Author Archive

So, it’s been a while, how’s everyone been?.. Me, I’ve been busy. Very busy. I’ve been taking college courses, doing my job, getting ready for the ACT and SAT (next week) and cross-rating to CTR.

Got my orders today, actually. I have a No Later Than date in June. Yeah, June. We’re in April.

It’s definitely a trend in my life for me to leave from places in unexpected ways. I left Afghanistan all of a sudden, and rather abruptly from my ship to go to Afghanistan–just crazy, crazy transitions. But, I’d be lying if I said I don’t find it all an adventure.

But, so yeah, Pensacola is next, and STA-21 probably isn’t going to happen for me this year. The due date for the package is July, and I’ll have been at A-school for only two months by then. So, meh, there will be other options out there. I figure most of the things I’m going to have to talk about in the near future will have to be [redacted] or maybe [redacted] cause you know CTRs do stuff like [redacted] for a living.

I’m a little bummed that the odds of putting a STA-21 package in are nil. Becoming a CTR was supposed to be [redacted]. But, has seemed to have become the primary plan. But, again, no biggie, I’m fine with that; it all happens for a reason. I only entertained this notion of becoming a CTR because it was something I was interested in becoming in the first place.

I just hope I find it fascinating.

One recurring thing I’ve been told over my last 15 or so months working at SHAPE is that I might be peaking in my career–very early in my career. And well, yeah, maybe I am. But, I don’t think so.

What now; what’s next?



VADM Richardson posted an interesting blog back on 17 January. 

“This is pretty cool. I was recently briefed on the results of our first try at a new way for us to innovate. We held an “event” in San Diego that brought together 27 of our best and brightest Junior Officers, Sonarmen and Fire Control Technicians to participate in what will be the first of many workshops. Submarine Development Squadron TWELVE (DEVRON 12) allied with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Applied Physics Laboratory and the Submarine Advanced Development Team at NAVSEA, making this a “first of its kind” for the Submarine Force and maybe the Navy.”

After my last blog, this seems a pretty good story to follow up with. It’s all together far too easy to have the perspective that ‘everything’s wrong.’ What’s more is that it is way too easy to only point to things that seem wrong — Only pointing to ‘what’s wrong’ does not lead to innovation. 

ADM Harvey’s strategic messaging has lately had a heavy dose of how our history demonstrates that we can meet the challenges of today. This example from VADM Richardson is emblematic of that fact. I’ll let Admiral Richardson’s post speak for itself. But, I think the names of those involved in the TANG Workshop deserve to be mentioned here. 

FT1 Don Moreno – USS Bremerton
LTJG John Dubiel – USS Bremerton
FT1 Rich Gunter – USS Charlotte
STS2 Charles Augustine – USS City of Corpus Christi
LTJG Jason Frederick – USS City of Corpus Christi
FT3 Jordan Larry – USS City of Corpus Christi
LT Dan Kohnen – USS Columbus
LTJG Dan Justice – USS Florida
FT1 John Keagle – USS Florida
STS1 Randy Kelly – USS Florida
STS2 Don Grubbe – USS Houston
LTJG Stephen Emerson – USS Houston
FT2 Thaddeus Siongco – USS Houston
LT David Camp – USS Key West
FT3 Glen Elam – USS Key West
STS1 Robert Sarvis – USS Key West
LT Tim Manke – USS New Hampshire
STS1 J.P. Whitney – USS Norfolk
FT1 Brent Caraway – USS San Francisco
LT Eric Dridge – USS San Francisco
STS1 Rich Hering – USS San Francisco
STS2 Chris Remiesiewicz – USS Virginia
FT1 Brandolf Schlieper – USS Virginia
LT Arlo Swallow – USS West Virginia
FT1 Ben Lang – USS West Virginia
STS1 Gabe Brazell – USS West Virginia
STS2 Jake Malone – SLC Det. San Diego

The IDEO Coaching Team:

Peter Macdonald
Dave Blakely
Dan Soltzberg
David Haygood

 

 

 

 



Maybe, I don’t want to be an officer. More so, maybe I shouldn’t be one. You guys seem to make it hard on yourselves to ask questions – to read, think and write. Enlisted types, when we do a version of ‘read, think and write’ we either are innocuous or irrelevant because of our rank, or are surprising (and thus welcomed) because of no one expecting us to think ‘big thoughts.’ But, whatever the case, us thinking aloud isn’t something that can cause officers to react. I’d dare say that it is almost safer for us enlisted types to think out loud because of our status in the military hierarchy.

