Navy Times is reporting that Admiral Larry Rice, current Director of Strategy and Policy at Joint Forces Command and erstwhile CO of USS Enterprise (CVN-65), has had his 1 February 2011 retirement date put on hold over the Capt Honors video incident which led to Honors’ relief as CO of Enterprise earlier this month. There may be others among Capt Honors’ seniors against whom administrative and/or disciplinary action is taken.

As most know, Capt Honors was relieved by Admiral J C Harvey, CFFC, who made the following remarks regarding that relief:

(Capt Honors’) profound lack of good judgment and professionalism while previously serving as executive officer in ENTERPRISE calls into question his character and undermines his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command.

After personally reviewing the videos Capt. Honors created while serving as executive officer, I have lost confidence in his ability to lead effectively, and he is being held accountable for the poor judgment and inappropriate actions repeatedly demonstrated in those videos.

Admiral Harvey promised further investigation as to the actions of Capt Honors’ seniors in counseling or reprimanding Capt Honors, then Executive Officer of Enterprise, at the time the 2006 videos were made and shown.

A precedent has now been set. The actions and decisions of senior officers in handling disciplinary matters are now open for review many years after the fact, and discipline meted out ex post facto if the review process gleans a result that the current senior officers disagree with. Despite being a highly questionable precept and a slippery slope regarding possible additional punishment for any Sailor who may have committed a transgression and received administrative action or punishment, the precedent is nonetheless set.

Which bring the obvious though uncomfortable and seemingly verboten issue to the fore.

Almost a year to the day before the revelation of Captain Honors’ videos was made public, (though shown to 5,000 sailors in 2006), Captain Holly Graf was relieved as CO of USS Cowpens by Admiral Donegan, CSG-5. Captain Graf was a very high-profile female officer in command of a United States Warship. However, her relief was for a long record of cruelty and maltreatment of her Officers and crew, during which there were myriad complaints made by crew members, over the course of her nearly two years in command.

As light was shone on Captain Graf’s story, it was revealed that she had had a very similar track record while in command of destroyer USS Winston Churchill (DDG-81). Issues aboard THAT ship included much the same as those on Cowpens that led to Graf’s relief. Tantrums, physical abuse (grabbing and in one instance choking), extreme profanity, threats, spitting in the direction of crew members, throwing objects toward crew members, and creating a command climate of “fear and hostility” marked her tenure commanding Churchill, drawing the concern even of a Navy Chaplain over the morale of the crew. Further, Captain Graf’s history of misbehavior and abuse went back to her earliest days in the Navy. In addition to problems with her crew (and, apparently, the Royal Navy), she was the cause of an embarrassing diplomatic incident in Australia for which she was forced to submit a written apology.

So the question becomes this: Where is the investigation into why Captain Holly Graf was given a second command at sea after her dismal and abusive performance as CO of Churchill? And where is the investigation regarding whether complaints from Graf’s time as CO of Churchill and CO of Cowpens were heard and acted upon?

Do the performance and actions in at least TWO commands on the part of Captain Graf not constitute enough to lose “confidence in (her) ability to lead effectively”? Why was Captain Graf not “held accountable for the poor judgment and inappropriate actions” repeatedly demonstrated until the last days of her SECOND command? Did Captain Graf not display “profound lack of good judgment and professionalism while previously serving” as CO of Churchill? Did not the many, many complaints “call into question (her) character and undermines (her) credibility to continue to serve effectively in command”?

Does the US Navy senior leadership consider Captain Honors’ making and showing of some tasteless videos to be a more serious offense than Captain Graf’s rampaging conduct as CO aboard two different US Navy Warships? Is the use in an intended comic video of a derogatory term for homosexuals by Captain Honors, the poking of fun at female sailors and officers, and crude allusions to masturbation such egregious acts of malice as to trump several years of (non-comedic) threats, physical and verbal abuse, spitting, humiliation, diplomatic embarrassment, and destruction of the morale and combat effectiveness of TWO warship crews?

If Captain Honors’ actions are considered more serious than those of Captain Graf, senior Navy leadership needs to do some very deep soul-searching as to why they believe this is so. (And perhaps get the perspective of someone, Officer or Bluejacket, who had invectives, saliva or a coffee cup hurled in their direction).

If Captain Honors’ transgressions are not more serious than those of Captain Graf, then I expect soon to hear about the investigation into why Holly Graf was not relieved of her first command, and another as to why she was given a second command. After all, the precedent for such investigations has already been established by Admiral Harvey and Navy leadership.

I am not going to hold my breath on any investigation as to why Captain Graf stayed in command of Churchill, or was given command (and stayed far too long in command) of Cowpens. I suspect we will hear more about Admiral Rice, and Admiral Spicer, and Admiral Holloway. But I don’t really think we will hear any more about Captain Graf’s seniors who advanced her into command, kept her there despite her performance, and then gave her ANOTHER one, and allowed that command to continue until an IG investigation mercifully ended things.

When you are a high-profile female Captain in command of a US Navy warship, it seems you get certain considerations that a male officer who has stupidly violated political correctness does not get. And so do your bosses who put you there and kept you there.

What is good for the Goose apparently is not good for the Gander.

********************************************************

Update, courtesy of Neptunus Lex.

Against the recommendations of a great deal of people involved in this sordid affair for a General under honorable conditions, Holly Graf will receive an Honorable Discharge.

Virtually nothing about her situation, the tolerance of her pattern of abusive behavior, selection for command despite her record, nor the handling of the investigation of just who knew about her abusive antics, rings of honesty on the part of the Navy. Why should her discharge?




Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Navy, Uncategorized


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  • Derrick

    A great post. Very thought provoking and I share a lot of your concerns. Thanks for bringing this up. :)

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    That is a hard question, but a fair question. I think the relief of both is within standard norms – good people can argue both sides – , but the focus up the chain is unquestionably different.

    Here is another one to throw in the mix. Which does the Navy find more of a danger to morale and material; poor taste and insensitivity – or – violent and abusive behavior toward Sailors?

    If these things are known by superiors – which to we tolerate inaction on, and why?

    I believe a lot of this goes to the fact that Honors’ actions – while they did not upset his crew or impact performance in a negative manner – they did upset many outside the Navy who had other agendas to pursue, and are skilled in the art of political threats. (review the shift of the Navy’s initial reaction on Fri to CFFC’s action to see what happens when an organization goes into a fetal position while others kick it)

    Graf’s actions – while they did upset officer & enlisted alike (indeed directly impacted the career decisions of one other officer at a minimum) and impacted negatively morale and materiel – it did not really upset those outside the Navy that had the usual agendas they wanted to pursue towards larger goals – there was little outside political pressure for more action.

    You need an organization that is both inwardly and outwardly focused – but it needs to be balanced. This could demonstrate an imbalance; perhaps.

    Tough questions, tough answers.

  • Carl

    The two situations are different but pretty much in terms of how the issues came to light.

    In Capt Honor’s situation, it was the very public and national spotlight of his frat boy humor (nothing more or less than I did during my JO years on subs) that resulted in his inability to be an effective leader. Such a national spotlight, fair or not, is what really doomed his command.

    In Capt Graf’s situation, there was no national spotlight. It was entirely within the Navy structure that the issues arose. I definitely think there is a case to be made that the issues should have had more investigation and earlier and the situation warranted an investigation as to why it took until the second command to have effective action taken.

    Leadership can be undermined in many ways either through personal actions displayed in public or personal actions done in private but made public. (“Private” in this case being restricted to within the organization.) It also demonstrates the different values between those in the general public and those in within the Navy and reinforces that there are cultural differences between the public and the military. We didn’t need these episodes to know that.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Carl,

    It takes a national spotlight for the Navy leadership to decide what is appropriate action? If true, that is very telling. And not in a good way.

  • Derrick

    How long did the navy know about Captain Graf’s issues before relieving her of her command?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Derrick,

    At least since her tour as CO of Churchill, 2003-ish.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Modest proposal… strict adherence to the order of operations, to wit: Ready, aim, fire. Or if you prefer, upon accusation, investigate, and if warranted, discipline.

    Doesn’t the JAGMAN and the MCM have something to say about discipline being taken at the lowest effective level, and dismissal is final all the way down to to “dismiss with warning, not considered NJP” block in the PMI section of the Mast Sheet? I believe the sexual harassment instruction is written that way too, but I’ve been out quite a while.

    If not, could a JAG cite the reg authorizing what has been done in this current case? Or is it based on case law? It is clear to me I err, mmm, ah, dunno.

    I’m confused, this didn’t come up in my senior officer short course in military justice back in the ’70′s, at least not the way it’s going down now.

  • Mittleschmerz

    The problem here, that those with agendas want to overlook, is that Graf’s trangressions in her Commander Command are at best hearsay, at worst very lately disclosed.

    Honors’ discretions are available for public viewing.

    There is also a significant difference between a Commodore who is not embarked in a destroyer reviewing a CO’s performance and a Strike Group Commander (and assorted other commanders), as well as the Commanding Officer himself reviewing the Executive Officer’s performance.

    There are many who have asked “Why did Holly Graf screen for Major Command?” I’ve even heard some say that her Commodore gave her a “head shot” detaching fitness report. I’ve also heard a three-star defend her record with a “I’ve seen her record, and it’s a great record.” The selection boards select records – and if there was nothing negative in her record, and if there were no investigations into her behavior while in Commander Command, then it might as well not have happened, because from a legal and administrative perspective there is no record to show that it did.

    URR – you’ve got a bone in your teeth on this one, but you are reaching way too far. Both were relieved. Both were done so publicly. Both did real and lasting harm to members of their command. FWIW, I believe that Honors’ actions were abusive to his crew. I’m certain you will disagree. But, at the risk of running offense here, you don’t know what you are talking about.

    Grandpa – the relief of a CO, or the “detachment for cause” of any officer (or chief petty officer) is NOT a disciplinary or legal issue. It is purely administrative. Not defending one way or another…it just is what it is.

  • LT B

    Do not forget her follow on Pentagon tour was still in place after her removal until there was such an outcry w/in the Navy and then it hit Fox News. I think you forgot that.

    Not a tough question and the answer may be rather simple to call… Moral Cowardice. I am not happy with the way either of those were handled. We need to take a long hard look then remember that silly Navy Core Values thing we keep preaching to our Sailors. Otherwise, there will be absolutely no ability to set and hold standards. Once again, sad how much cynicism this breeds.

  • viril xenophon

    Can we just cut to the chase here and dispense with politely mincing around the subject? To hell with “professionalism”–the Senior leadership of the Navy sure as hell hasn’t shown any. IMO the current Navy leadership is FAR, FAR more politicized than that of political officer cadre of the old Soviet Union. At least THEY didn’t make any bones about it–were open and above board about their objectives and reasoning. Here we have the sort of verbal gymnastics and shadowy, behind-the-scenes decision-making and PC rationalizations that would make a greased weasel playing “twister” proud. The Navy is shot through with PC and is, at this stage, irredeemably rotten to the core. It’s sickening enough to make even the proverbial Jackal wretch–continuously non-stop. But no amount of criticism or ridicule–let alone politely, professionally argued criticism–will faze the big kids–they’ve all been drinking the PC Kool-Aide for FAR too long. Color me TOTALLY DISGUSTED. Impolite? I DON’T CARE! These people DESERVE NO RESPECT–past contributions, however heroic or meritorious–notwithstanding. They are destroying the armed services no less than any run-of-the-mill traitor/turn-coat that turns over state secrets to the enemy. I HAVE NO RESPECT for the kind of thinking that produced these decisions–nor of the minds that produced them. Honor and fidelity to merit and readiness above all? You must be joking…

    They sent Randy Cunningham to jail for his mistakes despite his past accomplishments. All he did was steal–and it didn’t endanger the fate of the nation. To paraphrase French Minister of State Talleyrand regarding a whole series of like actions: “It is FAR WORSE than a crime–it is a mistake.”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Graf’s trangressions in her Commander Command are at best hearsay, at worst very lately disclosed.”

    I think not. There were the complaints of the Chaplain while she was CO of Churchill. There was the incident in Australia in which she insulted an Australian dignitary. There was an IG investigation. There was the incident with the Royal Navy officer. To dismiss as “hearsay” is completely invalid.

    The question remains. Where is the investigation of how Holly Graf was given, and kept, command at sea? An unwillingness to look at those issues speaks volumes.

    Passing this off as simply “a bone in my teeth” and saying that the situations aren’t comparable is rationalization of moral cowardice. The facts remain. The Navy went high and right over political correctness, but prevaricated for years before relieving a high-profile female CO (in her second command, despite her performance in the first), and then only did so AFTER an IG investigation. Simply screaming “that’s different!” doesn’t answer the questions above. It is also wrong.

    If Holly Graf’s reporting seniors didn’t know about her abuses and highly questionable behavior, it is because they didn’t want to know. Here are my thoughts on that:

    http://blog.usni.org/2009/11/07/cowardice-not-blindness/

    Until we see an investigation as to why Captain Graf’s seniors kept her in command given her abusive conduct carried out with the same enthusiasm as that of Captain Honors’ seniors with the video escapades, the Navy has given us the answer to which they think more important.

  • Quartermaster

    I agree with you Lt B. The chain of command in both cases acted unprofessionally. Frankly, Graf should have been relieved when she assaulted a crewman on her first ship command. IN the Army of Air Force the word would have gotten back to an IG very quickly, and an IG would have put paid to her very quickly.

    Honors, OTH, probably would have caused a few laughs at the stupidity and drawn a warning. That Harvey pulled the trigger under the conditions and in the manner, he did marked him as unworthy of his position. From his initial posts on his blog I did not have good feelings about the man. I think he represents a lot of what’s bad about Big Navy.

    Frankly, this is not about honest men disagreeing. This goes to the core principles of what is required of a good military organization. Harvey is one of those men that should be kicked to the curb. From my understanding, Honors has now been dealt with twice on the issue that got him fired. The second round has been a result of what big Navy sees as a PR disaster given the outcome of the investigation of Holly Graf’s behavior, combined with the repeal of DADT. Honors is a sacrificial Lamb, and little else.

    Now the witch hunt appears to be going higher in the Honors persecution. I seriously doubt the same will happen with the Graf case. yet, that’s where it needs to go, and leave Honors and company alone. fat chance of that happening.

