View Full Version : Frank Hoffman on the US Navy

03-24-2009, 07:07 PM
Hi Folks,

SWJ's own Frank Hoffman joined Bellum for some Q&A, had this to say about the US Navy's role in the world's oceans:

I donít not buy into the idea that the global commons is an American lake, nor do we have the sole obligation to defend it from all potential users or threats. This self-licking ice cream cone of a concept is useful to proponents of American hegemony and to justify a large Navy, but itís not in touch with reality...we would be well served to remember that we are simply the most powerful of many regional powers and that every new boat christened is not a threat to America.


Love to hear thoughts, perhaps in the context of the aircraft carriers India and China are pursuing. It strikes me as wholly unrealistic that we can or even should prevent other countries from developing their respective navies; it might even be a good thing?

The ramblings of a civilian layman...


03-24-2009, 08:13 PM
I'm not sure I agree with his vague premise that we consider the seas an "American Lake." ISTM, given the context he's provided, the "self-licking ice cream cone" description easily applies to all the services, something I think he might agree with if I read this right (http://bellum.stanfordreview.org/?p=959).

I think the Navy, along with all the other services, can do more with less, which seems to be his point.

Ken White
03-24-2009, 08:42 PM
I'm not sure I agree with his vague premise that we consider the seas an "American Lake."or mine but I can assure you that attitude was quite prevalent in the 50-90 time frame...

Maybe Hoffman, like me, is just old and hasn't realized the new Navy no longer believes that. ;) ;) ;)
I think the Navy, along with all the other services, can do more with less, which seems to be his point.May have been. May also have been a shot at Congress who's much more at fault than are DoD or the services. The services just work the system -- Congress operates the system.

The Navy's ego is no worse than the other services; all are excessively egocentric and prone to hubris. Humility is not an American strong point... :D

03-24-2009, 11:57 PM
Ok, I don't get the "American lake" analogy. When I think of that analogy, the perception I have is that the Navy considers the high seas de facto internal waters where the Navy can do what it wants while restricting the activities of others at its whim. I don't think that's the case at all, so I suspect I'm not getting the point the analogy is trying to make.

Ken White
03-25-2009, 02:14 AM
own by far most of the boats on the lake, ergo, we can control the entire continuum of wet even if we don't own it (and we durn sure do not want or intend to let anyone else own it...). Thus, everyone on the lake should want to do what we want them to do (or we'll let them know about it...).

That attitude was quite prevalent in the 1945-1970 period for the obvious reason that we were the 8000 pound Walrus (even a 600 pound Gorilla doesn't mess with him...) and everyone else, recovering far more slowly from WW II and the death of colonialism than the US, sort of acknowledged that (they weren't happy about it but they knew they had to suck it up *). From 1970 until 1990, the same attitude held sway but there was a realization (fought by some, denied by others) that the rules were changing. From 1990 to date, that change has been accelerating, my perception from some Naval types of my acquaintance is that some realize and accept this, some are in that Egyptian River.

(However, it is just flat hard to see a CVN much less a Battle Group and not feel a little hubris... :wry:)

As an example of the changes, next time you're in a military Library, get a copy of 'Jane's Fighting Ships' from the 70s or 80s and another from the last few years. Look at the combatants of most world Navies. In the earlier book, they'll mostly be US WW II surplus Gearings and Fletchers or something smaller. Today, they can and do come from everywhere and some of 'em are pretty sophisticated and as well or better armed than ours. Thus, now it's payback time *. See the arrogant Amiriki get theirs... :eek:

Just like NCAA Basketball has gone from a few perennial dominating teams to anyone's guess nowadays on who'll get to the final 8 or 16, things change. The playing field is much more level today (purposeful bad pun) -- I think that's all Frank was saying. Noting that the big guns still do okay in the NCAA...

The Army has the same problem -- everybody buys NODs nowadays.

I will refrain from commenting on SU-27 series birds. :eek:

03-25-2009, 02:14 AM
I think he's referring to the alarmism over China's navy.