Engineers and scientists are under ever expanding influences to obtain expertise in continually narrowing fields of study. At the University of Michigan, one of the largest and most respected schools of naval architecture in the world, graduate students may specialize in a variety of concentrations including: hydrodynamics; marine and offshore structures; marine system integration; marine robotics; marine design, production, and management; marine renewable energy; and structural and hydro-acoustics. Naval architecture is itself a specialized form of the engineering discipline, so mastery in any one of the concentrations involves a great deal of learning about a relatively few things.
At one level, this is good. As the sum of human knowledge continues to expand, no one can be a true Polymath; a person knowing a great deal about all the fields of academic study. There is simply too much information to be learned. A scientist or engineer who wishes to make significant contributions to his or her field of study will have to concentrate on some specialty narrow enough to be mastered and relevant enough to produce useful knowledge. However, I would entreat scientists and engineers to take at least a brief side trip through an academic field apart from their own. I would make this plead especially to those in technical fields whose work impacts national defense. Those professionals whose life’s work takes the needs of the warriors who defend our way of live and turns those needs into the products placed back into the warrior’s hands would do well to study classic literature.
What do I mean by “classic literature”? I refer to those texts foundational to Western Civilization. The holy scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. The historical, poetical, mythological, philosophical and scientific writings of Greek and Roman civilization. I do not offer this suggestion for solely aesthetic reasons. While it is a fine thing in the middle of a cocktail party in your neighbor’s house to look around the room and utter Cicero’s quote “a room without books is like a body without a soul,” it will not improve the design of the ship, tank or fighter jet that is the object of your labor. Knowledge of the classics helps practitioners be better program managers, technical directors, and requirements setters. Here are three reasons why.
Human Factors as Design’s Purpose
A study of classic literature yields insights into human nature. This is important because all engineering is ultimately “human factors” engineering. Human factors engineering as a unique discipline is a relatively recent phenomenon, with professional societies devoted to its study appearing in the middle part of the 20th century. At its core, human factors engineering seeks to optimize the interaction of an engineered system with the people with which the system is designed to interface. Examples range from designing the driver’s seat of a car to be comfortable to designing a website interface to be intuitive to use. In our specialized world, human factors engineering is thought of separately from fields such as aeronautics, electrical engineering, or material science. However, everything an engineer does ultimately aims to have at least some effect on people.
As Aristotle begins the Nicomachean Ethics, “Every art and inquiry, and likewise every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good.” The Greek word translated as “pursuit” is techne, from which we get the English word “technology.” Even 2500 years ago, Aristotle understood that technology did not exist for its own purpose but had to serve some purpose that a person had identified as good. Engineers need to appreciate what constitutes “the good” for the people their systems serve and a study of the classics is the best way to understand what is fundamentally good for people.
An example I like to cite in the discipline of warship design is the concept of balance. Just as Aristotle observed that virtue is often the midpoint between two vices, a good ship design must reach a balanced point between multiple competing priorities. If a ship is designed to be heavily armored, with very low vulnerability to gun or missile attack, it will by necessity be much harder to remove outdated equipment during its service life. In this example, a balance point must be found between survivability and reconfigurability. The whole point of Nicomachean Ethics is to inquire what is good, primarily for people; however, the concept of “the good” extends into the designed systems which serve people as well. Plato’s Republic, the Bible’s Book of Micah, Cicero’s De Re Publica, and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations all offer different yet complementary insights on what is good for people. A modern engineer, schooled in works such as these, will bring a basic wisdom concerning human nature and the process for balancing competing demands to the task of designing systems to meet human needs.
Enduring Narratives and Human Traits
A study of classic literature yields insights into the societies in which an engineer operates. Imagine living in a society that is the exception for its times; a society that is both a democracy and a maritime power. Imagine further that this society depended upon freedom of and access to sea lines of communication in order to maintain its security and its economic prosperity. Picture such a society threatened by adversaries that are either dictatorships maintaining large standing armies or malevolent forces originating from Persia with religious beliefs so different from those of the society as to seem fanatic and bizarre. Aristotle’s Athens was just such a society. Any similarities between ancient Athens and modern states such as the U.S., UK, or Japan, should give one pause to contemplate how geography and human nature are eternal. While simple engineers see strategy as something that provides an input to their efforts, wise engineers knows that an understanding of the world and the society in which they life have a profound impact on the ultimate trade space available to them. A society that values human dignity and autonomy will constrain acceptable designs in the areas of safety and survivability in a way that would not be constrained by other societies. A wise engineer, tuned to the values of the society, takes this into account.
When Plutarch wrote Parallel Lives, he sought to show how the human virtues and failings had manifested their consequences for both good and evil in the great leaders of Greece and Rome. Contemporary readers of Parallel Lives have the benefit of another 2000 years of human history with which to view these classical figures, yet, human nature continues to produce the same combination of achievements and failures as it did in the leaders of old. Pitfalls such as pride and anger still plague leaders gifted with extraordinary ability and awareness of our limitations is still a vital precaution several centuries after Plutarch. For engineers, the vice of pride could be especially deadly. The design of any complex system, especially a ship or aircraft, is the result of a great deal of teamwork and will require input from dozens of experts. An engineer that believes that only his or her way is right and is uninterested in listening to dissenting views is an engineer whose project is doomed from the start. Because collaborative design is a human activity, the other human vices; anger, sloth, envy, etc, all constitute real risk to a project’s success. Those involved in engineering the common defense in a representative democracy would be especially well served equipped with the understanding of humanity, especially their own humanity, which classic literature can provide.
The Basic Nature of Problems and Problem Solving
A study of classic literature yields insights into overcoming challenges. At the heart of the engineering discipline is solving problems. A customer needs the ability to do or have something and the engineer provides the capability or product. In the Bible’s Book of Ezekiel, there is a famous passage known as the prophecy of the valley of dry bones. In this story, God commands Ezekiel to raise an army from a valley full of dead, dry bones. However one views this passage theologically, from a practical standpoint Ezekiel shows tremendous engineering discipline. He started to sort and attach “bone to its like bone.” After the bones were attached, there came sinew and after the sinew came flesh. Like any good systems engineer today, Ezekiel started to solve a big problem by breaking it down into its component parts.
The Book of John begins with the statement “In the beginning was the word.” The Greek word in the original writing that is usually translated as “word” is “logos,” from which we get “logic” which can also be translated as “information” or “plan.” One of the clear implications of the Book of John is no great feat can be accomplished without a plan. From the Bible’s telling of Nehemiah building walls around Jerusalem to the Augustan History tales of Hadrian’s Wall across northern England, classical antiquity abounds with difficult problems being solved with ingenuity, prudence, and courage. Here are three examples of how these ancient ancient virtues translate directly to the practice of modern engineering.
First, as the modern management expert Steven Covey would say, “Begin with the End in Mind.” In two of the Biblical examples above, the Divine customer communicated a clear requirement. The course of actions in the stories that followed all flowed from that clear requirement. In all the most successful defense acquisition programs, from nuclear power, to the F-16 Falcon, to AEGIS, there was a wide and well-documented consensus on what was to be achieved. Those trusted to manage the design and procurement of these capabilities had those clear requirements to guide them as they made programmatic and technical decisions.
Second, success depends on solid system engineering. Ezekiel did not try to build an army all at once. AEGIS BMD, once of the most complex systems in the DoD inventory, takes a page from Ezekiel. Every part of the chain that results in destroying a missile flying through outer space is a part of the greater whole. From the radar that detects, to the combat direction system that evaluates, to the missile that impacts the target, to the ship that maneuvers the whole system into place, a complex task is accomplished by breaking it down into smaller, achievable tasks. \As Ezekiel says, “bone to bone.”
Third, personal leadership is as much a part of an engineering accomplishment as technical excellence. The story of Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem contains a fair amount of technical information about how high the walls were built and what material was used. Just as fascinating was Nehemiah’s story of bringing together the different talents and resources of the citizens of Jerusalem in order to get the job done. Today, we remember Admiral Hyman Rickover as a great engineer. That is true, but the management system and the different talent sets he brought together to make Naval Reactors a longstanding historic success is a legacy at least as worthy of study as the technical achievement of naval nuclear power.
To my fellow engineers and scientists who work in the defense of our nation, I ask you take at least a brief periodic break from your computers and calculators. Pick up a good translation of Plato or Vergil as you read at the end of your day. You may grow to like the wisdom they offer into the human condition. In the end you will be far the better for it. You will have the power of the Polymath.
