Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hostile Intent

The determination of hostile intent is the single most difficult decision that a commander has to make in peacetime.

—Admiral Frank Kelso

For more than 75 years, cryptologists and cryptologic technicians have been the single greatest Navy contributors to the commander's understanding of our adversary's intent.


Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

The statements here bring to mind certain US Navy ships that suffered from indecision because the proper decision from somewhere was not forthcoming. I wonder who made the decision not to go to the USS Pueblo's defense? Captain Bucher, gave up his ship, but he did the right thing, to keep the rest of the crew from being killed. Where was the attempt to rescue these Sailors? I wonder about the USS Stark, this CO was aware of where he was and failed to make the proper decision, for unknown reasons, but 35 Sailors lost their lives to a (French Jet and its French Missiles) this was an Iraqi owned Jet, supposedly. Where was the life saving advice this ship needed. The USS Cole was attacked while refueling in a port of a hostile country; they had armed Sailors on deck who were not allowed to use their weapons. Whoever allowed this ship to go into a hostile port was at fault. I spent Med Cruises back in the 1960’s and we were never allowed to go into a foreign port, we refueled at sea from our own ships. Who was there to save these 17 dead and 39 injured Sailors? What happened to the USS Liberty? The Israelis killed 34 Sailors aboard her, where was some needed assistance to keep this from happening or to ward off the attacks?

It would appear that Cryptologists were not doing their job, where were they on life saving and informing CO’s of adversaries intent.

Very Respectfully,

FOD said...

Any sensor can tell a platform commander what the target is doing or has just done. Only a cryptologist can tell you what the target intends to do.

CT said...


I can say without equivocation that the CTs involved in the USS Liberty incident did their jobs. To suggest otherwise is ignorance of the facts which I will admit, remain in dispute.

Anonymous said...

Military "Intelligence" should not be uttered in one sentence.

Anonymous said...

Just a comment regarding Navyman's post about Captain Bucher... Is it better for a commander to surrender his command to the enemy in order to save lives, or is it better to defend the command in the face of adversity in order to defend the sovereignty of the United States as well as (in the case of PUEBLO) information vital to national security? I would argue the latter. We do not serve to ensure that every Sailor makes it home alive at the expense of our is the task of our commanders to make the tough decision to expend the lives of their Sailors in order to protect the national interests of the United States. It's a tough call, but that's why leadership isn't for the faint of heart.

With regard to COLE, you make it sound like they knew the threat was coming yet were somehow shackled by ROE - that is absolutely not the case. ROE allowed was the lack of actionable intelligence on the spot that set the ship up for two cents from having been intimitely involved in the aftermath of the incident.


Anonymous said...


You are correct in what you said for the largest part, (But, I can’t do that, Dave). It is my understanding that most of the classified information and equipment on the Pueblo had been destroyed; therefore there was little vital information to national security left. Every man on that crew would have been killed, for naught, I might add. There is a remote possibility that I have seen more, and been on more high security missions than you have. You did not identify yourself so I will act as though you are just another Joe Blow off the street, who just likes to spout off without possibly any real reasoning.

I think I will take your words down to the local Navy Recruiter on a big poster so everybody may partake of these pearls. Can I use your name on this poster, Dave?

“We do not serve to ensure that every Sailor makes it home alive at the expense of our is the task of our commanders to make the tough decision to expend the lives of their Sailors in order to protect the national interests of the United States. It's a tough call, but that's why leadership isn't for the faint of heart.”

The blog has made it a point to illuminate the few Commanders that have failed that test of leadership you speak of, that only means a couple of things to me, in respect to your statement above. Those Sailors on those unfortunate ships would have been asked to be expended if the need arose (they were cannon fodder) due to the lack of the necessary leadership. Is that the way it is supposed to work, Dave?

I was fortunate enough to work as SCPOC, MCPOC and COB for a number of years and at the end of each major mission the Captain and Executive Officer of the ship would personally require that I make myself available to them. They never failed to extend to me their thanks for making that mission successful for the ship and her crew. I would generally answer in this fashion; Captain, I will pass that on to the crew. They will be happy to hear of your satisfaction with their performance. The crew on a submarine, by the way, Dave, typically all die at the same time. There is no possible way that the Commander can pick and choose which of these good Sailors is expendable.

You evidently did not understand the original post or the circumstances under which the Pueblo was captured, the CT’s onboard, or those providing territorial limits to any country, especially a hostile country, should have known what the territorial limits of North Korea were and held yhe Pueblo to a position beyond those limits. Evidently the Commander of the Pueblo did not receive the proper information. He would have been very foolish to ignore orders, he was under orders, I would expect?

Dave, in respect to the Cole you are out in left field again. Here is what I said in my post; “Whoever allowed this ship to go into a hostile port was at fault. I spent Med Cruises back in the 1960’s and we were never allowed to go into even friendly ports, we refueled at sea from our own ships.” That was the policy then and it should still be the same. Who in their right mind would allow one of our Men of War to tie up in a port of a hostile country? We are the most powerful country in the world, and definitely the most powerful Navy, and have been that way for a lot of years. But on occasion, we the United States of America have allowed American Sailors to die because of poor decisions from command authority. Were these decisions based on what information that Cryptology provided? Dave, please go back and read the original post on “I Like The Cut of His Jib” and report back to me at your convenience.

By the way, Dave, you as many others of vast experience should invest in a program that has a spell checker. The word (intimitely) in your post is not recognizable to my spell checker. I really understand your problem, having never been a super speller, but I do know where to find the tools.

E. A. Hughes, FTCM(SS)
US Navy (Retired)

Anonymous said...


