Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Woman's Place...

Review by Bill Doughty

... is "Serving Proudly."

This "History of Women in the U.S. Navy" by Susan H. Godson (Naval Institute Press, 2001) shows how women's roles evolved in the sea service, especially at first in Navy medicine.

Women served in defense of the nation even before there was a United States Navy, but women like Clara Barton (for the United States in the War of 1812) and Florence Nightingale (for Britain in the Crimean War) proved the value of women near the battlefield in the early and mid 1800s. By the end of the century, during the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps was created (1898). 

The book opens with an epigraph by Rear Adm. Grace M. Hopper: "The highest award I have received is serving proudly in the U.S. Navy."
"By the end of the nineteenth century, the U.S. Navy had developed into a world-class naval power with fleets to sail and colonies to administer. The Navy's evolution had been uneven and sporadic, and growth had depended on external threats or, by the 1890s, on markets to open, colonies to supervise, and primitive people to uplift. Concurrently, training and requirements for officers and men had become professionalized... But the Medical Department still lacked a vital element: professionally trained nurses – those women who had taken two- or three-year courses in hospital training schools. Nursing, along with teaching and social work, was one of the few professions open to women. During the nineteenth century, many women emerged from their prescribed sphere and went into reform movements, clubs and associations, and higher education. And they were no strangers to the seafaring life; they had been in virtually all types of vessels, both private and naval. The Navy needed professional nurses, and such women had proven their worth during the Spanish-American War. Could the two, in fact, be mutually beneficial?"
In 1908 the Navy Nurse Corps was born. Esther Voorhees Hasson, Lenah S. Higbee and J. Beatrice Bowman were the first superintendents.

Godson examines the Navy's influence in breaking down walls, promoting education and progressing toward greater equality for women throughout the 20th century. 
"During World War I, the U.S. Navy grew in men and ships to address the demands of the European conflagration. How it met wartime requirements depended largely on Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. Because of his vision and boldness, the Navy embarked on the temporary and unprecedented wartime expedient of bringing women into its enlisted ranks as yeomen (F) and Marine Reservists (F). Those women who entered the naval service had no idea that they were pioneers. They joined the Navy because the country needed their talents."
The author relates the early influence of civilians Margaret Sanger, who "launched the birth control movement, which gave women the knowledge and ability to control family size;" Alice Paul whose party proposed an equal rights amendment; and Eleanor Roosevelt, who championed social-welfare causes.

"A dramatic breakthrough for women" came during the Second World War, when some 350,000 women served in the military ashore. Women throughout the nation saw greater opportunity serving in the industrial sector. Of course, it was in WWII that  WAVES – Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service – was created, in the face of quite a bit of resistance to change.

The Marine Corps, part of the Department of the Navy, was most recalcitrant about integrating women into its ranks. Although only a small number of women Marines were allowed to serve temporarily during the First World War in the Reserves, they were welcomed back in 1943, again in support roles, separate but unequal.

WAVES march in a parade for Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and Medal of Honor veterans in New York City, Oct. 9, 1945. (NHHC)

After the war, pioneers like Cmdr. Joy Bright Hancock "firmly believed that women should be allowed to serve in the regular Navy as a regular career." She traveled around the country, coordinated with the newly formed Department of Defense, and lobbied Congress, causing the "House Armed Services Committee to run up the white flag."

Women were in a "holding pattern" mid-century, but the 60s brought about great change in civil rights, including for women, and the Navy was in the forefront of the changes. A small number of WAVES served in support roles in Vietnam, but "the Navy never hesitated to dispatch nurses to the war zone," according to Godson. The 70s brought more demonstrations, class-action lawsuits and a "new brand of feminism," resulting in the Equal Opportunity Act and the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), which "represented another victory for equality."

"Guiding the Navy from 1970 to 1974 was CNO Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., who undertook to modernize both the fleet and personnel policies... Zumwalt issued the famous (or infamous) Z-116 on 7 August (1972), giving equal rights and opportunities to Navy Women," Godson writes.

