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Newsgroups: sci.military.naval
From: (J.D. Baldwin)
Subject: Re: USNA - Round 3?
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 03:06:06 GMT

In article <4lra4a$>, MICOMA <>
>Any of you folks in the beltway area surrounding the canoe school hear
>anything about a speech given just recently by former SecNav Webb to
>the middies in which he took verbal shots at the current Navy leadership
>- and then there was some kind of confrontation concerning those shots
>with former Assist SecNav Howard on the stage - in font of everyone?

I was there.

Webb gave a SPECTACULAR speech blasting senior Navy leadership for
scattering like roaches when the kitchen lights go on every time a 
politically sensitive incident occurs.  My opinion of the quality of
his speech is of course influenced by the fact that I agree with him
100%.  I have personal friends who were damaged by prosecutorial
misconduct in the Tailhook case--misconduct that was not only condoned
but *encouraged* by Navy admirals for whom the search for witches to
burn publicly became far more important than the truth.

Webb detailed about five major incidents (not all Tailhook-related) in
which senior Navy officers let down their men and their service by
failing to step forward and say, "This is wrong."  One of these was
a blast at a former "acting Secretary of the Navy who never served a
day in uniform" who made a particularly odious generalization on the
basis of the antics of a few drunken aviators in Las Vegas.  Standing
next to him was a CNO who, shamefully, let him get away with it.

Former Navy undersecretary Dan Howard took exception and thought Webb
was referring to him.  He climbed the dais and stepped up to the
podium during the Q&A period and launched into what promised to be a
lengthy rebuttal of Webb's "half-truths and fiction."  Howard is a
craven political lickspittle and an all-around horse's ass, but he did
not happen to be the "acting Secretary" in question, and Webb
interrupted him to tell him so.  (The identity of the actual individual
is left as this week's Not-So-Great Moments in Naval History Trivia

At this point, Webb and Howard got into a literal tug of war over the
microphone, pulling it back and forth between them.  Webb asked
Howard, "Excuse me, but were you invited to this podium?"  Howard just
glared while the crowd applauded thunderously, then tried to launch
back into his own speech.  By this time the crowd (mostly retired
CAPT's and flag officers) was shouting at Howard to sit down and shut
up.  Finally, Webb finished him off with words to the effect of:  "If
you have a question, get to it.  If you just want to respond to me,
write an article.  That's what I do.  If you think things are fine in
the Navy the way they are, write an article about it."  Howard glared
one last time, realized he had spent what little credibility he has,
and stormed off the stage.

For those interested:  the speech was last Thursday, April 25th.  An
article describing the speech and incident appeared in the next day's
(??? - might have been Saturday's) Washington "Times."  An adaptation
of the speech itself appeared as an article by Webb in today's (April
28th) Washington "Post."
 From the catapult of J.D. Baldwin  |+| "If anyone disagrees with anything I
   _,_    Finger |+| say, I am quite prepared not only to
 _|70|___:::)=}-  for PGP public    |+| retract it, but also to deny under
 \      /         key information.  |+| oath that I ever said it." --T. Lehrer

Newsgroups: sci.military.naval
From: (J.D. Baldwin)
Subject: Re: USNA - Round 3?
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 19:44:23 GMT

In article <4m26nd$>, <> wrote,
quoting me:
>>I have personal friends who were damaged by prosecutorial misconduct
>>in the Tailhook case--misconduct that was not only condoned but
>>*encouraged* by Navy admirals for whom the search for witches to burn
>>publicly became far more important than the truth.
>	Sad point.  The "truth" is that quite a few aviators engaged
>in conduct that was unacceptable and then they, and many more, engaged
>in a pattern of lying and obstructing the investigation.  

I take issue with this.  I have been tarred with the "Tailhook" brush
more than once on the basis of crap like this and I don't like it a
damn bit.  (I have never attended a Tailhook convention.)  The
incidents were minor and isolated.  Listening to media reports and
Senate speeches, you would think the Vegas Hilton was the scene of
mass rape on a Bosnia scale.  The conduct, in general, may or may
not have been "unacceptable" by some standard, but very little of it
was illegal.

