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Navy Auditability Leads to Victory in War

By Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly 

At the end of May 1942, the ships of Task Force 17 and Task Force 16 steamed toward their rendezvous near the remote island of Midway. Rallying the U.S. Navy’s last remaining aircraft carriers, Hornet, Enterprise and Yorktown, Adm. Chester Nimitz sent his unforgettable orders, instructing Rear Adm. Raymond A. Spruance and Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher:

“…you will be governed by the principle of calculated risk … the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by superior enemy forces without good prospect of inflicting, as a result of such exposure, greater damage to the enemy.”

As Nimitz sent his secret orders to Fletcher and Spruance, he had confidence that his commanders had a firm accounting of what ships were in their battle force, what aircraft were available, and what ammunition was stockpiled. The commanders at Midway based their decisions on hard, verifiable data, and placed immense trust in the platforms, people and processes that made that data available.

USS Enterprise (CV 6) steaming at high speed at about 0725 hrs, June 4, 1942, seen from USS Pensacola (CA 24). The carrier has launched Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) and Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) and is striking unlaunched SBD aircraft below in preparation for respotting the flight deck with torpedo planes and escorting fighters. USS Northampton (CA 26) is in the right distance, with SBDs orbiting overhead, awaiting the launch of the rest of the attack group. Three hours later, VS-6 and VB-6 fatally bombed the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga. (U.S. Navy photograph/Released)
USS Enterprise (CV 6) steaming at high speed at about 0725 hrs, June 4, 1942, seen from USS Pensacola (CA 24). The carrier has launched Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) and Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) and is striking unlaunched SBD aircraft below in preparation for respotting the flight deck with torpedo planes and escorting fighters. USS Northampton (CA 26) is in the right distance, with SBDs orbiting overhead, awaiting the launch of the rest of the attack group. Three hours later, VS-6 and VB-6 fatally bombed the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga. (U.S. Navy photograph/Released)

 

The challenges that the Navy and Marine Corps face today are no different: we must build an enterprise in which data has veracity, processes are clean and understood, and controls enable faster, more informed decisions.

The Navy audit will make this possible so that agility and accountability define us and prepare us best for victory. This is why our audit is a vital enterprise tool to enable our naval forces to execute America’s maritime strategy in this century and beyond.

You can read more about why the Navy audit is about warfighting in my blog post on War on the Rocks: Don’t Fear the Audit! Calculated Risk and Agile Accountability in the Sea Services.

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