As someone descended from a long line of Navy men on both sides of my family, it pains me indeed to have to say this. But, as Vox puts it:
The level of bureaucratic incompetence plaguing the US Navy is almost astonishing, even without taking into account the way female crewmen have increasingly hindered the ability of the Navy to properly crew its ships. No wonder the Russians were able to defeat US forces in Syria; the Chinese have absolutely no reason to fear a US Navy that literally can’t even steer its own ships.
The USA is almost certainly going to lose its next major war. What we are witnessing here is nothing new, it is absolutely normal for an empire that has indulged itself in imperial overstretch for generations to fail to fund its military infrastructure prior to engaging in the conflict that fatally exposes the rot within. And lest you appeal to the inherent strength of the American people, keep in mind, the United States of Diversity is comprised of a very, very different population than the United States of America of 78 years ago.
Depressing as it is, he’s correct on every particular here, and we all know it. From the article he’s talking about:
When Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was elevated to lead the vaunted 7th Fleet in 2015, he expected it to be the pinnacle of his nearly four-decade Navy career. The fleet was the largest and most powerful in the world, and its role as one of America’s great protectors had new urgency. China was expanding into disputed waters. And Kim Jong-un was testing ballistic missiles in North Korea.
Aucoin was bred on such challenges. As a Navy aviator, he’d led the “Black Aces,” a squadron of F-14 Tomcats that in the late 1990s bombed targets in Kosovo.
An aside, apropos of nothing: I met some of the Black Aces one weekend years ago when the band went up to NAS Oceana to play at the O-club for Cousin Reggie’s change of command after-party years ago. Those guys, the Jolly Rogers, and a few others were in attendance, all good bud of Reggies, who was taking over Rampager squadron (VFA 83) that day. It was a truly great night, one of the best ever for me. It was also the night I taught Mark Kelly— yes, THAT Mark Kelly, another close friend of Regbo’s, who strolled in casually rockin’ his blue NASA jumpsuit fresh from a training session in the Domes simulator complex—to play Smoke On The Water on guitar, which I believe I’ve mentioned here a couple times before. Anyways.
But what he found with the 7th Fleet alarmed and angered him.
The fleet was short of sailors, and those it had were often poorly trained and worked to exhaustion. Its warships were falling apart, and a bruising, ceaseless pace of operations meant there was little chance to get necessary repairs done. The very top of the Navy was consumed with buying new, more sophisticated ships, even as its sailors struggled to master and hold together those they had. The Pentagon, half a world away, was signing off on requests for ships to carry out more and more missions.
The risks were obvious, and Aucoin repeatedly warned his superiors about them. During video conferences, he detailed his fleet’s pressing needs and the hazards of not addressing them. He compiled data showing that the unrelenting demands on his ships and sailors were unsustainable. He pleaded with his bosses to acknowledge the vulnerability of the 7th Fleet.
Aucoin recalled the response: “Crickets.”
I said “depressing” above, and it is that. It’s also enraging. The sorry state of the US Navy is simply unacceptable, and dangerous. This article reveals a corruption and misfeasance little short of mind-blowing in its scope, and you should read all of it. Solutions to this massive problem are pretty thin on the ground; could be there really are none, or none likely to be implememnted given the current state of the nation itself. Our ill-concealed national enfeeblement bodes even worse than our ragged, overstretched military does; both are tocsin bells warning us of the necessity to hold Trump’s feet to the fire on his declared intent to pull the US out of its pointless, endless entanglements in Syria and Afghanistan, at the very least.