Zumwalt opened the U.S. Naval Academy to women and opened avenues for women to be able to achieve flag rank. Once again, Navy Medicine was in the lead with the first women allowed to serve aboard ships going aboard the hospital ship USS Sanctuary (AH-17). The Navy's newest warship in early 2017 is named for the visionary Navy leader. According to the Navy, "USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is the largest and most technologically advanced surface combatant in the world."

The 80s were a period of entrenchment, with greater participation and new roles for women in the Navy, leading to the early 90s and the repeal of combat exclusion for women, thanks to Rep. Patricia Schroeder, DACOWITS (The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services) and Secretary of Defense Les Aspin.

Vice Admiral Nora Tyson, Commander U.S. Third Fleet.
Godson's book ends on a hopeful note as she wonders about the "long-term impact of these sweeping changes" (initiated more than twenty years ago). She reflects on women's achievements in the first Gulf War, at sea, in aviation, at the Naval Academy, and of course in the Navy Nurse Corps.
"The story of all Navy women is one of dedication and valor. They proudly chose to serve their country as part of the U.S. Navy and pursued their goal with dogged determination. They would not be denied such an honorable calling. As in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, women's familiarity with maritime matters and their nursing skills have made them essential to the naval service. Tributes to their service have been many. One of the most touching came in 1996, when the Navy named the guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) in honor of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, who had led the Navy into the computer age. And in the fall of 1997, a lasting monument to Navy woman, as well as to all 1.8 million women who have served in the military was dedicated: the women in Military Service for America Memorial at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, which stands as a fitting reminder of all women who have volunteered to defend American freedom."
Working with renowned Navy historians such as Jan K. Herman, Robert J. Schneller, Dean C. Allard and Edward J. Marolda, Godson provides a wealth of information and some great photos in "Serving Proudly."

She presents controversial issues such as sexual harassment, sexism, discrimination against lesbians and uniform issues. And she gives a wide-ranging history of the progress women have made in and out of the Navy, acknowledging that the history of women in the military is still being written.

Commodore Grace Hopper, special assistant to the commander, Naval Data Automation Command, gives an autograph and a length of wire representing distance an electron moves in an nanosecond during groundbreaking ceremonies for the Grace M. Hopper Navy Regional Data Automation Center at Naval Air Station, North Island, California, Sept. 27, 1985. Photo by PH2 Michael Flynn, Naval History and Heritage Command.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

'Strategy' in Shadow of Hitler and in Light of Star Wars

Review by Bill Doughty

The opening lines of B. H. Liddell Hart's "Strategy" (Faber and Faber, 1954, 1967) is by Sun Tzu, from "The Art of War": "All warfare is based on deception." The quote is one of a baker's dozen from Sun Tzu's "Art of War" that makes up a sort of extended epigraph to "Strategy."

Another is: "In all fighting the direct method may be used for joining battle but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory."

Hart, then methodically presents examples of leaders, battles and wars that exemplify those principles, first outlined in China around 500 BCE.

At nearly the same time in history, the Persians drew Athens out to do battle at Marathon, weakening their core. Classic deception. (By the way, the Rebel Alliance did something similar in Star Wars: Rogue One – where indirect warfare, subterfuge and diversion was purposefully part of the strategy and tactics.) Don't force the Force.

Centuries later the Mongols employed "the best example of strategy in the Middle Ages." Hart writes, "In scale and quality, in surprise and mobility, in the strategical and in the tactical indirect approach, their campaign rivals or surpasses any in history."

Mussolini rides with Adolf Hitler in 1940. (Photo from National Archives)
Nationalist authoritarian Adolf Hitler's record before the outbreak of actual war was in 1939 was successful (from a Nazi perspective) when he used indirect methods of engagement. Hitler fomented fear, anger and hate that eventually led to suffering and mass death.

