If we were to draw main themes for this issue, we would probably choose two that are at the heart of the Submarine League’s reason for being: Education of the Public as to what submarines are all about and what they can do; and, the Professionalism of submariners.
The professionalism factor shows through first in our search for doing our business better and for making our equipment more effective. We know that we have to understand the big picture as well as the nuts and bolts. We think we do and we are trying to explain what that means from a submariner’s view. Secondly, our community has always looked to our traditions and history for foundations of our current conduct and the lessons of the past have always been our instruction for the future. The third factor of professionalism is evident in the pride of a difficult job done well. The two pieces in the Reflections section of this issue are classic examples of that submarine pride.
Several of the articles are calls to get out the right word That is, let’s insure that the American people, the rest of the Navy (who realize how right they are), and, indirectly, those that make our National Security decisions, that USN submarines, of the proper type, designed and built by American experts, can be highly effective, and less costly in real terms, in any kind of conflict or crisis that the nation may face in the all too uncertain future.
There is a second, very important, part to getting the word out; and that is to make sure that what is published in the general press, or discussed on the air, is technically correct and the argumentation is fair and objective. Making up the IN TIIE NEWS notes indicates that those who cover submarine news over a long period generally can be counted on to be objective, fairly knowledgeable and open to learning more about the subject. The casual writer, however, coming upon the ;omplex world of undersea warfare for the first time tends to Jump at the easy answers to the wrong questions. All of us should take those such opportunities, when we see them, to offer the public better information on which to make their own judgements.
FROM THE PRESIDENT
On 21 November, 1990, the leaders of NATO and the Warsaw Pact declared in the Charter of Paris, an end to the “Cold War”, proclaiming an era of peace and democracy and an end to confrontation. As a result, perceptions of threat to our security are changing. The Soviet “containment” policy which served the free world so well for forty years is no longer considered necessary; neither are the forces created to support that policy. Planners are told to refocus on regional conflicts, contingency and limited objective warfare. Light, mobile, rapidly deployable forces, backed by a larger, more capable Reserve, represent the new order.
Despite, however, significant reductions in Soviet conventional arms, modernization of the Soviet submarine force continues apace. Construction of SSBNs is ongoing, each new ship armed with missiles able to reach any target in the U.S. from deep within the “bastions.” In tactical submarines, the Soviets are improving the overall quality of the force by adding modern, very capable SSNs, SSGNs, and SSs, while discarding whole classes of old, noisy submarines. This threat bas not diminished.
In the coming rush to “build-down” the U.S. defense forces, it is hoped that the decision makers will remember that the only platform capable of conducting an ASW campaign in the most forward areas is the SSN, which, by the way, can also deal very nicely, thank you, with the newly discovered Third World submarine threat, conduct covert land attack missile strikes, plant mine fields, insert and recover Special Warfare forces, sink surface ships (re BELGRANO), collect intelligence, provide early Indications and Warning, and provide combat search and rescue. In versatility, mobility, firepower, endurance and life-cycle cost effectiveness, the SSN wins!
Recently, we have been asked if certain submarine special operations might ever be declassified so that participants would be able to discuss details with the press, or even publish them as part of their memoirs. Without exception, those operations remain classified and are not releasable to the public. You must assume that the personal security safeguards enacted for each operation remain legally (and morally) binding. I trust that message is clear. We are finalizing the agenda for the June Symposium. It looks like another winner. Please plan to join us.