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This week, the US Navy gave America another unfortunate glimpse into its priorities when a video surfaced that showed two engineers from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Rhode Island talking, you got it. guessed, of “the importance of using correct pronouns”.

Talk about mission creep. The NUWC website says it exists to perform R&D, testing and other assessments of fleet support capabilities for submarines and other underwater systems, work that helps us win. the enemy in underwater combat.

Is the Navy so far ahead of the game that NUWC has time to educate us on “the importance of using correct pronouns” and tips to avoid gender errors?

It’s possible. But evidence from recent years indicates that the Navy would be best served by focusing on readiness, training and morale.

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The Navy has ordered a “withdrawal” of all undeployed naval aviation units following two plane crashes that resulted in the deaths of two crew members.
(US Navy)

Just a few years ago we saw collisions involving the USS John S. McCain, USS Fitzgerald, USS Lake Champlain and USS Antietam. The results of the investigations were not a surprise: Navy sailors are poorly trained, misdirected and exhausted, and there are not enough ships to provide adequate training.

There is little evidence to show that the Navy has learned anything since then, and the problems are not relegated to surface combatants. In May, the Navy released a report that the attack submarine USS Connecticut struck a seamount in 2021 due to “an accumulation of errors and omissions in navigation planning, surveillance team execution and risk management well below US Navy standards”.

We can only assume that the NUWC training at least helped sailors use the correct pronouns in the chaotic minutes following the accident.

Plane accidents have also increased rapidly over the past year. A helicopter, an Osprey and a Super Hornet crashed in early June. This follows two accidents earlier in the year involving another Osprey and an F-35 crashing into the South China Sea, and the loss of two more jets and a helicopter in late 2021.

The accumulation of these peacetime disasters may have finally stirred the Navy’s sleepy leadership. So far in 2022, the Navy has released more than a dozen announcements indicating that various commanders have been relieved of their duties.

Many of these announcements go beyond the usual decision to relieve ship commanders – they reveal that the Navy has a growing lack of trust in the leaders who are supposed to train our sailors.

In February, the commander of Navy Talent Acquisition Group New Orleans was relieved. In April, the commander of Fleet Readiness Center East was relieved, along with the commander of Submarine Training Facility San Diego.

In June, the commandant of Navy boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, was fired after just over a year, a sign of trouble at the very start of every sailor’s journey in the Navy. And two days later, the Navy issued letters of censure to three Navy officers and two Navy officers for their failures related to a 2020 amphibious ship accident that resulted in the deaths of eight Marines and a sailor.

Navy must project power, not pronouns

United States Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman from Naval Special Warfare conducts a patrol June 20, 2019 on the Black Sea in coordination with Trojan Footprint 2019 – file photo.
(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jayme Pastoric/Released)

We can’t know precisely why each of these former leaders was fired, as the Navy doesn’t always provide specifics and instead cites a general “loss of confidence.” We are concerned that some of these decisions may be based on extraneous matters – perhaps some in positions of authority are still not using the correct pronouns.

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But if the Navy’s clean-up effort is an acknowledgment of its inability to focus on its core mission of recruiting, training and keeping a ready fleet, it’s a welcome first step.

A second important step would be something Republicans and Democrats have begged the Navy to do in recent years: refocus on the core mission. This means establishing a clear strategy for projecting power and clearly defining the budget, fleet and manpower resources it needs to get there.

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Our Navy must aspire to more than punish those who fail inside a broken system, and must instead restore our confidence that it knows how to build a better one. Anything less than that will diminish the importance of the Navy’s shooting frenzy.

In other words, forget about pronouns, it’s time to worry about names – many powerful ships and sailors properly trained to use them.


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