A Requiem: 2008

We’ve looked back at 2008 and reviewed some of our favorite topics. A few are synopsized below, introduced by book ideas we’d like to see. 

Stodgy White Boys: A Service Chief’s Guide to Race-Based Awards. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughhead has penchant for his Navy as well as race-based awards. As we reported March 3, Roughhead explained, “It [endorsement of race-based awards] recognizes us as an organization that values diversity, that puts a premium on diversity, but it also shows the excellence that exists within the Navy. I believe it just speaks volumes about who we are and what we stand for.” That’s right, Gary. An organization of stodgy white status-quo-hungry males needs such awards to appear less so. We must note, no one in the Navy said this or implied the Navy is stodgy or white. This is from staff observations (inside their stodgy White Boy World.)   

Highway to Hell: The History of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). We could not get enough on this gem, and apparently nor could the Navy or rival contract hunters Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. This fast, maneuverable, versatile, and shallow-water capable vessel was an idea that could not miss. But the Navy’s Program Executive Office Ships has never met a change it could resist. (Damn the Budget! Full Speed Ahead!) While the road to Hell may be paved with good intentions, the LCS Speedway to Satan carries the cost differential between the original $220 million a ship and the now nearly $600 million price tag. Despite the Navy’s best efforts to blow this project out of the water, the USS Freedom (LCS 1) has made her maiden voyage, her sister is not far behind, and another 60-plus may lie ahead. 

The Rise and Fall of DDG 1000: Billions on the Path to Self-Discovery. We’re still stumped by this one. The Navy was determined to have a new destroyer different from those of the past. Maybe it was a dare? DDG 1000 boasted an unstable platform further challenged by myriad, unnecessary capabilities. In July, the Navy slashed the number of the Zumwalt class from a whopping seven to two with plans to cancel the program, followed by reports of a third ship. This project that has spanned more than 15 years has devoured in excess of $10 billion, if one counts the Zumie One and Zumie Two. Lessons learned? Tell ‘em what they want to hear. 

Buck Sloane and the Great TRAVEL-ing Red Herring Fishing Expedition. In “OSD PA, ‘You Can’t Handle the Truth,’ ” we told you how Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Buck Sloane (not his real name) languishes at Headquarters Marine Corps as he awaits the “outcome” of a DoD investigation into an item that had little to do with his previous tour as deputy commanding general, Multi-National Force — Iraq (Detainee Operations) and commanding general, Task Force 134, Baghdad, Iraq. The consensus seems to be he can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile, according to those who watched the (miraculous) transformation of detainee ops in Iraq. In July, Sloane received Senate approval for his third star and command of Marine Forces Reserve. So why the investigation? Professional jealousy? Why the secrecy? Why did five headquarters avoid questions or mislead us? Why was the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs yelling? Can anyone be trusted? Magic Eight Ball says: Very doubtful. 

U.S. Naval Institute: A Century of Service and Decade of Disaster. On Nov. 24, we reported the firing of USNI’ Proceedings editor Robert Timberg.  He is just one in a long line “pushed out” of the U.S. Naval Institute by current CEO Tom Wilkerson. We’re confident we’ll hear more from this crew in the coming year.

Recent Posts