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94% of sailors say US Navy has ‘crisis of leadership and culture,’ Congressional report finds

U.S. Sailors aboard aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi)
July 23, 2021

A congressional report on the U.S. Navy revealed earlier this month that “a staggering 94 percent of sailors interviewed believe that the surface Navy suffers from a crisis of leadership and culture.”

According to the report, many sailors noted that their leadership is “distracted, captive to bureaucratic excess, and rewarded for the successful execution of administrative functions rather than their skills as a warfighter.”

One mid-grade officer observed there is an abundance of confusion relating to purpose. “I don’t really think there is a mindset there that the reason why the fleet exists is as a warfighting function…I didn’t really feel that fighting spirit in the surface community.”

“While programs to encourage diversity, human sex trafficking prevention, suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention, and others are appropriate, they come with a cost,” the report found. “The non-combat curricula consume Navy resources, clog inboxes, create administrative quagmires, and monopolize precious training time. By weighing down sailors with non-combat related training and administrative burdens, both Congress and Navy leaders risk sending them into battle less prepared and less focused than their opponents.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), one of the lawmakers who commissioned the report, said the outcome was anticipated but disappointing.

“The findings of this report are 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,” Cotton said in a statement. “America counts on the Navy to keep us safe and keep our seas open.”

The report comes the Department of Defense continues pushing for more eduction in social justice issues for American troops. In May, the DoD and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) both confirmed that service members and civilians are offered a “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” course among an array of professional development courses.

According to Fox News, the course on “diversity, equity and inclusion” reportedly involved discussions on anti-racism and White supremacy, in addition to lessons on “bias” and “systemic disparities.” It was first revealed to be offered in JSOC, but later confirmed to be offered to all military and civilian personnel.  

“Sometimes I think we care more about whether we have enough diversity officers than if we’ll survive a fight with the Chinese navy,” one lieutenant currently on active duty remarked in the congressional report. “It’s criminal. They think my only value is as a black woman. But you cut our ship open with a missile and we’ll all bleed the same color.”