There will not be a wet eye in the Navy on June 29 when Admiral Elmo Zumwalt departs as Chief of Naval Operations.
The controversial Admiral Zumwalt caused much animosity by his famous Z-Gram messages which broke down Navy traditions. His particular brand of permissiveness reminded some of the comedy television series called McHale’s Navy. Zumwalt made a few nonconformists happy by relaxing regulations and putting girl sailors on ships, but it was at the cost of a reduction of authority and discipline.
The purpose of the U.S. Navy is not to enable young men to see the world and have liberty in glamorous places such as Hong Kong and Hawaii. The purpose is to defend the United States of America. No military organization can be run by replacing discipline with majority vote and do-your-own-thing.
The short-lived Republic of Russia, under Alexander Kerensky, tried running its army by democratic procedures. This made the Russian Republic an easy target for takeover by the Bolshevik professionals under Lenin and Trotsky. History provides no record of any naval battles being won by coed crews.
Despite his many assaults on tradition. Admiral Zumwalt will be remembered in history principally as the Chief of Naval Operations who let the U.S. Navy lose its rank as the Number One Navy in the world. By the SALT Agreement in 1972, the United States agreed that we would limit ourselves to only two nuclear missile-firing submarines for every three the Soviet Union has. We are keeping our number frozen at 41, while we gave the Soviets the green light to go on turning out submarines like sausages until they reach their full projected force level of 62.
Last year, the Soviets deployed their new Delta class submarine — the most nearly invulnerable weapons system in the world. It is an ideal first-strike weapon and is on station at all times. Even Admiral Zumwalt admitted that it is “capable of reaching our population centers from their home ports and in many respects [is] comparable to our planned Trident submarine.”
Admiral Hyman Rickover testified, “in effect, the Russians already have their equivalent of our Trident.” The trouble with this comparison is that we don’t have a Trident submarine, and won’t have one for five more years. We will not be able to reach Soviet cities from our home ports until we get Trident II.
Zumwalt’s “angel” who assisted his promotion over many more senior Navy officers was reputed to be former Secretary of the Naw Paul Nitze. The deterioration of the U.S. Navy under Zumwalt would fit right into Nitze’s long-time policies of dismantling U.S. military strength and allowing the Soviets to race ahead.
When the new Chief of Naval Operations assumes command, the first order of business is to reestablish the purpose and capability of the U.S. Navy to defend America against any and all enemies.