Through lies, false promises and indirect use of force, Hitler succeeded by taking Belgium and other less protected countries before going after France and Great Britain. But France failed under "notorious Plan XVII," using a direct approach against Germany's might.

Hart notes, "Later, (Hitler) gave his opponents ample opportunity to exploit the indirect approach against him."
Sun Tzu

Hitler is one among a Eurocentric Who's Who of leaders Hart examines: Bismarck, Napoleon, Miliades, Alexander, Caesar, William of Normandy, Edward, du Guesclin, Sabutai, Cromwell, Turenne, Marlborough, Frederick, Wellington, Allenby, Lawrence, Pershing, Ludendorff, Guderian, Rommel, and Zhukov, among others.

While Hart touches on the war in the Pacific and Yamamoto's use of indirect tactics, he doesn't mention the decisive Battle of Midway, an exemplar of winning strategy and tactics.

There's a bit of irony there, since the seeds for successful strategy come from the East to the West – Sun Tzu and Genghis Khan and the Mongols being cases in point.

In his multi-trilogy mythology phenomenon "Star Wars," George Lucas explores the impact of Eastern teachings in warfighting. In the attitudes and attributes of Jedi Masters like Yoda we see the mythic wisdom and playful joy of Zhaozhou (Joshu in Japanese), coupled with Eastern martial arts. Lucas speaks through Yoda: "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

Hart focuses more on Britain and Germany and seems to channel Clausewitz. Hart's skill is matching a pedestrian recitation of history with deeply planted insights worth quoting in their own right. For example:

"In war, as in wrestling, the attempt to throw the opponent without loosening his foothold and upsetting his balance results in self-exhaustion, increasing in disproportionate ratio to the effective strain put upon him."

"In most campaigns the dislocation of the enemy's psychological and physical balance has been the vital prelude to a successful attempt at his overthrow."

"Helplessness induces hopelessness, and history attests the loss of hope, not loss of lives, is what decides the issue of war."

"The most effective indirect approach is one that lures or startles the opponent into a false move – so that, as in jyu-jitsu, his own effort is turned into the lever of his overthrow."

"Two historic lessons – that a joint is the most sensitive and profitable point of attack, and that a penetration between two forces or units is more dangerous if they are assembled shoulder to shoulder than if they are widely separated and organically separate."

"Force can always crush force, given sufficient superiority in strength or skill. It cannot crush ideas."

Hart concludes by examining theories of strategy, military strategy, and grand strategy; the relationship of strategy to policy; the difference of strategy, tactics, object, and national aim; and the balance of offense and defense.

Nazis march after successfully invading Poland. (National Archives)
First published just nine years after the end of the Second World War it is understandable that the heart of Hart's examination of warfare pierces the nearly contemporaneous rise and fall of the Third Reich. Hitler's shadow still seemed to loom over the Western world in 1954 even as fear of global communism grew.

Hitler's "flair for offensive strategy was not matched by a corresponding sense of defensive strategy. The immensity of his earlier successes led him, as Napoleon had been led, to believe that the offensive offered a solution of all problems," Hart writes.
"Hitler gave the art of offensive strategy a new development. He also mastered better than any of his opponents, the first stage of grand strategy – that of developing and coordinating all forms of warlike activity and all the possible instruments which may be used to operate against the enemy’s will. But like Napoleon he had an inadequate grasp of the higher level of grand strategy – that of conducting war with a far-sighted regard to the state of the peace that will follow. To do this effectively, a man must be more than a strategist; he must be a leader and a philosopher combined. While strategy is the very opposite of morality, as it is largely concerned with the art of deception, grand strategy tends to coincide with morality: through having always to keep in view the ultimate goal of the efforts it is directing."
Hitler in-Vader
The Nazi empire under Hitler spread "germs of resentment from which resistance to their ideas would develop." Is the Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS, DAESH) or Al Qaeda or other militant extremists any different? Fear+Anger+Hate=Suffering.

