A good officer or petty officer and a true leader will leave nothing undone to help and support his men when they need help; to lead when they need to be led, to punish when that, as a last resort, is necessary. That is where “Paternalism” comes into the picture. Authoity and taking care of your people. That combination is essential.

Leadership and Authority by Vice Admiral L. Hewlett Thebaud, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

The Command Investigation into the leadership oversight and responsibilities for production and broadcast of videos aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) from about 2006 through 2007 is an incredible read (PDF). The investigation was conducted by RADM Gerald R. Beaman, USN, whose biography be found here. We note from the outset that RADM Gerald Beaman is above board, and I highlight his experience as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 1981-1984 among other aspects of his experience that made him ideal for this investigation.

The report runs for 65 PDF pages and serves as an important document for understanding Command at Sea, command climate on a ship, and how a bad culture of command can contribute to the deterioration of the authority of command at sea. If for any reason you don’t want to read the entire document, I suggest at minimum reading the 27 opinions that run from PDF page 38 through PDF page 49.

The first 10 opinions are specific to the conduct of Captain OP Honors, and are quoted below.

  1. “The XO Movie Night” videos became almost “cult like” for the majority of Sailors aboard ENTERPRISE. The passageways were empty at 2000 on Saturday nights underway and the mess decks, wardrooms and berthing compartments were filled standing-room only with personnel watching the “XO Movie Night” video.
  2. With the average crew m.ember aged 20 years old, CAPT Honors was confronted with a generation of young adults who grew-up watching television shows such as Saturday Night Live, South Park, The Simpsons, and Family Guy. Because these shows routinely use sophomoric humor to entertain their audience, CAPT Honors consciously chose to use that same type of humor and entertainment to reach his targeted 20-year-old audience aboard ENTERPRISE. To the extent that CAPT Honors sought through “XO Movie Night” videos to reach a particular demographic in his effort to teach and inform the crew, his methods appear to have been successful, as evidenced, for example, by the crew’s good behavior ashore in foreign ports and the avoidance of imposing water restrictions known as “water hours.”
  3. During CAPT Honors’ tour as Executive Officer, the ENTERPRISE crew performed at a high level and enjoyed much success, as evidenced by the numerous unit awards received and the favorable comments of Flag Officers, senior officers and enlisted leadership. Many attributed this success and the excellent material condition of the ship to CAPT Honors’ engagement with the ship’s crew.
  4. CAPT Honors has good intentions in his creation of the “XO Movie Night” videos and certainly never intended for the videos to disgrace the Navy such as ultimately happened. I believe that the “XO Movie Night” video phenomenon slowly, but steadily over time, developed a mindset in CAPT Honors that caused him to elevate the hilarity or shock level from week-to-week. As a result of this mindset, and the lack of direct oversight from his superiors, CAPT Honors enabled the downward spiral in classless, tasteless humor and conduct that culminated in the production and broadcast of his very last XO video – a compilation of the most offensive XO videos that contained repeated profanity, anti-gay slurs, simulated masturbation, and sexual innuendos.