In thinking back across the modicum of experience I have, I can only find one example of where someone (an officer) reacted negatively to me asking questions. It was a CAPT who was riding the SAN ANTONIO for one reason, or another. We were on the smoke deck, and I was attempting to talk to him about my Mobile Sea Base idea I had for the SAN (anyone read the news lately? I totally called this back in 2007). I don’t think the CAPT was as much bothered by my asking questions, as he just wanted from freakin’ peace and quiet while he smoked his cigar on the smoke deck. Whatever his motivations, it’s the only time I can recall ever being concerned about asking questions.

As many of you know, the Naval Institute invited me to the West ’12 Conference this year. One of the panels I attended was titled “Junior Warfighters: What Issues Keep Them Awake at Night?” the panel was comprised of O-3s and an O-4. I asked them questions, and the discussion turned to writing and publishing their thoughts. The answers I received were far outside of my perspective, and did not settle well with me. I couldn’t understand why they were telling me of their concerns for repercussions from their writing. They aren’t the first officers I’ve heard voice such a concern – quite the opposite actually. I have heard others say as such so often, that I’ve started to wonder if it was actually an excuse for not writing.

I watched the video made from the panel this morning, I asked if they had tried to get published, if they thought that publishing under a pen name would improve the discourse or be helpful in any way. But, again, the answers I was given were too far outside my perspective. I was told that it is important for a person to stand behind their words and thus not use a pen name. In addition to their concern for repercussions from publishing, the two perspectives caused a certain dissonance for me, I couldn’t get my mind around it. But, in talking about it on facebook, I think I’ve begun to understand.

No one reads, thinks and writes in a vacuum. I’ve often wondered (as have many others) why it is that the young seem to be the greatest source of innovation in the World. But, in coming to understand the answers I received at West I’ve also come to understand that a significant part of why the young innovate so much is that we do read, think and write in a vacuum in a greater sense than those older than us. We generally have fewer responsibilities – maybe a spouse, possibly no children, limited (if any) command authority. It seems to me to be one of the sublimely ironic absurdities of life that we give authority to those who have the experience to support keen discretion and wise decision making. But that to inherently have such qualities, one must have first lived a life, learned the resulting lessons and there-by limited their ability to fully engage in innovative discourse.

What this realization has lead me to is to wonder what this means for me. I’m a single guy, no kids, and no command authority; yet when I write these blogs, and talk publicly, I have a tacit sense of what I can and cannot say – I have tact. But, should I have less tact, in a sense? I don’t mean that I think that I should be bluntly provocative or that I should be writing the intellectual version of tabloids in my writing. But, that I should be even more bold to say some things, and even say things I know that others wish to say, but can’t due to other responsibilities their life choices have resulted in. Just as it tends to be the most junior personnel who have to scrub down a ship after a CBRN attack, shouldn’t it be the junior person who writes the words that cause senior personnel pause? After all, I am ultimately only responsible to myself. I do not have to worry about my words grossly affecting anyone else I could be responsible for. If the guy with kids to take care of can’t do it; the officer who would be judged more critically than I would can’t do it, or anyone with significant responsibilities can’t do it. But, somebody HAS to do it. Who better than someone like me?

I didn’t invoke John Boyd during the panel, though his ghost was probably cursing up a storm if it were present. But, Boyd’s example is replete with what it takes to fully engage in the discourse. Robert Croam’s biography doesn’t ignore the type of father or husband Boyd was – Boyd sacrificed a lot to be who he was. I cannot expect anyone (not even myself) to make the hard decisions he made.

