The U.S. Navy is suffering a crisis in combat readiness as service branch leaders focus more intently on pushing so-called “woke” training and curriculum rather than actual warfighting skills, according to a newly released report.
“A Report on the Fighting Culture of the United States Navy Surface Fleet,” which was commissioned by members of Congress, was written by the retired Marine Corps. Lt. Gen. Robert E. Schmidle and retired Navy Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery. The authors said they interviewed “numerous active-duty and recently retired or detached officers and enlisted personnel” to get their views on the overall battle-readiness of the surface fleets. In all, 77 personnel were interviewed in long-form.
The report comes following several incidents at sea involving surface warships, some of which have been deadly. The authors noted that the dozens of personnel interviewed were able to be candid because they were afforded anonymity, which allowed them to voice concerns and make statements they could never convey to their chains of command.
What the authors found is nothing short of shocking: Fully 94 percent of personnel surveyed said they perceive a lack of leadership as well as a huge cultural problem throughout the sea service as being responsible for accidents involving Navy ship collisions, the recent fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, and the capture of U.S. Navy personnel by Iranian sailors during the Obama administration, as well as other incidents.
“There was a broad consensus across interviewees on numerous cultural and structural issues that impact the morale and readiness of the Navy’s surface force,” said the report’s executive summary.
“These include: an insufficient focus on warfighting skills, the perception of a zerodefect mentality accompanied by a culture of micromanagement, and over-sensitivity and responsiveness to modern media culture,” the summary continued. “Structural issues identified include lack of resources and consistency in surface warfare training programs, and the Navy’s underwhelming commitment to surface ship maintenance—a problem that spans decades.”
Said one retired enlisted leader, “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.”
Others echoed similar concerns that these days, the Navy appears to be far more concerned with enforcing leftist cultural norms.
“Sometimes I think we care more about whether we have enough diversity officers than if we’ll survive a fight with the Chinese navy,” an active-duty lieutenant said. “It’s criminal. They think my only value is as a black woman. But you cut our ship open with a missile and we’ll all bleed the same color.”
A recent destroyer captain told the report’s authors that “where someone puts their time shows what their priorities are.”
“And we’ve got so many messages about X, Y, Z appreciation month, or sexual assault prevention, or you name it,” the officer continued. “We don’t even have close to that same level of emphasis on actual warfighting.”
Added a commander, “The Navy treats warfighting readiness as a compliance issue. You might even use the term compliance-centered warfare as opposed to adversary-centered warfare or warfighter-centered warfare.”
Another junior surface warfare officer lamented, “I don’t think that the [surface community] see themselves as people who are engaged in a fight.”
The report, which was prepared at the behest of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) notes that the “sentiment, that the Navy is dangerously off course, was overwhelming.”
In addition to a focus on woke curriculum, the authors identified additional systemic problems that also affect fleet warfighting readiness including a lack of proper ship maintenance, a backlog at naval maintenance facilities, too little investment in surface warfare officer training, over-responsiveness to “media culture,” and Pentagon micromanagement.
“We gave ensigns boxes of CDs and told them to train themselves between watches, and that was a colossal failure,” one officer said, noting that the 23-CD assignment replaces a standard five-month, in-person surface warfare training course.
“[Commanding officers] would be quite risk-adverse,” another officer remarked. “They would have their senior department heads manning a lot of watches, especially on the bridge and things like that to make sure that nothing went wrong, because nobody wanted to end up in the media, and nobody wanted to end up on the cover of Navy Times.”
“The non-combat curricula consume Navy resources, clog inboxes, create administrative quagmires, and monopolize precious training time. By weighing down sailors with non-combat related training and administrative burdens, both Congress and Navy leaders risk sending them into battle less prepared and less focused than their opponents,” the authors noted.
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