  5. During ENTERPRISE’s 2007 work-ups and deployment, “XO Movie Night” videos continued with the same purpose as the 2006 videos, which was to provide a message to the crew through the use of humor and entertainment. From viewing the XO videos, it is apparent that the sophomoric humor not only continued on the 2007 deployment but degenerated to an “all time low” with CAPT Honors’ final video as Executive Officer. The humor and tone gradually became more lewd and disrespectful of time-honored Navy customs and standards, culminating with CAPT Honors’ repeated use of the word “f*ck,” use of anti-gay slurs, and display of simulated masturbation scenes that went beyond sophomoric humor. THe fact that CAPT Honors and the Public Affairs/Media Department personnel proceeded with the broadcast of these last few videos during the end of his tenure as Executive Officer is disturbing enough. The greater concern is the fact that the majority of the crew and embarked personnel witnessed the videos and never registered and objection or complaint. This is the most disturbing aspect of this investigation – that an atmosphere, environment, or “culture” tolerating such conduct and behavior was allowed to develop, grow and perpetuate over the course of two sets of work-ups and two major deployments. I believe the ENTERPRISE crew was gradually de-sensitized and conditioned to accept a low standard of conduct and behavior by the second most senior officer of the ship’s company to where it became the new acceptable norm. The crew could not be held accountable for a higher standard of conduct than the Executive Officer himself demonstrated.
  6. CAPT Honors believes that he adhered to an acceptable standard by measuring the tone and content of his XO videos against the tone of “significantly more offensive R-rated… professionally-produced feature films” that were sometimes broadcast on ENTERPRISE SITE-TV immediately after his XP videos. CAPT Honors equates the tone and content of his XO videos with “PG-13 adult-level humor,” and he believes such content meets the Navy’s standard.
  7. CAPT Honors is wrong. The U.S. Navy sets a higher standard of conduct and behavior for our officers and enlisted personnel. These standards trace back over 200 years, and are firmly grounded in regulations, custom and traditions. They form the bedrock of our Service and guided everything we do. Conduct that may be acceptable to watch as entertainment when performed by actors and comedians is not the standard of conduct for Sailors while serving in an official capacity. The difference between CAPT Honors’ XO videos and the professionally-produced feature films that contain offensive content is that U.S. Navy service members do not appear in the offensive scenes of Hollywood films. CAPT Honors fails to understand this difference. The fact that over the course of two sets of work-ups and one and a half deployments, he was only “counseled a few times” by his commanding officers served to convince him he was not out of line. Unfortunately for this highly decorated combat veteran, his logic and frame of reference were flawed from the beginning and worsened over time.
  8. CAPT Honors appearance in, production of, and approval of these videos demeaned himself and, more importantly, the position of the Executive Officer. Although the ship’s performance does not appear to have suffered, his conduct was derelict and unbecoming of an officer.
  9. By sponsoring and encouraging the inappropriate content in the videos, and enlisting the help of Public Affairs Officer and members of the Media Department, CAPT Honors fostered a work environment for those same individuals where sophomoric humor became the acceptable norm for the production of the videos.
  10. Sailors not only expect, but deserve their Commanding Officer and Executive Officer to exhibit exemplary conduct and set the standard for virtue, honor, courtesy and tact. As Executive Officer, CAPT Honors placed himself in a position unbecoming his rank and position by appearing as one of the primary “actors” and, in most cases, the central character in the XO videos containing offensive content. He set a poor example for his subordinate officers, crew and embarked personnel. Furthermore, he violated the special trust and confidence placed in him by his Commanding Officers and embarked Strike Group Commanders. In spite of his best intentions, his use in the videos of repeated profanity, anti-gay slurs, simulated masturbation, comments on prostitution, his making fun of department heads in a demeaning way, and repeated use of sexual innuendos to deliver his message to the crew in what he considered an entertaining way was inappropriate and inexcusable.

Below are a few of my thoughts based on other aspects of the report.

1) Perhaps Congress needs to order a study regarding short term memory loss of men over a certain age and nuclear powered aircraft carriers, because there is a surprising amount of short term memory loss regarding the conversations among those of rank at o-6 and above. This issue jumps out when reading the report. I do not believe it has anything to do with nuclear power, and would suggest that perhaps the reasons for selective memory is an aspect of “culture” issues of the Navy being ignored.

2) The findings suggest Flag Officers were largely unaware of the content of the videos. The findings also suggest Commanding Officers were also largely unaware of the content of the videos. The Command JAGs were actually in the videos. Public Affairs was involved in the production of the videos. Several officers and senior enlisted leaders were involved in the videos. The complaints by the Command Chaplain was ignored by the XO, and the Command Chaplain never raised the issue with the Captain or any other senior officer. The videos eventually included an implied threat to those who objected to the content of the videos in the opening remarks. All in all, the lack of official complaints regarding the content of XO Movie Night being objectionable is understandable.

There is an important Navy leadership discussion regarding consent by silence just begging for a discussion, but until that discussion comes from someone inside the Navy, an outsider like me simply highlighting all the examples of existence won’t make a difference.

3) The second recommendation is noteworthy:

It is disturbing to note the continuing remnants of a pervasive culture in Naval Aviation that mistakenly accepts that a certain, extreme level of coarse humor is acceptable and necessary to develop young aviators into effective warriors and community leaders. Over the past two decades, Naval Aviation has been blemished by such behavior. Sincere, focused efforts to correct this stain on the aviation community have not solved the problem. Commander, Naval Air Force Pacific and Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic are currently leading an effort to address these systemic issues within the naval aviation culture. As part of their ongoing effort, I recommend they include a command climate survey that specifically addresses the symptoms identified by this investigation to ensure that a similar “sub-culture” is not manifesting itself within the aviation community and aboard other carriers.

4) A precedent is being set by ignoring the person who leaked the video.

5) This investigation raises a number of questions regarding the promotion process and how the Navy looks at FITREPs for promotion. The number of officers and enlisted personnel involved who were promoted suggests a systemic issue might exist, and unless I missed it, I did not see that issue raised in this report.

I have read a number of opinions, mostly on political websites, that attempt to suggest the Navy investigation somehow got this wrong. I would suggest that anyone defending Captain Honors at this point has not read the report. I believe this issue is about Leadership and Authority in the Navy, and anyone who would like to seek further understanding of what that means, I encourage you to read Leadership and Authority (PDF) by Vice Admiral L. Hewlett Thebaud, U.S. Navy (Ret.)




Posted by galrahn in Uncategorized


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  • GIMP

    While nothing can excuse the videos and associated judgment mentioned in the article there are some important issues of left unmentioned.

    First, the biggest failure in judgment was making the videos; close second was involving other than aviators in them. The very poor decision to show these videos, tame by any measure, to an enlisted crew and non-aviation personnel was critical. By making the videos widespread, the man removed all context from their reason for being and placed himself at the mercy of the leaker.

    There is a reason for things like this to exist, however, it is specific to designated aviators and has no place in the larger Navy. The reason for these videos and other “offensive” material to exist in a naval aviation context is to produce a gradual and progressive desensitization to everything that might disgust or frighten a normal population.

    During the height of the war in the Pacific, naval aviation specifically recruited from outside rather than attempt to produce aviators from already serving officers because the leadership concluded that officers already serving in the surface and submarine fleets had “too fine a sense of honor” to be the effective fighters they needed in the air. To that end, all aviation training contained mandatory participation in 4 competitive sports involving physical contact, 2 of which had to be combat sports. Brawlers and risk takers were recruited because the Navy needed killers, plain and simple.

    The need for a continuous and pervasive desensitization is real for those who are trained to do one thing – kill from the air, and to do it day after day with no moral reservation or compunction about doing it. As a matter of fact, to be able to come back and laugh about how many “soft pudgies” they tallied on their MISREP their last mission while enjoying a tasty slider in the dirty shirt wardroom.

    What the then XO and naval aviation as a whole have apparently forgotten are: naval aviation’s roots, naval aviation and aviators’ place, and any sense of propriety.

    Naval aviation just celebrated its 100 year anniversary, however, its real roots are the product of a concerted effert to recruit, develop, and unleash a group of educated, trained, vicious killers on the enemy during WWII.

    The aviator’s place is with other aviators. There they can be themselves. When dealing with enlisted personnel and officers from other communities, interaction should be limited and circumspect. Traditions such as foc’sle follies can never benefit, only suffer, from participation by those outside of the group. The only possible outcomes are offense taken or follies that suck. Ditto for other traditions and interactions.

    A sense of propriety is needed in order to make interactions between people who can laugh at (and maybe need to laugh at) killing daily and people who honestly believe that if something cannot be said in front of their mother, it’s inapproriate, bearable. This responsibility lies solely on the aviator, and seems to have been forgotten over time. While it is entirely appropriate for aviators to be completely desensitized, it is entirely inappropriate to subject others to the natural effects of that desensitization. This is a matter of cross-cultural respect, and the reason for aviators to keep their interactions with others limited and circumspect. Out of respect for those others.

    The solution to the cultural problem in aviation lies with aviators. Aviators must be desensitized to be effective. Introspection can lead to hesitation or a gradual wearing down of the sharp killing edge we expect our aircrew to keep. The aviation community needs to respect the other Navy communities and their enlisted personnel by carefully avoiding subjecting them to the coarseness of the desensitization process and the results of it. Respect for others demand the aviators know their place, which is with other aviators, and carefully avoid exposing others to their traditions, such as foc’sle follies, etc.

