- - Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The U.S. Navy’s loss of two sophisticated, key anti-ballistic-missile-capable destroyers within a matter of several weeks is symptomatic of a much larger issue. The fact that these highly maneuverable ships were “steaming” independently and collided with two civilian merchant ships, which was clearly avoidable, demands drastic corrective action. A recent directive by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson calling for a top-to-bottom review by all levels of the Navy’s command structure is a step in the right direction.

Areas most likely to be reviewed include the current size of the Navy and an assessment of its impact on force deployments, operational tempo as well as lack of time for required maintenance. Certainly, current training procedures and how personnel are qualified to perform critical bridge watch-standing duties, as well as in the combat information center, must be examined. While these are key areas to review, the Navy has always had long deployments and overworked crews, neither of which affected fundamental seamanship on operating our ships. However, I am sure that eliminating of the Surface Warfare Officer School will be highlighted as a contributing factor.

In that sense, I never understood why a newly commissioned ensign from the U.S. Naval Academy or from a four-year NROTC program had to be sent to six months of additional training to learn to be a division officer before reporting to his first ship. What was he doing for four years of intense training at the U.S. Naval Academy?

One area that I have not heard would be examined is a “third rail” for the Navy as it deals with personnel-manning policies for its ships and aircraft squadrons: What impact has “diversity” policies had on a ship’s manning criteria? Implicit within this is examining what has been the impact of President Obama’s social engineering mandates that were forced on our military and their negative impact on our readiness and capabilities. His Executive Order 13583 declaring that “diversity” is a strategic imperative critical to mission readiness and accomplishment simply does not compute. This is faculty lounge logic. What the EO did, in effect, was to provide cover for the forced implementation of his social engineering programs. Many of these programs were a distraction with valuable time devoted to “sensitivity training” instead of, for example, learning the meaning of “code of conduct.” Due to political correctness, our military leaders failed to challenge the EO just as they failed to challenge the Restricted Rules of Engagement that cost so many lives.

Another distraction that needs to be reviewed is the opening of all combat roles to women. There are many viable roles for women in the military — combat is not one of them.

When I used to visit ship wardrooms, it was not unusual for me to find that the chief engineer was an MIT graduate, the anti-submarine officer was a graduate of Brown, the weapons officer was a Naval Academy graduate, the first lieutenant was from Princeton, and so on. You won’t find a wardroom today with such talent. This is due primarily to current shipboard-manning policies that preclude this type of talent from getting shipboard billets.

President Trump’s recent decision to ban transgender personnel from military service was clearly the right decision. No finer expert that Dr. Paul McHugh, former head psychologist at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, has stated that transgenderism is not a physical issue, it is a mental disorder that needs understanding and treatment. It is not a civil rights issue and should never be forced on the military. However, with the hijacking of the American Psychological Association (APA) by the left, there are now enough votes to classify a mental disorder (transgenderism) as perfectly “normal.” Clearly, the APA should be decertified and no longer used by the Department of Defense as the key reference.

Over the years, I have found that there are three elements aboard ship that are unacceptable for good order and discipline. One, you cannot have a thief; two, you cannot tolerate a drug user or drug pusher; and three, you cannot have a homosexual aboard. In fact, the entire LGBT agenda is clearly a distraction and impacts negatively on unit integrity, cohesiveness and the “will to win.” It should be pointed out that in the late 1800s, homosexuality was so rampant on Navy ships that mothers would not let their sons enlist until the Navy cleaned up its act.

The bottom line is that the military is an institution whose mission is to protect and defend the country against all enemies foreign or domestic. Anything that distracts from this mission must be rejected. It is the institution that sets the standards for enlistment. No one has a right to serve in the military unless they meet those standards. In that sense, Navy leadership can take the lead in rejecting the social engineering mandates that were forced on our military forces by the Obama administration.

I believe the current problems our ships are experiencing can be traced to these mandates. With the hundreds of millions of dollars that are expended to build today’s sophisticated warships, we must have the “best and brightest” to man those ships. Now is the time to take the lead by breaking the shackles of political correctness and put the Navy back on an even keel.

• James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide