Gal, did the CNO just say, “Everyone SHUT UP! You are free to give your opinion only after I tell you what it is.“?

Internal and external pressures will be significant as we work our way through what will certainly be complex and challenging budget issues. We will stay aligned and keep our lines of communication open. Discussions and deliberations must take place only within the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense. Those internal discussions are exactly that, internal. Pursuit of individual agendas or initiatives is unacceptable. You may likely be pulled into parochial discussions. Do not go there.

That’s how I read it. Interesting …. being that I am not an O7 or above or a SES that the email was sent to – I guess that doesn’t apply to me. Happy day.

What does that mean to the little baby-steps we have seen by the higher pay-grades here at USNI to actively, and effectively, engage in a two-way conversation – a real “Conversation with the Country?” With that email, Admiral Stavridis and VADM Harvey have been effectively ordered to keep their opinions to themselves until they are told what they are.

I perfectly agree with the “…once we leave this room ….” line of thought and tradition – I use it – in the right place and the right time as I see it. Maybe I am wrong on this, probably, but on this subject though; where has this line of thought brought us to in 2009? Is it appropriate in the areas the CNO describes? Legal and well within his authority; unquestionably. But is it perhaps not the best route to take at this fix?

I have been that dork sitting behind an Admiral, silently scribbling in a note-pad at the right tonal inflections. I have sat in the cars and the bars making sure everything runs on time, nothing stupid happens, and phones/blackberries are answered – and have kept my mouth shut and my ears and eyes open. I know how these “internal discussions” often go – and head-nodd’n to the guy that owns paper on you is the norm, not the exception. If you have seen a pack of wolves fuss over a carcass, then you know how those discussions go. You know your place in the pack and only fuss to your limit – and the Alpha always wins in the end.

In 2009 we have LCS, DDG-1000, LPD-17, ACS, and a few other jewels to look at and ask ourselves; in the last decade have we had too many hard questions, or too few? Have we been too self-critical, or too self-delusional? Do we work within a political system, or have we become part of it?

Another part of the email came to the fore;

Years from now we will look back and know that we were the fortunate few to have been privileged to lead our Navy at this important time.

I think of ADM Sims, MG Billy Mitchell, and VADM Thomas F. Connolly; would our nation be better if they kept their conversations within DOD and DA/DON? Would they if they received such an email? Don’t know – but it is something to ponder. This is an interesting, and challenging, time for us all.

Crossposted at CDR Salamander.




Posted by CDRSalamander in Uncategorized


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    CDR,

    The answer to your first question is yes.

    Now if you would kindly STFU and wait for your opinion to arrive, which it will once it is decided you need an opinion. As your friend I feel obligated to warn you there are almost certainly negative consequences to any form of public dissent to anything in the Navy budget, and everything is in the Navy budget…

    Proceedings should seriously consider allowing people to write via alias in this culture, because it is going to be hard for any officers to advocate a new or alternative idea in this type of culture without forcing officers to risk potentially harmful side effects to their careers.

  • Byron

    Was that the screeching sound of brakes I just heard?

  • Bill

    *chirp..chirp…* said the crickets.

  • Surfcaster

    Byron, and the air from the tires too.

    This is one thing we don’t need given the current times of our country. For people like me – The Tax Paying Middle Class Semi Educated Voting Public Knucklehead – we need the discussion these outlets provide rather than get get the rare piece of highly filtered info, incorrectly reported piece or agenda driven spew.

    So what’s next? Talking shop over a pint?

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    I think I may change the direction of my home blog. I like puppies. I like posters of puppies. I like posters of puppies that say funny things. icanhashotdogz or sump’n.

  • andrewdb

    I worry about the coming flame-wars between the cat and the dog peoples.

  • http://smadanek.blogspot.com Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor

    One flaw in your otherwise fine analysis, Phibian. The Admiral who blogs here, last I checked, has a chain of command that does not pass through the CNO’s office. I suspect that while he may respect the CNO’s call to STFU, he is under no obligation to do so.
    But I’m just an ex-SWO LT, what the heck do I know?

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Yankee Sailor

    Careful, Sal, or you may be asking this.

    On a more serious note, I’m inclined to interpret it as a warning to avoid engaging in the “what about my program?!?” discussions.

    I think the message that the DoN and DoD are taking the budget seriously, and are committed to align spending with the nation’s priorities and ability to afford a Navy, is getting out. Hopefully the intent of this is to keep the discussion firmly grounded in meeting missions and away from influences like who’s bottom line will get hurt and where something’s being built.