    As long as we need people dead, we need aviators willing and able to kill day after day. To achieve that ability requires desensitization. To subject others to the process or results of that process is inappropriate and disrespectful. The solution is a realization that the culture of naval aviation has no place outside of naval aviators (and our other flying service personnel), and to wall off that coarse culture from others out of respect for them.

  • P.S. Wallace

    I have only seen the twleve-minute “farewell” video. So far, I am not as convinced as others that there is the great crime of the eons at play here, and based upon that one video alone, I not only have no problems with CAPT Honors, but would like him on my team. Having said that, I reserve judgement until I see all of them, which I now have to do.

    But before that–I do want to say one thing. As far as “cult-like behavior”–I’m still waiting for my “Little Red Book” to arrive in the mail which has the Sailor’s Creed in it, so that I may say it gloriously with my comrades in patriotic unity…Perhaps Big Navy’s *own* leadership standard or efficacy may not be what it thinks it is, or what it should be. But what do I know?

  • Sam Kotlin

    My goodness. “We need to desensitize combat aviators so they can kill well. We should allow them boorish behavior outside the bounds of common society and their profession because, well, they can’t be ruthless if they’re not allowed to be jerks. Let them run their own show as crudely as they want because, after all, we might need them someday.”

    Warriors of all stripes do their jobs. For none is the job easy. For all it is judged necessary. For those worthy of respect, war is man’s ugliest and most awful act and the killing it’s most hateful part. But we do it, as duty and with scant pause, with skill and honor.

    We warriors are also a pragmatic lot. Asked to name the two things most harmful to naval aviation in the past 25 years, we’d have to say Tailhook and the ENTERPRISE videos. So if the goal in naval aviation is to do naval aviation’s job best, the aviators might start by not doing dire harm to naval aviation.

    This is a nation of values and it expects its warriors to reflect them. Were the ultimate goal efficient killing, we could better model after the Einsatzgruppen and the Waffen SS and the death-camp guards of the Third Reich or follow the example of the NKVD in the Great Terror. GIMP’s mentality belongs there. I disavow it for my Navy and our nation.

  • GIMP

    Fair enough and expected response to a bit of hyperbole. Still, there is value to desensitization: to build a mindset that can carry out a dreadful task without thinking it dreadful, and in fact with great vigor.

    My point is that the onus is on naval aviation to control all interactions with those outside the group carefully and with utmost circumspection. Within the group – and only the group, can the members of the group have the freedom to have their laughs and speak their minds.

    Still, I respect your opinion and your denouncement of mine.

  • Sam Kotlin

    GIMP: Let me be more specific. As Weapons Officer in an A2 Polaris FBM (16 missiles, 1.1 megaton warheads on each) I once carried a target package for the 16 largest cities in Russia. That would be more destruction than delivered in all previous US wars – combined. Somehow I never felt I had to drink a lot or grope females or cater to gross tastes so as to enough brace myself to do my job. Your point is still understood … and still rejected.

  • Maineiac

    Evidently the Navy has a “can do no wrong” culture for white male heterosexual fighter pilots. This would account for the absurdity of the arguments advanced to defend their behavior.

  • KhakiPants

    I, too, must consider GIMP’s argument and absolutely reject it.

    We are effective because we are better, and we are better because we are different. What makes us different than our enemies? Are we better trained; usually, but not always. Are we better armed; usually, but not always.

    We are different because while we recognise the need sometimes arises where we must kill people and break their stuff, we do not rejoice in it. We do not celebrate the death and destruction, beyond an initial recognition that we have successfully done our duty and remain alive. Yes, there may be some “whooping” and celebration, but they will not be, or should not be, directed at the act of killing.

    That GIMP suggests that naval aviators are somehow different, seems inconceivable, since I would think it rather harder for infantry officers, Marines or Army, or even possibly surface warfare officers who may be called upon to directly fire on individuals they can at least see, if not look into the eyes of their opponents.