Captain Mark Vandroff is a 1989 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. His 28 years of commissioned service include duty as both a Surface Warfare and Engineering Duty Officer. He was formerly the Major Program Manager for the DDG 51 program and is currently the Commanding Officer of Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock. The views expressed in this article are the author’s personal views and do not reflect the official position of the Department of Defense or Department of the Navy.
Featured Image: Odysseus bound to the ship’s mast is attacked by the Sirens. Red-figure pit of Sirens Zografos, 480-470 BC Source: www.lifo.gr
In an era where the Navy is facing contested seas from challenges posed by China and Russia, history can unlock potential advantages with which to meet current and future threats. Gathering and preserving its operational records, in essence data, is critical. Unfortunately, in terms of such historical records, the Navy is in the Digital Dark Age. It retains only limited data and is losing access to its recent history – knowledge purchased at considerable cost. The Department of Defense and the Navy must consider a cultural and institutional revival to collect and leverage their data for potential catalytic effects on innovation, strategic planning, and warfighting advantages. This cultural transformation of collecting and preserving historical data within the Navy will be a long process, but leveraging its history to meet current and future problems will aid in maintaining global maritime superiority.
On 25 May 2006, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) formally established Riverine Group 1 and Riverine Squadron 1 to safeguard the inland waterways of Iraq. These lethal, agile forces executed over 2,000 missions and trained their Iraqi River Police successors to carry on after the withdrawal of major American forces. The experiences of the Navy’s Coastal Surveillance Group (TF-115), River Patrol Force (TF-116), and Mobile Riverine Force (TF-116) which operated in the Republic of Vietnam in the 1960s, facilitated the establishment of these forces. The records collected, organized, and preserved by Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) and command-published histories of the brown- and green-water force enabled NECC to expedite the efficient launch of a riverine force for the 21st-century Navy.1
History is one of the fundamental sinews of the American military establishment. Training is informed by “lessons learned” from prior experiences—historical data by another name—and every organization has senior members who contribute decades of institutional memory to solve contemporary problems. Synthesized into history monographs, these publications equip warfighters with insight and perspective to better guide their actions and decisions. Avid history reader and retired Marine General James Mattis acknowledges, “I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before.”2History’s importance to the present Navy is also reflected in Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral John M. Richardson’s Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, which states “we must first understand our history – how we got to where we are.”3 The CNO’s recently released professional reading program buttresses his statement with a rich and varied roadmap of texts which have influenced his leadership development.4
Today, the Navy finds itself returning to an era of contested seas with contemporary challenges posed by China and Russia. Throughout the Cold War, the Navy possessed a large body of veteran Sailors holding vast reserves of institutional memory, often stretching back to World War II, in all aspects of naval operations. Deployments from Korea to Vietnam and from the Mediterranean to the Arctic Ocean honed the Navy’s capabilities. The subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union provided the Navy with a period of uncontested naval supremacy, but also led to force reductions and a gradual loss of institutional experience with missions like hunter-killer groups, offensive mining, and large surface action groups. A dwindling number of active duty Sailors have operational Cold War experience, and they mostly occupy senior leadership positions.
The records needed to fill that gap must be preserved. Through the Vietnam War, the Navy’s historical data principally took the form of written correspondence in varied formats. The advent of digital computing has vastly transformed record generation and retention, both of which pose notable challenges to records management.5In a period of important fiscal and strategic decisions, the Department of Defense and the Navy must consider a cultural and institutional revival to collect and leverage data for potential catalytic effects on innovation, strategic planning, and warfighting advantages.
Gathering the Data
Several efforts currently exist to capture the Navy’s data. The lifecycle of records is governed by the Department of the Navy Records Management Program, which establishes all policies and procedures for records management. Under the Director of Navy Staff is NHHC, whose mission is to “collect, preserve, protect, present, and make relevant the artifacts, art, and documents that best capture the Navy’s history and heritage.”6 Naval Reserve Combat Documentation Detachment (NR NCDD) 206, established following Operation Desert Storm, assists NHHC personnel by providing uniformed teams for deployment to fleet units and other Navy commands to document and preserve the history of current naval operations during crisis response, wartime, and declared national emergencies. They are actively engaged in supporting NHHC’s mission objectives.7 Lastly, an essential tool for collecting the Navy’s historical data is Office of Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) Instruction 5750.12K governing the production of the annual Command Operations Report (COR).
First published on 8 November 1966, OPNAVINST 5750.12 governs creation of the COR, intended to ensure historical records are available for future analysis.8 As stated in the current version, the COR “is the only overall record of a command’s operations and achievements that is permanently retained” and provides “the raw material upon which future analysis of naval operations or individual unit operations will be based.”9The document primarily consists of a chronology, narrative, and supporting documentation. As OPNAVINST 5750.12 evolved, emphasis shifted from gathering information on specific subjects relevant to warfighters and combat operations to becoming a tool to gather specific types of documents.10
Unfortunately, compliance is erratic and the instruction’s importance was ignored (or unknown) by commands. From 1966 to the present, the submission rate of CORs for units and commands has never reached 100 percent; for CY15 the submission rate stood at 63.5 percent. Submitted CORs are often unevenly written and composed. The causes for these shortfalls vary and are undefined. The culprits are likely operational tempo, personnel shortfalls, and/or concerns about information security. Perhaps commanders opted to err on the side of caution and avoid objectively documenting an unsuccessful operation, intra-service conflict, or inadequate leadership. Without foreseeing the potential impact and importance a COR may have on tomorrow’s Navy, responsibility for the report is often assigned as an additional duty for a junior officer juggling a myriad of responsibilities.
These data gaps have an adverse impact on present and future actions at both the individual and institutional level. For veterans, a gap in COR submissions may result in the denial of a benefits claim with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, or in regard to awards or decorations with the Board for Correction of Naval Records.11For OPNAV, Fleet Forces Command, Pacific Fleet, or numbered fleets, lost CORs diminish the raw data needed for quality analysis, leaving analysts to generate products which may fail to accurately account for critical variables. What is lost is critical contextual information, retention of which is invaluable. “Solid historical record-keeping and analysis would help enlarge decision makers’ perspectives on current issues,” writes historian and retired Navy Captain David Rosenberg.12 Without rigorous records, historians such as Rosenberg cannot write books and articles to help leaders like Secretary Mattis and warfighters sufficiently learn about previous military endeavors. Consequently, past mistakes will inevitably be repeated with potentially adverse outcomes.
Current COR generation is arguably more difficult than ever. The information revolution has led to the proliferation of raw data without the benefit of summation or prior analysis. PowerPoint slide decks, rather than correspondence or memoranda, are all that an author or veteran might possess on a given topic. Rather than gathering critical teletypewriter message traffic from an operation, the author of a COR might need to collect email correspondence from multiple personnel throughout a unit bearing an array of security classifications. Gathering information from digital discussion boards, section newsletters, and untold quantities of data could be a full-time job.
Furthermore, the follow-on process of creating a coherent narrative from the raw data is a laborious process for a professional historian, much less for a Sailor fulfilling an additional duty and unfamiliar with the task. During World War II, the usual authors of aviation command histories were squadron intelligence officers. They understood how the information collected could be used for everything from operations to force development to technical improvements. Coupled with a familiarity of preparing narrative analyses and summary papers, the resulting command histories proved cogent and comprehensive. By comparing old and contemporary CORs, it is obvious that commanders must assign the COR responsibility to qualified individuals with the appropriate education, experience, and skills.
Increasing the operational tempo of naval forces naturally increases the generation of data. However, with limited time and personnel to gather and generate the data, it must come as no surprise that records about the Navy’s involvement in Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) have been irretrievably lost, to incalculable impact. Valuable Navy operational records from OEF and OIF do exist, but the data belongs to the respective combatant commands and is currently inaccessible to Navy analysts and research specialists.
The Past is Prologue
No individual or organization is infallible—errors can be extremely costly, and for military organizations they lead to the loss of blood and treasure. The operational records generated in peace and wartime provide raw materials for historical analysis, which distill lessons learned and generate studies to educate uniformed personnel. Mistakes always happen, but historical analysis can prevent the repetition of old errors. Incomplete data yielding subpar analysis will affect the resultant knowledge products and undermine history’s influence on future decisions. For example, in 1906, Lieutenant Commander William S. Sims incorporated battle observations and gunnery data to challenge the conclusions of Captain Alfred T. Mahan regarding gunnery at the Battle of Tsushima and advocated convincingly for a future fleet design dominated by all-big-gun battleships, thereby ushering the Navy into the “Dreadnought era.”13If the operational records of current efforts are being lost, are we not again jeopardizing future fleet designs?
