Archive for October, 2013
Godspeed Commander Carpenter
In his Aurora 7 spacecraft on 24 May 1962, one of the original Mercury 7 space pioneers became the second American to orbit the Earth. After a rather rocky flight, overshooting his splashdown target by 250 miles, he was assigned to monitor the design and development of the lunar module for the Apollo project. He then took leave from the space program in the spring of 1965 to serve as an aquanaut in the U.S. Navy’s SeaLab II project, spending 30 days 205 feet below the surface off the coast of La Jolla, California. “The first person to explore both of humanity’s great remaining frontiers” talked recently withNaval History editor Fred L. Schultz between sessions of a Naval Forces Under the Sea symposium sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Naval History : I’ll start with the inevitable question. How would you compare deep-sea exploration to space flight?
Carpenter : In the near term, and maybe for an extended term, deep-sea exploration is much more important. In the long term, space is the last frontier. But in the near term, the ocean needs better attention and a clearer understanding. And that’s what we are trying to achieve. It used to be that deep-sea exploration was primarily a defense-oriented project. In a way, it’s still defense-oriented; but we’re trying to defend the planet now, instead of just this country.
Naval History : How important is public appreciation of what SeaLab accomplished, even though we’re not doing the same things anymore?
Carpenter : Right. We’re not doing it anymore. And I can’t tell you how important it is. But I do feel comfortable saying it’s more important than we realize. I have such an unbounded respect for the value of new knowledge, new truths. And that’s what we’re still trying to do, at all levels. I think it’s vitally important for our ultimate survival.
Naval History : So you think deep-sea exploration is more important than the International Space Station, for instance?
Carpenter : I’ve always objected to having the two modes of exploration appear as competitive. I think they are complementary. And we’re learning, from all of these experiments, more about where we are and who we are and where we’re going. That sounds highfalutin, but it is all in an attempt to gain new knowledge, which is our salvation.
Naval History : Explain, if you would, the function of the SeaLab program.
Carpenter : In order to understand the ocean and the sea floor and life in the ocean, you have to spend time there. The deeper you go, the harder it is to spend time because of the diver’s albatross, which is decompression. The goal was to provide a pressurized habitat on the ocean floor for a deep-sea diver—one where he could enter the water freely, work as long as possible, and come back and eat and get warm and sleep without paying the decompression penalty. That’s a major advance in our ability to gain new knowledge from the ocean floor. And that’s what SeaLab was.
It was postulated by [Captain] George Bond [U.S. Navy (Retired)], who was behind all of the early work done by Jacques Yves Cousteau, which drew interest from the United States. It came from U.S. Navy work at the hands of George Bond. [See Captain Bond’s book, Papa Topside (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993).] It just says that if a man in a high-pressure environment is in equilibrium with the pressure of the water outside, the longer he stays at that depth, the longer he must decompress—up to 24 hours, when his blood becomes saturated with the breathing atmosphere mix. After 24 hours, he can stay for 24 weeks and still need only the same decompression time. So it makes divers much more efficient in water. And that’s what SeaLab proved.
Naval History : So SeaLab was more for diver efficiency than, perhaps, colonizing the ocean floor at some point?
Carpenter : Well, one leads to the other. I don’t really see a need, at this time, for residential communities on the ocean floor; maybe one day industrial communities, but that’s a long way down the road. But increased freedom in the deep ocean is valuable right now, and that’s what we developed in SeaLab.
Naval History : In hindsight, how do you think SeaLab would be today, if it had been sustained, rather than canceled?
Carpenter : We would have discovered the same things we have discovered in the chambers of the experimental diving unit. We’ve run up against a brick wall because of this physiological limit of 2,000 feet. We can’t really live and work at depths greater than 2,000 feet. And it’s not clearly understood why.
You know, in the SeaLab II film, the narrator makes a statement something like—I’ll paraphrase—”who knows, perhaps in some years we will be diving out of a sea lab at 20,000 feet.” We all thought we were on an open-ended experiment that would go deeper and deeper as soon as we built the technology. We didn’t know at that time that we had a physiological limit at 2,000 feet. So we’re locked out of deeper water until the medics can figure out how to handle that.