  • Bill Aston

    I suggest that one follow the directions as given. The top level in DOD/USN surely knows how little “grease” they have in Congress, brought on by the varying pronouncements on Navy Shipbuilding/Fighter Gap. There is a need to tighten up and speak with one knowing and precisely accurate tongue. Otherwise the entire structure may come under excessive stress. Wide-open conversations may have to go into the closet.

  • Anon

    So is what CNO is saying, is that the only people who are allowed to think about the shipbuilding mess are the same people that are managing it now?

    Gosh, it’s tough to be old and ignorant.

  • Bill Aston

    Could it be that the Head Shed now reconizes that they no longer have the ball in their court, that the White House and Congress are the real players, and that everyone better pipe down and await orders…or else.

  • MR T’s Haircut

    Dear CNO,

    Please SH&#*can all the diversity drivel, non-warfighting IPT’s, Enterprise business crappola and focus on rubber meets the road warfighting requirements. PLEASE deep six all non essential warfighting programs. I say get rid of ANYTHING non military in nature. I am talking Admiral Halsey STRIP SHIP bill here.. ditch anything flammable in the budget and lets get back to warfighting.

    PLEASE!

  • Thomas B.

    Well… how is this different from NMCI, when the masses were told to shut-up despite the obvious defects in NMCI? How is this any different from your CO saying “do as I say, and not as I do”? So basically, the officer that leaked this memo is a traitor and a back-stabber. The worst type of officer. Can you image the hell that would be unleashed if a junior officer dimed out his CO? But I guess this is a reflection on the quality of people in the military now.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Mr T,

    It would seem that the USN self-admittedly does not cultivate a warrior culture. CNO’s guidance is a symptom of the disease, not the disease itself. IMHO, this idea that HA/DR (which is more resource and manpower intensive than we care to admit) and “soft power” are equally as important as fighting and winning our nation’s wars is another symptom. You would think by some of those “gentler” recruiting commercials that the last thing the USN would ever consider doing is actually fighting an enemy.

    Strip ship order indeed. Point well made. Dump the chickenpoop. Stick to the basics.

  • Spade

    Mr T,

    Are you daring to claim that such things as Lean Six Sigma don’t help build a warrior culture? This claim I cannot let stand.

    Lean Six Sigma has *belts* after all. With *colors*. If that isn’t warrior like then I just don’t know what is anymore.

  • http://www.checkswithchart.com Fast Nav

    I’m inclined to agree with YankeeSailor on this one.

    It’s not a call from the CNO to quelch any discussions, just to keep them internal to DoN/DoD. I think it’s very important that the Navy speak with one voice as it enters what are sure to be vicious budget talks, and people going through blogs, the media, and other outlets will only create distractions that the CNO will have to deal with instead of focusing on the real issue at hand, how do we get the ships we need to execute our strategy when there’s not going to be much money to go around.

    Like someone else here said, people trying to protect their own programs vice working for the improvement of the Navy overall will only hurt the cause.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    Fast Nav,

    Did you really think this through? Your comment is very smart, you just revealed the problem and why I’m guilty of assuming too much.

    “It’s not a call from the CNO to quelch any discussions, just to keep them internal to DoN/DoD. I think it’s very important that the Navy speak with one voice as it enters what are sure to be vicious budget talks, and people going through blogs, the media, and other outlets will only create distractions that the CNO will have to deal with instead of focusing on the real issue at hand, how do we get the ships we need to execute our strategy when there’s not going to be much money to go around.”

    In other words, the Navy needs to win an debate, and will take a unified approach. Good. And will do it with one node… what?

    Instead of leveraging the network to win the debate, the Navy will take a node approach top – down.

    Everyone else in the debate uses the network, clearly the email being leaked at all suggests the network includes an insurgency.

    Node vs Network in a debate. If this was 1995 and everyone was playing on the same playing field, with LA Times and NYTs being the primary filters of information for everyone, the Navy could win this debate easily. Too bad it is 2009, and the Navy is in a debate with a node approach leveraging the filter against the well funded, well organized networked approach that goes right past the filter directly to the masses.

    Node vs Network. How do you lay them odds of success? When I released that email in the context of Huntington, I expected people to get it. But I’m not sure people do get it…

    I could be wrong, a lot of people constantly tell me that nothing ever changes in Washington. I note all of them are older than the current president and most of the incoming DoD civilian leadership.

  • Bill Aston

    Some of you much younger folks are more adroit in this stuff than I. Yet I believe that you run the risk of under-rating the strength of a consolidated effort led from the top in which all levels of the hierarchy and their offshoots know exactly what the established response is to the threat. Total Focus.

