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Report: U.S. Navy Not Ready for War

AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File

A new nonpartisan report conducted at the behest of key Republican leadership in Congress found that the U.S. Navy Surface Warfare is not prepared for war.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Congressmen Mike Gallagher (WI), Jim Banks (IN), and Dan Crenshaw (TX) directed the review after events in recent years raised concerns about the Navy's performance.


The primary incidents that sparked this investigation were the U.S.S. Fitzgerald collision in 2017, the surrender of a small boat to Iran in the Persian Gulf, and the burning of the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard.

Veterans of the Navy were interviewed about their experience in the service. When asked if the interviewees believed the incidents above were part of a broader problem in Navy leadership or culture, 94 responded "yes."

The most important problem raised by the report is an apparent insufficient focus on warfighting. 

"Perhaps the most concerning comment and consistent observation amongst interviewees was that the service does not promote or advance surface ship warfighting in a meaningful way," the report detailed. "Finding and sinking enemy fleets should be the principal purpose of a Navy. But many sailors found their leadership distracted, captive to bureaucratic excess, and rewarded for the successful execution of administrative functions rather than their skills as a warfighter."

Other issues include "a dominant and paralyzing zero-defect mentality," little investment in surface warfare officer training, poorly planned surface ship maintenance programs, micromanagement, and over-responsiveness to media culture.


One interviewee even had this to say: “Sometimes I think we care more about whether we have enough diversity officers than if we’ll survive a fight with the Chinese Navy.”

Tom Cotton released a statement on the report's findings, which he described as "very concerning."

"Our sailors are too often deprived of the training and leadership they need to fight and win at sea. A Navy that puts lethality, warfighting, and operational excellence at the heart of its culture is absolutely essential to our national security."

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