Naval History : In light of the USS Greeneville (SSN-772) accident, how
important are visits to Navy ships and submarines to the Navy?
Carpenter : I think they are important, and I don’t think we should do without them. We can, but I don’t think we should. In light of the Greeneville episode, they must be more carefully monitored. I think we might have to be more selective about what we do while there are civilians on board; or maybe just monitor the whole thing more closely. That was human failure spread out all along the line. The whole thing, I think, needs to be reevaluated, but not discontinued.
Naval History : Which were you more interested in—flying or going deep?
Carpenter : My first interest was flying. I was inspired by the very popular war [World War II]. But that led to a fascination for the ocean, mainly because when I started flying for the Navy, I was in Hawaii and got acquainted with the coral reef, skin diving, and spear fishing. And I’d read everything that Cousteau had written and seen all he had produced on film. That was my second love. I am still fascinated by the underwater world. It has a fascination for me of a type that the atmosphere and space do not. But they’re both addictive.
By Mark Tempest
Please join us Sunday 6 Oct 13 for our Episode 196: RDML Kirby, USN, CHINFO:
When the race to being wrong first seems to be a standard, how do we maintain the standard of being a useful source of information, but in a timely manner? In some areas like the budget that wander in to the political arena – how do we stay inside the lines but still inform?
Our guest for the full hour to discuss the process, method and substance of explaining the an often perplexed world our Navy and those things that impact it will be Rear Admiral John Kirby, USN, the Chief of Information.
Join us live at 5pm Eastern U.S. or pick the show up later by clicking here.
Project SIXTY was Admiral Elmo Zumwalt’s ambitious planning effort undertaken during his first sixty days as Chief of Naval Operations. It was without precedent in naval history, as no CNO ever attempted such an extensive agenda change. This was not a situation of implementing change for change’s sake but the Navy at the time was in desperate need of significant improvement. As noted in Admiral Worth Bagley’s oral history, “when he came in, this wasn’t much of a Navy. I mean, it was a good Navy, but it was not the kind of a Navy that people were used to, and it wasn’t the kind of Navy that would meet the sorts of strategic challenges that Zumwalt thought were either existing or looming.”
Many parallels can be drawn from that period of naval history to the situation today – exiting a decade-long unpopular war, defense spending in decline, a personnel system in desperate need of reform and a rising naval threat posed by a great power state. Project SIXTY is an excellent case study for implementing strategic changes, based on a realistic assessment of both strengths and weaknesses, in a highly resistant bureaucratic environment.
Zumwalt opens Project SIXTY with:
My purpose today is to report to you on our naval strengths and weaknesses and the actions we are taking, or will propose, to achieve the highest feasible combat readiness. The report reflects our survey of the Navy to date and sets forth the change of direction which we think necessary. It is impossible to discuss these changes outside the context of potential budget reductions. We will indicate the effect of such reductions; they would curtail our capabilities critically, regardless of our actions. However, we hope to emphasize the theme of the changes that we feel must be undertaken, whether we can maintain our present expenditures or not.
(For the full text of Project SIXTY, see Newport Paper 30.)
There are several important observations derived from Project SIXTY:
Take Risks: There is no question the Admiral Zumwalt was a risk taker and was unhesitant to act upon his convictions. His entire concept of modernizing the Navy was based on accepting short-term risk for long-term gain. As Zumwalt recounted in his memoirs, “given the Nixon administration’s determination to reduce military budgets, the only way I could see for the Navy to free funds for developing up-to-date ships and weapon systems that could cope with the new Russian armaments was to retire immediately large numbers of old ships and aircraft.”
Naval capabilities were seriously reduced in the early seventies while the new systems were being designed, built, and deployed for the 1980s. Leaving a much smaller Navy than what was inherited would be a difficult position for any CNO to take and would certainly leave him open to extensive criticism from inside and outside the Navy.