    The lesson here is for any good, bright young man to stay strictly away from the Navy. The queers and feministas are taking over.

  • Mittleschmerz

    URR – be careful about using the phrase “moral cowardice”…I’d hate to think you were on the verge of calling me a coward for disagreeing with you on this.

    Look, you are wrong. This is outside your experience. And you are jumbling and misremembering facts. Let me repeat this for emphasis and penetration – YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

    The Australia thing was while she had command of COWPENS.

    I know of no IG investigation while she was in command of WINSTON CHURCHILL. Without an investigation all you have is the Chaplain saying he said something. Anyone interview the Commodore the report was supposedly made to? Pretty easy to find out who it was in today’s age.

    She did bad stuff. Got it. But, like with Honors when he was XO, if no one reports it or acts on it, then nothing is done. Its that simple.

    For Graf, there was sufficient documentation in her Captain Command to relieve her early, take her to Mast, and convene a Board of Inquiry.

    For Honors, he was (presumably) detached for cause. He’s not reported to have been to Mast and there’s been no word of a Board of Inquiry,

    There are far more important issues in today’s Navy and Marine Corps. How about we focus on them rather than obsessing about this?

    LT B – if you are who I think you are, you have a right to your opinion…but your experience is also atypical.

    Quartermaster – if you would rather sail with Honors than Harvey (which is how I interpret your comment about kicking Harvey to the curb)…well, then I question whether you know either of them.

  • Marcase

    I hate to say it, but I can’t dismiss the thought that in the case of CPT Graf, the gender issue played a big part. Her (political) sponsors could also have thrown their weight behind her, but that’s pure speculation on my part. It’s the only way I can explain her second command.

    CDR Salamander hit it square on the head (as usual); the fact that CPT Honors video got in the hands of mainstream media was the flamethrower that ignited the powderkeg that attracted the vultures.

    Let’s not kid ourself; anyone who takes a short stroll down Youtube will find similar and much worse videos circulating widespread made by ALL services – some very politically incorrect videos were/are made in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some got reprimands, but most videos got merely deleted with nothing more than a shout and an eventual shrug from various COs.

  • Mittleschmerz

    Over the years I’ve gotten complaints about offensive material in my posts, never to me personally but, gutlessly through other channels. So all of you who’s hearts are bleeding for Captain Honors, go ahead and hug yourself for the next 20 comments or so, because there’s really a good chance you’re gonna be offended.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Mittleshmerz,

    Nowhere did I say that the IG investigation or the incident in Australia happened while Graf commanded WSC. As for the lecture about what I understand about leadership and responsibility, save it. For you know not my experience.

    Captain Graf abused her Officers and crew on countless occasions, unless Stars and Stripes (and the IG Report) got it wrong.

    http://www.stripes.com/news/ig-report-cowpens-captain-berated-abused-sailors-1.99724

    She did so over a period of years, on two different commands. Take the time to read the many hundreds of comments from sailors who had the misfortune of serving in her command. She damaged or destroyed or drove from the Navy an unknown number of Officers and Sailors, and it was overlooked. And overlooked. And overlooked.

    Moral cowardice. Collapsing to pressure from political special interest groups instead of handling matters as justice would dictate. Holly Graf was on the fast track, and was a high-profile female Captain. The seeming total lack of interest in looking into how she got there and stayed there, or maybe an unwillingness to admit it, despite Graf’s horrible conduct which either was known or should have been known, especially in light of Admiral Harvey’s current investigation. It smacks of political correctness considerations run wild. Moral cowardice. This situation stinks to high heaven of it.

    You want to justify it, that is your business.

  • Mittleschmerz

    URR – I know enough about you and your posts to know that you DO NOT know what you are talking about here. You really, really don’t.

    You tied this:

    “Graf’s trangressions in her Commander Command are at best hearsay, at worst very lately disclosed.”

    To this:

    “I think not. There were the complaints of the Chaplain while she was CO of Churchill. There was the incident in Australia in which she insulted an Australian dignitary. There was an IG investigation. There was the incident with the Royal Navy officer. To dismiss as “hearsay” is completely invalid.”

    The first and last were while she was in Churchill…the middle two while she was in Cowpens.

    I HAVE read the comments, and I’d heard the stories long before her name ever crossed your synapses. But, they were just stories, and they are just comments. Again, as you should know given your experience without an investigation and a report there is nothing a commander can do unless he witnesses the behavior himself. Which is what happened with with Captain Honors.

    I do find it rich that you bring up the Australia piece for Graf, but also try the “but he was counseled” line with Honors. Do you think some form of counseling did not accompany the directive for Graf to write the apology letter? I bet it did…and I bet it took as well as the “counseling” the defenders of Honors repeatedly bring up.

    Look – you wanted to start a discussion of the similarities as you saw them. You’ve been on the internet and blogging long enough to know that if you put an opinion out there you need to expect some criticism. If you can’t take that criticism then there’s a problem.

    I know Admiral Harvey well enough to know that he would never bow to special interest groups and to call him a coward, moral coward or otherwise, is to show your own ignorance of the person and expose your own lack of moral courage.

    Take an inward look and see if the manner in which Captain Honors spoke to his crew is what you want to hear from YOUR Commanding Officer. Or your son or daughter’s Commanding Officer.

    If ever heard something like “you are going to be offended and I don’t care if you complain” that officer would have one chance to back down before I fired a subordinate and called his boss for a senior.

    They were both wrong. Period. And to try and pull “it’s all about the special interest groups” or “it’s all about gender” shows your own biases, not those of the rest of us.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “The first and last were while she was in Churchill…the middle two while she was in Cowpens.”

    They were all incidents that took place while Graf commanded a US warship.

    Also, nowhere did I say Captain Honors’ “movies” were either appropriate or prudent. You came to that conclusion.

    There are many similarities between the situations of Captain Graf and Captain Honors. But there are a couple of major differences. The most glaring of which is how serious Graf’s transgressions were, and the effects they had on the careers of many a good Sailor. The second is how long Graf’s conduct was allowed to continue. Nearly a full CO tour on Cowpens, and a full one on WSC.

    If it isn’t all about special interest groups, and the situations are equivalent, then I will wait patiently for the investigation of Graf’s seniors just as Honors’ seniors are being investigated. I am sure that, with more Admirals than ships, Navy leadership can spare someone.

  • Mittleschmerz

    Where’s that darn eyeroll emoticon when you need it?

  • http://www.usni.org admin

    Really people?

    Pot shots at each other?

    To EVERYONE in the comments…please kindly remember that this is an independent forum – but it should not be a bully bullpen of people on either side of an argument to strong-arm others into agreeing with a premise.

    This is an open forum, for FREE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS.

    So I would kindly ask all of you to remember that and check your smarty-pants comments at the door.

    It’s an exchange NOT an endgame.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    I thought I heard someone mention special interest groups…

    “On Friday, a special panel was meeting to polish the final draft of a report that recommends the policy be eliminated “to create a level playing field for all qualified service members.”

    If it were approved by the Defense Department, it would be yet another sizeable social change in a force that in the past year has seen policy changes to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly for the first time in the military and to allow Navy women to serve on submarines for the first time. The newest move is being recommended by the Military Leadership Diversity Commission.”

    Why?