    We must do our best, always, and everywhere, even in the face of asymmetrical warfare of with fundamentalists, to treat our enemies with honor. We must always be concerned about the human cost of warfare. And we must always think our actions terrible, even while thinking them necessary.

    I would hope, as a naval officer, I would be expected to think deeply about these issues, even while not allowing them to prevent me from action. A Navy that would wish me to do otherwise is a Navy that I would not wish to be a part of.

  • SneekyCarrot

    A couple of thoughts after reading the report:

    -If all of the standard reporting tools (i.e. command climate surveys, CO’s comment box, etc) were ineffective because the culture aboard the ship was such that the videos were acceptable, what real data are any of these tools giving us from any command?

    -The videos seem at least partially effective. The report notes that the ship never went on water hours and called out fewer in-port incidents. This may be somewhat offset by the most NJP reports (p223) of the Atlantic Carriers but fewer courts-martials. At this point it’s probably impossible to determine coincidence and correlation but it just makes sense that a video that incorporates elements of modern humor holds the interest of the 20 and under crowd. While that’s no excuse for offensive behavior, the Navy should guard against getting overly conservative in trying to spread the message.

    -More personally, there are a lot of people who were “concerned” but didn’t do much. I’m not an admiral, I’m sure they are very busy people. However, sexual harassment and similar offenses have a history of wrecking careers. If I saw a video or got a report from someone that an XO had participated in an offensive video I think the first question out of my mouth would be how many more there were. The report doesn’t indicate that anyone was asking those questions. To me, this seems like some pretty career insensitive people (which would be pretty refreshing) or that Capt Honors is taking the fall.

  • SwitchBlade

    WRT GIMP’s post – hogwash all sir! I was raised an Air Force brat, spent 24 years in the surface navy. Two sons joined the Marines – between them a total of two tours in Afghanistan, one in Iraq and one West Pac aboard the USS Stenis (with aviators).

    While there is constant, and well deserved denigration of each community within the Navy, your theory that somehow the aviation community stands out as needing to be somewhat more desensitized to combat so they can shoot down an enemy aircraft and not have feelings over it is ridiculous to the point of absurdity!

  • GIMP

    Sheesh, serious responses. I’ll answer with: honor for your enemies is bull. Kill them. If they have tactical ability, respect that, but not them. Screw them. They are targets, period. The raison d’etre of the military machine is to fight and destroy. Accept it, embrace it, or find other work. Nobody ever got great at doing something reluctantly or with trepidation. Combat is no exception.

    Deep thinking about war is crap. Those thoughts are for the people who start wars, not those who fight them. For those at the tactical level, think about: how do I hit them hard, fast, where it hurts, and they’re not expecting it. Figuring out how to beat the enemy is hard enough without wasting brain cells trying to figure out if it’s right. Who cares, it’s what you’re doing.

    Desensitization. No agreement, which is fine. These responses make the point that there’s no common ground. That’s okay. No denigration, just go do what you do and let others go do what they do; don’t worry about each other’s ways. Live and let live. As for me and my buddies, we’re having some hearty laughs after our missions, some good times in port, and not sweating anyone else. Don’t sweat us. Oh, and lighten up.

  • http://fareastcynic.com Skippy-san

    Well, I’ve read the report and seen all the videos and reject the contention that “defending Captain Honors at this point” is not the right way to go. Its not about defending him so much as it is about attacking the hypocrites who are holding him in judgement. ( Including Harvey-who unlike many, I hold no special allegiance to. When you go back and look at his record as CHNAVPERS, its not so great).

    This about the complete overreaction and unjust manner of dealing with a supposed “problem”.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Well, that was helpful. Sustained superior performance is no excuse for being uncouth in front of a video camera and showing the result to the ruffians you encouraged to attain the sustained superior performance.

    There is no statue of limitations on such vile behavior. You will be punished and investigated, in that order. If the investigation finds you tolerated such behavior in a subordinate or assisted a senior in his uncouth behavior, your name will be added to the list of those to be punished.

    Got it. I’m confident it won’t happen again.

    Could we discuss why we can’t seem to get a ship or aircraft to IOC without wasting a gigabuck, and more often than not, never get to IOC…just waste the gigabuck. With no visable career effect.

