Loose Canons

Tar and Feathers for Ray Mabus

A Navy secretary only an Obama would like.

By 2.20.12

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Back in the Reagan days, the phrase "personnel is policy" revealed an insight on how Washington works. Any administration is more likely to succeed if it hires the best people who are ideologically oriented to its goals. If your agenda is radically-liberal, as Obama's is, you would choose someone like Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, to be your Navy secretary.

Navy Secretary Mabus, like Obama, believes that our armed services are political tools, playthings to be splashed about like toys in a toddler's bathtub. Yes, they are all too willing to bask in the glories of DEVGRU (aka, SEAL Team 6), but the credit for those achievements is JFK's, not theirs.

Under Mabus and Obama, our Navy has shrunk to World War I levels, women are serving on submarines and we are spending untold millions or billions on "greening" the navy. The Marine Corps is about to be cut massively and the navy's shipbuilding program is being delayed, resulting in a force that may be over-stressed or even incapable of doing its job in the next crisis.

Right now we have more admirals than ships. The fleet stands at about 285 ships, down from the Cold War level of nearly 600. We have about 336 admirals. And some of them are interesting picks.

In 1988, according to various sources (including a retired naval aviator very familiar with the details), we were conducting military exercises in the Mediterranean near Italy. An Air Force F-4 took off from Aviano, Italy, and when it had to tank, it joined up with a KC-135. We don't know if the pilot or WSO noticed the Navy F-14 that followed it off the tanker.

A short while later, when the F-4 approached the USS Saratoga, the pilot of the F-14 asked the carrier what to do and was told he could open fire. With his backseater screaming "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" over the intercom, Lt. (j.g.) Timothy Dorsey intentionally fired a Sidewinder, blowing the F-4 out of the sky. Fortunately, both the pilot and WSO, though injured, survived. Lt. Dorsey, instead of facing attempted murder charges, was grounded. This month, he was promoted to admiral.

Mabus has been busy imposing Obama's agenda on the Navy without regard to the cost to the Navy's warrior ethic or to the wellbeing of Navy families. Over the protests of the submarine community, Mabus issued a policy in 2010 that allows women to serve on submarines. The protests were largely from naval officers -- and their wives -- who objected that the close quarters would inevitably turn the subs into submersible love boats.

The first evidence of the folly of Mabus's action is the firing of David Turley. Turley was the USS Nebraska's "chief of the boat," the senior enlisted man aboard. He was fired for an "inappropriate sexual relationship" with a Naval Academy female midshipman who was assigned to the submarine for a cruise. Yes, if Turley is guilty of that relationship he is guilty of massive stupidity. But this incident foreshadows a degradation of the silent service. People such as Turley are the result of decades of training and experience. How many more will we lose to shipboard flings?

Last May, congressional outrage caused Mabus to reverse his decision to allow Navy chaplains to perform gay marriages.

Mabus has also done his best to convert the Navy to "green energy." He has pledged that 50 percent of all the energy the Navy uses will come from "green" energy by 2020. He has pledged to use public-private partnerships to purchase a gigawatt of "green" energy, which he said was enough to power the city of Orlando, Florida. Obama took pains to praise him in this year's State of the Union address.

Last April -- on Earth Day, of course -- Ray Mabus ordered the "Green Hornet" to take flight. The otherwise capable F-18 had been converted to fly on a fuel brewed from the camelina sativa plant, a weed grown mostly in Canada. (It won't be cultivated in California because it lacks a sufficient amount of tetrahydrocannabinol to make a secondary market for it in L.A.)

Which of the Obama-connected green grifters will be parts of Mabus's public-private partnerships? And at what cost? Millions? Billions? Which of the Navy's real needs will be starved to pay for this nonsense?

The latest Mabus-created controversy resulted from his changing the Navy's process for naming ships. In the past, ships were named for presidents, our greatest allies (e.g. Winston Churchill), states, cities, and heroes. Last year, Mabus named a ship for Caesar Chavez. For those who don't remember, Chavez was a political activist for illegal farm workers who played a major role in pushing through the 1986 immigration amnesty.

That outrage quickly subsided, but exploded again when Mabus named a ship for former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords, by all reports, is an admirable woman who has shown courage in her recovery from an assassination attempt. But only Mabus could put her ahead of people deserving of that honor.

Such as Navy SEAL hero Neil Roberts. Remember the Battle of Roberts Ridge? On March 4, 2002, a SEAL platoon was attempting a covert insertion in the mountains of Afghanistan. When their helicopter was about to land, Roberts was standing in the door, ready to leap out. But at that moment, machinegun fire raked the helo, causing the pilot to pull up sharply. Roberts fell out, but his light machinegun didn't. Left alone and armed with only a pistol and two hand grenades, Roberts engaged the entire enemy force. The relief force found him shot to death.

After a lot of press coverage and congressional pressure, Mabus has said he would return the ship-naming process to its old form.

Ray Mabus has done more than any predecessor to divert the Navy from its primary missions of keeping the oceans free, projecting American power, and maintaining one leg of our nuclear triad. He's a political hack, no better than Eric Holder or Katherine Sebelius, and in some ways worse.

It's time for congressional Republicans to stand up and say that Mabus has to go. Our nation cannot afford to have any of our military forces under the control of such a man. Tar him and feather him, and run him out of town. 

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.