>If all those concerned had just written down what they had done and
>what they had witnessed others doing then the guilty could have taken
>their lumps like men and women and perhaps the public could have
>                 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>confidence in the ability of the Navy to investigate and discipline
>its own.  

It is to laugh.  Despite the full participation of a few women in
the really gross parts of the misconduct, the Navy was never interested
in pursuing an investigation of that aspect of the incident.  They
wouldn't have served the political purpose, you see.

NIS (or NCIS) *ignored* (and continues to this day to ignore)
exculpatory evidence--including, in some cases, *documentary* evidence
that proves that the aviator in question wasn't even *in* Vegas at the
time (e.g., flight records) or wasn't wearing what eyewitnesses said
(e.g., photographs).  All this in the name of pressuring innocent parties
to submit to mast rather than demand courts-martial, thus inflating 
the count of heads on pikes outside the Navy Annex.

>If the aviation community had 'fessed up there would be no need for
>"witch hunts", the guilty parties would have served nicely.

Ha ha.  Tell it to Jack Snyder, whose promising career was destroyed
on the basis of Paula Coughlin's letter without being given so much
as a minute to tell his side of the story.

>I have just about zero pity for the tailhook folks, they are stewing
>in their own juices.

Thanks.  I'll convey your sympathies to my conservative Christian
friend, who considers "NYPD Blue" to be pornography, and who pointedly
attended only professional seminars in Vegas that year, studiously
avoiding the parties (even the benign ones), going so far as to stay
at the Nellis BOQ rather than the Hilton.  He spent two years trying
to clear his name, decided it wasn't worth it, and went to fly for

>And talking about prosecutorial misconduct, aviators are just pissed
>because they are being treated like *suspected* homosexuals always
>have been.  No one stands up for them, so the practices spread....

???  Before being discharged for open homosexuality, a member is 
entitled to have his side of the story heard by a formally convened
board, and to review and rebut the evidence against him.  In 16-1/2
years, including a few as a legal officer, I never saw or heard of
this procedure being violated.  The Tailhook "investigation" was a
violation of these principles from start to finish.

>	Do you mean the CNO should have jumped in and disagreed with a
>superior in public?  What a piss poor example of leadership that would
>have been.

No, but he didn't have to stand at the man's side while his service and
tens of thousands of innocents were being slandered.

>  Oh, yeah, all the JOs would have shouted "hurrah!", at least until
>someone did it to them.

On the other hand, it might have served as a reminder that you can't
expect an endorsement--explicit or implicit--of immoral conduct from
your juniors just by virtue of your position.  I'd say that's still a
valuable lesson for JO's to learn.

>If a superior is off base there is the "proper place and time", which
>is not "right now" and "publicly".

Sure, but Webb's point was that these things weren't being said at 
all, because senior officers were more interested in currying favor 
than in standing up for their service and their principles (or what
were supposed to be their principles).

>Besides, it is not up to subordinates to let superiors "get away" with
>things.  Until they stray into illegality, superiors say and do what
>they wish, all your privately stated disagreements to the contrary.

I strongly disagree that conduct must be illegal before a junior
"calls" a senior on it.  But even if you don't, try reviewing some of
the shenanigans involving Secretariat interference with promotion
board deliberations and results (which were once *sacred*), and tell
me that senior uniformed leadership was anything but craven and
cowardly in a situation in which the LAW was being violated.

>And about a SecNav "never serving in uniform", it is not a requirement
>for the job and, yes, the CNO is SUBORDINATE to the SecNav, for those

It has more to do with the moral authority to tar an entire service 
as lacking in ethics and suffering from cultural problems, on the basis
of the actions of a few, than with statutory authority to set policy.

>	They both were behaving like clowns.  No wonder the Nav is in
>such deep kimchi with guys like this as role models--yanking at mikes
>like a bunch of ten year olds and issuing put downs instead of letting
>one another speak.

Ah, the old, "they were *both* equally at fault."  Hardly.  Howard's
conduct was totally inappropriate, and Webb simply did what it took
to regain control of the forum, which was just and proper.

>  After all, Howard was just doing to Webb what Webb thought that the
>CNO should have done to that SecNav.  See why you shouldn't do things
>like that?  Makes you look childish.

Please.  No one was suggesting that, and your inference is downright
. . . well, childish.