    If you embarass the Admirals in the press they will show no mercy, except with reference to new ship and aircraft procurement, management failure of. Why is that?

    P.S. I concur with Sam Kotlin, liberty misbehavior is not a predictor of ferocity. I just see this affair of the videos as an embarrassment, not a high crime and misdemenor requiring termination with extreme career prejudice. Dynamite may not be the best way to control gophers on a golf course.

  • Byron

    Everyone involved with LPD-17 should have been been sitting on the wrong side of the green felt table, Grandpa. I’m of the same opinion on LCS too.

  • KhakiPants

    GIMP,

    You do not just show honor for your enemies, but also for yourself. You would develop a lethality that costs the humanity of those who employ it. I reject this is contrary to the ideal of a Naval Officer that I strive towards. So what if our enemies are amoral, unethical, ruthless terrorists? Must we become that way ourselves? What if we win the battle… have we not lost ourselves in the process? And how do we avoid widening the gap between the civilians we protect and the warriors that we are?

    Yes, you respect the enemies’ tactical ability, and yes, you blow them out of the sky when your duty requires it. Your duty does not preclude your responsibility to be ethical; indeed, your responsibility to be ethical is central to properly carrying out your duties.

  • Prof Gene

    Although this is getting a bit far afield from the topic of CAPT Honors and ENTERPRISE, it is worth noting that GIMP’s points are not supported by what we know about warriors and warfare.

    Warriors are not primarily killers. Those who forfeit their character and humanity along the way pay an extreme price and return home from war badly damaged. PTSD rates are far higher among those who see themselves as being engaged in killing rather than warfighting; hence the character basis of the growing number of combat preparation programs in the U.S. military. This is historically documented in Jonathan Shay’s books “Achilles in Vietnam” and “Odysseus in America” which show that character and humanity are critical defenses against the whole spectrum of PTSD-related challenges.

    Warriors are not primarily defined by their ability/willingness to kill. Historical warrior castes in cultures all around the world have in common a very high sense of honor and a deep commiment to honorable conduct. Warriors are defined by the fact that they are not just killers, but rather that they operate under an ethos that requires killing to be done under particular rules and limitations (which vary). See Shannon French’s excellent book “The Code of the Warrior” for a detailed exposition of this (the book is based on a course Dr. French taught at USNA).

    War College school solution: Get thee to a war college and study your profession.

  • http://fareastcynic.com Skippy-san

    Professor Gene-no matter what euphemism you use for it-the action is still the same. . A profession whose purpose, at its heart, is the organized mass destruction of things and people-is by definition not a “moral” profession, albeit a necessary one to the security of the nation.

    Furthermore-discussions about ethos et al are not germane to this discussion. This is about taking something that in general sucks, e.g. being aboard a ship at sea, and trying to inject some humor and fun into it.

    The simple fact that in the general scheme of things-this level of reaction is overkill. Don’t want XO Movie night? Fine, ban it. Don’t promote CAPT Honors if you wish. But that should be it. There were a lot less draconian ways to deal with what was a simple issue. Furthermore-the message that style matters more than substance should trouble anyone. When I see flags getting fired over their professional malfeasance with respect to Naval Aviation procurement, then maybe I will think about being sympathetic to castigating a guy who dared to find a way to motivate his crew. I admire Honors for daring to do it-I know I would not have done it, but not becuase I think he was wrong, but only because I know I could never have pulled it off.

  • Lowly USN (retired)

    Gimp, Skippy-san, Grandpa, Byron and all others have articulated well their opinions in this matter. But the fact remains, CAPT Honors has been betrayed by the very service he devoted his life to.

    Is CAPT Honors guilty of fiscal incompetence or malfeasance? Is he guilty of hazarding his vessel or crew? Is CAPT Honors guilty in failed leadership or failure in exercising appropriate authority? Did CAPT Honors slap or assault one of his Sailors? The answer to each is no. The only violation CAPT Honors is guilty of is poor judgment in that this type of video should have remained in the Wardroom and the Goat Locker; or, even more appropriately, this type of video should have never been accomplished in today’s Navy where hurting the feelings of homosexuals and women in the Navy is a career ender.

