Irresponsible Monday Morning Quarterbacking
Do journalists for semi-major web publications make unsubstantiated charges that further their political agenda? Is Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.), DefenseWatch Contributing Editor who publishes articles online at Soldiers for the Truth, a total asshat? These are the questions I intend to investigate in this hard-hitting blog entry that will see if the 29-year retired Lieutenant is simply following the orders of his high-ranking (retired) boss, or if he comes by this particular agenda on his own.
Okay, not really... but I am quite pissed about some of the little snippets thrown into this article by the above-mentioned Raymond Perry currently [Edit 1207 26 Jan: now about a quarter of the way down on the front page] on the front page of the Soldiers for the Truth website. In discussing the recent grounding of USS San Francisco (SSN-711) he throws out these little gems:
"Reliable sources indicate that a senior officer was embarked on San Francisco. Could her skipper have been showboating? Did his presence aboard the sub intimidate her skipper? This has been a pertinent issue in earlier submarine mishaps (See “Why are Navy COs Getting the Ax?” DefenseWatch, March 2, 2004). It is critical for the Navy to investigate the potential involvement of a senior officer in order to determine the full account of why the San Francisco accident occurred (also see “A Second Look at the Greeneville Collision,” DefenseWatch, Apr. 1, 2004)."
All in all, the article up to this point is, to be honest, about as factually accurate (if boring) as you might expect from someone who has no clue about the differences between submarine navigation and surface ship navigation. By bringing up these "questions" (read: accusations), we see that Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.) is really interested in continuing his quest to blame all submarine accidents on the presence of senior riders onboard. In his "A Second Look at the Greeneville Collision", he notes that the senior riders onboard the USS Oklahoma City (SSN-723) and USS Hartford (SSN-768) during their recent collision and grounding, respectively, were both relieved of their duties. The focus in this article is questioning why the senior officer aboard the Greeneville was not similarly relieved. (The fact that the senior officers aboard the Hartford and Oklahoma City were the direct operational commander, either deployed or normal, of the respective boat's COs, while the SubPac Chief of Staff on the Greeneville was not, apparently has no relevance in Lt. Perry's world.)
For those unfamiliar with attack submarine life, here's the "straight skinny": I can count on one hand the number of underways I had in which no one other than the ship's crew was on board. Subs almost always have riders aboard, frequently senior to the CO. While the recent accidents may have been on submarines in which a senior rider is present (and I have seen nothing to indicate that there was a senior rider aboard the San Francisco other than this article), I think we can conservately estimate that 99.9+% of underways with senior officers aboard do not "make the news".
"Showboating"? "Intimidated"? These words do not in any way describe the CDR Mooney that I am honored to have known, and do a great disservice to his dedication and service to our country. And, by the way, Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.), if a submariner were to "showboat" for a visiting dignitary, there are better ways to do it than run at a flank bell to make up ground after a field day. (Maybe that's how skimmers did it in the little less than 29 years it took you to make Lieutenant; subs are a little more exciting.) And, I fail to see how someone could be "intimidated" into not having the fathometer manned properly, as seems to be the thrust of the earlier, more boring part of your screed. Maybe you could also investigate how many suicides of Chief of Naval Operations happened prior to meeting your employer.
OK, I'm calmed down a little now. In all fairness, a review of some of the articles Perry has written about other subjects seems to show that he is generally fair, if a little naive. As far as Col. Hackworth is concerned... he does seem genuinely interested in improving the military and getting better equipment for the troops, and if he doesn't like flag officers too much, well, some of them piss me off as well. For example, I pretty much agree with the points he makes in this article. But, it does seem that you frequently see him being trotted out on the various news programs if someone is needed support a more defeatist agenda from a military point of view. All in all, I think the "questions" raised in the article do little to advance the cause of determining why the San Francisco ran aground, and unfairly impugn the character of CDR Mooney.
Postscript: I found this article while searching for this guest column, which I think makes for interesting, non-sub related reading.
Bell-ringer 1558 21 Jan: CDR Salamander weighs in with an earlier discussion on the political ties of Col. Hackworth, who runs the DefenseWatch organization for which Perry works. Although I didn't answer the "asshat" question I rhetorically posed above, the good Commander provides his vote in the comments.
Update 1208 26 Jan: Now that sftt.org has linked to me, I guess there's a chance that Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.) himself might read my little snit-fit above. If so, I'd like to offer him a chance to respond on this page; I'll post whatever you send me, Ray. Just know, though, that my "frequently intoxicated sources" are saying something different than your "reliable sources" about who may or may not have been on the boat during the grounding, so be prepared to defend yours.