    “The Armed Forces have not yet succeeded in developing leaders who are as diverse as the nation they serve,” said the report, which also touched on recruiting and a range of other issues affecting the diversity of the force. “Minorities and women still lag behind white men in terms of number of military leadership positions.”

    “Military Leadership Diversity Commission”. Biases, to be sure, but not mine.

  • traderjack

    no doubt in my old mind of which of the two is the worst officer.
    One tried to entertain the troops , and the other tried to abuse the troops.
    Simple , but important, distinction.

  • Lowly USN Retired

    My God, what is happening to our Navy?

    Graf had been the talk of the boardroom, Coo’s and CEO’s since days in the Naval Academy and graduation in 1985. Surely a flag groom-first female destroyer captain, first CG female commander and surely, in the least, the first female CNO.

    This woman should have never been allowed to advance past her DIVO tour. However, her XO’s and CO’s throughout her junior officer tours up to and including XO were afraid of her and the potential she had to ruin their careers. How many commanders like Graf can the Navy withstand before it self implodes? How soon will it be before the first homosexual slips through the crack in the Navy’s passion to please the politicians in order to have the first homosexual DDG and CG CO?

    A General Discharge is too generous for this despicable officer who as a commanding officer did not have time to train or provide guidance to her wardroom and was as viscous to her crew as an gunpowder fed pit bull could ever have been. Courts Martial, DD and Leavenworth for her, her XO and CO selection board members and Commander selection board members. Not to mentioned those who gun decked her FITREP’s.

  • NavyDave

    Perhaps Big Navy’s biggest mistake in all of this is not having enough transparency into the due process in high visibility cases. Doing so would allow us more informed comparisons of what are obviously far different issues of conduct in the Graf and Honors cases. My gut perception is that Graf was anointed and put on the path to flag, thereby allowing for the now-storied poor behavior she was finally sacked for. But I must also caveat that with the fact that I don’t KNOW what the specific rationale was in leadership decisions ultimately resulting in her relief and BOI. My gut perception is that Honors embarrassed the Navy in a fashion that was reminiscent of Tailhook; not in scope but in culture. It is easy to draw a conclusion about the timing of his relief with DADT but, again, I don’t KNOW the specific details in due process given his case.

    The greatest concern we all share (based on the posted comments) is the potential damage to our warfighting effectiveness all of this has. I think we do need to be aware of and avoid actions that fly in the face of the cultural tones set by our civilian population and elected leaders; in short we must be politically correct…to a degree. Comments we’ve heard in the media that compare what Honors did to the Simpsons TV show help reinforce the fact that it’s a matter of degree we must argue about. The question is not whether or not we should be politically correct. But at some point being so has direct negative impact on our ability to fight and win wars. Arguably, that is the case in promoting Graf to command of one of our most capable warships (if our assumptions that her rapid rise was based on her gender and family connections – and I THINK but don’t KNOW it was). Thank goodness her poor leadership was recognized and corrected by relief of command (as it has been done throughout our history) before the Fleet and Nation really depended on her leadership and ship’s performance.

    In any case, I think it best for the Navy that both of these officers were removed for different reasons. Hers was a case of internal damage to the Navy through reportedly poor leadership of our Sailors who deserve great leadership. His was a case of external damage that had our military leaders put in the uncomfortable position of explaining (again) that our Navy culture isn’t totally bereft of concerns regarding how we reflect on them. Fact is, we do reflect on our civilian leadership and they obviously must be politically correct regardless of whether we agree with their politics.

    Back to the transparency issue. When these potentially high profile cases arise, those in command must ensure the details of the behavior and the deliberations and decisions in correcting it have found their way to the blotters inside the Beltway and, here’s the hard part, give those above a chance to advise on the outcome. Though this runs against our grain as an over-the-horizon, autonomous command culture in the Navy, it is no longer the Age of Sail and we have the luxury (not really so from a COs perspective!) of getting guidance from on high. We should still, however, strive to make decisions at the lowest possible level, particularly tactical decisions. These types of thing aren’t tactical. In all cases, command by negation is still a great Navy tool. Tell the next guy up the chain what you intend to do, wait for a “roger, out,” and then do it.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    NavyDave,

    The phrase “perception is reality” has two meanings. For seniors looking at juniors, it is a sign that the senior has not made the effort to find out what really happened, and is poor leadership.

    For juniors looking up at the actions of seniors, that perception is reality is inviolate. Being juniors, they have that option, and it is up to the seniors to manage that perception, and that reality.

    The above is often forgotten, as Navy (and DoD) leadership spends an inordinate amount of time looking outside itself to see how it is perceived, when an eye toward how junior leaders’ and sailors’ perceptions would be very much in order.

    No, we don’t know for absolute certain that Holly Graf got command and stayed in command despite her horrid performance and abuse of her crew because she was a fast track female with family connections. But I have yet to hear, see, or read a plausible explanation as to how it could have happened otherwise.

    And if that doesn’t rate an investigation similar to the Honors incident, I would like to know what does.

  • NavyDave

    URR, for what it’s worth, I agree with all that. The investigation we need is into how we investigate such cases with an eye towards making sure they are done to the maximum degree with equality based on the merits of the case rather than on the gender, ethnicity or, now, the sexual orientation of the individual in question. It has never been good for warfighting effectiveness to promote (or retain) by giving uneven weighting based on the attempt to match our demographic with that of society. Hell, before we jump to the conclusions about why our flag ranks don’t reflect society at large (an effect), we need to be painfully honest in our exploration of the underlying causes. Fact is, I’ve had a number of amazing women serve under my command whom I really would like to have seen rise to my level and above, only to have that desire crash on the rocks of their decision that the seafaring life of deployments and duty in combat zones wasn’t compatible with their role as mothers (their words, not mine). I’ve seen similar cases of great young men getting out for similar reasons though we can more openly talk about them without being accused of being sexist. Still, the fact remains that women and men are different (in general) and that this warfighting business finds greater appeal among young men (in general) due to those general differences. The greatest truth of all, and perhaps the one most often subverted by political correctness is that there is NOTHING WRONG in those general differences existing between men and women. In any case, this can lead to us irrationally promoting somebody like Graf in the blind pursuit of equalizing the leadership demographic.

    As for the importance of perception by juniors of their seniors; Amen, brother! I used to counsel my staff and squadron COs that the JOs have a bullshit detector that is every bit as good as ours was (and is). When they see us not living by the maxim that what’s good for the goose IS good for the gander, we quickly lose their respect and damage our effectiveness.

  • NavyDave

    P.s. We all need to be reminded now and again that “equal opportunity” is not synonymous with “equal outcome.” Our effort should always be based on an honest attempt to ensure the opportunity is truly equal. Compensating too much in one direction or other results in having outcomes closer to equal at the expense of opportunity for some. Tread lightly!

  • UltimaRatioReg

    NavyDave,

    It is worth much. Your comments are considered and reflect much experience. The manipulation of the DoD culture for the specious and irrelevant political goal of “diversity” has done much damage to the faith of our service members that they will get a fair shake. Which speaks to that sacred trust that is so easily damaged and so difficult to repair.

    Many of us here dread an outcome in which we have irrevocably damaged our Armed Forces so that our national defense is in question. “Diversity” will not be so dear a goal if the truly diverse population becomes the large numbers of dead, wounded, and captured from a lost fight with an enemy we were unprepared for, because we chose to ignore the principle that the role of the US Military is to fight and win wars.