Analysis of combat operations has proven instrumental in improving the warfighting abilities of the respective services. Combat provides the only hard evidence on the effectiveness of military doctrine and the integration of platforms and weapons. For example, the Battle of Tarawa (20-23 November 1943) tested the doctrine of amphibious assault against a fortified position. As historian Joseph Alexander details in his book Utmost Savagery, success in the amphibious invasion remained an “issue in doubt” for the Marines for the first thirty hours. The documentation and analysis of the battle prompted the Navy and Marine Corps to increase the amount of pre-invasion bombardment and to refine key aspects of their amphibious doctrine, among other changes. With evidence-turned-knowledge gleaned from Tarawa, the Navy and Marine Corps continued unabated in rolling back the Imperial Japanese Empire, assault by bloody assault.14
Similarly, the Vietnam War demonstrated how technology does not always triumph in an asymmetric clash of arms. In the skies over North Vietnam, American aircraft armed with sophisticated air-to-air missiles met cannon-firing MiG fighters. Neither the Air Force nor Navy enjoyed a high kill ratio, which at best favored them two-to-one until the cessation of Operation Rolling Thunder in November 1968. Disturbed by the combat results, CNO Admiral Tom Moorer tasked Captain Frank Ault to examine the Navy’s entire acquisition and employment process for air-to-air missile systems. After examining reams of available historical data, Ault’s May 1968 report recommended establishing a school to teach pilots the advanced fighter tactics of a seemingly bygone age of machine gun dogfights. This recommendation gave birth to the Navy Postgraduate Course in Fighter Weapons Tactics and Doctrine better known as TOPGUN. Using a curriculum developed by studying operational records, TOPGUN’s first graduates entered air combat over North Vietnam after the resumption of bombing in April 1972. When American air operations ceased in January 1973, the Navy enjoyed a kill ratio of six to one, due in large part to TOPGUN training in dogfighting and fighter tactics.15
Carrier aviation’s successes in OEF and OIF came in part due to the lessons gleaned from Operation Desert Storm (ODS). With carrier doctrine designed for blue water sea control against the Soviet Navy, the force was not tailored for sustained combat projection onto land. In the waters of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea in 1990-1991, however, six carrier battle groups found themselves operating in a coalition environment. Despite the lofty hopes envisioned with the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986, naval aviation found itself unprepared for joint and coalition interoperability. From the lessons of ODS, the Navy modified its F-14s to carry the Air Force’s LANTIRN targeting system, began purchasing precision-guided munitions, and modified the carrier air wing composition to better support operations on land per joint recommendations. From Operation Allied Force in 1999 to the launch of OEF and OIF in 2001 and 2003, respectively, naval aviation flew substantial numbers of deep-strike missions, fully integrated into joint and combined air operations.16
The History You Save Will Be Your Own
In terms of historical records, today’s Navy is in the Digital Dark Age, a situation drastically accelerated within the past twenty years by the immense generation of digital-only records. It retains only limited data and the service is actively losing access to its recent history, knowledge purchased at considerable cost. Valuable Navy operational records from OEF and OIF do exist, but the data is unobtainable from the combatant commands. Although COR submissions in the first year of each conflict were higher than in peacetime, they thereafter fell below a fifty percent submission rate. In some cases, there are no records of warships assigned to carrier strike groups for multiple years. While some data was captured, such as electromagnetic spectrum or targeting track information, the records involving “who, what, where, when, why, and how” are lacking. NR NCDD 206, together with NHHC staff, conducts oral histories with Sailors to collect data that researchers can use to capture information not included with CORs. Oral histories, however, supplement but do not completely substitute for textual records.
What exactly is being lost? Why does this matter if weapon- and platform-related data is available? The intangibles of decision-making and the organizational culture are captured in data generated through emails, memoranda, and operational reports. For example, as the Navy evolves its doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) to maximize the potential of the distributed lethality concept, issues of decentralized command and control must be addressed.17 The ability to draw upon historical data to inform TTPs, training systems, and cycles is paramount to prepare commanding officers and crews for potential challenges over the horizon and to close learning gaps. As retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hoffman notes, the World War II submarine community drew extensively upon the after-action and lessons learned reports to improve TTPs and promulgate best practices to educate the entire force.18
Navy culture successfully adapted to close learning gaps in World War II, and it can adapt to escape the Digital Dark Age. In the 1920s and 1930s, budgetary and treaty restrictions limited fleet design but the Navy experimented, evaluated, and used its data to improve its platforms and TTPs. One notable example was the evolution of how ships processed information at sea, culminating in 1944 with the Combat Information Center, an integrated human-machine system which Captain Timothy Wolters documents in his book, Information at Sea, as an innovative example of decades of research and development informed by history.19
Preserving critical historical data is the collective and legal responsibility of every Sailor and Department of Navy employee. Digitization poses challenges that cannot be met by only a small group of historians and archivists, a form of “distributed history.” If distributed lethality enables every ship to be a lion, digitization and computer-based tools enable every Sailor to take ownership of their unit’s accomplishments and play an active role in the generation of the COR. Command leadership must advocate for the COR rather than considering creation as merely an exercise in annual compliance. Responsibility and management of the annual COR must be a team effort. Include chief petty officers and junior enlisted and empower them to take an active role in collecting data and drafting the chronology and narrative. Not only must the COR be an objective, factual account but an inclusive report with contributions by officer and enlisted communities to ensure preservation of a thorough record of all actions, accomplishments, and key decisions.
Furthermore, data is generated continuously. A quality COR is rarely written following a frantic flurry of electronic messages requesting people forward files to the designated COR author. Assembling a dedicated COR team of officers and enlisted personnel to gather and organize records throughout the year will prove more beneficial. This team in turn can provide a valuable resource for an entire crew and commander, either to provide information for public relations, morale purposes, award nomination packets, or operational analysis.
Classified material poses an immediate concern when proposing this distributed history approach for COR generation. Such digital records, located on a variety of computer networks, rightfully pose challenges regarding operational security, either via aggregation or unauthorized access. Such concerns should not, however, jeopardize the overall effort. Generating classified CORs is encouraged and detailed in OPNAVINST 5750.12K; as thorough a narrative as possible is essential. Archivists at NHHC, trained to process and appropriately file classified material, can provide guidance to ensure the security and integrity of the data. When concerns over security result in a banal, unclassified COR, data about that unit’s activities is forever unavailable to the Navy for use in addressing future innovations, conflicts, or organizational changes, and the report’s utility to OPNAV, researchers, and veterans becomes essentially nil. With budgetary difficulties affecting the Navy, data—classified or not—serve as an intellectual, institutional investment for the future. In explaining to the Congress and the American people how and why the Navy is responsibly executing its budget for the national interest, availability and utilization of the data is paramount for the task.20
Transforming the Navy’s culture of collecting and preserving its historical data will be a long process. Digitization and the increasing volume of records will continue to pose challenges. These challenges, however, cannot be ignored any longer and require a unified front to ensure records are preserved and available for use. The Navy is not alone; its sister services experience similar problems in collecting data and using it to benefit current operations.21 In an era where reaction and decision times are rapidly diminished through advances in machine-to-machine and human-machine interactions, today’s data may help equip the warfighter with future kinetic or non-kinetic effects. As fleet design and tactics evolve to face new threats, the Navy can ill afford to ignore its past investments of blood and tax dollars. It must leverage its historical data to find solutions to current and future problems to ensure continued maritime superiority.
Dr. Frank A. Blazich, Jr. is a curator of modern military history at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. After receiving his doctorate in modern American history from The Ohio State University, he worked as a historian for Naval History and Heritage Command. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, he served as historian for Task Force Netted Navy.
1.Robert Benbow, Fred Ensminger, Peter Swartz, Scott Savitz, and Dan Stimpson, Renewal of Navy’s Riverine Capability: A Preliminary Examination of Past, Current and Future Capabilities (Alexandria, VA: CNA, March 2006), 104-21; Dave Nagle, “Riverine Force Marks One-Year Anniversary,” Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs, 7 June 2007, http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=29926; Matthew M. Burke, “Riverine Success in Iraq Shows Need for Naval Quick-Reaction Force,” Stars and Stripes, 29 October 2012, http://www.stripes.com/news/riverine-success-in-iraq-shows-need-for-naval-quick-reaction-force-1.195109.
6. “Who We Are,” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/about-us/organization/who-we-are.html.
7. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, OPNAV Instruction 1001.26C, “Management of Navy Reserve Component Support to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations,” 7 February 2011, https://doni.daps.dla.mil/Directives/01000%20Military%20Personnel%20Support/01-01%20General%20Military%20Personnel%20Records/1001.26C.pdf.
8. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, OPNAV Instruction 5750.12, “Command Histories,” 8 November 1966, Post-1946 Command File, Operational Archives, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington Navy Yard, DC.
9. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, OPNAV Instruction 5750.12K, “Annual Command Operations Report,” 21 May 2012, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/dam/nhhc/about-us/instructions-and-forms/command-operation-report/pdf/OPNAVINST%205750.12K%20-%20Signed%2021%20May%202012.pdf.
10. Based on a review of OPNAVINST 5750.12 through OPNAVINST 5750.12K, in the holdings of Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington Navy Yard, DC.
11. Eric Lockwood, “Make History: Submit your Command Operations Report,” Naval History and Heritage Command, 10 February 2016, http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=93031.
12.David Alan Rosenberg, “Process: The Realities of Formulating Modern Naval Strategy,” in Mahan is Not Enough: The Proceedings of a Conference on the Works of Sir Julian Corbett and Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, eds. James Goldrick and John B. Hattendorf (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 1993), 174.
13.William Sims, “The Inherent Tactical Qualities of All-Big-Gun, One-Caliber Battleships of High Speed, Large Displacement, and Gun-Power” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 32, no. 4 (December 1906): 1337-66.
14.Joseph H. Alexander, Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995), xvi-xvii, 232-37.
15. Marshall L. Michell III, Clashes: Air Combat over North Vietnam, 1965-1972 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997), 185-88, 277-78; John Darrell Sherwood, Afterburner: Naval Aviators and the Vietnam War (New York: New York University Press, 2004), 219-21, 248.
16. Benjamin S. Lambeth, American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2005), 1-8, 100-01; Edward J. Marolda and Robert J. Schneller, Jr., Shield and Sword: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf War (Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center, 1998), 369-75, 384-85.
17. Kit de Angelis and Jason Garfield, “Give Commanders the Authority,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 142, no. 10 (October 2016): 18-21.
18. Frank G. Hoffman, “How We Bridge a Wartime ‘Learning Gap,’” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 142, no. 5 (May 2016): 22-29.
19.Timothy S. Wolters, Information at Sea: Shipboard Command and Control in the U.S. Navy, from Mobile Bay to Okinawa (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2013), 4-5, 204-21.
20. Prior to World War I, the Navy recognized the need to secure public support for its expansion plans. See George W. Baer, One Hundred Years of Sea Power: The U.S. Navy, 1890-1990 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993), 35-48, 54-63.
21.Francis J. H. Park, “A Time for Digital Trumpets: Emerging Changes in Military Historical Tradecraft,” Army History 20-16-2, no. 99 (Spring 2016): 29-36.
Featured Image: Sunrise aboard Battleship Missouri Memorial at Ford Island onboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak)
Most people would not think of modern land-locked, mountainous Austria as a maritime power, and many of those that have heard of the Austrian Navy wonder why the Nazis wanted an Austrian U-boat captain in the Sound of Music. From 1797 until 1918, the Kaiserlich und Königlich (K.u.K.) Austro-Hungarian Navy fought naval battles against the Danes, French, Italians, and British on European seas, and deployed as far as the South China Sea.
Geographically, Austria was a land power, with little maritime trade and many continental enemies. Following Napoleon’s victories in Italy, the Austrian Empire and France signed the Treaty of Campoformio in 1797. France received Belgium, Lombardy, and territory along the Rhine, while Austria received the Venetian Republic and their navy, a solid base to create a deterrent force.
However, caught in the maelstrom of the Napoleonic Wars, Austria did not have the finances to both fight Napoleon and build a powerful navy. Thus the navy played a minor role in the Napoleonic Wars, and in those early days Austria had little idea of naval strategy. The Austrian Navy’s fortunes ebbed and flowed as Napoleon’s forces marched too and fro across the European continent.
Following Napoleon’s abdication in 1814, Austria inherited the former fleet of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, comprised of several newly built ships of the line and frigates, as well as the officers and crews of the vessels.1 It took Austria a long time to learn the advantages of sea power, and by the time she did, she had already lost Venice and its attendant dockyards to the newly unified Italy.
Austria’s ignorance of sea power’s benefits prevented her from expanding foreign trade, and caused her great diplomatic embarrassment during the early 19th century. In 1817, Austria sent a merchant ship to Canton, China, flying the new red and white ensign (the present Austrian National flag). However, the ship was refused entrance because the flag was not recognized by the Chinese.
During the Franco-Austrian War of 1859, the French fleet sailed into the Adriatic and dominated the sea. The Austrian fleet withdrew into their fortified harbors. The Adriatic Sea should have been an Austrian lake, but she lacked the strength to defend it in the face of the larger and more powerful French Navy. A notable incident from this humiliating affair was the return of the Austrian frigate Novarra, from a research-motivated circumnavigation of the globe. Napoleon III declared her a neutral vessel, “Because she was carrying the scientific treasures of value to the whole world.”2
In 1860, the Sardinian Prime Minister, Prince Cavour, sent the Sardinian fleet to blockade Ancona and support Garibaldi’s attacks on the Italian Marches. This caused a terrible fright along the Dalmatian coast, because of irredentist Italian claims to the region. The fears only ceased when Britain declared she would not recognize Italian claims to Dalmatia and Istria.3 This humiliation, in conjunction with Italian naval construction, drove the Austrians to rebuild their navy.
In 1854, a railroad from Vienna to Trieste was completed, which spurred regional commercial activity and rejuvenated foreign trade. Maritime activity fueled the creation of jobs and economic well-being, while naval construction spurred the economies of Istria and Trieste and gave rise to popularity in the Parliament. Advances in technology had rendered the previous generation of Nelsonian ships of the line obsolete; steam, armor, and the screw propeller, among other technologies, gave smaller ships a fighting chance against great ships of the line and allowed lesser powers to catch up and rapidly achieve a sort of parity with great naval powers.
Even without an indigenous shipbuilding industry, Italy had become the third largest naval power in the world. All of her ships came from British and American yards.4 Ferdinand Max, brother of Franz Josef, and Commander in Chief of the Austrian Navy, argued for increased construction and capabilities because, “a well-ordered propeller squadron only a few hours from Corfu or the Italian coast would make Austria a more attractive ally to Britain or France.” Throughout this period, Ferdinand Max fought for every florin possible in the budget for construction of a capable, modern Austrian Navy. At the end of 1860, he ordered two screw-propeller frigates constructed at Trieste.5
Archduke Ferdinand’s new navy fought the last fleet action with wooden ships in the Second Schleswig War against Denmark in 1864. Simply getting to the North Sea was a victory in itself. Captain Wilhelm von Tegetthoff sailed his squadron for Lisbon, Brest, and the Downs. The British were not fond of having foreign navies so close to home, and they looked unfavorably on the Austro-German attack on Denmark. “British public opinion was aroused to the point that talk of war with Austria was common. The British Channel Fleet was ordered to the Downs, and a training squadron recalled from Portugal.”6 When Lord John Russell learned of the Austrian deployment, he threatened to send a British squadron to the Adriatic. The government in Vienna called his bluff, but the British attitude to the war would cause Habsburg headaches.
Tegetthoff’s squadron was supposed to break the Danish blockade of Hamburg. On May 4, 1864, Tegetthoff’s squadron encountered a superior Danish squadron off Helgoland. They fought until the Schwarzenburg, Tegetthoff’s flagship, was on fire and compelled to withdraw. Once the flames were extinguished, Tegetthoff returned to find the Danish (who had also suffered heavy damage) gone. Although, tactically a draw, the Danish did not renew their blockade of Hamburg, allowing Austria to claim victory. After the war with Denmark ended, Austrian Foreign Minister Mennsdorf-Pouilly signed an agreement with General von Roon which agreed to let the armaments factory Krupp sell naval artillery to the Austrians, although Prussia declined to purchase any Austrian built ships.7
Despite agreements to purchase Prussian naval artillery, Austro-Prussian military cooperation was short lived; Austria’s next war would pit her against Italy and Prussia, her erstwhile ally. On July 3, 1866, Prussia utterly defeated the Austrians in the north at Königgrätz, but in the south Austria was victorious on land and sea.
One week earlier, the Austrian army had routed the Italian army at Custoza. At sea, the Austrian Navy defeated an Italian invasion fleet at the battle of Lissa on July 20, 1866. Lissa was the first major armored fleet action in history. A superior Italian fleet was beaten and forced to withdrawal from the Dalmatian coast. According to estimates by John Hale, in Famous Sea Fights, “taking into account the number and weight of rifled artillery on ironclads, the Austrians had 1,776 pounds of shell to the Italians 20,392 pounds.” The victory over the Italian fleet was telling; the Italians lost 612 officers and men, along with two ironclads, while the Austrians lost 38 officers and men, two of whom were captains. In his book The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy, Dr. Sokol argues that, “in their excitement, the Italians often failed to load their guns before firing them,” which might account for the slight number of casualties suffered by the Austrians.
Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, formerly Ferdinand Max, Commander in Chief of the Austrian Navy, sent his congratulations to now Admiral Tegetthoff. “The glorious victory which you have gained over a brave enemy, vastly superior in numbers and nurtured in grand old naval traditions, has filled my heart with unmixed joy. With the victory of Lissa your fleet becomes enrolled amongst those whose flag is the symbol of glory, and your name is added to the list of naval heroes of all time.”
Lissa was not only the first major ironclad fleet action, but the sinking of the Re D’Italia by Tegetthoff’s flagship the Erzherzog Ferdinand Max by ramming brought that weapon back into vogue among naval architects and tacticians. It was not until the Spanish-American War almost thirty years later, that the ram would again lose favor. Despite the Austro-Prussian-Italian War having the first ironclad fleet battle, there was a lack of naval warfare through most of the conflict. Theorists studied Lissa, but the rest of the naval war neglected commerce raiding and blockades. Dr. Sokol asserts that is because both navies “thought of naval warfare chiefly as guarding their own coasts.”8
Admiral Tegetthoff threw a party aboard his flagship for his captains after the battle of Lissa and charged the expenses to the navy budget. Later, the Ministry of Finance “deducted a sum from his salary each month, until he had paid off the cost.” Heroes and celebrities the iron men might have been, but bureaucratic infighting was not going to be easier, simply because they had defeated the Italians in a war that was already lost.9
Over time, the Austrian government learned to wield their increasingly effective navy. By the time of the Great War, Austria managed to hold her own against a combined Franco-Italian fleet. Between August 1914 and February 1917, Austria sank three Italian battleships, two Italian cruisers and a French cruiser, at the cost of one cruiser, an exchange of 85,000 tons for 2,300.10
While the bulk of the Mediterranean submarine patrols were performed by the German Navy (because their submarines were bigger and had more endurance), the Germans had loaned three of their larger submarines to the Austrian Navy.11 The Austrian submarine force was so effective in the Adriatic that the British Royal Navy was forced to support the rest of the Entente powers in their anti-submarine barrier patrols and mine fields across the mouth of the Adriatic Sea called the “Otranto Barrage.” Unlike the Royal Navy that had minimized their planning for submarines during war, Austria had integrated submarines into her naval war plans from the start; these submarines preyed on Entente shipping in the Adriatic and Mediterranean.
Austria was also a pioneer of naval aviation. Austria was the first nation to develop naval aviation in 1913. Early adoption of this capability allowed Austria to control the skies over the Adriatic for the bulk of the war. At the start of the war Austria had 22 seaplanes, and by the time Italy entered the war, Austria had 47 seaplanes. These planes were used for scouting enemy fleet movements as well as attacks on naval bases and vessels at sea.12
Despite the early success of the Austrian Navy, Austria and her allies ultimately lost that war. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismembered and new nations based on nationality arose. In Hungary, Admiral Horthy rose to prominent political office during the post-war years, becoming a right wing dictator who was later assassinated by the Nazis. After the fall of the empire, Austria retained the naval ensign as her own national flag, a subtle reminder of a glorious past. Today, the old red and white Austrian ensign flies over Schönbrunn and the Hofburg.
LT Jason Lancaster is a US. Navy Surface Warfare Officer. He has a Masters degree in History from the University of Tulsa. His views are his alone and do not represent the stance of any U.S. government department or agency.
1. Lawrence Sondhaus, pg 35.
2. Anthony Sokol, pg 27.
3. Sondhaus, 209.
4. Sokol, pg 28.
5. Sondhaus, pg 208-09.
6. Sokol, pg 31.
7. Sondhaus, pg 240-243.
8. Sokol, pg 49-53.
9. Sokol, pg 52.
10. Sokol, pg 128.
11. Koburger, pg 89.
12. Koburger, pg 18.
Bridge, F.R, The Hapsburg Monarchy Among the Great Powers, 1815-1918, St Martins Press, New York, 1990.
Bush, John W. Venetia Redeemed: Franco-Italian Relation 1864 1866, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, NY, 1967.
Jenks, William Alexander, Francis Joseph and the Italians, 1849-1859, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 1978.
Rauchensteiner, Manfred, Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Vienna, Verlag Styria, 2000.
Koburger, Charles W. The Central Powers in the Adriatic, 1914-1918, War in a Narrow Sea, Praeger Books, Westport, CT, 2001.
Smith, Dennis Mack, Victorio Emanuel, Cavour, and the Risorgimento, Oxford University Press, London, 1971.
Sokol, Anthony Eugene, The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy, United States Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1968.
Sondhaus, Lawrence, The Hapsburg Empire and the Sea: Austrian Naval Policy, 1797-1866, Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, Indianna, 1989.
Wawro, Geoffrey, The Austro-Prussian War: Austria’s War with Prussia and Italy in 1866, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1996.
Wawro, Geoffrey, Warfare and Society in Europe: 1792-1914, Routledge Press, New York, 2000.
Featured Image: Josef Carl Püttner; Seegefecht bei Helgoland 1864 (The Battle of Heligoland)
Abstract: The role of the federal government in science and technology has evolved since the founding of this nation. Likewise, the role of the Navy and, specifically, the organizational structure of the Navy in science has evolved. This paper presents a brief history of this evolution and, in particular, on the development of the Navy laboratory system.
The laboratory system can trace its origins back to the establishment of the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island in 1869. Certain aspects of the laboratory system can be related back to the earlier engineering activities at the Washington (D.C.) Navy Yard and even to the naval shipyards. Throughout this early history, the Navy’s Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) establishments were aligned organizationally with three bureaus: Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd), Bureau of Ships (BuShips), and Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer). The bureaus, which reported to the Secretary of the Navy’s office through a uniformed bureau chief, represented the material procurement side of the Navy’s bilinear structure. The operational forces – the other side of the organization – reported to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).
U.S. Naval Proving Ground, Indian Head, MD.
The federal government, and the military departments in particular, have a somewhat limited history in science and technology. 1 The emphasis in the Navy has been on weapons development based on testing and engineering or, put another way, on the production or acquisition of the required weapons or ships. Interest in basic and applied science developed, for the most part, during World War II. Hence, Navy RDT&E establishments that predate World War II were often of one type and those that developed during the war years were of another. For example, the BuOrd activities at Dahlgren and Indian Head and the BuShips activity at Carderock all have their origins at the Washington Navy Yard and were primarily testing or production facilities.
In contrast, other activities put a greater emphasis on research, such as the Naval Ordnance Laboratory at White Oak, which had its primary growth during World War II, and the Naval Ordnance Test Station at China Lake, which developed from a California Polytechnic Institute laboratory during the war years. In the end, the bureau laboratories concentrated on the support of system development and acquisition and did very little basic research. Most of the research was performed by the Naval Research Laboratory under the control (after World War II) of the Office of Naval Research. Further, BuOrd establishments, since they worked in areas where there was little or no commercial market, differed from those in BuAer and BuShips. This was manifest in the relationships between the laboratories and the bureaus (and in the assignments the laboratories received) and between the laboratories and non-governmental institutions.
The organization of the military and the nature of government science and technology and research and development came under review after World War II. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, there was a great deal of interest developing around the Navy’s RDT&E organizations. Much of this interest can be characterized, in retrospect, as concern with the strategic management of the laboratory system. To one degree or another, this concern has persisted for the last four decades. Over the years there have been a variety of forces – that changed over time – that shaped the problem of strategic management of the Navy laboratory system. The solution, however, has taken the same general form – reorganization.
Developments of the Bureaus
At its founding the Navy was very small and equipped mostly for coastal operations. During the Jefferson administration (in 1806), for example, there were fewer than 250 officers and approximately 900 seamen in the Navy (Cunningham 1978). The Navy Department was the smallest in Washington, D.C. with a staff that consisted only of the Secretary and Accountant of the Navy and 12 clerks (Cunningham 1978). The military officers controlled activities at sea and civilians administered the shore establishment. The Navy Department administered six shipyards. The responsibility for superintending these yards was combined with that of the Naval Agent in all of these yards except Boston. The Naval Agents were responsible for “the building, fitting, and supplying of a naval force” (Cunningham 1978). The situation changed after the War of 1812.