Which only leaves me with the thought that we need a new dichotomy across the age axis in our Navy. We have the enlisted-officer dichotomy in the Navy that serves us extremely well. We should also formalize the age dichotomy so that our junior personnel can take advantage of their lack of responsibilities and station, so that they can think, read and write the things we need to stay innovative and ahead of any competitor.



Well, I am now of the demographic that must submit their PTS package prior to reenlisting. As I am sure is the case with most Sailors, I don’t truly know if I can stay in or not. One can guess and wonder. But, until you know for a fact that you’re good to go, you might be going home and finding a new line of work.

But, we in the United States Navy are not the only Sailors who are facing such an uncertain future. Sailors of the Royal Navy–some 5,000 of them–will be sent home as well in the next four years. Sailors who have been trained, honed their skills and are willing to defend their Nations.

But, of the English speaking peoples of the World, one group is looking for able bodies – Australia.

[T]o find enough trained personnel to crew its submarines and the fleet of new warships now being built, the [Australian] navy is also recruiting from the US, Canada and New Zealand.

Unreal, but rather brilliant.

 



Sometimes, I think the only secrets left in this World are in the minds of men…

Open source and commercially available intel via things like Google Earth seems to be quickly making ‘military watching’ the new pro-am hobby (the thin line between entertainment and war). Between the ‘work’ that been done in regards to those strange lines running across the Chinese desert, to the work at Georgetown on the bunkers of the Second Artillery Corps, it seems that anyone so inclined can do decent if not serious analytical work.

As well as this,

DigitalGlobe Inc. said Wednesday one of its satellites photographed the carrier Dec. 8. A DigitalGlobe analyst found the image Tuesday while searching through photos.

From the Associated Press.

 

 



From gCaptain (one of the best Maritime blogs and Facebook feeds out there).

Captain Seog Hae-gyun was confronted not by the elements that nature can throw at men and ships, but an even more insidious danger: that of pirates threatening him, his crew and his ship. In response, he acted with quick thinking, courageously, decisively and with extreme bravery to protect all those whose lives depended on him and his decisions. His selfless reaction left him with severe injuries and nearly cost him his life,

This is one of the more amazing stories I’ve heard coming out of the international campaign against piracy in the Western Indian Ocean, and This happened nearly a year ago, and this is the first I’ve heard about it (but it is very comfortable, living under this rock).

Bravo Zulu to Captain Seog Hae-gyun. From the IMO Website

When the Samho Jewelry was boarded by pirates, in January 2011, the crew took cover in the designated citadel but the pirates broke in, detaining them on the bridge. Over two days, Captain Seog steered the ship on a zig-zag course, so that the pirates would not realize that the vessel was actually heading away from, instead of towards, Somali waters. He contaminated the fuel so the engines would not work normally, pretended the steering gear was malfunctioning and slowed the ship’s speed from 14 knots to six, to keep her out of Somali waters for as long as possible, thus maximizing the potential for units of the Republic of Korea Navy to attempt a rescue. However, the pirates became suspicious that some of Captain Seog’s actions were intended to outwit them and they brutally assaulted him, causing serious fractures to his legs and shoulders.

In keeping with the finest traditions of any Maritime Service…

 

 

 

 

 

 



Look closely, you might find a grain or two of salt. More so, you’ll find a bunch of sea water. Don’t take me wrong, I’m not saying I’m experienced. But, I’ve seen the block, at least. I know what comes with a deployment, and I relish the idea of many more to come. Just the same, though; I want to go back and whisper into that kid’s ear. That kid who looks just like me, yet has “NON-PO” on his CAC card.

Want to know what I would whisper into his ear? For me to tell you that I need to tell you this, first:

“Flight of the Intruder” by Stephen Coonts.

Besides flying, he also acted as the squadron’s personnel officer, supervising a chief and [five Yeoman and Personnelmen]. The only portion of his administrative duties that he did not visibly detsest was his work as awards officer. He drafted the citations and recommendations for medals and gave them to the X.O. Harvey Wilson, to approve and forward up the chain of command. Lundeen kept a thesaurus on his desk that he referred to constantly as he drafted the award citations. He would gleefully read his better efforts to Jake as proof positive that the military in general and the navy in particular were “all ['Effed] up.”