  • Flashman

    URR – your comments are appreciated and good to learn from.

    I, for one, see similarities in both cases. CAPT Honors’ actions seemed not so bad, initially, in the eyes of his rater. Once called out publicly, the issues were apparent and he was removed. Similarly, CAPT Graf’s actions apparently were overlooked by her raters. Once again, when they became sufficiently public and egregious, a captain was removed. In both cases, the captains of each vessel committed offenses sufficiently wrong and sufficiently public to be known about within the Navy before their removal from command. In both cases, these issues were overlooked – for years – by their raters. I’m in agreement with those who believe that the problem, in both cases, lies with senior leadership (senior to both officers), uneven standards of ethical conduct (Core Values? to my experience, given the number of issues I’ve seen with naval leadership, I suspect those values may just be for for Marines), as well as special interest groups (in both cases).

  • Lowly USN Retired

    I honestly believe the Navy’s corps values are in sync with those of our Marines. Formal inculcation of values in young sailors, enlisted and officer are accomplished during the entry level training process. New Recruit graduates and Basic SWOS graduates have been exposed to these lessons and they, I believe, expect to arrive at their “A” schools and first duty stations to find these principles and standards exhibited in the Sailors they encounter. As an obligation that is expected, demanded and practiced in the United States Marine Corps, United States Navy Leaders “must remember that as long as there is but one Sailor junior to them, they are honor bound to uphold the customs and traditions of the Navy and to always “walk the walk and talk the talk.” We are the “parents” and “older siblings” of the future leaders of the Navy. America is depending on us to ensure the Sailors of tomorrow are ready and worthy of the challenges of this obligation.” It is the Navy’s obligation to our Sailor’s, present and future, to figure out what caused the failures of command in CAPT Honors and CAPT Graf, repair the damage, learn from and prevent these breakdowns from occurring and continue to press forward at FLANK III without having to enable Battle Override.

  • Flashman

    @Lowly – My experience is similar to yours: I don’t think the problem is formal education, but a matter continuing that education through leadership by example, and continuing to inculcate those values through interactions from deckplate to bridge, and by singling out those sailors and officers who exude those values while culling those who don’t from our ranks.

  • virgil xenophon

    “…to figure out what caused the failures of command…”

    I’m having a hard time believing what I’m reading. We don’t already know? Really?? Isn’t it about time we all stopped politely whistling past the graveyard and admit the Emperor has no closes? The reasons are obvious to anyone over the age of 12 and with an IQ at least one point into double digits. You people amaze me. Let’s get real. The politicization of ALL branches of the armed services with multi-culti PC worship at the alter of “diversity” is a metastasizing cancer that will be the death of the armed services as an effective fighting force. And the big kids currently in command are, in the main, it’s leading typhoid Marys. Talk about “non-reality” based discussions!

  • http://www.USNI.org Robert A Schwehr LTC US ARMY(USCG ret)

    The only perfect military justice a sailor can get is from Almighty God.Sad but true,even under certain circumstances,The Pope,the CNO and even the Pentagon can make a mistake,as we all know. Every case and particulars differ and a WARTIME environment can, and should, temper results.Once again “politics”,the dirty word sailors can still use in conversation ,emerges as a significant variable.That`s life, or at least life in today`s Navy.As someone who spent 19 years as an enlisted man,the lower ranks and grades are much more aware of inequities in the application of the UCMJ,this of itself may be a reason for the harshness that was used in the most recent case.Yes,politics can divide us,but in this particular Blog exchange it is quite appropriate to professionally address since here it directly affects our United States Navy.

  • Lowly USN Retired

    virgil xenophon, Flashman, UltimaRatioReg, CDR Salamander NavyDave, Quartermaster and Grandpa Bluewater, BZ!!! Finally the footballs to address the underlying problems at hand “stop politely whistling past the graveyard”. Now, if we could only fix the problem.

    I am a lowly old man now, far removed days of glory, who has grave concerns and a saddened and heavy heart in the direction the Navy is headed. I have outlived my usefulness in and to the Navy I love so dearly. I fear all I can do now is weep and mourn over what has and is happening to the greatest sea power man has ever known. I pray and beg for the sake of the nation the Navy quickly rights the ship and exterminates the vermin who would cause its demise.

    The Navy has only one option in this matter, unfoul the propellers ASAP, press forward and accomplish the mission required to guarantee freedom from foreign oppression be it by way of sea air or land. There are 340 million Americans who rely on the Navy to do its duty.

    God Protect and God Bless the United States Navy.

  • Mittleschmerz

    “The Navy has only one option in this matter, unfoul the propellers ASAP, press forward and accomplish the mission required to guarantee freedom from foreign oppression be it by way of sea air or land. There are 340 million Americans who rely on the Navy to do its duty.”

    This is what Admiral Harvey is trying to do.

    PC didn’t end Captain Honors’ career…his own arrogance did.

    Let’s “stop politely whistling past the graveyard” – when some current serving, active duty folks complain that the relief was PC it will be an interesting discussion. See the Fleet Forces Command Blog – http://usfleetforces.blogspot.com/2011/01/uss-enterprise-recent-events.html for more clarity. There are some folks with vehement opposition, they are entitled to their opinion. But those who this decision impacts the most (“The actions and decisions of senior officers in handling disciplinary matters are now open for review many years after the fact”) – currently serving officers in or going to command – are all supportive.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    The question remains, that if an investigation into Captain Honors’ seniors actions when he produced those videos is appropriate, why is it not appropriate for an investigation into Captain Graf’s seniors for placing her in command (twice) and keeping her there despite a long track record of abuse, ill-temper, the poorest of command climates, and embarrassing conduct?

    As a commenter above says, one tried to entertain the crew, however inappropriately, the other is guilty of a long track record of abusing the crew.

  • Mittleschmerz

    How do you know that such an investigation hasn’t occurred?

    For that matter, such an investigation would be quite shore.

    Commanding officers are selected via a selection board. That selection board is legally bound to only look at that information which is contained within the individual’s service record.

    If there is no mention of abuse, or embarrassment, poor command climate and so on, then there is nothing that anyone can bring up to preclude an officer from going to command. Nothing. No waterfront rumors, no stories, not even first hand knowledge (if it is of a negative nature).

    So, all one would have to do to determine the circumstances of “Captain Graf’s seniors for placing her in command (twice)” is read her fitness reports. Probably only have to read two or three of them for that matter.

    Which would then come to the question of if there is no adverse information in her fitness reports, why? Perhaps for the same reason that there was apparently nothing adverse in Captain Honors’ fitness reports. Commanding Officers are notoriously lenient and forgiving of poor command climate and questionable actions when the mission is accomplished. While there are stories and hearsay in relation to Captain Graf’s Commander Command tour, there remains to be no indication of a single investigation (formal or otherwise) into her command. Not one. Absent that, there is no reason for her not to have gone on to command. Not one.

    As for “entertaining” the crew…a serving commanding officer recently explained it to his wardroom this way. “There are two ways to use humor – one way is to use it to build someone up, another is to tear them down. Captain Honors chose to tear people down with humor, and that is something a good leader does not do.”