A review of the Navy’s performance during the war identified a need for more professional staff and for an organizational change. Consequently, the Board of Naval Commissioners was established in 1815 and assigned duties relating “to the building, repairing, and equipping of ships and superintending of Navy Yards” (Franke 1959). This change was justified by the increase in the size and scope of the business not by an increase in its complexity. In fact, there was very little “invention” evident in the Navy since most shipbuilding was still done by craftsmen and most guns were of European origin or design. This organizational change marked the first sign of the bilinear organization that characterized the Navy well into the 20th century.
The Commissioner organization proved to be inadequate due to a lack of technical skills to address the more complex and expanding technical problems that were developing. It was replaced by the Bureau system. Five bureaus were established in 1842: Yards and Docks; Construction, Equipment, and Repair; Provisions and Clothing; Ordnance and Hydrography; and Medicine and Surgery (Furer 1959). The number and nature of the bureaus changed on several occasions (e.g., after the Civil War and several times between 1900 and 1959) but the system lasted until 1966.
This same period saw the development of the test and engineering stations and activities that were the forerunners of the current Navy laboratory system. Among the earliest of these was the Experimental Test Battery established by Lt. John A. Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard in 1847. Dahlgren was also named Head of Ordnance Matters at the Navy Yard. These particular developments were motivated by the ordnance weaknesses revealed in the War with Mexico and, especially, by a gun explosion on the U.S.S. Princeton that killed the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of State as they attended a shipboard demonstration (Peck 1949).
In the remaining years of the century, other engineering and test stations were established and were usually associated with one of the bureaus. This included, for example, the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island (1869), the Naval Gun Factory (1886) and the Experimental Model Basin (1898) at the Washington Navy Yard, and the Naval Powder Factory at Indian Head, Maryland (1890). The trend continued through World War II. By the time of the establishment of the Director of Navy Laboratories in 1966, there were 15 Navy laboratories associated with the bureaus.
Changing the Organization
Throughout this period (1842-1966), the Navy was characterized by a bilinear organization – the “users” of the weapons and systems and the “developers and acquirers” of these systems. The users were the operating forces that after 1915 reported to the Secretary of the Navy through the Chief of Naval Operations. The developers and acquirers were the bureaus whose Chief, a flag officer, reported to the Secretary. The science and technology system in the Navy can also be characterized as bilinear in nature. In this case, the two components are foundational (or basic) research and systems development (including applied research). In the post-World War II Navy, basic research was the responsibility of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Naval Research Laboratory. Systems development with the associated applied research was performed by the bureau laboratories. One point of contention was the relationship between the two components. ONR (in a position represented by Vannevar Bush) viewed the overall process as linear – development was preceded by applied research and basic research. This implied that management of the entire process (preferably by ONR) was required. The bureaus, being more interested in developing and improving systems, were less concerned with basic research than with technology that was available to be applied to the systems under their cognizance.
This led to issues of funding and control of the research agenda. One result was the establishment of an organization to plan and budget for research in the Department of Defense – the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) in 1957 and the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) in 1958. The services followed suit. In the same year, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research and Development) replaced the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Air) for planning research in the Navy.
These changes set the stage for a series of studies that changed the face of the Navy laboratory system. The studies addressed elements of the strategic management of Navy research (although that term does not appear to have been used): control, budget, staffing, and facilities. Undersecretary of the Navy William Franke released a study of Navy organization (Department of the Navy 1959) that recommended that the bilinear structure of the Navy be retained. His committee observed that there was confusion concerning the responsibility for the development of certain systems, such as missiles. They proposed to solve this by combining the Bureau of Ordnance and Bureau of Aeronautics to form the Bureau of Naval Weapons. They anticipated that this would also eliminate the need for additional independent program offices such as the one set up to develop Polaris.
The Task 97, or Fubini report, (Department of Defense 1961) noted several problems with DOD laboratories: low morale, non-competitive salaries, substandard physical plants, and difficulties with executive management due to dual leadership (civilian and military) and lack of technical qualifications. The report recommended that the laboratories be placed under the control of the service Assistant Secretaries for Research and Development and that there be a single laboratory director and changes to improve the Military Construction (MILCON) process (under the service Assistant Secretaries). They also proposed an increase in salaries for laboratory directors and government scientists and engineers.
President John F. Kennedy directed the Bureau of the Budget to review government contracting for research and development (Bureau of the Budget 1962). The resulting Bell Report noted that some 80 percent of federally funded R&D was done through non-Federal institutions and that it was in the national interest to continue to rely heavily on these institutions. Nevertheless, there were government roles in R&D that could not be abdicated and there were concerns that needed to be addressed – maintaining the technical competence required to manage non-government R&D and performing R&D directly. The study recommended that scientist’s salaries be increased as well as opportunities for more interesting work assignments and professional development. It was also proposed that laboratory directors be given more direct responsibility for personnel and facility issues. This was echoed by the Furnas Report (Office of Director, Defense Research and Engineering 1962). This Defense Science Board (DSB) report additionally recommended programs that allow government scientists to spend a sabbatical period in industry or university laboratories (and vice versa) while it cautioned against strengthening government laboratories at the expense of not for profit and industry laboratories.
Rear Admiral Rawson Bennett wrote a report (Department of the Navy 1962) that reviewed the management of Navy R&D. He noted a number of problems: fragmentation of executive responsibility on the developer/acquirer side of the bilinear organization, lack of a long range plan for R&D, difficulty of transitioning from ideas to development, and a shortage of “truly expert personnel, both military and civilian.” He also observed that it is difficult to maintain an adequate technological base through basic R&D given the greater attraction of development. He made recommendations concerning organization both outside and within the bureaus: formation of a “supra-bureau” level executive, Chief of Naval Logistics; consolidation of all R&D guidance under the Deputy CNO for Development; and realignment of some bureau responsibilities. He also offered some proposals for addressing problems that he perceived with personnel, facilities, and funding.
In 1963, the Secretary of the Navy established the Naval Material Support Establishment (NMSE) and assigned overall responsibility for coordination of the material bureaus to the Chief of Naval Material (CNM). This organization continued the bilinear structure since the CNM reported to the Secretary independently of the CNO (Booz, Allen, and Hamilton 1976).
The Director of Navy Laboratories (DNL)
Chalmers Sherwin, Deputy Director Defense Research & Engineering, made proposals for changing the management and operation of in-house DOD and Navy laboratories (Sherwin 1964a,b). In the DOD study he proposed that a Weapons System Development Organization (WSDO) be formed to manage most applied research and development programs and test and evaluation centers. He also proposed a Department Laboratory Organization (DLO), under civilian leadership, to manage all basic research and to perform in-house research and exploratory and advanced development. The head of each DLO (called the Director of Navy Laboratories in the Department of the Navy) was to report to the service Assistant Secretary for Research and Development. His proposal would implement many of the recommendations of the Bell Report.
The Sherwin proposal for the Navy applied the fundamentals of his DOD plan. He proposed the establishment of the DNL, reporting to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research and Development), and nine principal Navy R&D laboratories subordinate to him. The Navy concurred with many of Sherwin’s observations but disagreed with his organizational proposal. The Navy responded with studies by RADM J.K. Leydon (1964) and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (R&D), Robert Morse (1965). Both studies argued for the traditional bilinear organization and for keeping R&D closely linked to production, procurement, and maintenance (i.e., no organizational barrier between research and system development). Both advocated a review of policies and processes concerned with personnel, military construction, and financial management. Morse proposed to keep the principal laboratories linked to the bureaus and to establish a DNL coequal to the Chief of Naval Research (CNR) and Chief of Naval Development (CND). The DNL, reporting to the Assistant Secretary, would be responsible for long-range planning for personnel and facilities. He also proposed to change the budget structure and programming procedures to provide block funding to the laboratories.
The Assistant Secretary of the Navy chartered a review of all in-house research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) activities by Dr. William P. Raney. (Department of the Navy 1965) Raney’s task force identified nine major Navy capabilities and proposed that an RDT&E activity be established for each. These RDT&E activities were to be formed through an examination of existing activities leading to decisions about consolidation, relocation, or elimination of some of them. Raney’s report makes a number of such specific recommendations.
These studies culminated in two actions. First, in August 1965 it was decided that the four material bureaus would be abolished within a year and replaced by Systems Commands. In 1966, it was further decided to replace the Naval Material Support Establishment with the Naval Material Command (NAVMAT) and to assign the CNM to report to the CNO (Carlisle 1993b). This marked the end of the bilinear structure in Navy R&D. The major Navy laboratories were to report to the CNM rather than to the systems commands that succeeded the bureaus.
