Saturday, December 4, 2010

"The Navy of the United States is the right arm of the United States. . . . Woe to our country if we permit that right arm to become palsied. . . ."

President Harry S. Truman is quoted in the headline of this post....always liked that man. " Give'em Hell Harry" they used to call him and he had seen some serious combat in WW1....sadly, we only elect idiots like " Barry from Chicago" nowadays instead of having a War Hero or combat tested Veteran lead our is sad as our electorate is addicted to Celebrity and less to seeking those who understand what TRUE LEADERSHIP means.....

Here's a view into a piece of our heritage and history....The time when they were " Ships & Men of Steel " and the NAVY was the force that made it possible to take back the Pacific from the Japs....awesome stuff.
Our fleet today is made up of the same tough stuff, and has the advantage of having some serious technology on its side.....GO NAVY !

NAVY DAY - OCTOBER 27th, 1945

From TIME Magazine, Monday, Oct. 29, 1945

Having fulfilled the nation's new "manifest destiny," in 1899 ships of the U.S. Fleet sailed in triumph into New York Harbor. Cuba had been liberated; the Philippines had been seized. The U.S. had ended its isolation from the world and become a great naval power. Thanks were due to Admiral George Dewey—in whose honor New York City decorated its buildings and declared a two-day holiday—and to Colonel Theodore Roosevelt of the Rough Riders, who had fought horse, foot and dragoon (as prewar Assistant Secretary) to modernize the Navy and make it fit for war.

Nineteen years later, on a foul winter's day, New York Harbor became the scene of another celebration, when the battleships of the Atlantic Fleet returned, their manifest destiny also fulfilled. The world had been made safe for democracy (folks said) and Woodrow Wilson was off for the Versailles Conference.

Last week, in the smoky haze of mid-October, the ships came home again.

Carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, submarines steamed into East Coast, West Coast, Gulf Coast ports—Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, New York—while landing ships waddled up the rivers and canals to inland cities like St. Louis, Cairo, Ill., Dubuque, Iowa, Minneapolis and St. Paul.

It was a spectacular return to the people of the people's fleet, 90% manned by civilians in uniform. Aboard the veteran carrier Enterprise, berthed in New York's crowded Hudson River, bespectacled Vice Admiral Frederick Sherman interrupted his breakfast to observe: "Ships of the greatest fleet in the world have dropped anchor in the greatest city in the world." Thousands from the city clambered aboard his ship. Aboard the destroyer Foote, six-month-old Timothy Sexton came face to face for the first time in his life with his seaman father, home from the Pacific. On a New Orleans dockside R. H. Bryant and his wife stood and looked at the spot on the quarter-deck of the battleship Mississippi where their son Jim had died. They wept and went away.

This week, in a proper climax, plain Harry Truman will climb aboard the Missouri, eat lunch and review the 50 war ships moored off Manhattan. The day —Oct. 27 — is Navy Day, the birthday of the late Theodore Roosevelt, whode clared: "The Navy of the United States is the right arm of the United States. . . . Woe to our country if we permit that right arm to become palsied. . . ."

Fair to Foul. In Washington, Navy Secretary James Vincent Forrestal, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King and other Navymen wondered about the effect on the U.S. public of this stirring performance and great publicity show. An epoch was ended. As any sailor knows, every fair wind sooner or later blows foul. In the aftermath of every major war which the U.S. has waged in the past 80 years, public sympathy has veered; in the fog of na tional policy, overtaken by its own rust, the Navy has all but foundered.

This time, Navymen wet their fingers and gazed anxiously aloft. The clamor for immediate demobilization and the complaints of reserves whistled through the rigging. The drive to merge the services (see below) might blow either fair or foul. The Navy no longer had such a great and loving friend in the White House as a Roosevelt (T. or F.D.). Onetime Artilleryman Harry Truman went out of his way last week to give the men in blue and gold the back of his hand. Praising General of the Army George Marshall the President wisecracked: "He [Marshall] succeeded in getting the Navy to cooperate with the Army." All these were bad signs.

The Power of Attack. In this worsening weather, a fog of national policy had been settling ever since V-J day and now obscured all vision.

