As I sat at the end of my driveway, I kept drifting back to some of the statements about the Navy during the last presidential debate. I was frankly stunned as the Commander in Chief made derisive, belittling comments about our fleet. As a former naval officer, I was shocked. It has never been a game of how many ships we have in our fleet. And yes, we do have “ships that planes land on,” and they have been around for quite awhile. I served during World War II, and one of the points Navy fliers used to differentiate themselves from the other pilots, was their ability to land and take-off of that very small runway on the deck of the carrier. I married a Navy pilot and heard first hand the pride of these men. News flash to the Commander in Chief: Planes have been landing on carrier decks for quite awhile. Comments about the submarines in our fleet were just as offensive.
And what about the horses and bayonets? The comments did not produce an humiliating situation for the opponent as was intended. I think I saw not long ago situations where horses were used in our desert fighting. I’m fairly certain that the brave soldiers on those horses in the desert did not emerge from some time machine from the past. They are among some of the very elite of our troops. I doubt they would consider themselves “out-of-date” fighters. I suspect they would believe that they were engaging the enemy in a manner appropriate to the situation.
But perhaps the most difficult thing for me to understand was the total lack of understanding about the functioning of the U.S. Navy. It is not just a magnificent fighting force with all the attendant good that that strength has produced from the beginning of our founding. Our Navy has been a force that has often changed the course of our history. From Colonial days to the present, individual ships like the Midway during World War II, or various combinations of ships during War have served this nation splendidly.
However, it is not just during War that our ships and navy personnel are incredible performers. Has the Commander in Chief missed our hospital ships anchored off the coast of areas where great natural tragedies have occurred? Or what about our supply ships that provide life-saving supplies to famine areas? And let’s not forget the ships that patrol the oceans to protect mariners from the barbaric pirates of the seas. What would happen to some of our commerce if our ships were not patrolling areas to keep our merchant fleet safe?
I have just touched on some of the areas in which our U.S. Navy serves the citizens of our country. I can tell you from my personal service in the Navy and from first hand observation of the folks who serve in the naval endeavors of our fleet, that these people are quite serious about their affection for and their dedication to our great U.S. Navy.
Thousands of people around the world shout out praise for the personnel who make up our great Navy for what they have done, yet our Commander in Chief makes small talk and political jokes about the size of our fleet. Don’t you find that both sobering and sad?
You’re correct, Mr. President. It is not a numbers game of ships. But reducing the fleet to such a degree that neither war nor peace functions can be performed properly, hurts our republic in many ways. Certainly the security of our nation is an issue. It is not just the military that suffers. The State Department would be hampered in efforts to bring aid to many areas when and where needed. Some commerce could not be carried out in positive ways when protection is needed for successful commerce to occur. Agricultural aid might not be as easily accomplished. Almost every department of our government relies on naval aid in one way or another.
Numbers are important when you need ships to carry out the many functions that the Navy performs.. Mr. Commander in Chief: Have you forgotten what the Navy does or have you never understood?