding areas. What went down very well with the American public had a hugely negative effect on the Chinese war effort."
Historian E.B. Potter writes in "Bull Halsey," his biography of the great admiral who led the escort of Doolittle's Raiders and USS Hornet, that the Japanese launched "a campaign that thrust 200 miles into the interior of eastern China. The Japanese plowed up the landing fields and tortured and killed anyone even remotely suspected of having aided the Doolittle crews." Two hundred and fifty thousand men, women, children and babies were killed in the three month campaign.

Resistance in China against the Imperial Japanese over more than a decade gave the Allies time to fight both in Europe against Hitler and the Nazis and develop strategies to lead across the Pacific from 1942 through most of 1945. Mitter writes:
"Without Chinese resistance, China would have become a Japanese colony as early as 1938. This would have allowed Japan dominance over the mainland, and would have allowed Tokyo to turn its attention to expansion in Southeast Asia even more swiftly, and with less distraction. A pacified China would also have made the invasion of British India much more plausible. Without the 'China Quagmire' -- a quagmire caused by the refusal of the Chinese to stop fighting -- Japan's imperial ambitions would have been much easier to fulfill."
By 1943, Imperial Japan had to prioritize its strategy. After a summit in Tokyo, the military government moved to defend the home islands and their conquered Southeast Asia areas rich in petroleum. "Japan's war economy was under great pressure, with iron ore, steel, coal, and oil all in short supply."

Meanwhile, the Allies held their own summits around that time in Cairo and Teheran.

Commander in Chief Franklin D. Roosevelt's idea during World War II for a balance of power in the world after the war was "The Four Policemen" -- United States, Great Britain, Russia and China.  Allies who would cooperate and collaborate.

Churchill, FDR and Stalin seated. (Adm. King and Adm. Leahy behind FDR)
Yet, when a critical final conference was held on February 4, 1945 and the future of Asia was discussed, one of the Four Policemen was not represented: China. "When he heard even the public terms of the agreement, Chiang was plunged into gloom, thinking that the world would be thrown back into the same race for dominance that had marked the aftermath of the Great War,"  Mitter writes. Of course, the former fascist Axis powers of Germany and Japan turned away from imperialism and colonialism and toward freedom and democracy, but the same could not be said for the Soviet Union.

The final conference with FDR, Stalin and Churchill was held at Yalta -- in Crimea.

"Forgotten Ally's" author, Rana Mitter, is Professor of History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford and a fellow of St. Cross College. The book was published in 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.