A long quote–I know. But, it is for good reason. I came right out of Boot/A-School to SAN ANTONIO. I knew nothing, I had no idea what it was to be aboard ship. I only knew I was going to do what Sailors are to do. I looked forward to it with relish. But, halfway through the tour, I began to wonder–I began to ask: What the hell was I or anyone aboard thinking. I would look around, and only be able to think that all any of us were able to accomplish was far, so very far, short of the standards held by those who came before us.

But, no. I was wrong. Part of my problem was the fact that I was privy to the writing of others, who would question what we as a Navy we doing. With all the challenges we face, all the ‘supposed’ shortcomings we have as a Fleet, I was reading ALL OF IT! God, what a mess my Ontology was–it was so hard. Imagine yourself, standing there at your DC locker, attempting to fit that experience into reading the writings of those 5-6-7 pay grades above you, let alone the amount of years they served. It was not an easy fit; truth be told, it didn’t fit. Ontology formed by experience does not juxtapose well with reading words. Especially when not much of it is favorable. Why? Here’s why…

I had a massive lack of context to place into anything I would read in regards to the challenges faced by the Navy in relation to acquiring new hulls, weapon systems, or anti-access strategies. To use a Thanksgiving analogy, I was child sitting at the adult’s table. The line between what was being discussed at the various blogs and what I was living on the deckplates is not a linear one–it’s non-linear, and filling in the aspects of a non-linear relationship is a painful one to live.

This is not to say that those writing such words as my mentors (CDR Salamander, Ray Pritchett, Steeljaw Scribe, CDR McGrath, as well as Byron, and any number of commentors on blogs) were misplaced, or wrong for finding such virgin ears such as my own. Rather, that such words do not give context anywhere near as well as experience does.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was a difficult tour aboard the USS SAN ANTONIO. Everyday was a new experience, as I am sure, that the cliche of any day deployed is ‘groundhog day’ falls flat aboard any Grey-hull. Christ, it was my first tour, after-all. But, those experiences have taken sometime to settle-in, as have the words of wisdom from the blogs I read since day-one of Sea Duty.

So, then, what have I come to? Heh, yeah, it’s in lines of what I read in the quote above.

The military is chaos. War, and it’s analogs (any deployment), is chaos. It’s going to be a mess, it’s going to be no where near the order and rote-reactions that we portray to the public at large, and this isn’t a bad thing, either. In a manor of speaking, what separates the wheat from the chaff in terms of those who serve is who can deal, or who wants to deal, with such circumstances. Such a notion isn’t that far removed from ‘civilian’ life either.

Why do we train and drill constantly? Because we need to deal with the known before we can sufficiently deal with the unknown. On deployment–doing what we’re paid to do–the unknown is concentrated even during the best and most irrelevant (read: administrative) of circumstances. So, when faced with such a reality, it doesn’t jive with any expectations one may have preconceived regarding the military.

I’ve never had a Chief who didn’t try to articulate this fact to me. It’s not that every Chief failed at explaining this to me. It was that I had ‘read ahead’ in a sense. So, their explanations to me had much more to contend with in terms of my ontology before it could become an accepted fact… Man, it wasn’t easy. But, after Afghanistan; after a FIFTH Fleet deployment, and nearly a year of duty with NATO; after something like 20 books and hundreds of blog posts–Chief’s words are starting to sink in, I’m starting to understand.

The chaos will never end. The situations you find yourself in are going to always be new, and it is your duty to find the way forward–to recommend to your superiors what you think is the best course of action. More so than anything else, the devil is in the details. When you’re sitting there, and are attempting to articulate the challenge you face–as well the way forward–it’s almost inherent, that you will leave out some detail that really matters, but seems ill-fit to mention during the brief discussion you have. What results is an impression during the first moments of taking action, that the whole of the Navy is ‘effed up.’ As that YNSN, just starting out, your only default position is that the whole enterprise of the Navy is ‘effed up from the foundation up. That EVERYTHING is wrong, that you alone know how to fix the foundation, and will be able to improve everything by fixing this foundation. Some people call this idealism, and stop there. They think that when they reach these first challenges that cannot really be fixed, that any further movement beyond them–without really fixing them–is selling out, and accepting less than should be.