Second, in December of 1965 Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5430.77 established the Director of Navy Laboratories. The DNL was to report to the Assistant Secretary and was to also act as the Director of Laboratory Programs in the Office of Naval Material. He was assigned responsibility for the in-house Independent Research (IR), Independent Exploratory Development (IED) programs, the in-house exploratory development technology programs, and the associated funding. He was also given authority to control the RDT&E MILCON program and the distribution of civilian personnel, to establish laboratory requirements and policies, and to direct long range planning for RDT&E resources. It is interesting to note that the first person asked to be the DNL, Dr. Gregory Hartmann (Technical Director of the Naval Ordnance Laboratory), turned it down. He described the DNL/DLP position as “awkward and perhaps untenable” and was convinced that the DNL had little real responsibility and authority over the laboratories (Smaldone 1977). (Note that the budget controlled by the DNL was typically 3 to 5 percent of a laboratory’s budget. The balance came from the systems commands.)
In 1966, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E), John Foster, asked Dr. Leonard Sheingold to lead a Defense Science Board study of in-house laboratories. The DSB proposed that the laboratories be reorganized into weapons centers. Soon after the DDR&E directed that the Navy initiate planning to establish weapons systems development centers, the CNM approved a plan for their establishment. Implementation of the plan in July 1967 started a process of reorganization that moved the Navy from 15 principal laboratories to 6 weapons centers over a period of some 7 years.
Changing the Processes
There were other important changes in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As late as 1967, the laboratory financial systems were as disparate as their management histories. The Department of Defense initiated Resource Management Systems (RMS) in the late 1960s. The Navy converted all of the CNM laboratories to Naval Industrial Funding (NIF) in 1969. NIF had been introduced in the Naval Research Lab and Naval Ordnance Lab as early as 1953 (and earlier in the shipyards). While this process aided financial management in the laboratories, they never realized its full benefits due to limits on the availability of funding, personnel ceilings, and procedural rules. (Booz, Allen, and Hamilton 1976)
A second major change was the implementation of Project REFLEX (Resources Flexibility). In 1967, in response to a Civil Service Commission study of in-house laboratories, Project REFLEX was initiated to test the feasibility of removing controls on staffing levels at the laboratories in favor of fiscal controls. The 3-year experiment in the CNM laboratories ran from 1970 to 1973. Despite favorable reviews by the GAO and the DNL, it was allowed to expire.
The laboratories – both Defense and Navy – continued to be studied throughout the 1970s. The Task Group on Defense In-House Laboratories and the second DNL, Dr. Joel Lawson, identified a number of laboratory problems that needed to be addressed. They included the lack of clarity in roles and systems for which each lab has responsibility, conflict between the sponsors of established programs and the purveyors of new ideas – the laboratories, insufficient discretionary funds under the direct control of the laboratory directors, and the lack of full utilization of laboratory expertise and resources (Office of Director, Defense Research and Engineering 1971; DNL 1971, a,b).
The Office of the Director, Defense Research and Engineering and the Secretary of the Navy sponsored studies of laboratory missions and operations. The Hollingsworth study recommended a recasting of the laboratory mission statements and a requirement that sponsors assign work and funding to the laboratories in strict accordance with their missions. This was intended to reduce the laboratory competition for funds that NIF motivates (as well as the resulting mission overlap) (Hollingsworth 1974). The Navy-Marine Corps Acquisition Review Committee (NMARC) suggested that the Navy needed to reaffirm the bilinear structure of Navy R&D (Department of the Navy 1975). They proposed to do this by assigning the CNM more responsibility for the management of development funding under the supervision of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (R&D).
Most of the studies in the 16 years from 1960 to 1976 that addressed the in-house Navy laboratories supported a policy of coordination of research under the Secretary of the Navy, added levels of review and oversight to the R&D process, and added more complex financial accounting systems. The most recent studies (e.g., Hollingsworth and NMARC) raised the concern that the changes had created as many problems as they had remedied. In addition, there was a growing concern about the technology base and the ability of the Navy to integrate the efforts of the systems commands to develop ships and airplanes. During the Carter and Reagan presidencies the emphasis shifted to a concern with the bureaucratic (and, hence, inefficient) processes of government and privatization. As part of this, it was appropriate to also consider the specification of required in-house facilities and capabilities (Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering 1980).
Decline of the DNL
By 1985 there was increasing Congressional and press criticism of Navy procurement practices. There was also a view that there was duplication and excessive management layers in the Defense and Navy R&D system. When the CNM, Admiral Steven White, resigned in March 1985, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman took the opportunity to disestablish the Naval Material Command and, thereby, reduce a level of management in the procurement system. The Naval Electronic Systems Command was changed to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command at the same time. The DNL and Navy laboratories were assigned to the Office of Naval Research. The Chief of Naval Research reported to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Engineering, and Systems). The systems commands would report directly to the Office of the CNO. These moves were intended to reduce the number of management levels, streamline communications, and improve the development of systems. They were also supposed to preserve the independence of the laboratories. It was felt that the laboratories might cease to exist and would get caught up in solving short-term problems if they reported directly to the systems commands (Carlisle 1993b).
This organizational change only lasted 10 months. In February 1986, the DNL and the laboratories were placed under the managerial control of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. There was concern expressed by the other systems commands at the prospect of “their” laboratories being placed under the management control of another systems command. There was a feeling in some circles that the purpose of the reorganization was to reduce the involvement of the laboratories in development activities. As a result of the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 and Defense Department reorganization studies, a major reorganization of Defense R&D was undertaken. Two important changes were the increased role of the operating forces in setting requirements and the establishment of the Program Executive Officer (PEO) structure. The PEOs were to be responsible for system acquisition and reported to the newly constituted Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition) (ASN (RDA)). The intent was to move control of major acquisition programs from the systems commands to the ASN (RDA). The laboratories maintained their independence from the systems commands although one thing did not change – most laboratory funding came from activities other than the one that exercised management control.
At about the same time, Coopers and Lybrand (1986) undertook a major study of Navy Industrial Funding. They concluded that the individual laboratories were well managed but found that the ONR laboratories only controlled about 25 percent of the Navy’s RDT&E appropriation. Further, the laboratories expended just 7 percent of their funding on technology base (about one-half of that out-of-house) and seemed to be evolving into contracting centers. The Defense Science Board (1987,1988) and the Office of Technology Assessment (1989) continued to study how effective DOD was in managing and maintaining the defense technology base. They all raised some concerns and made several recommendations including moving towards consolidation of laboratories under DOD aegis (OTA, 1989) and creating new executive positions in DOD and the services to provide oversight and guidance for science and technology programs.
The Navy Base Structure submitted its report to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission in 1990. Its recommendations formed the basis for the commission’s approach to base closure, as required by Public Law 101-510. The recommendations outlined a significant realignment of the Navy laboratory system – 4 megacenters were to be established and, in the process, 10 activities were recommended for closure and consolidation into other activities. Additionally, 16 others were marked for realignment (Department of the Navy 1991).
A Federal Advisory Commission (1991) also favored the warfare center concept and recommended that it be implemented in January 1992. This commission was concerned about the possible loss of laboratory identity and the disruption of the workforce. Consequently, it also recommended that the warfare centers be part of the DOD Laboratory Demonstration Program. These proposals were implemented in January 1992 and the major Navy R&D centers were joined to form the megacenters and were attached to the appropriate systems command (e.g., the Naval Surface Warfare Center was established as part of the Naval Sea Systems Command). At the same time, the Director of Navy Laboratories Office was disestablished.
This paper has addressed the studies performed over a 30-year period that led to the establishment of the DNL, its modification, and its abolishment. The studies have not stopped however. Throughout the 1990s the BRAC process continued and there were a collection of studies that addressed efficiency (e.g., the reinvention studies and standardization of business systems and processes), the costs and effectiveness of the Defense laboratory structure, contracting out and privatization, and consolidation and realignment. Although the systems commands have each taken a different approach to organizing and managing their programs and their associated laboratories, this basic structure has continued to the present. There have been a variety of organizational and management changes that have modified the relationship between the system commands and their included R&D centers.
Robert V. Gates, Ph.D. U.S. Naval War College
Books, Articles, and Reports
Allison, David, Ed. The R&D Game: Technical Men, Technical Managers, Research Productivity. Cambridge, MIT Press, 1969.
Allison, David K. and Joseph Marchese. Index of Oral Histories Relating to Naval Research, Development, and Acquisition. Washington, D.C.: Department of the Navy, 1992.
Amato, Ivan. Pushing the Horizon: Seventy-Five Years of High Stakes Science and Technology at the Naval Research Laboratory. Washington: GPO, 1999.
Anspacher, William B., Betty H. Gay, Donald E. Marlowe, Paul B. Morgan and Samuel J. Raff. The Legacy of the White Oak Laboratory. Dahlgren, VA: NSWCDD, 2000.