  • NavyDave

    Perhaps we need to use the tool of court-martial more often in these high visibility cases, particularly those involving captains and above in command. Transparency in the process would be much greater and the rules of evidence would apply. We typically choose to go the route of NJP to avoid the cost and effort of trial as well as the more public airing of our dirty laundry. Still, court-martial might help bring the less politically-correct considerations into the open by allowing the defendant to address claims of inequity caused by Big Navy PC objectives such as the diversity issue raised in this conversation.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “If there is no mention of abuse, or embarrassment, poor command climate and so on, then there is nothing that anyone can bring up to preclude an officer from going to command. Nothing. No waterfront rumors, no stories, not even first hand knowledge (if it is of a negative nature).

    So, all one would have to do to determine the circumstances of “Captain Graf’s seniors for placing her in command (twice)” is read her fitness reports. Probably only have to read two or three of them for that matter.

    Which would then come to the question of if there is no adverse information in her fitness reports, why? Perhaps for the same reason that there was apparently nothing adverse in Captain Honors’ fitness reports. Commanding Officers are notoriously lenient and forgiving of poor command climate and questionable actions when the mission is accomplished. While there are stories and hearsay in relation to Captain Graf’s Commander Command tour, there remains to be no indication of a single investigation (formal or otherwise) into her command. Not one. Absent that, there is no reason for her not to have gone on to command. Not one.”

    A Navy Captain with a long history of highly questionable judgment, abusive behavior, and terrible command climate produces the above situation. People failing, or being afraid, to do their jobs. Such poor performance on the part of her seniors as to her performance is much more evocative of Major Hasan’s seniors than it is of Captain Honors’ seniors.

    The question still remains.

  • NavyDave

    I’m really surprised in this discussion that nobody has revisited our Navy Captain astronaut who is still drawing active duty pay and benefits after having embarrassed the Navy so badly. The perceived difference in treatment in her case and what would likely have happened to others in similar circumstances certainly seems germane.

  • Mittleschmerz

    Re: Captain Nowak – There is a process, required by law, that must be followed in order to remove officers from the Navy. It can take over a year in some cases. I’ve rarely seen it done in less than six months.

    Dave – can you explain, or illustrate, “others in similar circumstances”?

  • NavyDave

    Completely concur that there is a process required by law, but it will be four years next month since the arrest and national media blitz. I’ve likely mispoken in my comment above as there are no others in similar circumstance to my knowledge. The perception that seems common based on the thread of this blog is that the outcome would have been different if a man was involved. I don’t know this, and I have not weighted the scales of justice to one side or other based on gender during my command tours. Therefore I would have faith in our leadership to not do so as my going in position. But I think the perception of gender bias does exist in the Navy today. Of course, which way you perceive the bias is largely based on whether you are man or woman. In either case, we’ve got to fight both bias and the perception of it. Transparency in our processes is likely our best hope of addressing the perception. Hope that makes sense.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “we’ve got to fight both bias and the perception of it.”

    Doing away with de facto racial quotas at USNA and other places in the Navy would be a start. As would repudiation of such justifications as the “Military Leadership Diversity Commission” asserts:

    “The Armed Forces have not yet succeeded in developing leaders who are as diverse as the nation they serve,” said the report, which also touched on recruiting and a range of other issues affecting the diversity of the force. “Minorities and women still lag behind white men in terms of number of military leadership positions.”

    Until those things are officially discarded instead of increasingly supported and advocated for, the “perception” of bias is entirely understandable, and quite more than a perception.

    Given those kinds of actions and policies have gotten the full and sometimes enthusiastic support of current Navy leadership, any statements to the contrary are likely not to be considered verbum dei by those who look up at that leadership. Nor should they be.

  • Disappointed

    I served the Navy from 1983 to 2010 and in all that time I was _never_ inspired, reassured, or encouraged by the moral courage or integrity of the chain of command. I did see every conceivable form of misconduct covered up, or more likely, rewarded, and the most amazingly heartbreaking double standards applied in the names of political correctness and political expediency. I heard many a senior officer apologize for going along with things we both knew were wrong – but they always did it. There are many more Holly Grafs and Lisa Nowaks still moving up the ranks and the Navy’s senior leadership not only knows it but is actively covering up for them. And there are much worse skeletons in the Navy leadership’s closet, so awful that we won’t even mention them on this forum (even though I know some of the posters here are well aware of them) because it would be “too politically incorrect”. Eventually corruption and moral cowardice will rot the Navy from the inside out to the point that it will become combat ineffective.

  • traderjack

    diversity, thy name is death, for there is actually no reason for diversity, other than political correctness.
    That is not to say that intergration is wrong, but, diversity is intergration on steroids.

    It is not that any group can not succeed in the services, it is that if some groups are forced into success tracks in the service, then some other groups will suffer from the forcing of career tracks.

    But, I am an old WW2 sailor, and may be senile in my golden years.

    Interjecting into this discussion I think that the USN needs the old CL’s instead of the new stuff. Imagine an anti-aircraft cruiser with modern weapons!

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    M-etc.

    Just administrative?

    Oh. Please.

    VX: Nailed it in one.

  • http://oldhoodoo.wordpress.com/ Hoodoo

    The Navy is a bureaucracy and failures of command are relatively rare as most commanders are “good people” who know their jobs and can communicate effectively with their crews. While not in the Navy, I work with sixty office managers (it’s pretty much cat herding as I have responsibility but no authority over them), some very, very good, some very, very bad, and most at least good. The bad ones keep showing up like bad pennies and yet seem to survive. In my organization the real problem with the bad pennies is that they are tolerated, even enabled by the upper management. Upper management HATES to involve itself directly in anything associated with the lower ranks and would rather tolerate the bad pennies if the overall system is working. And you are not going to change upper management. Unless overall the system becomes so bad that the “workers unite” you are going to see these black eyes/blemishes in the system from time to time, yet overall, things seem to be functioning pretty well in the Navy, because the lower ranks are not in a state of mutiny…of course, every once in a while a big organization needs a shake-up at the top….leave the same people in charge too long and bad things are going to happen.

  • Matt Yankee

    How can one argue that the perception of bias is false when discrimination through “diversity” requirements is a reality as described by URR:

    “Doing away with de facto racial quotas at USNA and other places in the Navy would be a start. As would repudiation of such justifications as the “Military Leadership Diversity Commission” asserts:

    On MLK day I would like to repeat his words “let a man be judged by the content of his character not by the color of his skin.”

    Martin Luther King would have been ashamed by the result of his sacrifice when certain colored people are removed from high positions so that certain other colored people can take their place for the sake of “diversity” regardless of either’s character.

    I’m sure some will call me a racist for even suggesting this but today’s diversity is yesterday’s racism as MLK would have seen it.

  • Mittleschmerz

    Grandpa – thems the rules to the game, nothing more. Words have meaning, and in order to have a discussion we need to at least agree on the vocabulary in play, else there will be misunderstandings where none was intended.

    Matt – I believe that you (and URR to some degree) are mixing the macro and micro. At the macro level there is sufficient evidence to show that Navy leadership would prefer to provide minorities “extra points” for skin color – can’t get more obvious than “diversity is our number one mission”.

