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Admiral Elmo Zumwalt and Admiral Vernon Clark: Impact on the U.S. Navy Enlisted Force Essay

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Introduction

The post of the Chief of Naval Operations demands far more than courage and responsibility this is why not every navy officer can cope with this challenging task. The CNO is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by Senate to take precedence over all other officers of the naval service (1). Only a person fully devoted to his country can be assigned to this post and prove to be a successful commander. The history of the U.S. Navy abounds with the examples of true courage and devotion displayed by Chiefs of Naval Operations with Admiral Elmo Zumwalt and Admiral Vernon Clark being among those who will always be remembered for their priceless contributions to the development of the U.S. Navy and transforming it to what it is in present days, a powerful and important component of the American defense establishment, playing a vital role in maintaining our national security, protecting us against our enemies in times of war, and supporting our foreign policy in peacetime (2). There are people who criticize Admiral Elmo Zumwalt and Admiral Vernon Clark’s achievements but most of those who thoroughly studied their impact on the U.S. Navy Enlisted Force during their tenure as Chief of Naval Operations agree that this impact was indeed immense. It is necessary to consider the activities of both these Admirals during their tenure in order to fairly appreciate their contributions to the development of the U.S. Navy Enlisted Force.

Admiral Elmo Zumwalt and His Impact on the U.S. Navy Enlisted Force. Eliminating Racial Discrimination

Discussing Admiral Elmo Zumwalt it should be mentioned first of all that his eliminating racial discrimination in the U.S. Navy ranks first among his most outstanding merits. In those times more and more African Americans chose armed services as their future occupation, and more black recruits had a high school diploma than did white ones (3). Between 1968 and 1988 the proportion of blacks in West Point classes multiplied by ten, to 7 percent. Ten percent of the army’s officers were black, as were 5 percent in the U.S. Air Force and 3 percent in the USN (4). So, at the time when Admiral Zumwalt was assigned with his post, the U.S. Navy was facing serious problems, among them the block obsolescence of warships, diversion of funds from new construction to fight the war with Vietnam, and waning strength in the face of a growing Soviet naval threat, as well as low morale, drug use, and racial tension in the enlisted force (5). Racial tension disturbed him most of all because he considered that skin color should not matter for people who serve their country and its citizens: “There is no black navy, no white navy, just one navy – the United States Navy” (6). In June 1971 Zumwalt insisted on the establishment of the Human Resource Project Office in order to eradicate racism from the United States Navy, and like similar institutes in the other military branches, it trained race relations officers, known as race relations education specialists (7). The work of these specialists was to conduct classes and seminars on racial awareness. However, in October 1972 racial unrest erupted into open conflict in the Navy (8) and was followed by a number of racial confrontations. The conflict took place at Kitty Hawk, an aircraft career, and started as a fight between black sailors and a Marine guard. The cause of the conflict was racial harassment of black sailors who were treated inequitably and were, as a rule, assigned with the menial work which humiliated and discriminated against them. Because of racial tension, the atmosphere in the ranks of the enlisted sailors was very strained, this is why it was necessary to take urgent measures for stopping racial discrimination. For this Admiral Zumwalt issued a series of directives or “z-grams,” designed to ensure equal opportunity for blacks and to eliminate paternalistic restrictions directed at all enlisted personnel in the Navy (9). Though at first this reform was ardently criticized, it helped to eliminate racial discrimination in the U.S. Navy in the following years. By the 1990s one hundred Afro-Americans had reached general or admiral rank (10), and in the 1950s Samuel L. Gravely became the first black commander and captain; in 1971 he was the first black admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Equal Rights for Women

Not only had Admiral Elmo Zumwalt resented discrimination on the basis of racial differentiation but also demanded equal rights for women in the U.S. Navy. The fact that women were admitted to the Navy cannot be denied. They had, indeed, served in the Navy during World War I and World War II, but the positions they filled were never in the arena of combat (11) which automatically violated their rights and made them unequal with men. Most women were dissatisfied with this fact assuming that the military, even more than other patriarchal institutions, was a male preserve, run by men for men according to masculine ideas and relying solely on manpower (12). Admiral Zumwalt is considered a great crusader for female sailors, and the opportunities for women were greatly increased under his stewardship (13). His Z-Gram 116 which was issued on August 7, 1972, guaranteed equal rights and opportunities for women in the navy: “We must be in a position to utilize women’s talents to help us achieve the size navy we need under an all-volunteer force environment and still maintain the seashore rotation goals for all naval personnel towards which we have been working” (14). Women were officially permitted to be enlisted into the U.S. Navy on the grounds equal with men as well as all staff corps were opened to them. Moreover, Z-Gram 116 gave women an opportunity for professional growth by assigning qualified women to the full spectrum of challenging billets, including those of briefers, aides, detailers, placement/rating control officers, attaches, service college faculty members, executive assistants, special assistants to CNO, MAAGS/missions, senior enlisted advisors, PEP, etc (15). This reform of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt laid a foundation to further increase women’s rights and increased opportunity for women in the armed forces (16). Thus, in 1975 three service academies were opened to women, and three years later, women were formally constituted into the regular establishment with the abolishment of the Women’s Army Corps (17).