How big a U.S. fleet is needed in the postwar world? What kind of ships? What will they be used for? Both the Army and the Navy thought they knew. Franklin Roosevelt had laid out the course in his speech to the Congress in January, 1945: "We can fulfill our responsibilities for maintaining the security of our own country only by exercising our power and our influence. . . ." George Marshall translated this into practical, military terms: "The only effective defense a nation can now maintain is the power of attack." Navymen put it this way: "Our mission is to wage the peace around the world." Not even Theodore Roosevelt had suggested such a manifest destiny. It was a reversal of the traditional U.S. policy —never to attack until attacked — which culminated in the Pearl Harbor disaster and the destruction of Douglas MacArthur's army and air force in the Philippines. It implied a nation ever on the alert, ready to strike before it was struck.

Did the Administration understand U.S. policy that way? If it did, it had never dared say so. No one yet—outside the military leaders, who are listened to less attentively in times of peace—had made it clear. And so the Navy had to grope its way.

No Target, No Need. There were main and secondary problems of person nel, training, procurement. Compared to the problems of peace, the problems of war were simple. How big a fleet? There was no yardstick, such as a comparable foreign navy, by which to determine a peacetime U.S. Navy's size. There was no comparable foreign navy. There was no specific target. There was no apparent, imminent need.

Navymen recently marched up the Hill to tell Congressmen what they wanted. This was the postwar force which the Big Brass outlined:

A force of 558,000 men, an active fleet of eleven battleships, 36 large-to-jeep air craft carriers, 49 large-to-light cruisers, 175 destroyers, 40 destroyer escorts, 90 submarines, a "laid-up reserve" of 681 warships, 5,002 active and laid-up auxiliary vessels, 8,000 aircraft, 40 big & little Atlantic and Pacific bases, 97 air stations, air-material centers and air-gunnery schools in the U.S. The whole would cost the U.S. an estimated $3,525,000,000 a year, exclusive of new shipbuilding or shore works. It was a "very substantial" sum indeed, but in terms of the price of victory, said the Navy, it was "cheap."

Prophets Remember. Criticism immediately swirled around the plan. Airmen, including many young naval flyers, wanted to know why so many battleships, or even any battleships, which, by their lights, were obsolete naval weapons.

Extremists of the air and push-button-war persuasion (like Major Alexander de Seversky) believed that all armies and navies had been made obsolete by air power. Chicago's Chancellor Robert Hutchins (see INTERNATIONAL) went Seversky one better: "The conventional reliances of the past—a large army, navy and air force—are obsolete. They find favor only in the nostalgic dreams of obsolescent generals and admirals."

Crackpots had various other ideas. To all of them 67-year-old Admiral King, soon to retire, replied frostily that the postwar plan was only a starter; nothing was definite about the Navy's plan. But until the Navy was satisfied that it had something better, it would hold to the kind of fleet which had fought and won World War II.

The hazard in that quarter-deck doctrine was that reactionary thinking in post-World War II might set in, not only among the battleship admirals (who actually were in retreat) but among the airmen. Men like Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air, and even younger aviators like Rear Admiral Arthur Radford might become wedded to the carrier, which had spearheaded the war.* Not to be overlooked by prophets is the fact that after World War I the radicals thought the naval weapon of the future was the submarine. In 1913 amiable, conservative Admiral Richard S. Edwards, who now sits at King's right hand, commanded a submarine flotilla.

The Man from Wall Street. Fortunately for the Navy, in all this squally weather and rising winds, it had a skillful pilot—the trim, well-groomed man with the flattened nose and the Wall Street background who for the past year and a half had been its civilian head.

When Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz appeared in the House recently to receive the plaudits of Congress for his job in the Pacific, Forrestal went along. As the Secretary walked down the aisle the members rose and cheered him. Forrestal set his blue-bristled jaw, looked straight ahead and marched on to his seat. It was a characteristic attitude; it was Nimitz's day, not his.

