Archive for July, 2010
Good people can argue yes or no if Mentorism is best left as an encouraged, but natural and informal process where junior personnel seek advice and example from more senior personnel who can help them understand what is needed to succeed. Many think that something so good as having a Mentor provides such a benefit that it should be mandatory. I happen to believe it works best when allowed to happen naturally – but support for formal Mentoring is a easily defended opinion. Either way – Mentorism is a net good for all involved, including the Navy.
SeaDaddyism, however, is a totally different animal. SeaDaddyism is a cancer in any organization, as one person is given special treatment based on being a golf buddy, son-in-law of a significant person, son of a good friend, daughter of a college roommate, etc. That is why smart leaders will do their best to keep any hint of favoritism away and beyond suggestion. Indeed, SeaDaddyism is best seen as straddling the fuzzy line where fraternization begins. Ugly and a net negative for the health of the Navy.
In the few cases where I saw real SeaDaddyism, conflict soon followed. Good thing about our PCS system though – in most cases the impact on a Command are mitigated by time, and things tend to self-correct for the Command degraded by the effects of a SeaDaddy on the fair and equal evaluation and treatment of subordinates.
What if we had a system of official SeaDaddyism – one that was supported all the way to the senior uniformed leadership of our Navy? What if mid-level leaders, the ones who write FITREPS and Detail officers, were held accountable if they did not practice SeaDaddyism? What if there was a by-name list of personnel who were to receive the benefits of open, aggressive, and trackable SeaDaddyism? Independent of any self-correcting PCS cycle – what if this SeaDaddyism was perpetual – unending.
Worse yet – most would know who was on the list, and who was not. What if every time someone was promoted or given a plum assignment – regardless of the possible exemplary performance of that individual – because it was known/assumed that the individual was on the SeaDaddy List, it would be assumed that the person didn’t earn or deserve promotion or a plum assignment – that it was simply a gift from his SeaDaddy?
From one of my very trusted sources,
From: XXXX, XXDM, N00
Sent: XXXday, July XX, 2010
To: XX RADM, N00; XXX, RDML, N00; XXX, RADM 00; XXX, RDML USN; XXX, RADM, N00; XXX RDML N00; XXX, RDML, XXX, RDML, N00; XXX, RADM, XXX, RDML, N00; XXX, RDML, XXX, RADM ‘
Cc: CAPT XXXX, Executive Assistant to ASN (XXX); XXX, N00; XXX, SES, N00; XXX, CAPT, N1
Subject: Diversity Accountability
In preparation for the annual Diversity Accountability Brief that I will be giving CNO next month, my N1 has put together the attached slides. The data, pulled from TWMS earlier this week, represents what is in the system but actual assignment of personnel in your XXXXXX may vary. Please review and submit changes as necessary.
A change in focus of this year’s diversity brief is the desire to identify our key performers (by name) and provide insight on each of them. CNO is interested in who are the diverse officers with high potential and what is the plan for their career progression. He may ask what is being done within to ensure they are considered for key follow on billets within the Navy. This list must be held very closely but will provide ready reference to ensure we are carefully monitoring and supporting the careers of the best and the brightest the Navy has to offer.
Please review the data provided and report your concurrence or identify specific anomalies. Your insight to the diverse composition of your command will assist in my discussion with CNO. Additionally, provide your by name list including career insight for your top performers (03 and above) in those key positions. This reporting requirement will not be put into TV4 taskers due to the sensitive nature of the by name list. Input is due to me by 2 August 2010.
So, back to the title of this post. Is this the Navy we want? A Navy where we track officers by a desired race and ethnicity, and demand – that pesky word accountability from a 4-Star is a demand – that they are ranked higher and detailed to better jobs than those of a different race and ethnicity?
Really? I take a slightly different angle on this over at my homeblog, head on over there if you want to read it and the response from the CNO’s office on the above – but here is my final thought.
We have a great tradition in our Navy of “taking charge and carrying out the plan of the day.” Those officers appointed over us are given the obedience their rank deserves and their orders are followed. That is built on a foundation of belief that those appointed over us got there on merit – they got there because they are the best. As a result, if we have to go in harm’s way they will give us the best odds of achieving victory over our enemies, secure our nation’s interests, and return our Sailors back to their families intact.
How does Diversity Accountability support this foundation? If it doesn’t – when do you start to question it?
As professionals, when do we cross the line from following every order blindly to listening to that nagging voice in the back of our head telling us all is not well – that the assumptions in our track are all wrong? The further down this track we go, the more I think of the lessons of Honda Point.
If we want to encourage the already widespread problem of racial self-identification fraud, this is a great way to do it. If we want to move away from a goal of a color-blind and equal opportunity Navy, this is a great way to do it. If we want to encourage division based on the worst parts of human nature, this is a great way to do it.
The answer is simple. The solution is very simple.
UPDATE: The Washington Times has picked up on the story with an editorial; High seas segregation: The Navy is listing dangerously in politically correct water. They nail it.
In practice, the Navy will be creating a list of privileged “diverse” officers who will enjoy special benefits and career mentoring not available to people of the wrong race, as well as a virtual guarantee of fast-track access to the highest reaches of command. Fifty-six years after the Supreme Court struck down the concept of “separate but equal” treatment of races, the U.S. Navy is erecting a wall of segregation between what will amount to two parallel promotion systems: one for the “diverse” and another for the monotone. If this isn’t illegal, it should be.
This type of backward, 20th-century, overtly racial thinking has no place in 21st-century post-racial America. The Navy leadership apparently believes the way to promote racial harmony is by engaging in blatant, invidious discrimination. In practice, however, this system will, in fact, relegate “diverse” sailors to a form of second-class status. Any nonwhite male sailor who – through intelligence, initiative and drive – builds a stellar career will simply be seen as just another special case, just one of “the Listers.” Those sailors may achieve rank, but they will have to work twice as hard to command respect.
The suggested list of privileged officers is due Monday. The message states that the reporting requirement will not be put into the secretary of the Navy’s TV4 Taskers tracking system “due to the sensitive nature of the by name list.” No doubt, once the secret list leaks, as it surely will, there will be as much discomfort for the people on the list as for those not on it, especially those unfortunates who met the diversity requirement but for some reason did not make the cut. Maybe they can sue, charging discrimination. Either way, the Navy Department has run aground.
Commanders, if you ever have trouble understanding what your PAO does, just realize they have to deal with can’t-win stories like this:
A Marine sergeant is set to be arraigned Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court on a felony charge of animal abuse for allegedly hurling a kitten at a wall, authorities said.
Fernando Pacheco, 27, is assigned to administrative duties at the Marine Corps’ San Diego boot camp. The kitten was badly injured, but survived after extensive medical treatment, officials said.
The case was brought to the district attorney by the San Diego Humane Society. The 4-month-old kitten named Cullen allegedly suffered a broken leg, head trauma, and bloody eyes and a bloody nose.
The incident allegedly occurred off-base while Pacheco was not on duty. Still, a Marine Corps spokesman said the Marines will cooperate with authorities in the case.
“If these allegations are true, they are a violation of our core values of ‘honor, courage and commitment,’ ” the spokesman said.
What’s your PAO’s nightmare?
(If you don’t know CDR Brown (He’s a perfect example of a top-notch PAO), start following him.)
I applaud this father for his post, because his words will stay with his children for the rest of their lives. Our Army Life: Deployment 2010: I Need You
Read it. Go give them a comment they most richly deserve.
I’m personally invested …of course…for background.: My Dad deployed when I was two. After my Dad died (much later – not during that deployment), I went back and read the inscription from him in a book about his actions in 1972. It said, “To Mary, The memory of whom sustained me through all of this. With so much love, Dad” It means so much to me.
This post is about this family…and all of the girls and boys who hug and kiss their mommies and daddies goodbye.
And equally, all the mommies and daddies who miss their babies.
Every year since 1961, the Royal Navy has held a photography competition open to both members of the Navy’s Photographic branch and amateurs photogs in the service. This year’s competition attracted 480 entries showing various parts of Royal Navy life. Last week, the Royal Navy announced the winning entries for 2010. Enjoy.
After backing down on initial plans to operate George Washington in the Yellow Sea as part of the initial round of US-RoK exercises in response to the sinking of the Cheonan, State and Defense seem to have come back with a counterpunch that will no doubt knock policymakers in Beijing off balance.
Opening a new source of potential friction with China, the Obama administration said Friday that it would step into a tangled dispute between China and its smaller Asian neighbors over a string of strategically significant islands in the South China Sea.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at an Asian regional security meeting in Vietnam, stressed that the United States remained neutral on which regional countries had stronger territorial claims to the islands. But she said that the United States had an interest in preserving free shipping in the area and that it would be willing to facilitate multilateral talks on the issue.
Though presented as an offer to help ease tensions, the stance amounts to a sharp rebuke to China.
You can say that again. In all, this is an excellent move and should help disabuse any notion in Chinese planning circles that they have the initiative in this dispute. The big question is, however, will Washington keep the press on, or is this just a one time poke to get Mr. Hu’s attention? I would bet most of the Asia-Pacific hopes we keep pressing.
[Update] No surprise, China’s government is up and spinning on the governor:
The Chinese government reacted angrily on Monday to an announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Washington might step into a long-simmering territorial dispute between China and its smaller neighbors in the South China Sea.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi of China warned the United States against wading into the conflict, saying it would increase regional tensions.
“What will be the consequences if this issue is turned into an international or multilateral one?” he asked in remarks published on the Foreign Ministry’s Web site. “It will only make matters worse and the resolution more difficult.”
The state-run news media were far less diplomatic, describing Mrs. Clinton’s speech as “an attack” and a cynical effort to suppress China’s aspirations — and its expanding might.
“America hopes to contain a China with growing military capabilities,” ran an editorial Monday in the Communist Party-run People’s Daily newspaper.
Global Times, an English-language tabloid published by People’s Daily, said, “China will never waive its right to protect its core interest with military means.”
Chris van Avery is a Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The views represented herein are his own.
In the pantheon of privately managed Navy memorials, one of the most envied is the Intrepid–the centerpiece of New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Perched in Manhattan, the Intrepid draws in enough revenue to survive complex–and pricey–maintenance, grow facilities and attract a high-profile board (Including Xe/Blackwater founder Erik Prince). To envious outsiders, the institution seems like it is on the right track.
But how healthy is the Intrepid, actually?
The good CDR posted regarding one of our first forays into Optimal Manning. The report of the experience that the crew of the MILIUS had with optimal manning didn’t jive with what SURFPAC thought of the results. This is not surprising, similar things have happened for generations–even in science,
I knew, of course, the most widely accepted answer to my problem: that science is distinguished from pseudoscience—or from “metaphysics”—by its empirical method, which is essentially inductive, proceeding from observation or experiment. But this did not satisfy me. On the contrary, I often formulated my problem as one of distinguishing between a genuinely empirical method and a non-empirical or even pseudo-empirical method — that is to say, a method which, although it appeals to observation and experiment, nevertheless does not come up to scientific standards. The latter method may be exemplified by astrology, with its stupendous mass of empirical evidence based on observation — on horoscopes and on biographies.
Those words were spoken by Sir Karl Popper, in an attempt to understand “When should a theory be ranked as scientific?” or “Is there a criterion for the scientific character or status of a theory?”
Everything we do in the military is theory. There are precious few facts for us to use in deciding how to win wars. In deciding how to win, we also make all the other decisions: Proper manning levels, armament for ships, training for crews and so on. Because everything we do is theoretical, we really must treat every new initiative with a critical eye. A critical eye Sir Popper calls “Falsification”. Contemporaries of Popper were among the first to really take to the theories and ideas of Freud, Marx and Adler. He remarks that the admirers of those men were impressed by “a number of points common to these theories, and especially by their apparent explanatory power. These theories appear to be able to explain practically everything that happened within the fields to which they referred”. The supporters of those theories found ‘proof’ of the theories in everything.
The most characteristic element in this situation seemed to me the incessant stream of confirmations, of observations which “verified” the theories in question; and this point was constantly emphasize by their adherents. A Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding on every page confirming evidence for his interpretation of history; not only in the news, but also in its presentation — which revealed the class bias of the paper — and especially of course what the paper did not say. The Freudian analysts emphasized that their theories were constantly verified by their “clinical observations.” As for Adler, I was much impressed by a personal experience. Once, in 1919, I reported to him a case which to me did not seem particularly Adlerian, but which he found no difficulty in analyzing in terms of his theory of inferiority feelings, Although he had not even seen the child. Slightly shocked, I asked him how he could be so sure. “Because of my thousandfold experience,” he replied; whereupon I could not help saying: “And with this new case, I suppose, your experience has become thousand-and-one-fold.”
