Navy Unprepared for War after Focusing on Going 'Woke,' Report Reveals
'Every officer is up to speed on diversity training. Not so much ship handling'
The United States Navy is vastly unprepared for war after focusing too heavily on going "woke," a new report has revealed.
Top Navy leaders can’t maintain their own ships, are increasingly risk-averse, are more interested in micromanaging subordinates than sinking enemy vessels, and overreact to any negative news story, no matter how absurd.
Those are some of the harsh findings from the just-released “Fighting Culture of the Navy’s Surface Fleet,” a damning report by a retired Navy rear admiral and retired Marine Corps lieutenant general.
The explosive report was commissioned by four Republican lawmakers concerned about what they say is an increasingly “woke” U.S. military.
The report surveyed 77 current and recently retired Navy personnel, both enlisted and officers, for their insights into the Navy’s current culture.
The probe sought to determine whether "wokeness" was at least partially responsible for a recent series of high-profile operational failures in the surface warfare community.
The report, prepared by Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle and Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, both retired, came in response to recent Naval disasters, including the burning of the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego, two collisions involving Navy ships in the Pacific and the surrender of two small craft to Iran.
The authors conducted hour-long interviews with Navy officers, offering them anonymity to identify issues they wouldn't feel comfortable raising in the chain of command.
The report found that a staggering 94 percent of the subjects believed the recent Naval disasters were "part of a broader problem in Navy culture or leadership."
"I guarantee you every unit in the Navy is up to speed on their diversity training," said one recently retired senior enlisted leader.
"I'm sorry that I can't say the same of their ship handling training."
The report focused on issues within the Navy's surface warfare forces, as opposed to submarine and aviation, and suggested that issues in the surface fleet could be unique due to better funding and training for submarine and aviation units.
One of the key issues raised by the officers interviewed for the report was a concern that Navy leaders spend more time focusing on diversity training than on developing warfighting capacity and key operational skills.
"Sometimes I think we care more about whether we have enough diversity officers than if we'll survive a fight with the Chinese navy," lamented one lieutenant currently on active duty.
"It's criminal," she added.
"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."
One recent destroyer captain said: "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.
"We don't even have close to that same level of emphasis on actual warfighting."
"While programs to encourage diversity, human sex trafficking prevention, suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention, and others are appropriate, they come with a cost," the report's authors wrote.
"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 report added.
Some of the respondents expressed concerns that when combat lethality and warfighting are emphasized, they are treated in a box-checking manner that can seem indistinguishable from non-combat-related exercises.
"The Navy treats warfighting readiness as a compliance issue," said one career commander.
"You might even use the term compliance-centered warfare as opposed to adversary-centered warfare or warfighter-centered warfare."
One junior surface warfare officer, still on active duty, confessed: "I don't think that the [surface community] see themselves as people who are engaged in a fight."
Commander Bryan McGrath, a retired surface warfare officer who agreed to be interviewed on the record, notably dissented on the question of whether excess requirements were distracting sailors from their primary mission, argued that the main issue was too few surface ships.
"[The ships] are very busy," he said.
"I think there are too few of them for what is being asked," he argued.
"The operational requirements squeeze out maintenance, they squeeze out some training."
"When you're on the ship," McGrath said, the "sexual assault and victim stuff, all that stuff just seems like a burden.
"It just seems like it's never-ending…
"[But] the further I get from it, the more I understand why it's important and why there does have to be very clear signals sent to deck plate sailors that they're, you know, that issues that are important to them are important to leadership."
Report condemns Navy's "paralyzing zero-defect mentality."
Another issue identified in the report is the overly-timid practice of treating certain errors with career termination and offering no opportunity for recovery.
Former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman made the startling claim that of the four key admirals who led the Navy to victory in World War II, none would make the rank of captain in today's fleet.
"Nimitz put his first command on the rocks," Lehman said. "And Halsey was constantly getting into trouble for bending the rules or drinking too much…
"Ernie King was a womanizer and a heavy drinker."
"Admiral Leahy may be the only one that might have made it through, but he had quite a few blots on his record as well," said Lehman.
"But in each case, there was a critical mass of leadership in the Navy that recognized that these were very, very promising junior officers," he said of the WWII admirals.
"And so, while they were punished for mistakes, they were kept in a career path.
"That's not the case today," he added.
"It's just not done because it's too dangerous for anybody that tries to help someone who has made a mistake."
Another issue identified in the report is a perceived fear among Navy leaders of any negative news articles.
"[Admirals] are supposed to lead us into battle but they hide in foxholes at the first sight of Military.com and the Military Times," said one intelligence officer.
"The reporters are in charge, not us."
The report suggested that since the end of the Cold War, the lack of a major adversary had caused the attention of Navy leaders to drift away from military readiness.
But it pointed out that China has been aggressively expanding its navy, and noted that the U.S. Navy has not zeroed in its focus on understanding China's forces the way they were trained on every class of Soviet ship and missile.
"What are the things the Chinese are concerned about?" one respondent said.
"What are the things the Iranians are concerned about?
"[The] Intel folks know that, but like there's no general education about, 'What are the wars we could fight, and how do we understand the context of these so we get in combat.'
"We can have both the cultural and political understanding as well as the warfighting implications.
"And to me, if we're focused on the front-line warfighting, we should know the worst we're going into and what the greater context is.
"There's none of that right now."
The report concluded: "A major peer-level conflict in the 21st Century will likely play out largely in the naval theaters of operations; unlike the surface Navy's last major war, which concluded 76 years ago, such a conflict will likely proceed swiftly and not permit significant time for organizational learning once it is underway.
"Unless changes are made, the Navy risks losing the next major conflict."