    But, at the micro level there is no evidence that Admiral Harvey (or Graff’s selection boards and reporting seniors) allowed the push for diversity or special interest groups to influence their decisions.

  • Derrick

    Off topic, but diversity assumes that abilities and talents are equitably distributed across racial lines. It also assumes skin color is a good determination for ethnicity. It also assumes that a good distribution of skills and talents in all ethnicities will apply to the open position with the diversity quota. All are bad assumptions.

    Back on topic, if relieving Captain Graf of her command is enough punishment for her, then the same should hold true for Captain Honor. There should be no double standard.

    Finally, I hope this post doesn’t warrant further investigation into Captain Graf’s situation. As already stated above, she has been caught and disciplined. She should not be punished more than once for her offences. Double jeaopardy is unconstitutional. And wrong.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “She should not be punished more than once for her offences. Double jeaopardy is unconstitutional. And wrong.”

    Not really the discussion. The discussion is why there is a very public “who knew what and when?” investigation on the one hand, and virtually nothing on the other. Because you are correct, further punishment once action has been taken by an Officer’s seniors is indeed a dicey business, and a shaky concept under the UCMJ.

    From the 3 March 2010 TIME article:

    Paul Coco, a 2002 Naval Academy graduate, served as a gunnery officer under Graf aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Winston S. Churchill from 2002 to 2004. “She would throw coffee cups at officers — ceramic, not foam,” he recalls, “spit in one officer’s face, throw binders and paperwork at people, slam doors.” The hostile work environment led to a gallows humor among the crew. “We all would joke that after Bush liberated Iraq, he would next liberate Churchill,” he says.

    and

    “I’m more upset that the Navy let this go on so long,” says Kirk Benson, who retired from the Navy as a commander three years ago after a 20-year career. Many complaints up the chain fell on “deaf ears,” he says.”

    Sounds a lot more like eyewitness than “hearsay” to me. If the complaints fell on deaf ears, the ears were intentionally plugged.

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1969602-2,00.html#ixzz1BJm8hwnz

  • Mittleschmerz

    Then CDR Benson, who is now retired and has no career to protect, should name those “deaf ears”.

    Have you asked him?

    It’s “hearsay” because even the “eyewitnesses” can’t attest to who was told and when. The closest we get to an admission that the chain of command was informed during her tenure in Churchill is the chaplain who says he talked to her commodore.

    Regardless – the situation of a commodore not embarked in a ship and hearing stories, even from a chaplain, is wholly different from a commanding officer and strike group commander who are serving in the same ship as the executive officer who’s performance is in question.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Have you asked him?”

    I do believe someone in Navy Leadership should do precisely that.

  • Mittleschmerz

    And what if they have? Why do you think you, or anyone else, is entitled to a public disclosure?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “And what if they have? Why do you think you, or anyone else, is entitled to a public disclosure?”

    Because, like it or not, it is now the standard.

    “As I mentioned in my statement, there is an ongoing investigation into all aspects of the production and showing of the videos. I will review the facts and take further action where necessary, but, until the investigation is completed, it would be improper for me to comment further on the details of the situation.”

    Unless there is more than one standard…

  • Elizabeth Martin

    Let’s quit being politically correct-she wears a skirt so her sins are forgiven until they exceed all possible boundaries. Makes me so mad, as a female, to see this happen. I like to see women succeed in spite of the fact that they are female, not because they are female.

  • Matt Yankee

    Mittleschmerz

    “Extra points” are an insult to MLK and an insult to the idea of America. Having recently visited the Alamo I wish more military leaders would recognize their forefather’s unwavering commitment to ideals beyond merely saluting and following orders. As General Amos stood for truth I would expect all officers to hold the ground and push back against such bias which is dangerous to the volunteers who serve and the civilians they protect.

    As far as “no evidence that Admiral Harvey (or Graff’s selection boards and reporting seniors) allowed the push for diversity or special interest groups to influence their decisions.”…UH… how about the mission statement alone: “diversity is our number one mission”. Yes, I do believe they were following their mission given to them by civilian imbeciles and this is the root reason why selective hearing was and is the new modus operandi.

    Capt. Honor’s poked at the mission of “diversity” with his jabs at gays and thus threatened the mission. From this perspective the timing makes sense even if it was 4 yrs. ago. However the repeal of DADT was required for gays to become part of the legal “Diversity” required by the mission…once gays were declared “Diverse” instead of illegal, mission success requires culling the open “bigots”.

  • Mittleschmerz

    Well, Matt. While I agree with you about the “extra points are an insult”, we’ll just have to disagree about what influenced the Admirals in question. It’s obvious to me that no information, facts, or revelations that do not fit within your belief paradigm will satisfy any of you in this matter.

    But, I also believe each of you has as much direct impact on what the Navy does as those same special interest groups do. Which is reassuring.

  • Matt Yankee

    Can you tell me where the Navy picked up the Diversity mission? If it is special interest groups from the far left would you admit special interest groups impact the Navy?

    Are you really suggesting the Navy dreamed up this “Diversity” mission all by itself without any outside pressure from far left interests?

  • Anathema

    No, Matt, I am not thinking that Navy “just dreamed this up”…what I do believe is that it’s a misapplication of some demographic trends that haven’t been fully thought through, or correctly looked at.

    But, pray tell, what does that mission have to do with Captain Honors? Do you really think he was fired because he used the word “fag”? That would be a radical oversimplification if so.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “I do believe is that it’s a misapplication of some demographic trends that haven’t been fully thought through, or correctly looked at.”

    That reminds one of the line from Dr Strangelove.

    “I hate to judge before all the facts are in, but it looks like General Ripper may have exceeded his authority.”

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    M-etc:

    “Thems the rules of the game.”

    It is not a game. And there are no rules, not any longer. Just power, influence, and favoritism. The Court of Byzantium was a least honest about it.

    The situation is a fetid swamp of the worst kind of intra-middle age city state minor nobility back stabbing. Layer upon layer of injustice.

    Holly Graf got cheated. Not because she didn’t have sponsors, mentors, “the Sisterhood” granting her the shield of nepotism by adoption and the effect of gender politics. Because she had them.

    What she didn’t get is the tough, fair, hardnosed leadership of a professional DH, XO, and CO telling her to get control, act like a lady, buckle down and LEARN the ship and her people…or get gone. On her FIRST ship. While she was still teachable. She had potential. If she had gone into ballet instead of ships driving, she might have been a diva, but to survive, the old pros would have forced her to be GOOD AT IT. Not so the Navy. Shame.

    Ruining a career is, or should be, a hard thing, done as a last resort, when nothing else will suffice. It must be done on the basis of intolerable acts, after complete investigation, or it will backfire on those who pull the plug. Call the thing by its right name, a harsh disciplinary measure. Provide a measure of due process, in every case.

    Setting aside the specific case, there is something critical going on….
    If the high higher don’t act justly, well, the good order and discipline of the service suffer, not to mention its good name, what little is left of it.

    Just the code we thought we were all supposed to live by, long ago.

    Perhaps I misunderstood.

    More likely, the Iron Law of Bureau-ocracy at work.

  • Walt

    While we have always known that our senior officers had to ‘work’ with politicians to get things done, they have recently crossed the line and are now charter members of the political class.