    CAPT Honors is an outstanding warrior whose honor, courage, commitment, wisdom and judgment to command have never been compromised. BZ CAPT Honors for your devotion and honorable service to the service you love and to the United States of America.

  • GIMP

    Prof Gene and Others of Similar Bent,

    I couldn’t disagree more. While I respect your opinions and those of the authors of many words, having been there, done that, I have come to believe that desensitization is the key to preventing the hand wringing and PTSD you mention. Forget about it, who gives a damn. Kill the enemy, it’s you only job. If you come home alive, laugh about it, then do it again. If you actually don’t give a damn, it will never bother you. I belive it’s the introspection and worrying that gets you, not the action.

    I’m over this thread, and probably this blog. Uncle. But after 60+ combat missions, including the big strike on Pristina in Kosovo and 4 1/2 months of 2-3 sorties a day over there, then the immediate post 9-11 strikes on Afghanistan and a while doing that, I can tell you that deep thinking about warriorship and all the attendant bullsh*t is school crap.

    You’re far too busy figuring out how to execute and win. You have to do it day after day after day, multiple times a day, and you job is to kick the enemy’s nuts in on every mission without regards to deep thinking, ethics, warriorship, or anything else. We’re a bunch of cavemen with clubs ordered to bash the other guys’ heads in, and we do it the absolute best we can, and that’s the end of it.

    My first post said “too nice a sense of honor” and that’s all I’m hearing here. We exist to kill the enemy when called upon to do it. We do it the best we can. Our job is to win every engagement, period. The ethical and moral issues belong to the National Command Authority. War is no game. It’s not boxing by the rules. It’s a vicious streetfight to the death, and if you have to bite the enemy’s jugular out with your teeth, you do it.

    The responses here are “playing at war” responses in my opinion. Real war is a filthy business with guys trying to kill you. F-them. Kill them. There is no honor, no ethical underpinning, it’s just win, because it’s not a game and you don’t get paid to lose.

  • http://www.google.com mike

    I’m over this thread, and probably this blog. Uncle. But after 60+ combat missions, including the big strike on Pristina in Kosovo and 4 1/2 months of 2-3 sorties a day over there, then the immediate post 9-11 strikes on Afghanistan and a while doing that, I can tell you that deep thinking about warriorship and all the attendant bullsh*t is school crap

  • Byron

    BZ, Mike. Nice to hear all the philosophy boiled down to it’s essence.

  • Nutzinov

    With respect to leadership, profssionalism, authority and taking the “moral high ground” I have not seen nor read one single snippet on how the ships COMMANDING OFFICER (Rice) or BATTLE GROUP COMMANDER(Spicer) who calls Enterprise home while embarked stepped up and told the XO to knock it off.

    Inaction on the part of the CO/BGC while the videos were being run and stepping up to the plate and taking responsibilty after the fact is in my opinion worse then the the content of the videos! (Which in my opinion were no worse then the crusie classics such as “Something about Marry” or “Blazzing Saddles”)

    What lesson did the Navy just send to all of its leaders?

    A good leader could never commit the lives of sailors to warfare without having the full faith, confidence and support of their senior leadership during the good and the bad!

    If you ever have to work for the former CO (Rice) or Battle Group Commander(Spicer), watch you back, as evident by their inaction in this case, and lack of support of their subordinate the XO, in an action that THEY CONDONED, they will drop you quicker than quick when you screw the pooch!

  • USNVO

    “4) A precedent is being set by ignoring the person who leaked the video.”

    On a completely different tack, what precedent is the Navy setting by ignoring who “leaked” (not sure this is the word I would have used as it insinuates impropriety) the videos? Since the videos were UNCLAS and showed on SITE TV, I find it hard to believe that there could be any charges that could be leveled against them.

    This isn’t Wikileaks. The only precedent that I see being set is “Don’t be dumb enough to make a Witch Hunt for someone who embarressed you if they haven’t violated the UCMJ”.

  • Rich B.

    There are elements of truth in many of these posts; Is CAPT Honors guilty of fiscal incompetence or malfeasance? Of malfeasance, failing to discharge of public obligations existing by common law, custom or statute? Yes he is in essence of the multiple navy regulations regarding his behavior.

