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Posted December 20, 2009
"I was in the Persian Gulf in 1990 as a reporter with the amphibious ready group aboard the USS Gunston Hall, and the World War I-era mines deployed by the Iraqis caused the mighty U.S. Navy to lose command of the sea. As for dealing with small, fast attack boats, our vaunted Aegis cruisers have neither 30mm stabilized guns or searchlights. The problem is not want of money but want of thought about the real threats facing our fleet. As Roger Thompson argues so eloquently in Lessons Not Learned, big carriers, big submarines, and the admirals who lead them are blocking funds and needed training for capabilities the Navy really needs. Thompson properly emphasizes that the problem of naval reform is ultimately one of having the right people and encouraging their creativity. He offers what he calls a "simple twelve-step program" to produce a more vital and less parochial naval leadership (for example, "Discontinue the 'up or out' promotion system and use the systems used by all other English-speaking countries"). His program of reform is about a page in length, tucked all the way into page 179, but it should be a poster emblazoned on every office in the Department of the Navy. " - David Evans, Lt. Col., USMC (Ret.) former defense correspondent with the Chicago Tribune.
"For nearly a century, the U.S. Navy has been plagued by a self-imposed albatross, an approach to personnel management known as the individual replacement system and the 'up or out' promotion system, also hampered by a force structure developed for warfare of the past and an out of date doctrine of mobilization. This has created a culture where only the positive is seen, thus no learning takes place. It encourages a culture of corruption, where only 'yes-men' survive, and adaptation only exists on power point slides. Roger Thompson has conducted a masterpiece of research. Lessons Not Learned tells the story of this self-inflicted wound - how it prevents the Navy as well as the entire U.S. military - from evolving and being prepared to fight in the 21st Century. True leaders of our Republic, if there are any, need to take this as the beginning blue print toward revolutionary reform." - Donald E. Vandergriff, author of Raising the Bar: Creating and Nurturing Adaptability to Deal with the Changing Face of War.
Lessons Not Learned is more than a brilliant book. It's an irrefutable case for reform and change in the United States Navy, a service that maintains itself almost exclusively to fight. In the aftermath of America's misguided occupation of Iraq, the United States will rely more than ever on the reach and effectiveness of its naval power. Thompson points the way ahead. The question is will anyone in the Navy Staff listen?" - Douglas Macgregor, PhD, Colonel (Ret.) U.S. Army, author of Transformation under Fire and Breaking the Phalanx