>	Well I'm certainly going to look for the articles.  Even if they 
>can't behave worth a damn these guys may have something useful to say.  
>I'm no Webb fan, though.  (I don't get 600 ships?  Waaaah!)

That's truly a distortion of the circumstances surrounding Webb's
resignation on principle.  All Webb wanted (as SecNav) was an open,
robust debate on the strategic merits of maintaining a Cold War
presence of static, ground-based air wings and divisions on the
Continent in the face of a drastically reduced threat vs. maintaining
the ability to enforce freedom of navigation and security of sea-
borne commerce in the face of a rapidly diversifying threat.  SecDef
instead avoided a political fight for which he had no stomach and cut
all services evenly, across the board.  Regardless of your position on
the relative strategic merits of Webb's argument, this was a stupid
and cowardly response to a real problem.  Webb's resignation was an
honorable response to a stupid and highly political act, and to
dismiss it with "Waaaah!" is . . . well, you know.

I'd say that, given recent developments, Webb has been 100%
vindicated.  We can't maintain operational commitments in the face of
a developing Third World threat that is just as deadly to sea-borne
commerce as the USSR ever was.  We just have to trust in the good will
of Iraq, Iran and North Korea not to stir up trouble while we relocate
assets to respond to the Taiwan crisis.  It won't work forever.
Meanwhile, we have more troops in Europe than Britain has worldwide,
and I'm *still* waiting for someone to explain to me why the Air Force
needs three strategic bombers . . .
 From the catapult of J.D. Baldwin  |+| "If anyone disagrees with anything I
   _,_    Finger |+| say, I am quite prepared not only to
 _|70|___:::)=}-  for PGP public    |+| retract it, but also to deny under
 \      /         key information.  |+| oath that I ever said it." --T. Lehrer

Newsgroups: sci.military.naval
From: (J.D. Baldwin)
Subject: Re: USNA - Round 3?
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 14:24:19 GMT

In article <4m3dkb$>, MICOMA <>
wrote, quoting Steven J Forsberg <>:
>>I'm no Webb fan, though.  (I don't get 600 ships?  Waaaah!)
>Wrong SecNav.

I absolutely agree with every bit of your rebuttal to Mr. Forsberg's
rather distorted idea of the civilian-military political relationship
and what is required *on principle* of the military half of that
equation, but if I read him correctly, he wasn't thinking of Lehman
(as you seem to suggest) but rather making a distorted and unfair
assessment of Webb's resignation on principle.

This is a frequent criticism of Webb, and in my experience it has been
made, mostly, by those who believe "duty" requires you to stay "on
board" and "go along to get along" no matter what your leadership is
doing.  These people seem to believe that the proper role of a 
SecNav, if SecDef says "We're only going to have 200 ships by 2005,"
is to salute smartly, say "Aye-aye" and carry out the plan.

Webb feels differently.  Of course, a junior cannot countermand such
an order, but he can refuse to be a part of a plan that will undermine
national security in the interest of sparing SecDef a little political
heat.  All Webb wanted was an honest, robust, open debate on the
national security interests involved and how best to address them.
Instead of debate, he got a politically calculated "solution" and
he took as his model Louis Sullivan, the SecNav who resigned in 1949
rather than carry out orders to cancel the Navy's aircraft carrier
program.  After this came the "Revolt of the Admirals."  All of this
had the net effect of prompting a re-assessment and open debate of
the nation's security needs, and the aircraft carrier was saved.

In my humble opinion, Sullivan was a hero, as were Denfield, Burke and
the rest of the "revolutionaries" who laid their careers on the line
for the security of their nation.  And I think it's pretty clear that
history has vindicated their judgment, as it has begun to vindicate
Webb's about the relative importance of seagoing power projection to a
maritime nation.

To characterize this kind of integrity and moral courage--whether you
agree or disagree with the basis for the action--with a summary like
"Waaaah!" says much more about the critic than it ever could about
Webb or Sullivan.
 From the catapult of J.D. Baldwin  |+| "If anyone disagrees with anything I
   _,_    Finger |+| say, I am quite prepared not only to
 _|70|___:::)=}-  for PGP public    |+| retract it, but also to deny under
 \      /         key information.  |+| oath that I ever said it." --T. Lehrer

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