Further, Zumwalt personally set the tone for accepting risk. As the new CNO introduced himself to his immediate staff, he stated, “My basic philosophy is, if a proposed change is in doubt, make it and see what happens. It is easy to get a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t do something. If the odds are even 40 in favor and 60 against, my reaction is to change it and see how loud the screams are.” In today’s bureaucratic environment many offices are empowered to say no or to stop an initiative but few can actually approve something. This imbalance must be addressed – will greater use of social media within the Navy enable good ideas to immediately gain the attention of senior decision makers, thus marginalizing habitual naysayers at intermediate levels?
Set the Agenda: Although having a vision to modernize the Navy was an important factor in being “deep selected” for the position of CNO, Zumwalt felt it was important to meet with a wide-range of military and civilian leaders prior to starting his reform effort. Admiral Zumwalt traveled to several overseas locations on his return from Saigon and met with foreign officials, senior military officers from other services and a large number of junior officers and enlisted men in fleet units to hear their thoughts and concerns.
Project SIXTY had a clearly established set of issues to address from the start:
- How far to reduce current capability so as to get the most money possible for modernization?
- How to achieve balance through the high-low mix of platforms?
- How to allocate resources between the general-purpose and strategic forces?
- How to maintain high quality force when the draft expired?
- How to maintain sufficient capabilities during the modernization process?
In total, 52 separate issues were addressed during Project SIXTY.
Have a Project Manager: Admiral Zumwalt selected an outsider in Rear Admiral Worth Bagley to manage the day-to-day work. Bagley was Commander of a destroyer flotilla and was unable to immediately assume this essential position. Captain Stansfield Turner, Executive Assistant to the SECNAV at the time, was given this assignment temporarily and was told to “write a strategy for the Navy.”
Turner was largely responsible for the four main missions of the Navy of the future: strategic nuclear deterrence, peacetime presence, sea control, and projection of power ashore. Turner also wrote 30-40 two-page (yes, this was before power point) decision papers that were sent directly to the CNO, many of which were approved on the spot. Turner maintained a notebook of ideas he kept over the years and when the opportunity presented itself, he provided them directly to Zumwalt.
Zumwalt, Bagely, and Turner, all former Executive Assistants to the SECNAV, would eventually drive a small staff to complete this task successfully. Zumwalt knew from experience that a compressed time schedule would force participants to focus on achieving results.
Additionally, Zumwalt created the position of Coordinator of Decisions. Admiral Emmett Tidd filled this important position and ensured Zumwalt’s decisions were carried out – Tidd became “Zumwalt’s SOB”. Zumwalt understood the execution phase was often a burial ground for good ideas.
Be Aware of the Political Landscape: Project SIXTY reflected a keen understanding of naval politics in the early 1970s. Zumwalt recognized that having the OPNAV staff overly involved in Project SIXTY would slow down the process and normal staff work would drain the momentum from his efforts. As Turner would later note, “Deputy Chiefs of Naval Operations and other senior officers began to offer help that wasn’t particularly helpful but seemed designed to infiltrate the work.”
The high-low mix was a central component of Zumwalt’s re-optimization efforts. He was well aware of the power Admiral Rickover held within the Navy, in the senate and on the Atomic Energy Commission. Zumwalt and staff attempted to work with Rickover but it was often impossible to do. Accepting Rickover’s stonewalling, Zumwalt had to maneuver around him.
In a 1976 Proceedings article (while Rickover was still on active duty), Zumwalt reflected, “A final malady that afflicted – and continues to afflict – the whole Navy, though the surface Navy was and is the greatest sufferer, can be described in one word: Rickover.” In the end however, Rickover was saying some of the same things that Zumwalt said at the time. In Rickover’s 1982 farewell speech he concludes, “we can’t put all our eggs in the high-value carrier battle group basket, and that we’ve got to have other and more ways of doing things.”