Articulate, blunt Jim Forrestal has learned the ins & outs of Washington, since he arrived there five years ago, a quietly cynical man who had been invited by Franklin Roosevelt to become one of the six presidential assistants "with a passion for anonymity." Like F.D.R., he was born and raised in Dutchess County. And he was a Democrat. Right there the likeness ended. He had worked part of his way through Princeton, where his nose was broken in a boxing bout, worked for the Tobacco Products Corp. and sold bonds for Dillon, Read & Co. He had served in the Navy from 1917 to 1919 as a naval aviator, had returned to Wall Street and risen to become president of Dillon, Read. Franklin Roosevelt was an old and good friend and when he called, Forrestal went to work.

Anonymity suited him. He had always been a quiet, hard-working operator, and he remained one even when Roosevelt gave him new responsibilities as the newly created Under Secretary of the Navy.

It was not a job to faze Wall Street's Forrestal. There is a story that he once sent his two sons, aged six and eight, on a tour of Europe by themselves, and when they telephoned him in London that they were having passport trouble in Paris, casually told them to join him as soon as they had straightened it out. He makes a fetish of self-reliance.

One May morning in 1944 he walked with his brisk, wide-apart boxer's step into the big Navy building on Constitution Avenue and sat down in a new office on the second deck. He buzzed for a secretary, dictated letters for an hour, held several conferences, lunched with Ernie King; at 1:25 he left to attend the funeral of Navy Secretary Frank Knox. Since that day, when he unsmilingly took over one of the biggest jobs in Washington, he has occupied the Secretary's office, which his wife endowed with ship's lamps, ship's bells, crossed naval swords and a generally reposeful colonial d├ęcor.

The Wall Street Men. Behind his huge desk, gazing skeptically over the top of his pipe and only occasionally flaring into tightlipped, concise profanity, Forrestal wrought some changes. One of them was to transform the Navy into a businesslike partnership between civilians and brass hats, drawing into the firm such men as regular Navyman Admiral Richard S. Edwards, on the one hand, and brilliant H. (for Herman) Struve Hensel, also a graduate of Princeton, ex-Wall Street attorney, on the other. Roosevelt lifted Hensel out of the Navy's Legal Department into an Assistant Secretaryship. There are many and various men around him: Artemus L. Gates, onetime Yale football captain, Navy pilot in World War I, ex-president of the New York Trust Co., a passionate airman and Forrestal's under secretary; political-minded John L. Sullivan (no kin to Boston's late Strong Boy), onetime Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, now Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air.

He goes for advice to Commodore Lewis L. Strauss, partner in Kuhn, Loeb & Co., now a naval reservist and a bitter anti-regular; to exuberant Reserve Captain Luis de Florez, onetime consulting engineer to several oil companies, who is responsible for most of the Navy's special training devices; to younger officers like Vice Admiral Louis E. Denfeld, head of the Bureau of Personnel; to "Navy radicals" like Radford and Mitscher; to the best of the surface ship men, like Rear Admiral W. H. P. ("Spike") Blandy, onetime chief, Bureau of Ordnance; to Eugene Duffield, ex-Wall Street Journal writer, now his special assistant.

He set up an office of Fiscal Director and gathered the Navy's financial reins into his hands. More recently he established the Office of Scientific Research and Development, whose job it is to keep scientific research focused on military aims. If rust overtakes the Navy, it will be while Forrestal's back is turned.

Forrestal's back, in fact, may soon be turned. There have been signs that he wants to get out, possibly to return to Wall Street, possibly to go into New York politics. Whether Forrestal, who has served his country long and well, wants a respite or a bigger field of operations is the secret of the close-mouthed Secretary, who still likes to work in anonymity.

This week, when he appeared before a Senate committee to argue against a bill creating a single "Secretary of Military Security," a job was suggested for him. Colorado's Ed Johnson, who wrote the bill, observed: "I'd like to say that I was recently told by one of this country's great military leaders that his candidate for the Secretary of this single department of defense was Secretary Forrestal." The Navy Secretary reddened slightly, answered: "I can assure you my ambitions have terminated."

* Forward-looking Marc Mitscher reassured his followers, however, by declaring that, while the carrier was now the backbone of the fleet, "new weapons may eliminate surface craft."

No comments: