Report Warns That Identity Politics Is Weakening The Navy

Report Warns That Identity Politics Is Weakening The Navy

The fundamental refrain was one of incompetence and destabilizing political correctness. The U.S. Navy is in dire need of toughening up.
Sumantra Maitra
By

One of the visually shocking moments, now likely lost from collective memory, was during the late Obama era in early 2016, when a group of U.S. Navy sailors were detained by the Iranian navy. Capture is part of the hazards of being in the armed forces, but what was new was footage of televised tears. Sailors and marines of the mighty American Navy were shown on Iranian TV, with one sailor weeping in fear and others divulging too much information under pressure and interrogation, according to some reports.

If a new report is to be believed, the U.S. Navy is today still in dire need of toughening up and displays the same feminization and loss of fortitude that has recently been much-lamented among other branches of our armed forces.

The structural and bureaucratic rot described in the report should ring alarm bells. Ostensibly nonpartisan, it was done with a clear methodology by a former naval officer at the behest of four members of Congress.

The report is scathing about the growing politicization of the Navy. For example, it quotes an unnamed Destroyer captain: “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.”

“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 another, this time a lieutenant.

“I guarantee you every unit in the Navy is up to speed on their diversity training. I’m sorry that I can’t say the same of their ship handling training,” suggested a third, this time a recently retired senior officer.

The fundamental refrain was one of incompetence and destabilizing political correctness.

“Finding and sinking enemy fleets should be the principal purpose of a Navy. But many sailors found their leadership distracted, captive to bureaucratic excess, and rewarded for the successful execution of administrative functions rather than their skills as a warfighter,” according to the report.

“There was considerable apprehension that the surface warfare community in particular lost its fighting edge in the years following the end of the Cold War. With China building and operating a competitive fleet, the lack of proper attention on warfighting was of deep concern to many interviewees,” the report continues.

How to Start Fixing This Dangerous Problem

The report’s policy suggestions are straightforward.

“Prioritize warfighting. Pay to develop, host, and utilize high end, multi-mission, warfighting training tools for ship crews. Once a ship is ready for deployment, administrative training should be deprioritized by the ship’s captain. Foster in the surface warfare community a better focus on the Navy’s core mission of fighting and winning on the high seas,” suggests one.

The authors also urge that all politicization immediately stop.

“Get politics and media out of the warroom. Renew the Navy’s noble tradition of remaining out of politics. Limit social media accounts and activities by Navy officials, discourage use of toxic platforms by sailors, remove all political and sociological topics from Professional Military Education and replace them with essential warfighting courseware,” the report suggests.

Other Great Powers Aren’t Politically Correct

This concern about politicizing our military isn’t new. Once, the only institution considered above cultural battles was the military, because by definition it is not an egalitarian institution. A soldier or a sailor isn’t a member of a social club. The armed forces are not a social experiment, like some other professions, to affirm identities or feelings.

Nor is it an institution with the purpose of making confused twentysomethings feel welcome. The military’s one purpose is to defend our nation, whether that takes burning, sinking, or killing. Its general aim is to put the fear of all that’s holy into our adversaries.

Other great powers do not care if their armed forces are gender balanced or if they have mastered the proper social and behavioral etiquette. There’s no massive push for political correctness in Russian or Chinese armed forces.

The difference in these recruitment videos demonstrate the differing priorities. While the American armed forces give the impression of an effete college dorm, the Chinese forces are gearing up for domination in a Hobbesian world. Consider them clubbing Indian soldiers to death with nail-studded baseball bats.

For more than a quarter century, America has enjoyed military dominance. The resultant complacency led to wars of choice against puny peripheral forces in regions of no strategic interest and to bloating of the national security bureaucracy.

It is imperative that this report is taken seriously by conservatives and needed changes are encouraged and implemented, as liberals are blinded and handicapped by their egalitarian worldview to the point the next great power war might prove to be an existential threat to the survival of the republic.

Dr. Sumantra Maitra is a national-security fellow at The Center for the National Interest; a non-resident fellow at the James G Martin Center; and an elected early career historian member at the Royal Historical Society. He is a senior contributor to The Federalist, and can be reached on Twitter @MrMaitra.

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