Arthur D. Little, Inc. “Basic Research in the Department of Defense.” 10 November 1960.
Baile, Kenneth C. “Historical Perspective of NAVSWC/Dahlgren’s Organizational Culture (NSWC MP 90-715).” Dahlgren, VA: NSWC, 1991.
Beason, J. Douglas. DOD Science and Technology: Strategy for the Post-Cold War Era. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1997.
Bowen, Harold G. Ships, Machinery, and Mossbacks. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954.
Bush, Vannevar. Science: The Endless Frontier. A Report to the President. Washington, 1945 (Reprint 1990).
Carlisle, Rodney P. Management of the U.S. Navy Research and Development Centers During the Cold War. Washington: GPO, 1993.
________. Powder and Propellants: Energetic Materials at Indian Head, Maryland, 1890-1990. Washington: GPO, 1993.
________. Navy RDT&E Planning in an Age of Transition. Washington: Department of the Navy, 1997.
________. The Relationship of Science and Technology: A Bibliographic Guide. Washington: Department of the Navy, 1997.
________. Where the Fleet Begins: A History of the David Taylor Research Center. Washington: Department of the Navy, 1998.
Christman, Albert B. Sailors, Scientists, and Rockets: History of the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, California, Volume 1. Washington: Department of the Navy, 1971.
________. Target Hiroshima: Deke Parsons and the Creation of the Atomic Bomb. Annapolis. MD: Naval Institute Press, 1998.
________. “Evolution of Navy Research and Development.” Draft Paper, Undated.
________. “You Can’t Run a Laboratory Like a Ship.” Undated.
Colvard, James E. “Roles of In-House R&D Institutions in a Free Enterprise System.” Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest. Vol. 5, No. 3, 1984.
________. “Warriors and Weaponeers: Reflections on the History of their Association Within the Navy.” Unpublished Paper, 30 May 1995.
________. “Closing the Science-Sailor Gap.” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. June 2002, 74-77.
________. “Historical Perspective on Naval R&D.” Presentation to Naval Research Advisory Committee (NRAC), videotape, Undated.
Cunningham, Noble E. The Process of Government under Jefferson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.
Conversion of Defense Research and Development Laboratories” (Adolph Report). 30 September 1991.
Gerrard-Gough, J.D. and Albert B. Christman. The Grand Experiment at Inyokern: History of the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, California, Volume 2. Washington: Department of the Navy, 1978.
Hedrick, Captain David I., USN. “Research and Experimental Activities of the U.S. Naval Proving Ground.” Journal of Applied Physics, March 1944.
________. “U.S. Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren, Virginia: History, April 1918 – December 1945 (NPG-H-1).” Dahlgren, VA: NPG, 1945.
Hollingsworth, G.L. “A Review of Laboratory Missions and Functions.” August 1974.
Luttwak, Edward N. Strategy and Politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1980.
________. Strategy and History. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1985.
________. Strategy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.
Naval Research Advisory Committee. “Report on Naval Research and Development.” Washington: Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition, October 1994.
Ray, Thomas W. “‘The Bureaus Go On Forever …’.” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. January 1968, 50-63.
Sapolsky, Harvey M. The Polaris System Development: Bureaucratic and Programmatic Success in Government. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972.
________. Science and the Navy: The History of the Office Naval Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.
Smaldone, Joseph P. “History of the White Oak Laboratory.” Silver Spring, MD: NSWC, 1977.
Smith, Bernard. Looking Ahead From Way Back. Richmond, IN: Prinit Press, 1999.
Westrum, Ron. Sidewinder: Creative Missile Development at China Lake. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1999.
Wright, Capt. E.A. “The Bureau of Ships: A Study in Organization (Part 1).” Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, February 1959, 7-21.
________. “The Bureau of Ships: A Study in Organization (Part 2).” Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, May 1959, 315-27.
Primary Source Material
Archival material cited in this manuscript is from the Warfare Center Collection of the Operational Archives, Naval Heritage and History Command at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. unless otherwise noted. The primary source material listed below was supplemented by official reports from the Technical Library at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, which are listed above.
Unpublished Reports, Memoranda, Letters, and Instructions
Booz, Allen & Hamilton. “Review of Navy R&D Management, 1946-1973.” 1 June 1976.
Bureau of Ships. “A Functional Approach to BuShips.” Bureau of Ships Journal, June 1965, 6-8.
Chief of Naval Material (CNM), “Installation of NIF in CNM Laboratories,” Memorandum dated 12 December 1967.
Comptroller General of the United States. “Report to the Congress: Project REFLEX (Resource Flexibility) – A Demonstration of Management through Use of Fiscal Controls without Personnel Ceilings, Report B-165969.” 21 June 1974.
Coopers & Lybrand. “Management Analysis of the Navy Industrial Fund Program: Naval Laboratories Review Report.” June 1986.
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Development) (DCNO (D)) to Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), “Distribution of Functions in Navy Department,” Memorandum dated 19 April 1966.
Director, Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) Study dated 25 October 1966 “Problems of the In-House Laboratories and Possible Solutions.”
Director of Navy Laboratories. “A Plan for Improving the Effectiveness and Utilization of the Navy’s In-House Labs” (Lawson Report). 25 May 1971.
________. “How Can the Labs Best Serve the Navy?” (Second Lawson Report). July 1971.
Galantin, Admiral I.J. (CNM) to Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Research and Development, “RDT&E Management,” Memorandum dated 28 June 1965.
Hilyer, Robert, “The Future of the Department of Defense In-House Laboratories in the World of Research and Development,” Transcript of speech delivered to the Inter-laboratory Committee on Personnel Administration (ILCPA) – West Coast on 26 January 1977.
Leydon, J.K. “The Management of Navy In-House Laboratories.” 17 December 1964.
Marchese, Joseph to Howard Law “Summary of Fifty-five Reports that Involve Management of Military R&D,” Letter dated 6 August 1987.
Morse, Robert W. “On the Management of Navy Laboratories.” 4 January 1965.
Naval Weapons Center (NWC) Operating Principles, 1974
Naval Weapons Laboratory. “Recommendations for the Development of the Naval Weapons Laboratory (NWL AR-103).” Dahlgren, VA: NWL, 1968.
NAVMAT INSTRUCTION 5430.26 “Director of Laboratory Programs; establishment of,” 26 April 1966.
NAVMAT INSTRUCTION 5450.8 “Navy R&D Laboratories; command relationships and management policies for,” 27 June 1967.
NAVMAT INSTRUCTION 7000.13 “Laboratory Acceptance of Funds; policy on,” 23 October 1968.
Office of Director, Defense Research and Engineering. “Report of the Defense Science Board on Government In-House Labs” (Furnas Report). 6 September 1962.
________. “Report of the Task Group on Defense In-House Labs” (Glass Report). 1 July 1971.
SECNAV INSTRUCTION 5420.158 “Advisory Group to ASN (R&D) on Laboratory Matters; Establishment of,” 2 January 1964.
SECNAV INSTRUCTION 3900.13A “Management of Navy Research and Development Laboratories,” 1 November 1966.
SECNAV INSTRUCTION 3900.13B “Management of Navy Research and Development Resources and Installations” 1 June 1971.
Sherwin, Chalmers. “A Plan for the Operation and Management of the Principal DOD In-House Laboratories.” 16 November 1964.
________. “A Proposed Plan for the Organization of the Principal Navy In-House Laboratories.” 16 November 1964.
U.S. Bureau of the Budget. “Report to the President on Government Contracting for Research and Development” (Bell Report). 30 April 1962.
U.S. Civil Service Commission. “Problems in the Management of Department of Defense In-House Laboratories.” 27 December 1967.
U.S. Department of Defense. Task Force 97 Action Group. “Review of Defense Laboratories: Progress Report and Preliminary Recommendations” (Fubini Report). September 1961.
U.S. Department of the Navy. “Report of the Committee on Organization of the Department of the Navy” (Franke Report). 31 January 1959.
________. “Research and Development Management Study,” Review of Management of the Department of the Navy. Volume II, Study 3. 19 October 1962.
________. Task Force on In-House RDT&E Activities. “Memorandum for Policy Board, In-House RDT&E Field Activities Study” (Raney Report). April 1965.
________. “Director of Navy Laboratories, establishment of (SECNAV INST 5430.77).” 20 December 1965.
________. “Report of the Navy-Marine Corps Acquisition Review Committee.” January 1975.
The U.S Constitution (Article I, Section 8) gives Congress the power to “promote the progress of science” by protecting patents and to regulate standards for weights and measures. These and agricultural research characterize government science for the first 150 years of the republic.