    It has been a long time since all branches of the tree have known what is eminating from the trunk, even longer since all elements bought in to what is pronounced best by the established leadrship. For good reason Congressional staffs have a low opinion of present Navy staffwork. Some of the “fault” lies in the leaders and their often unspohisticated use of communications and organizational discipline. Perhaps this CNO has decided to make it “crystal clear” what his intentions are. If so. Long Overdue.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    “I believe that you run the risk of under-rating the strength of a consolidated effort led from the top in which all levels of the hierarchy and their offshoots know exactly what the established response is to the threat. Total Focus.”

    Actually Bill I believe that is exactly the way to be successful, but is that really what we are seeing here? I think it is great the CNO wants to take point, my concern is he doesn’t have the support of the hierarchy which is why he has consolidated information to the top of the hierarchy.

    The only time an organization centralizes communication at the top of a hierarchy is when an organization is absent a vision everyone in the hierarchy believes in and will rally behind. That rule applies to all organizations, business or the Navy. Organizations like Microsoft or Google spread their message from everywhere in the hierarchy, because everyone in the hierarcy believes in their organizations vision forward.

    In other words, I see the effort as a tactical response, a way for information control because the leadership sees the hierarchy below the top leadership as part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • Bill Aston

    Galrahn, Good Day.

    You may well be correct in your reflection on organizational theory. I tend to look at things from the deckplates. I see the situation as one that must be corrected NOW, regardless of nicities of communication, control and sensitivities of the organization and its people.

    he CNO must recognize that he is under the gun henceforth to get all things “proper and correct”. That most cetainly requires accurate and wholly correct data flow to Congress and the DOD leadership. This very reasonable goal has not not always been met. I don’t believe it is important to hang one’s hat on any particular peg. What is important is to get the fix in.

    Failure to do so might well have catastrophic effects on just about anything the Navy wants to achieve. STIMULUS and CHANGE will demand additional money. Navy must be on top of the issues and focused. CNO doesn’t have the luxury of birthing and training the existing corps of flag officers (damn there are so many!) and their associates and ensuring their full understanding of the issues as he sees them. But CNO can and must establish and maintain the correct course and speed. And he must get the attention of ALL HANDS now.

    I expect there will be additional CNO guidance before too long.
    Perhaps it will have some thoughts hanging onto the theories of leadership.

  • Thomas B.

    Bill Aston: “For good reason Congressional staffs have a low opinion of present Navy staffwork.”

    How is this any different from the 1980s when the Navy was buying $900 toilet seats, or the 1990s when the Navy tried to hide Tailhook. The Navy leadership has always been subpar and too reliant on archaic discipline, overbearing authority, and an overgrown sense of entitlement.

    Galrahn: “In other words, I see the effort as a tactical response, a way for information control because the leadership sees the hierarchy below the top leadership as part of the problem, not part of the solution.” I don’t even know why you are discussing this… have you ever let a junior officer or a sailor question your decisions or course of action? I’m guessing never, as with most people on this board. For most of the line Navy, if they had a junior officer question his decisions, the junior officer would be gone the next day and his career done. Most Navy leadership don’t like criticism, even constructive; they don’t like disloyalty; and they will not stand for people that step out of line. So how is the CNO any different?

    Again, I bring up NMCI and RADM Godwin, when he said in essence to all the sailors, shut up. People fell in line, debate was silenced, and a terrible program was shoved down the throats of sailors and billions wasted. If there is hesitancy of junior officers to jump on the bandwagon and fully support Navy leadership, it’s due to the culture of the Navy of silencing dissent, even if it is cogent and reasonably argued.

  • sid

    The first Navy that anybody here knew…and the first Navy that anybody with stars on their collars first knew…was a manifestation of a pitched “Naval Insurgency” which eventually fostered the necessary organizational change to make it all possible

    Of course, that was a century ago, but I believe the key takeaway is that STFU is going to end up being an ineffectual -even harmful- method of charting a course ahead.

  • FOD Detector

    “Warrior Culture” is a term used by those who’ve seen the movie 300 a few dozen times too many.

    NMCI? The rollout was certainly underwhelming. But what was the alternative? Having Navy data open to anyone and everyone? Or having a thousand and one stovepipe systems that couldn’t communicate? Information is a resource, folks and information warfare is now part of the battlespace. NMCI is nowhere near perfect but it’s getting better and the fact other country’s militaries are buying it should indicate something.

    Lean Six Sigma? For a relatively small price, we get to save billions. Diversity? Ooooh, what a scary word.

    Look, CNO isn’t saying anything that hasn’t been said before by other CNOs. There are opportunities everyday for the competent Naval officer to influence the direction of the Navy.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Yankee Sailor

    It’s certainly about information control, but that’s not always a bad thing. I’m still inclined to believe ADM Roughead is trying to maintain OPSEC and the opportunity for strategic surprise should he decide he has to gore some oxen.

