Policy is all about implementation. Ideas aren’t useful until actually in place, and implementing any policy is a lot harder than thinking up the policy. There are several implementation issues that I highlighted in ’05 that I think are still germane. Here’s a summary:
- Publicity will make it harder, not easier. We’ve already risked having too active a public affairs posture on the decision in my view, and the Air Force pilot experience shows that the extra pressure on people due to being in the spotlight is not good for them, the mission, or the policy. Do it ethically, do it right, do it with proper risk controls, do it quietly until it’s no big thing and the first woman selected for COB or command or TDU operator doesn’t have to have eight news articles to deal with, and the nagging feeling late at night that she got picked because of her X chromosome and not because she’s the best leader and most ruthless undersea knife fighter. Or worse: remember LT Hultgren, remember others.
- Leadership will make or break implementation. Picking the right people, setting them up with the right sticks and carrots, in a focused effort will be better than throwing one poor female sailor on each boat at random.
- Sustainability is important, and hard. One of the reasons submarine demographics is the way it is, is because of the entry pool of people before the Navy gets to see them. Nuclear engineering takes a certain kind of skill set, enlisted and officer; those skill pools skew male. High-demand demographic groups in engineering are disproportionately valuable to our manpower competitors in business and they’ll recruit hard and pay more, making it still harder to get the numbers we need to sustain mixed crews. To get mixed-gender crews more than once as a stunt, or as a token few, requires a pipeline. I would bet PERS-42 and the officer community managers are popping the Motrin over this one.
Details are at the 2005 link. You can tell me how wrong I am here or at the other site.
Update: Navy Times gets word on some of the implementation: accessing division officers and supply officers. No word on other sailors.