Having worked for political appointees, Zumwalt understood the defense decision making process. Early in this endeavor, he gained the support of both the SECNAV and SECDEF, and purposefully used language in vogue on the OSD staff to bring them onboard. Adm. Zumwalt spent a large amount of his time trying to persuade people outside the Navy of the wisdom of his changes and believed institutionalizing change would be far easier with the support of external allies.
Personal Leadership: In addition to learning his new role as CNO, Admiral Zumwalt devoted at least two hours a day to Project SIXTY and this personal attention was critical in achieving results. As a comprehensive 1993 study by the Center for Naval Analysis concluded regarding Zumwalt’s leadership:
- The personal attention that Adm. Zumwalt devoted to developing, obtaining a mandate for, and marketing his agenda (internally and externally) had a significant payoff in terms of moving the Navy’s strategic rudder.
- He introduced decision-making mechanisms such as the CNO Executive Board that allowed for participatory management by a board of directors—the VCNO and OPNAV’s Vice Admirals.
- He also introduced a disciplined cross-mission, cross-platform prioritization process that allowed for “creative friction” or competition of ideas in formulating and choosing between concrete steps.
- Further, Adm. Zumwalt introduced a decision follow-up mechanism that allowed him to ensure that his decisions would be carried out.
- Finally, Adm. Zumwalt’s push of innovative concepts to early field experimentation proved critical to the development (or honest evaluation) of a number of program initiatives.
According to a 1982 assessment of Project SIXTY by OP-965, the results of Zumwalt’s ambitious efforts were mixed. A partial list includes:
Successful during Zumwalt’s tenure:
- Explicit missions and rationale for justifying the Navy (see Turner, Missions of the US Navy)
- Minesweeping Helicopters
- Marine Air Squadrons on carriers
- Oliver Hazard Perry Class Ships
- Trident Submarines
Successful after Zumwalt’s tenure:
- Vulcan Phalanx CIWs
- Ocean surveillance systems
- Sea Control Ship
- Surface Effect Ship
Regardless of the outcome of specific weapon programs, Project SIXTY made significant improvements to the Navy’s personnel system. Zumwalt’s goal was clear – create an improved system that allows enlisted sailors and junior officers to do their jobs better. As Bagley noted, “he wanted to create the mental atmosphere, the social atmosphere, and the professional atmosphere that would enhance motivation to get the professional job done in the most effective way.” This goal is consistent with CNO’s ongoing project to Reduce Administrative Distractions.
Bagley also noted the effect Project SIXTY had on the OPNAV staff during Zumwalt’s tenure, “it’s worth saying that we had a common and clear perception, from the Project 60 product, of what was to be done. There wasn’t one single policy paper that I can remember in three and a half years there in which it wasn’t perfectly clear from the Project 60 work the direction of decision that should be taken.”
In the OP-965 assessment, Dr. David Rosenberg noted in the two decades prior to Project SIXTY, the powers of the CNO were significantly curtailed by the growth and incursion from the OSD. This fact makes Zumwalt’s accomplishments even more remarkable. Since the 1982 assessment even more authority has shifted from the CNO to the OSD and Joint Staffs and the Unified Commanders, thanks in large part to Goldwater Nichols. Given this unfortunate reality, it is unlikely that any future CNO will be able to achieve the same level of success in modernizing the Navy as Admiral Zumwalt accomplished during Project SIXTY.
The U.S. Naval Institute’s 2013 annual history conference, “Past, Present, and Future of Human Space Flight” at Alumni Hall on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy opened with the morning keynote presented by astronaut and retired Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford.
Stafford, a veteran of the Gemini and Apollo programs and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, opened his remarks by expressing his pleasure at returning to his alma mater. “I’ll be talking fast today because there’s a lot of history to cover,” he said. Stafford explained that the launch of Sputnik 1 in October 1957 had a galvanizing political effect in the United States that led to a push across the country to boost science, technical, and math (STEM) education, and inspired Senator Lyndon Johnson to push for a manned space program. Stafford summarized the subsequent creation of the Mercury program, explaining that the Mercury spacecraft suffered from limitations largely imposed by the limited size of the available launch vehicles. For example, while astronauts were able to change the Mercury spacecraft’s attitude, they were not able to affect its vector — a factor that would play a significant role in the design of the subsequent two-person Gemini spacecraft.