Some of the Other Changes Introduced by Admiral Elmo Zumwalt

Other reforms introduced by Admiral Elmo Zumwalt were aimed at improving the lives and service of the enlisted sailors. In the first ranks, they concerned clothing and the growth of beards. The matter was that some of the enlisted sailors, for instance, African Americans, wore typical only for their haircuts and facial hair which they considered to be a part of their culture and expression of their pride with their culture; the prohibition to wear the aforementioned was a certain kind of discrimination and some of the sailors referred to the race discrimination as another fake excuse for them to be punished for breaking the rules concerning haircuts and facial hair. This is why Z-Gram 57 allowed wearing facial hair and haircuts the sailors wanted to. Regarding the dress codes, the sailors were allowed to wear civilian clothes when off duty as well as to drink alcohol when they were at liberty. In general, “Elimination of Demeaning or Abrasive Regulations” (Z-Gram 57) was aimed at placing the importance and responsibility of “the person” in proper perspective in the more efficient Navy (18) and was directed against any possible discrimination, racial, gender, cultural and so on, within the walls of the U.S. Navy. Some of the other Z-Grams approved beer-vending machines in enlisted men’s barracks, eased provisions for overnight passes, permitted motorcycles on Naval bases, established ‘hard rock’ enlisted men’s clubs, and ordered that sailors should not have to wait in line more than fifteen minutes for anything (19). In total, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt issued 120 Z-Grams which established various personnel programs, including a Human Resource Management program, an Action Line telephone, the main purpose of which was to ensure the proper level of communication between the base (or the member of the ship) with the commandment in any time, Equal Opportunity Programs, a drug Exemption, and Rehabilitation Program, a Career Counseling Program, and guide-lines concerning alcohol abuse and alcoholism by naval personnel (20). The main objectives of the Human Resource Management program were to improve stability and qualification of the personnel, establish the best possible communications for the commandment, improve the reputation of the Navy as an organization free from any oppression, and respecting its personnel in face of each individual, to increase recruitment and to reduce all possible conditions for alcohol or drug abuse.

Admiral Vernon Clark and His Contributions to the Development of the U.S. Navy. Sea Power 21

As far as the impact of Admiral Vernon Clark on the U.S. Navy Enlisted Forces is concerned, the changes he introduced to turn the U.S. Navy into what it is today, are also very significant. Admiral Vernon Clark, the twenty-seventh Chief of Naval Operations, spent the first four years of his naval career developing leadership skills as a reserve officer (21). One of the most significant contributions made by him is charting in 2002 a course for the future by publishing Sea Power 21, a vision for the first part of the 21st century to exploit the advantages of operating from the world’s oceans (22). Sea Power 21 is a Navy vision for delivering enhanced military capabilities through new concepts, technologies, organizational initiatives, and improved acquisition processes (23). Admiral Vernon Clark proposed his own navy vision of it which rests on three pillars: Sea Basing, Sea Strike, and Sea Shield (24) which, in their turn, are supported by three additional concepts: Sea Trial, Sea Warrior, and Sea Enterprise, which provide the development, personnel, and acquisition underpinnings to carry out the Sea Power 21 initiative (25). According to this vision, Sea Basing is a set of potentials that is supposed to expand in order to meet the requirements of the commander of the joint forces. At this Sea, Strike enables the Joint Force Commander to protect decisive offensive power from the seat base (24) and Sea Shield produces an integrated, layered global defensive posture for joint forces operating in the littorals and at sea (26). This resulted in the higher efficiency of the operations performed by the enlisted sailors in the world’s ocean.

Human Capital Strategy

One of Admiral Vernon Clark’s greatest contributions to improving the U.S. Navy Enlisted Force is his working to implement Human Capital Strategy program. This strategy addresses different personnel policies and all possible changes in resource management aiming to develop the most flexible, deployable, and well-prepared naval force able to provide proper security to the country and to protect its national interests. The strategy presupposes a number of transformations within the Navy personnel and reserve force. Its initiatives are to transform the active-duty Navy personnel system by modernizing the human resource system to support Sea Power 21; transform the reserve force through the Active-Reserve Integration initiative to rebalance the mix of active and reserve forces and ensure operational readiness for forwarding presence and surge capabilities; and finally, transform the civilian personnel system by aggressively implementing the NSPS, facilitating civilian-military assignments using streamlined classification and pay banding systems (27).