    It’s also important to recognize that the message in this memo is that the top leadership will listen to reasoned arguments and encourage internal, DoN/DoD debate, and discourage “individual agendas or initiatives” and “parochial discussions”. In short, he’s telling participants to discuss and debate, but if they view things from too narrow a perspective they do so at their own risk.

    The proof of the CNO’s approach will be in the end product. If it shows significant innovation and realignment, he’ll be praised for his brilliance and if it is more of the same he’ll be condemned for not opening up the process. Only time will tell.

    Finally, we need to continue to ask questions about where America’s going and how the Navy should be structured, even if it seems like they’re not listening, because—believe me—they’re listening.

  • sid

    Warrior Culture” is a term used by those who’ve seen the movie 300 a few dozen times too many.

    Why does the Navy fundamentally exist Fod?

    To be an “Employer of Choice” more befitting of a JD Power award than a Battle E?

  • sid

    Fod, I will maintain that you are the embodiement of a cultural shift that began with a spat between Porter and Isherwood.

    The arc of that shift away from the Poterist view of a “Warrior Ethos” has reached its maximum extent…

  • sid

    To be an “Employer of Choice” more befitting of a JD Power award than a Battle E?

    A quick disclaimer, by linking the article above, I am NOT insinuating that the command referenced is somehow not up to snuff.

    What I am referring to is the trend of calling ships “nice rides”, and “cushy”…while extolling their flat screens and treadmills.

    And how they look really cool going really fast.

    All well and good…but can they “fight”?

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    “The proof of the CNO’s approach will be in the end product. If it shows significant innovation and realignment, he’ll be praised for his brilliance and if it is more of the same he’ll be condemned for not opening up the process. Only time will tell.”

    YankeeSailor,

    I agree completely with that assessment. I think it is clear that the CNO is willing to challenge the established direction and make changes. The confusion exists because nobody seems to know what that change looks like, what vision is being set forth, and whether it is better or worse than what we have been doing.

  • FOD Detector

    Sid: There’s a problem with the Navy promoting a desirable QoL? Seems to me, such measures would attract and retain the best people.

    But that’s besides the point of my earlier comment. The point is efficient, professional resource management is key to maintaining the best Navy possible. How many ‘Battle Es’ will be won if we don’t look at things such as predictive maintenance systems or improvements to the wide, wonderful world of logistics? Not too many; brute force and ignorance will only get you so far.

  • borhbemo

    Wouldn’t get too up in arms about this…nothing new under the sun…CNO’s memo is taking a page from the USMC playbook. The USMC is nothing if not unified when the Corps presents a public face to Congress or anybody else on major policy/stratgy issues. The real bloodletting always…always…stays in house and when they come out of the huddle, everybody runs the play.

    And as noted above, the approach is the right one, if judging by results–USMC’s successful record of institutional surviving and thriving against the odds since its very beginning. Strikes me CNO is looking to achieve the same discipline for the same reasons.

  • sid

    Sid: There’s a problem with the Navy promoting a desirable QoL?

    Of course not…provided that all raods lead back to the basic question: How does this help the navy prevail in battle.

    How many ‘Battle Es’ will be won if we don’t look at things such as predictive maintenance systems or improvements to the wide, wonderful world of logistics? Not too many; brute force and ignorance will only get you so far.

    Where did I say to disregard those things?

    Porter’s attempt to continue the “lone wolf” view at the expense of not evolving to encompass the increasing complexity of warships wasn’t the ticket. You won’t see me dispute that.

    However, “engineer perception that a warship is a collection of machines,” has led to a modern engineering-centric view that war can be fought without going into harm’s way. That smart people are putting this idea forward with a straight face suggests just how extreme the engineering “thought style” has become regarding what machines can accomplish.

    Indeed, as your rebuttal first brings up the care and feeding of machines, you are making my argument.

  • MR T’s Haircut

    Spade,

    you are correct, the Marine Corps awards Belts for Combat Judo, we award Belts for Lean Sux Stigma or whatever the Managment fad of the month is.

    One is effecient – it protects the Marine and allows him to fight another day.

    The other – helps get Govt Employees hired and IPT’s to tackle everything from manpower to working hours for other civilians (a self licking ice cream cone)… Supply geeks and CEC Officers love it. It has little to no value to us other “300″…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hey FOD,

    I never saw “300″, but I was in a war. Is it possible that there is something to this “warrior culture” thing?

2014 Information Domination Essay Contest