You were doing great using those words such as “equivocation” and the wording, “To suggest otherwise is ignorance of the facts” and then expose yourself with those last three words, “Remain in dispute”.

Sorry CT,

General Quarters said...

Before his passing several years ago, I was honored to count Pete Bucher as a personal friend. I can tell you that he did not take the decision to surrender Pueblo lightly, and he suffered mightily under the consequences in North Korean captivity, and again afterward for the rest of his life, forever being second guessed in print by the armchair Admirals. In spite of being a naval pariah, he was always comforted by the certain knowledge that he brought his crew home alive.

In both cases of Pueblo and Liberty, there is ample evidence to suggest negligence and failure at flag level, far more so than at ship command level. These ships were sent into harm's way with no viable means of defense, no means of escape, and no available backup. Liberty's CO, McGonagle was (quietly) awarded the CMH for combat action during the engagement. CT's telling you what's happening does no good unless you can do something about it.

As for Stark, that was a genuine cluster, clear negligence onboard, failure to follow standard
ROE, having chaff launchers locked down underway, etc. They knew all about the Iraqis from all manner of combat sensors, including CT's, but were complacent unto death after watching them fly the exact same profile several times a day for weeks.

As for Cole, I am not absolutely certain, but I believe it was when General Zinni was CINCCENT that port calls to Yemen were first authorized sometime in the late 1990's as a means of "diplomacy." In retrospect, not such a great call. Not sure what was going on onboard that might have contributed to the death and destruction during the attack. Agree that Yemen was not appropriate for a port call, even then.

FOD said...

I met Captain Bucher on good terms. A good story. Drop me a note.

Anonymous said...

General Quarters,

Thanks far all the words and justified opinions on the failure of the whoever to protect our Navy ships and crews that have suffered needlessly in most cases. I have found over the last 50 years that the media is unable to report the events properly, or have any desire to report them properly. We as Sailors had to live off the rumors and the imagination of many until the story could be confirmed, or partially confirmed at any rate.

The Navy was my life for 24 years, and during those years I was distressed over some of the events that were inadequately explained to the troops. Of course, in those days everything was classified and that is what obscured many of the events that occurred. I fully believed in the way the United States Navy operated during the Cold War area where nothing could be divulged of ships operations, weapons, ships capabilities, or anything else that did not fall under a persons “need to know”. That very same policy did leave a lot of holes in a Sailors knowledge, but the Sailor being a versatile individual took it in stride and went to sea with less knowledge and still did his job with excellence.

The USS Scorpion was declared lost, with all hands, in 1968 and the real reason for Her loss has never been clearly announced, but we on Submarines for many years after that loss always were fed the rumor that a Soviet Submarine sank Her, and that sinking was in retaliation for their loss of the K 129 just prior to the loss of the Scorpion. None of us Sailors on Submarines went to sea without the suspicion that any detected vessel determined to be Soviet was ready to launch an attack against us, but our CO’s, at that time could operate very much as they pleased, It created just a little anxiety at times. On at least two occasions while standing Chief of the Watch or Diving Officer I have heard the word announced from sonar “Officer of the Deck, Crazy Ivan, Crazy Ivan, to “Port or Starboard” ” while we were shadowing a Soviet Submarine. We were operating in Soviet waters, the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea, and that was classified at the time. This was the game played by the countries involved (the Soviets and the United States) and over the years there were problems and casualties as well. But it could have been a lot worse, we never lost another Boat after Scorpion, but I am still mourning Her and Her crew, we were lucky but had Commanders with a lot of savvy, and a lot of intestinal fortitude as well.

Very Respectfully,

NavyMustangCryppie said...

"It would appear that Cryptologists were not doing their job, where were they on life saving and informing CO’s of adversaries intent."

Navyman834, I don't care how many years you spent in the Navy and on classified missions, the examples you give and the final comment you wrote above shows that you do not understand what Cryptologists do every day to protect their shipmates and do very well. We "spooks" pulled many ships out of the fire through our often misunderstood jobs. I know I did.

Anonymous said...


You make me feel fairly good to know that you stand behind the same old line that Cryptologists (spook’s) always seem to dodge behind. You are right when you say I do not know what you folks do, because you folks have the advantage over us Fleet Sailors, we are required to tell the truth, without disclosing classified information. You folks on the other hand evidently are trained in deception; don’t divulge anything including your own Name, Rank and Service Number. And you also expect the good folks that read this material to really put all their faith behind such statements as “We "spooks" pulled many ships out of the fire through our often misunderstood jobs. I know I did.” But evidently you could not speak about those particular missions. It would appear that you spooks saved a bunch of Navy ships by that last statement. I hope that ships that I served on were on that list of many ships that you personally saved.

I am mistaken, I now remember one mission on a Research and Development ship that I served on when the ship transited the Panama Canal. Before we entered the locks on the Gulf of Mexico side we were required to paint over the E in our ships designation EAG 154 to fool the adversaries. I would expect some Cryptologist came up with that. There is no doubt that this maneuver protected us, there were many publications that included our distinct profile, but covering over that E no doubt made us invisible to the adversaries.

The examples that I remember from my service time; the Pueblo, the Stark, the Scorpion and the Liberty are still outstanding on the Navy records, and as far as I and many others are concerned what happened to them is a blight on the Navy record. I realize that most likely none of these things happened on your watch, but there should be a policy change in the spook manual that you folks be trained on how to handle such things to prevent such events. There is no doubt in my mind that better results could be obtained, and not as many of my and your Shipmates would have suffered.

Very Respectfully,