Secretary Mabus, CNO Admiral Greenert, and Marine Commandant General Amos,

Suggest you read an effective, efficient explanation of the ramifications of a really bad idea over at Tom Ricks’ Foreign Policy blog.

Some highlights:

I wonder if the enhancement in personal readiness occasioned by breathalyzers will be worth the trade-off in flagging morale, professional insult, and perceptions of detached, out of touch senior leadership…

This is among the most paternalistic, professionally insulting concepts I’ve seen in all my years of service, and I’m not sure I will submit. Yes, I know my options, and I just may exercise them and go right over the side the first time the duty blowmeister shoves a plastic tube in my face and treats me like a drunk driver for daring to report for duty. To the CNO, CMC, CMC of the Navy, and SgtMaj of the Marine Corps, here’s my question: At what point will one of you four exercise your duty to tell the Secretary of the Navy, “Hey, Boss, WTF, over?” and that he really ought to fire whichever clown came up with this idea (?)

And, an additional observation:

Leaders exercising their solemn duty to junior sailors and Marines, who have even a modicum of intuition about their charges, can figure out who is sucking the worm out of the bottle every night without resorting to the extraordinary insulting and distrustful measure of breathalyzing every shipmate who steps across the brow and every Marine who marches into a gun park.

Please read the rest. There are some additional and very cogent points about the damage this exceedingly unwise little contrivance will cause.

Trust, like loyalty, is very much a two-way street. Trust is also a funny thing. Like an ornate hand-painted vase, it takes great dedication and hard work, and not a little inspiration, to create; yet just one instance of careless handling can shatter it into a thousand pieces. Even if one was so inclined to spend the time required to glue all of those pieces back together, the result is never quite nearly the same.

These Sailors and Marines have stood watch and fought two wars in the last decade. They have sacrificed, fought, bled, and died doing their duty. They are magnificent. They have given you, all of you, far more reasons for you to trust them than you have for them to trust you. The stars on the collar, the wide stripes on the sleeve, the nameplate on the big desk, those things are purely ornamental if you don’t earn the trust and respect of those you lead each day anew. Just as every Second Lieutenant and Ensign, every Chief Petty Officer and Gunnery Sergeant must do. Every day.

You are marching quick-time toward shattering that trust and breaching the loyalty of those you lead. The reasons that make this entire course of action seem like a good idea are inconsequential compared to the negative consequences of implementing this professionally insulting and terribly misguided policy. Your junior leaders, commissioned and non-commissioned, are telling you so, and loudly, even if the Generals and Admirals haven’t the courage to do so.

Good leaders listen, instead of ignoring sage advice. Now is just such a time.


h/t to LtCol P and to “John Paul Lejeune”


Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Aviation, History, Marine Corps, Naval Institute, Navy, Proceedings, Uncategorized

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  • jon spencer

    Every O-7 and above plus every SES should have to blow in the pipe every time they come to work.
    If there number is above 0.0, off to a AA meeting they should go.
    Any two positives in a month (running or calendar) and lose the that months pay.

    Can you tell that I think this is a !#$!@# Cluster#@%$R@#$%.

  • AW1 Tim

    Leadership by Example. Big Navy: Yer doin’ it wrong.

    If you want your sailors to act like professionals, to act like adults, be responsible and give you 100% all the time, then you need to TREAT THEM LIKE ADULTS.

    This is leadership 101. This is what plebes at the academy are supposed to be learning, yet here we are demanding breathalyzer tests, making sailors fill out Liberty Chits saying where they will be going, what their plans are, whether or not they’ll be consuming alcohol, when they expect to return, etc.

    Enough already. SecNav: It’s time to “just say no” to all this PC BS that is acting as a cancer on the fleet.

    Say no to breathalyzers. Say no to Liberty declarations. Say no to the Diversity Zampolits at Mill