Real analysis, real scientific analysis looks for how the theory is false, where it errs, what doesn’t it explain. Indeed, Popper came to this conclusion: “It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory — if we look for confirmations”. Everything we do as a military needs to be focused on with this rigor of looking for what is false, wrong, not the right thing, not a panacea. To do otherwise finds us in the place we are today. We will not know if anything we decide to do works until the next war we fight at sea, or the next objective we must meet for our Country. With so much uncertainty, we cannot go forward if in every new theory we only look for it to work–force it to work. Rather we must look at these new theories and ask ourselves how it will fail, and why it will fail. If we can’t find something to (easily) fail, then we know we’ve found the best theory to use.
I don’t start any conversation without
talking about our number one priority,
and that is our Marines in contact,
our Marines at the point of the Spear.
-General James T. Conway, 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps
The above comment was in the USMC Current Operations Brief. If only all of our senior leadership throughout the US Armed Forces could truthfully make such a statement. When his tenure as Commandant comes to a close, General Conway will be missed.
He is a warrior whose Marines, Officer and Enlisted alike, would follow anywhere. Into the gates of hell, in fact. And a good many of them have been there more than once. That is the true measure of a leader. It has been so since before Thermopylae, and will always be so.
The above applies equally for the Corps’ Sergeant Major, Carlton W. Kent. SgtMaj Kent would echo his boss’s words about Marines at the pointy end, not because his boss said them, but because he believes in them and espouses the same leadership philosophy. I had the pleasure of serving with SgtMaj Kent on Okinawa some years ago, and he was the finest SgtMaj I ever saw. The Corps will lose this incredible gem soon, as well, and he will be equally missed.
By Mark Tempest
Building off our discussion about Counter Insurgency (COIN) from last week, we continue the conversation with U.S. Naval War College Professor Marc Genest for the first half hour. For the second half of the hour we will have returning guest Phil Ewing from Navy Times to discuss 2010 so far from Aegis, Annapolis, SAN ANTONIO, and everything in between.
Sad and chilling news from Afghanistan this afternoon of the possibility that two US Navy Sailors may be in the hands of the savage Taliban enemy.
From The Associated Press:
KABUL — Two U.S. Navy service members disappeared in a dangerous area of eastern Afghanistan, prompting a massive air and ground search and appeals on local radio stations for their safe return, NATO and Afghan officials said Saturday.
The two left their compound in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in a vehicle Friday afternoon, but never returned, NATO said in a statement. Vehicles and helicopters were dispatched to search for the two, who may have been killed or captured by the Taliban in Charkh district of southern Logar province — about a two-hour drive south of Kabul, said district chief Samer Gul.
But U.S. military officials said the sailors’ vehicle was found in Logar Province, just south of Kabul, with no immediate indication that either was killed — no bullet holes or blood inside. The vehicle had been stripped of all of its equipment.
If ever there was a time for prayer it is now, for these two Sailors and their families. There is no need to go into detail about how the Taliban or its Al Qaeda brethren treat their captives. I know that in my time in Iraq there was a promise made among each of us who left the wire every day that we would risk EVERYTHING to find someone who went missing in action there. And likely in the heads of all of us just what we would do to avoid capture.
Though they defend freedom well away from the waters of the ocean, the words of the Hymn are appropriate.
- Eternal Father, strong to save,
- Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
- Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
- Its own appointed limits keep;
- Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
- For those in peril on the sea.
- On Midrats 29 March 15 – Episode 273: Partnership, Influence, Presence and the role of the MSC
- The Pen and the Sword: An Interview with Professor Timothy Demy on Reading Fiction and Studying War
- On Midrats 22 March 2015 – Episode 272: Naval Professionalism; up, down, and back again – with Will Beasley
- Missile Defense and Budget Issues
- On Midrats 3/15/15 – Episode 271: “Red Flag and the Development USAF Fighter “