Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

What’s the matter with today’s Navy?

Every service occasionally goes through a slump.

NH 89380
NH 89380

Every service occasionally goes through a slump. The Marines had a hard time in the 1980s with the Beirut bombing and the Moscow embassy scandal. The Army seemed lost from 2003 to 2007, and isn’t entirely out of the woods yet, partly because it has yet to soberly reflect on its errors.

Right now seems to be the Navy’s turn in the barrel. I am thinking here mainly of the Differently Sized Leonard scandal, with 30 admirals under investigation, and also the small boat mess in the Persian Gulf. And then the occasional booting of a skipper, XO or CMC. (And minor stuff, too.)

It’s a shame because this is really the first time in many years that I can remember the Navy arguably being in the forefront of American military events. Deterring China from thinking that aggressive behavior, or even a war, is a good idea is a significant mission.

Every service occasionally goes through a slump. The Marines had a hard time in the 1980s with the Beirut bombing and the Moscow embassy scandal. The Army seemed lost from 2003 to 2007, and isn’t entirely out of the woods yet, partly because it has yet to soberly reflect on its errors.

Right now seems to be the Navy’s turn in the barrel. I am thinking here mainly of the Differently Sized Leonard scandal, with 30 admirals under investigation, and also the small boat mess in the Persian Gulf. And then the occasional booting of a skipper, XO or CMC. (And minor stuff, too.)

It’s a shame because this is really the first time in many years that I can remember the Navy arguably being in the forefront of American military events. Deterring China from thinking that aggressive behavior, or even a war, is a good idea is a significant mission.

At least the Navy is open about its dismissals. Does the Army think it has no toxic NCOs? I can’t remember the last time I read about a command sgt. maj. getting pulled over for toxic leadership.

Photo credit: Damaged TBF Avenger, 1945; Naval History and Heritage Command

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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