    Removal of DADT policies were highly encouraged by CJCS …
    Women in training to become submarine sailors …
    Women to be allowed into combat arms MOS’s of Army & Marines …

    Not one of the above three instances are being proposed/instituted because of necessity! NOT ONE! They have come about purely because of politics and (presumably) the brass wanting to feather their nest for ‘post military retirement’ positions. And they do this by sucking up to the proper Senators and Congress critters.

    I really, really worry for my Navy!

    What has happened to our warrior class? Where are our military leaders receiving their inspiration

  • NavyDave

    The second-order effect and unintended long-term consequence that the Navy apparently doesn’t understand in this issue of diversity is that blindly pushing folks up the chain based on diversity vice character can ultimately make us even less diverse at the top. If a junior officer is anointed and groomed (as is apparently the case with Graf), promoted and pushed up as a way of helping equalize the demographic between our flag corps and society, and then crashes and burns on the very character issues which were overlooked in the name of diversity… We couldn’t make ourselves look any worse than this. If we lower the standards at the lower ranks, we find ourselves answering hard questions about why the Navy is biased in our promotion rates to the higher ranks. The sad fact is that we can’t even have an honest discussion about the causes of Navy not matching society’s demographic mix without worrying about accusations of sexism or, worse, racism. If this results in promoting individuals based on the diversity “mission” then combat effectiveness DOES suffer to some degree. What the threshold is for actual combat failure is has yet to be seen (I think) but perhaps only due to the fact the Navy hasn’t been challenged by a maritime peer.

  • http://blog.usni.org M. Ittleschmerz

    Grandpa – “game” is a euphemism. Nothing more.

    As for the rest of your post, while I read that you feel strongly I feel just as strongly that you are wrong. Holly Graf was advised and counseled along the way. And that advice and counsel was both “tone it down” and “good job”. With the right personality that latter advice can rapidly overcome the former.

    I firmly believe, in both cases, that when leadership acted it was justly and correctly – and in both cases the actions was too late. If anything, favoritism is what kept Captain Honors from learning the error of his ways in a lasting manner.

  • Matt Yankee

    I agree with Grandpa’s statement:

    “Ruining a career is, or should be, a hard thing, done as a last resort, when nothing else will suffice. It must be done on the basis of intolerable acts, after complete investigation, or it will backfire on those who pull the plug. Call the thing by its right name, a harsh disciplinary measure. Provide a measure of due process, in every case.”

    I do not believe Captain Honors should have been relieved because of a skit he made four yrs. prior. FOUR years and then this happens right after repeal of DADT…just too much of a coincidence for me to believe what he did four yrs. ago is all of a sudden an intolerable mistake. Relieving Captain Honors does serve a purpose of strongly warning the rest of the military against gay bashing or gay poking (no pun intended).

    I can think of a few congressman in the highest of places that did actually break laws and are still congressman…Rangel is the purest example of such open hypocrisy. Turbo Tax Treasury Sec. Geitner is another one that got to “move on”. There is a double standard and the rule is basicly if you are on one side of the political spectrum you cannot win but if you are on the other you cannot lose.

  • Chief Torpedoman

    This old tube shooter has a question. When the screw was damaged while the Churchill was exiting harbor at too fast a speed, was the log changged to indicate a lower speed? If that is the case, that alone is cause for an IG and relief for cause. I don’t know of any Chief or First Class quartermaster who would under any circumstances go along with that. Is not the ships log a legal document?

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Matt Y and TMC:

    Thank you both for your attention and discernment.

    M.I.: Behold, the main point. Quo et demonstratum. Thank you for a good joust. Perhaps we might break a lance or two again one day.

  • Mittleschmerz

    Grandpa – forgive my lack of discernment…what did you find to be the main point?

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    You are forgiven. Matt and the TMC embodied the main point in their most recent posts. The solution is left to the inquirer as an exercise. Just leave the copy of Candide and your assumptions at the door. It all revolves around what is the purpose of the main task of the Navy, and what is the best way to accomplish it.
    Good luck, OUT.

  • Kirk Benson

    Have they asked me?

    They did.

    By the way, the complaints were very valid.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Welcome, CDR Benson!

    They asked you about Captain Graf? Or about who in the chain of command was made aware? Or both?

  • http://blog.usni.org M. Ittleschmerz

    To add – when did they ask? As part of the recent IG, BOI, and new stories, or back when you were XO?

  • Kirk Benson

    Before her recent administrative hearing, I spoke at length to the Navy JAG representing the Navy.

    I was her senior department head when she was XO of CURTIS WILBUR (CDW).

    The JAG asked me about my personal experiences with her aboard CDW. Individually and as a group of department heads, we complained about her behavior to the CO. He did nothing. I will not state his name here, but his name was provided to the JAG. We also had the DESRON chaplain onboard for a period, and I know what he told the Commodore (name also provided to JAG). Those were the deaf ears I was referring to.

    The way I see it, she should have never made O5 or screened for any command. The stories you have heard are very plausible to me, because I lived with it for 18 months. It was Hell!!!!

    It is my opinion that she did receive special treatment because of her gender. I don’t believe her behavior/personality was necessarily gender related.

    My two cents.

  • http://blog.usni.org M. Ittleschmerz

    Well, it was one of these three officers:

    CDR Christopher Thayer Nichols Dec 7 1995 – Aug 1 1997
    CDR Michael Jeffery Fischer Aug 1 1997 – Jan 11 1999
    (from http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/01054.htm)

    And this commentary as well:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:QXNJTWzzmrkJ:navycaptain-therealnavy.blogspot.com/2010/01/number-two-in-our-countdown-is-captain.html+Christopher+Nichols+%22curtis+wilbur%22&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    “Her COs on CDW were CDR Chris Nichols and CDR Mike Fischer. CDR Nichols departed about a month or so after she arrived, if I recall correctly. That was in 1997. As one of the department heads, we, as a group, went to the CO (Fischer) on more than one occasion to complain about her. His only response was, “I support the XO.” It does amaze me she got away with it. I don’t recall who the Commodore was, but I know he had personal insight into some of the incidents onboard. Perhaps I will share that story in a later post.”

  • Derrick

    Just to double the comments number:

    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/31/fired-navy-commander-my-bosses-knew-about-raunchy-videos/

    I think the URL communicates it all. ;)

  • http://google Benjamin Doty

    While serving in the Navy 68-72,there was the issue of USS Pueblo captured by N.korea in international waters. Some higher brass requested courtmartial for putting ship,and crew at risk,and failing to use all available means to protectship from capture. The late CMDR. lloyed Butcher went through a Navy inquirey,and w/testimony from crew members,and no proof of derelection of duty was cleared. Though he was allowed to retire w/honor,his reputation was forever scarred. Why has there not been the same inquirey of CAPTS.Graf&Honors? Has the UCMJ changed?

  • Jimmy R Brown

    I serve as a Senior Chief Petty Office (GSCS) on USS Winston S. Churchill DDG 81 during Captain Graf’s tour. I was the Leading Chief Petty Office of the engineering department during the time the ship suffer failure to one of our shaft upon leaving port. Some of the things that have been written about captain Graf’s may be true but most or not. I know what everyone is saying but my duties afforded me to observe the captain on a daily basis and many times having to interface directly with her. She was not perfect but neither were the rest of us. I would serve with her again

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