How did the Empire create resistance and a rebel alliance in George Lucas's world, and how did the heroes come together to defeat evil villains in the name of hope for a better future? It's explained (or foreshadowed) in "Strategy."

"Strategy" is featured in the "canon" of books recommended by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson in the Navy Professional Reading Program.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Navy Watches: Isoroku Yamamoto

Review by Bill Doughty

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, a man opposed to war with the United States, was assigned to start the war at Pearl Harbor and oversee the attack at the Battle of Midway.

A Japanese film now out on DVD, "Isoroku" (Toei, 2011), uses Yamamoto's rediscovered diary to tell the history of the Japanese navy's involvement in the war in the Pacific, including the navy's opposition to the Tripartite pact with Nazi Germany and Italy. The film highlights Yamamoto's leadership as commander-in-chief of the Japanese Imperial Navy Combined Fleet during the early years of the Pacific War. "Isoroku" is directed by Izuru Narushima and stars Koji Yakusho.

The film is well produced, directed, translated and acted and is filled with quotes from Yamamoto, including this found haiku, which Yamamoto gave to a newspaper writer: 

"Open wide your eyes,
your ears, and your heart when you
look around the world"

The real Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto
"Isoroku" shows how economic depression, xenophobia, income disparity, and loss of faith in leaders led Japan to embrace tyranny and an ill-conceived war, one which Yamamoto tried to prevent. The film explores the Imperial Japanese army's culpability, the role of newspaper propaganda and the consequences of conflict when diplomacy was ignored.

Japanese intelligentsia still had resentment from decades earlier when Commodore Matthew C. Perry and the "Black Ships" of the United States Navy forced the nation to become internationally focused. Military war hawks suffered from hubris after victories in the Russo-Japanese War and engagements in Manchuria, Korea and Southeast Asia.

"Isoroku" tells the story clearly, focusing on key events and battles, as well as insightful vignettes showing Tokyo and Nagaoka, Yamamoto's hometown. Parts of the film ring a bit unrealistic, particularly some of the computer-generated imagery, but the portrayal of history seems objective and honest.

Yamamoto admitted the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway were miscalculated failures.

In addition to the history, this film reveals Yamamoto's personality and relationships. We see his turmoil and personal anguish – and finally his acceptance of his place in world events. 

The movie is available now on DVD, with English subtitles. 

Gem-like quotes from the admiral read today as warnings, admonitions and resignation to reality:
  • "Once you start a war, there's no turning back."
  • "The soldier's most important duty is to finish the war he starts."
  • "Even robbers are scared to walk home."
  • "If you don't trace things back to their source you can overlook the essentials."
  • "The national defense ... is to provide requisite armed forces, but also to grow national strength, while using diplomacy to evade war. That is the essence of national defense."
  • "If the worst should happen, the young must rebuild our nation. Train the young."
During his life Yamamoto pledged his loyalty to the people and nation, not to politicians.

The film concludes with an embrace of an America-Japan partnership and commitment to democracy after the war with open eyes, ears and hearts.

This film also stars Hiroshi Tamaki, Akira Emoto, Toshiro Yanagiba, Hiroshi Abe, Eisaku Yoshida, Kippei Shina, Ikuji Nakamura, Takeo Nakahara, Teruyuki Kagawa, Mieko Harada, Asaka Seto, Lena Tanaka, Nobuko Miyamoto, Mitsugoro Bando and Shunji Igarashi.

Filmmakers imagine the last few minutes of Yamamoto's life when he and his close aides were shot down over the Solomon Islands by American Army Air Corps pilots on orders of President Franklin Roosevelt. Yamamoto is shown stoically accepting his fate, holding the handle of his katana (samurai sword).

According to producer Shohei Kotaki, "Today, I believe we should learn from the past, and to live every day with true honesty and integrity, for the sake of world peace and a better future. I shall be grateful and honored if the film "Isoroku" can contribute to creating a more peaceful world."

Thank you to Librarian Connie Lashway for recommending this film to me. Support your local library!