Admiral Vernon Clark’s Other Merits

Human Capital Strategy does not end the list of Admiral Vernon Clark’s merits. There are a number of other contributions he made to the welfare of the U.S Navy. In 2005, for instance, he directed the Navy to take nine actions to expand the Navy’s capabilities to prosecute the Global War on Terrorism which included the establishment of a Navy riverine force, the establishment of a reserve civil affairs battalion, the establishment of a Foreign Area Office community in the Navy, and concept development work for a potential Navy expeditionary combat battalion composed of sailors rather than Marines (28). What’s more, he reorganized the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in an effort to improve fleet readiness, establish increased visibility of warfare programs and improve focus on training education (29). He put forward a concept of portable sovereignty which protected the sailors of the U.S. Navy when performing operations in different corners of the world, stating “This is about taking our sovereignty to places where there are nations and peoples out there who don’t like what we represent” (30). And finally, he improved the quality of healthcare for the Navy and their families, reduced housing costs for the navy and enlisted force, and got the navy a 3.5% rise on basic pay.

Conclusion

Taking into consideration everything mentioned above, it can be stated that Admiral Elmo Zumwalt’s and Admiral Vernon Clark’s impact on the U.S. Navy Enlisted Force was indeed very tangible. The work of these two people at the office of the Chief of Naval Operations shows how much such a service involves and demands. Just like each chief tries to make the service for the personnel better and to introduce the best possible innovations into the company, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt and Admiral Vernon Clark did their best for the development of the U.S. Navy Enlisted Force. Thus, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt issued 120 Z-Grams in order to improve the life and service of the enlisted sailors. He fought to eliminate racism in their ranks making black and white sailors equal and giving black sailors an opportunity to occupy higher positions in the Navy. His Z-Gram 116 allowed the enlistment of women to the U.S. Navy not only to perform work typically for them but to serve their country as male sailors do, fighting for its dignity and defending national interests; the women in the Navy also acquired a possibility of the professional growth and were able to occupy senior offices. His other set of reforms was aimed at the improvement of life of the enlisted sailors who due to the initial regulations were not allowed to have facial hair, to drink alcohol, and to wear civilian clothes even when they were at liberty. Admiral Elmo Zumwalt reversed all these rules which resulted in a greater number of recruited sailors. He also established a Human Resource Management Program which improved the quality of the personnel and enhanced the Navy’s reputation as an organization respecting and taking care of its personnel. Admiral Vernon Clark, in his turn published Sea Power 21 which increased the advantages of operating from the world’s ocean, contributed greatly to the implementation of the Human Capital Strategy program responsible for supplying the country with the best possible naval force able to ensure its security; he reorganized the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations which allowed to improve the readiness of the fleet to military operations, worked out the concept of portable sovereignty in order to protect the sailors who perform operations, not in their native country and improved the way of living of men in the Navy by making the quality of hospital and other services better and raising salaries. All in all, the country may be proud of its Admirals who showed their loyalty and devotion and who served for the welfare of the U.S. Navy, its sailors, and personnel.Introduction

References

  1. The Bluejacket’s Manual: United States Navy, pg. 543
  2. The Bluejacket’s Manual: United States Navy, pg. 1
  3. World History of Warfare, pg. 573
  4. World History of Warfare, pg. 573
  5. Blue & Gold and Black: Racial Integration of the U.S. Naval Academy, pg.124
  6. The Black Soldier: 1492 to the Present, pg. 98
  7. The African American Experience in Vietnam: Brothers in Arms, pg. 98
  8. Black, and Navy Too: How Vietnam Era African-American Sailors Asserted Manhood through Black Power Militancy, pg. 227
  9. Black, and Navy Too: How Vietnam Era African-American Sailors Asserted Manhood through Black Power Militancy, pg. 227
  10. World History of Warfare. pg. 573
  11. Sea Change at Annapolis: The United States Naval Academy, 1949-2000, pg. 115
  12. Sea Change at Annapolis: The United States Naval Academy, 1949-2000, pg. 115
  13. Becoming a Leader the Annapolis Way: 12 Combat Lessons from the Navy’s Leadership Laboratory, pg. 228
  14. Naval Engineers Journal, pg. 69
  15. On Watch: A Memoir, pg. 264
  16. The Vietnam War: By James E. Westheider, pg. 192
  17. The Vietnam War: By James E. Westheider, pg. 192
  18. Defeated; Inside America’s Military Machine, pg. 405
  19. Military Intervention in Democratic Societies: Law, Policy, and Practice in Great Britain and the United States, pg. 231
  20. The Future of Catholic Leadership: Responses to the Priest Shortage, pg. 72
  21. Leadership Embodied: The Secrets to Success of the Most Effective Navy and Marine Corps Leaders, pg. 186
  22. Robertson School of Government
  23. Handbook of Human Performance Technology: Principles, Practices, and Potential, pg. 1068
  24. FORCEnet Implementation Strategy, pg. 34
  25. FORCEnet Implementation Strategy, pg. 34
  26. FORCEnet Implementation Strategy, pg. 35
  27. department of the navy’s Human Capital Strategy
  28. The Impact of Chinese Naval Modernization on the Future of the United States Navy, pg. 36
  29. The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, pg. 651
  30. America & the World: The Double Bind, pg. 42
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