The Hollywood blockbuster “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise was a potent recruiting advertisement for aviators. One of its most memorable scenes was of a chorus of pilots at the bar of an Officer’s Club singing “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” to a bemused Kelly McGillis. Back during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Navy activated a training school, the Fighter Weapons School, to regain the lost art of air-to-air combat and to ensure that its pilots remained among the elites of their profession. In the movie, the cocky egos of the student pilots stand out as they prepare for war in a demanding training program that honed their combat skills in a competitive setting. Known more commonly as the “Top Gun” course, it is considered a singular success in upping the performance of naval aviation. It is time to extend that “loving feeling” to submarine warfare — including, and perhaps especially, to the submarine forces of U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
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Dr. Frank Hoffman is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University. The views expressed are the authors own and do not reflect those of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.