    Is he guilty of hazarding his vessel or crew? Directly no. However anytime the rank is perceived as “common.” Anytime an officer becomes “one of the guys” there is a risk to vessel and crew. It is a creeping risk that remains after an air detachment departs. There is a loss of formality. There is a loss of discipline.

    Is CAPT Honors guilty in failed leadership or failure in exercising appropriate authority? Not nearly as much as others could be considered.

    My biggest concern is the inability to remember conversations with a superior officer evidenced throughout. I can remember EVERY rebuking conversation my COs have ever had with me. Now mind you the corrections I received may have been more in the vane of reigning in an aggressive young mustang.

    Every “recommendation” by the skipper was always treated as a direct order. When did that mindset changed, or again, is it a function of community difference?

    One deployment we have a very tight knit wardroom. We would gather during lunch at the height of the “Soprano’s” popularity. The whole wardroom would be filled during lunch; talking; laughing; joking. I have not seen that close of a wardroom in many years. The CHENG came in during the rape scene of Lorraine Bracco’s character, and ordered the show turned off and to not be shown again.

    We were incensed. Many JOs left the meal angry. How dare he insult our moral character. However looking back it was the right action. We were a wardroom of mixed crew. The wardroom was no place for the gutter and base nature of the show. He was preserving a tradition within the wardroom.

    Conversation turned over the next few months from the “merits” of Bada Bing to sailing (one of his interests); professional conversations, tactics and even the normal taboos of politics. We learned to talk to one another rather than simply talk next to each other.

    It was a lesson I kept with me.

    Perhaps if the XO had done a Mystery Science Theater version of classic war movies; esprit d’corps could have just as easily been maintained without jeopardizing his position as an officer.

  • CDR Tom O’Malley, USN (Ret)

    Gimp;
    I found myself thinking long and hard about your post. You seem to want to isolate your community from the rest of the Naval community writ large. Do you think aviators are the only ones who kill the enemy? Wake up and shed your arrogance. Yes, I want our aviators to be very, very good at what they have to do. I recognize it takes a special breed to do what you do. But to be sure they, in concert with other communities are part of the team that conquers our enemies. I agree we should not be deep thinkers in combat. On the contrary; we must be singularly focused on mission accomplishment. Killing America’s enemies is a job many of us have trained for and, some of us have actually executed. We didn’t fly multi million dollar aircraft that brought death from above (a very necessary element of the plan). Some of us actually saw the faces of those we killed. This does not make us better or more special than anybody else, nor does it mean we have to become desensitized to killing another human being. We must maintain our honor. We can’t become mindless killing machines. Human life has to have a value and in combat it does. Ours happens to have more value than that of the enemy. On the ground, on the river, in combat you are not fighting for your country. At that moment you are fighting for your life and the the lives of those with you. The higher ideals are over arching and come later. In the moment it is you or the enemy. Nothing more. Trust me on that.
    I do sincerly appreciate the skill and performance of our aviators. They have saved my men and I more than once with close air support and I’ll be forever grateful.
    Gimp, we need the team; all of us. Do not attempt to isolate your community. You do so at the peril of us all.

  • http://blog.usni.org Austin

    As a member of the USS Enterprise and its nuclear power program over this period I watched nearly all these videos live. After a work week consisting of well over 100 hours of watch and reactor maintenance I can honestly say these videos were both humorous and relaxing. It created a few moments a week to forget you were on a 7-month cruise away from home and allowed you to think about other things.
    We had multiple openly-gay members in our division who all found the videos equally entertaining. The “anti-gay” comments were not making fun of the homosexuals in general but instead made light of “extreme” homosexuals similar in the way that you would make fun of rednecks and the way they speak or trailer park residents and how they can’t seem took take care of their yard. These “extremes” would include individuals in a gay parade that dress in almost nothing and perform lude acts in public yet dont seem to be apprehended like a heterosexual would.
    The crude humor was Self-deprecating, true, but if you knew the man you would not think he took his office lightly. Finally in each of his videos he taught a message that lack-wit crew members would otherwise not pick up on. We would all be left with the inability to take showers or wash our hands because crewmembers with nothing better to do are taking hour long showers and use all the water.

2014 Information Domination Essay Contest