When Yuri Gagarin made mankind’s first manned space flight on April 12, 1961, it spurred the United States to respond by launching Alan Shepard on a suborbital flight President Kennedy to make his famous speech before Congress a month later in which he called for a man to be landed on the moon and safely returned to Earth. “I’m glad he used the words, ‘safely returned,’” Stafford quipped. A little-known fact about the speech was that Kennedy had already informed, and secured the support of, key Congressional leaders prior to the speech. “So while the speech came as a surprise to many of those in Congress, to the power brokers, the deal was already done,” said Stafford. “This is a lesson in political history.”
Big Intent, Little Clarity
In August of 2012, RDML Foggo asked if it was time to change the “Global Force for Good” motto of the US Navy. His particular focus was the malleability of a brand, how well a phrase communicates our capability and intent. “Global Force for Good,” is a grand sentiment indeed that strikes deep for the optimist, but perhaps that sentiment out-runs its clarity. It doesn’t answer the “what” or “how” sufficiently; “good” is a tremendously generic objective and “being” is not a particularly precise action. We need something more direct, and I would suggest, “Freedom, from the seas.”
Freedom, From the Seas
From, “Accelerate your life,” to, “100% on Watch,” we have had a number of catch-phrases that don’t really explain to the American people why their navy exists. Even the impressive, “Non sibi sed patriae” (not self, but country) misses the actual content of why a navy exists. “Freedom, from the seas,” hits the mark; a play on both “forward from the sea” and “freedom of the seas.”
“Freedom, from the seas,” refers to the ability to defend and secure freedom ashore via a superior position at sea. The United States has always been a Maritime nation, and one that has sought and secured freedom for itself and others in and via the seas. The French Navy helped secure freedom for our fledgling republic, particularly by routing the British Navy at the Battle of the Capes and preventing a British withdrawal from Yorktown. From the US Navy’s blockade of the South during the Civil War to D-Day to Inchon to the Cuban Missile Crisis to Libya, we have sought to drive home the cause of freedom from a superior position on the sea. The US has always found its navy ready to harness the oceanic commons in support of freedom, and in defense of peace all around the world.
“Freedom, from the seas,” also refers to the freedoms that flow from the sea, namely trade, communication, and travel. No nation is truly free that finds itself under blackmail of another. Since the Quasi War and Barbary Wars, the US Navy has ensured that sea-borne trade is both free and secure, continuing to the battle against the U-boats, to the Tanker Wars, to even operations against pirates in Somalia. The navy has carried that spirit from the early days of the XYZ affair, “Millions in defense but not one cent in tribute”, that the United States would not suffer depredations undermining the independent and freedom of US politics and commerce.
Finally, it is important that, “Freedom, from the seas,” has that key word, “freedom.” Isn’t that why we’re all here on these ships in the first place? That primary cause, “Freedom,” illustrates the core oath of every sailor, which is to the Constitution, wherein the Navy was mandated in particular. As we enter such perilous times of sequestration, government shut downs, and ever-increasing debt, it is important to properly communicate what we do and why. “Good,” is far too nebulous a cause to pin down. We were always intended as that first line of freedom’s defense abroad, and is it not right to have a motto that embodies that sentiment.
The Latin version, “De Mari Libero,” is pretty cool too, if you’re concerned more about how it sounds and not also the even more awesome connection to Hugo Grotius. While a work by Hugo Grotius is another great link for this motto to lawful conduct and the origins of the international system, that’s more for self-admitted nerds like me.
- On Midrats 26 April 15 – Episode 277: Manpower, Modernization, and Motivation – an Hour with VADM Moran
- A Call to Write
- On Midrats 19 April 2015 – Episode 276: “21st Century Ellis”
- John Quincy Adams — The Grand Strategist: An Interview With Historian Charles N. Edel
- 4 Reasons Not to Resign Your Commission as a Naval Officer