Lieutenant Thompson has reopened issues hotly debated in the ’60s and ’70s. Most of the argument he raises were discussed and some of the changes he advocates were tried in the years of explosive growth during the early SSBN building program. His discussion however touches only one side of a dual issue: the balance between tailored training for the student’s next submarine versus cultural education for the Submarine Force.
One facet of Lieutenant Thompson’s proposal which is new from those earlier debates is the presence in all the home ports of first rate training facilities ashore, advanced attack teachers and simulators. These facilities, for which the Submarine Force owes the persistence, skill and foresight of Mr. George Home of the CNO Staff, has Lieutenant Thompson’s ideas on split training and class specific courses feasible today where lack of these facilities precluded such an option in the past. A reduction in the Force size and concomitant number of officers being trained should also reduce the pressure on the training which is simulator dependent. In my experience, no review of any course which used simulators-diving trainers, damage control simulators or attack teachers-was satisfied that there was enough trainer time to achieve the skill levels which were desirable and attainable. The lack of trainer time was a bottleneck even though attack teachers and diving simulators operated two shifts and occasionally around the clock. Lieutenant Thompson’s dispersal plan to use the trainer in places less impacted than Submarine School has great merit in this regard.
Although there are more trainers now, and most are better, the significant constraint probably remains skilled and knowledgeable officer instructors. The pressure for officers to do things besides teach has grown-the Goldwater-Nichols requirements for joint duty being the most significant factor as officers are siphoned off to joint duty billets. This and other similar demands limit the number and quality of officers available to conduct the very important basic still training. Dispersing those instruction over many training sites will not be as efficient or as effective as concentrating them in one place.
Lieutenant Thompson proposes the SOAC students develop tactics and innovative operations and tactics. While officers are all very much smarter and more capable now than they were fifteen years ago, I suspect their level of knowledge on entry to SOAC continues to be such that learning is required, not research. The skills of the profession need to be learned and digested before very much personal innovation can take place. SOAC is a place where these stills are taught and improved upon. The students are not competent enough to invent new tactics.
However, the same is not to be said about the instruction-even thought their level of seniority may not be very much greater than the students. The concentration of talent, their immersion in the subjects and exposure to a wide range of experiences while teaching make these officers a unique source of information, innovation and thought for the Force. Dispensing the instruction to many places rather than concentration them dilutes their interaction and waters down this singular and highly valuable experience. Nowhere is this more evident than in tactics. Eklund range and Lynch plots were named for Sub School instructon. The second order effect of dispersing this well of talent seems to me to mitigate against such a move.
But the most significant argument against Lieutenant ‘Thompson’s dispersal plan relates to the Submarine School’s mission to educate by enculturation. ‘The Submarine Force creates doctrine not by writing boob but by inculcating a set of cultural imperatives and tactical procedures into its officers from their earliest days and continuing consistently through PCO training and into the fleet operations. The uniformity of this culture is remarkable and often unappreciated by the members of the Submarine Force until they witness the Jack of agreed standards and commonality of processes in other military organizations. Only the Marines come close to rivaling the Submarine Force’s culture but by straitjacketed discipline rather than an intellectual commitment. In most other activities of the Navy the general lack of agreed standards,· of commonly held virtues and techniques, appalls the submariner. McHale ‘1 Navy is too strong a description but conveys the idea. Twenty years ago the Surface Warfare School was created along the lines of Submarine School because of the evident effectiveness of the centralized enculturation which arose from the Submarine Force’s one school or the Marine Corps’ Basic School. The damages to this encultration which would be suffered by a shortening or dispersal of training is tantamount to failing to include the fundamentals on which the culture is based in the curricula of the overarching schools. This culture is characterized by insistence on high standards of excellence, an appreciation for solid technical knowledge of equipment and processes, common agreement on procedural operations while fostering wide latitude in thought and technique, and a universal spirit of tactical aggressiveness. Though sneered at as characteristics of nukes, these are not owed to Rickover but are the legacy of the World War ll submariners and the rigorous centralized training they established. Obtaining intellectual commitment to the culture requires immersing the students as a group in it while exposing them to role models who preach and practice it. This is not a short term or easy task.
The Submarine School plays a vital role in this inculcation. Without the centrality of the School, the dilution of the culture becomes more likely and the maintenance of the tradition harder. Having a central body for the beginning of all submarine training, and for its most important career building moments is a vital ingredient. Dismantling that which contributes to the natural doctrine should be approached with great caution and recognition of the second order effects.
While I cannot speak for the present curricula at Enlisted Basic School, Officers Basic or Submarine Officers Advanced Courses, in my time as a student and teacher, all bad been incrementally developed. None of these overarching courses were the products of a careful analysis of needs or with an architecture derived from a blank sheet of paper. For that reason if no other, regular reexamination of the course content is a worthy effort. Further in my experience, every such examination found something which needed to be pitched over the side because it was outdated, too dull to be learned in school, or a great idea which had been inserted at the direction of higher authority or on the initiative of a CO, Sub School, Head of the Officers Department, or a well meaning Lieutenant instructor which had turned out to be trash. But attempts to shorten the schools’ lengths for the sake of saving time have always come a cropper. The 13 week SOAC went to 18 and back to 24 after only short trial runs for the reasons outlined above.
Submarine School’s Advanced Course is another step on the road to making good Commanding Officers. Considering the curriculum solely as preparation for Department Head on SSN/- SSBN 999 is too narrow a vision and a short sighted approach to the needs of the Navy.
The U.S. Navy will officially boat the 5th running of tho International Submarine Races (JSR), one of tho world’s most unusual engineering design competition. Tho biennial event will be stared June 23-27, 1997, at tho Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Cuderock Division in Betbelda, MD.
“The Naval Surface Warfare Center is proud to host tho 1997 International Submarine Races at its David Taylor Model Basin”, said Captain James E. Baskerville , Division Commander, “‘We are pleased to be able to once again support such ID and engineering endeavor.” Tho race also is supported by many volunteers including senior Navy personal, individuals from major corporations, research centers and other interested companies and organization.
The International submarine Race Challenges designer to compote againest tho clock in one-and two-person human-powered submersibles. The first over human powered submarine nee was organized by tho H.A. Pony Foundation and Florida Atlatic University Department of Ocean Engineerings in 1989. Ibis nee and tho 1991 ISR sponsored race were bold in tho ocean at singer Island, Florida. Tho 1993 ISR was held offshore of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The 1995 nee was the fint ISR contest staged at ID indoor facility, tho David Taylor Model Basin, tho Navy a premier hydrodynamic research facility. For the 1997 nee, invitations have been sent out to hundreds of engineering and universities in tho United Stat.es and throughout tho world. Interest already has became expressed from schools as far away as Russia.