David H. Hackworth
23 Jun 98


Secretary John Dalton is abandoning the Navy ship after five years of doing his level best to sink it. Totally unqualified for the job for openers, he did more damage to our Navy than Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto did during World War II.

Small wonder that most of the pros in the Navy are relieved that this political animal is on his way.

He came to the job from a string of failed Texas savings and loans that cost you, the taxpayer, a cool $100 million. Dalton's next billet was as an Arkansas banker. There he became a FOB (Friend of Bill) and a key Clinton supporter, hustling the money that helped get Bill into the White House. The President gave him the Navy as a political pay back.

Had the Senate done their due diligence, Dalton would never have even climbed the gangway to a garbage scow. A senate aide recently said, "He stealthed through the confirmation process. He had more black marks than some people who are doing serious slammer time."

In 1996, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) accused Dalton of "gross negligence" over his "mismanagement" of two failed S&Ls and said "it raises a questions about [Dalton's] integrity and ability to lead the Navy."

Lead it he has. Right down the chute.

His pal Bill Clinton credits Dalton with helping the Navy and Marine Corps rise to "the challenge of change." The "change" was the implementation of Clinton-style political correctness throughout the fleet.

"Under his watch, little was done about combat-readiness," remarked a Navy captain. "It was mostly about quotas. Getting women in cockpits and aboard combat ships. Thank God the Soviets are dead or we would be."

His first assault was on the senior leadership. Crusty old salts such as war heroes Admirals Stanley Arthur and Leighton Smith got the sack as soon as they opposed what Dalton was trying to do to their Navy.

The stand up guys were soon replaced by Perfumed Princes who would do anything to scamper up the ladder, including going along with Clinton and Dalton's radical agenda to feminize the Navy and buy stuff that was good for campaign-contribution-generous corporate America but not for fighting future wars.

Now the Navy is in about the same shape in which he left his Texas S&Ls: broke and broken. The Navy is so sick it may not be able to maintain a 300-ship fleet that the Pentagon's strategic plan says is the bare minimum.

Every readiness indicator -- unless you can count pregnancy among the ranks -- is way down: The Navy is behind in maintaining and replacing combat and support aircraft and ships; it's anti-submarine warfare program is in shambles; and Air Wing readiness has hit a new low.

It's not only on the material side -- present and future -- where the Navy's in deep trouble but also on the moral side. "Morale hasn't been this low since Vietnam. Our best are hanging it up," says a Chief with over 30 years service.

This is especially true in Navy aviation. A fighter pilot says "A train wreck is just down the track. Pilots are all dropping their letters (of resignation) at 13 years and a wake-up."

Navy Air is not buying enough planes because the new ones are too expensive. Nor does it have enough aircraft for its carriers. Yet Dalton bought the gold-plated F/A -18 E/F fighter described by a Pentagon aviation expert as "a high cost mediocrity that will only be able to bomb fixed targets ­ more appropriate for fighting another cold war."

This has become even more serious since Dalton retired the battleships. Now -- since no way do fastburner jets hack it in a ground support role -- there's no decent fire support system for Marines on the beach.

Another Pentagon officer says "Under Dalton the Navy has postured itself for a war at sea against the Japanese. He must not have realized that we won that war."

Sources say Dalton is fixing to swing through the defense contractor revolving door next. A door that sadly for us most senior Pentagon brass go through on their way to the really big dollars. There he'll receive mega bucks for using his influence to sell the Navy more exotic stuff it doesn't need.

This could only happen in America.

The end