Maybe they are right; I’m not going to tell them they are wrong, at least. But, just the same, when you move beyond and start to see the other aspects of reality in an organization that exists primarily in the unknown, you start to see reasons that might not jive with the more foundational aspects (E-4 and junior) of being apart of the organization. It is at this point that you start to understand the nature of a non-linear relationship.

What I am left at to this point, is that I know nothing. just as when Socrates (I think I am right, when I attribute this to Socrates) went to Delphi and was told by the Oracle that he was the wisest of all the Greeks, because he knew that he knew nothing; I feel that because of continuing to read of my profession and those who have gone before me that I have THAT much more to learn. For a Sailor junior to me–even for those newly minted ensigns–I feel it is my duty, to now help them become accustomed to the random, the unexpected and even the unacceptable.

…If I could only go back, and tell that YNSN that it’s ok, you’re dealing with the unknown just as everyone else has. Maybe then, it wouldn’t have seemed that impossible and difficult to him…



My ex-fiance got tired of hearing from me. I’d email her every morning (my afternoon) and say good morning to her. This would upset her on the weekends, as she didn’t have revellie at 0600 as I did. But, it was too tempting not to email her and have her blackberry wake her up, when I am sitting at my computer banging out 1650s.

It’s not that every service member is blessed as a Yeoman is with having email constantly available (EMCON permitting). But, the ability for service members while deployed to keep in contact with their family is exponentially greater than it ever has been in the annals of history. What you will hear from most people regarding this is how great of a thing it is–how families will not seem so distant, the little details of life known to the service member. But, those little details from home aren’t always great, and significant others don’t like being woken up early on the weekends (well, maybe at first. For the first couple of months. But, by month three or four–sleep is more important and the novelty of emails from Sea has worn off).

Subtly, this increase in communication has placed an additional burden on the service member. Once you’ve talked to someone back home for a while, and you’ve gotten through all the questions about the weather, and if you’re safe and how you’re liking it, the conversation turns to what life is REALLY like while deployed. It’s not fun–I mean it can be, it is an adventure and most of the people you’re deployed with are good people. But, there is a reason why less than 1% of the United States has served in uniform–It’s hard and you have to put up with a lot. In describing such a life, I think I have had to be the most careful with my Mom. There’s nothing wrong with this, nor am I saying that my Mom is one to over react, or over-worry about things. Rather, from my point of view, I don’t want to say anything to her that would make her worry more for her son. Of course, in talking to my Sister I feel much the same way and then to a lesser extent my Dad. Friends, meh, I’ll just tell them the funny things that happen, as that’s all they want to hear about anyway.

What makes it so difficult to describe the life we live is that outside of the context defined by the skin of a ship, it is hard to have the right perspective on what is actually going on. Regardless of how well I articulate that context, it tends to be something that one HAS to experience (what Ayn Rand calls an “ostensive definition”). Flying jets and helicopters off ships IS crazy. Sleeping in the Ship’s Office cause the 1MC doesn’t work in the berthing IS crazy. But, there is a method to the madness, and that method only makes sense given the circumstances in being deployed. In attempting to explain such circumstances to my Mom, or anyone back home borders on the impossible, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’ve more or less had to figure this out on my own, as all service members do. This reality is one of those tacit understandings that we all have learned by being deployed. To date, this arrangement has worked alright. There has been no need for what can loosely be termed as ‘communications training’ for service members beyond OPSEC and INFOSEC, because the amount of time service members could possibly spend communicating with their families was very brief, and the odds of getting into things that could cause tumult ashore was small.

However, I think this may well have changed things.

My son and I emailed each other and I sent him some boxes – you know, care packages – and he called me once. Just once. We touched base and he mentioned that the heads still weren’t flushing. He expressed his frustration at the fact that things had been flushed or shoved into the system that shouldn’t have been. I still didn’t take the situation very seriously. I only thought about looking into the system. I mean, what can I do about that? It’s the Navy. I can’t do anything to influence the Navy!

That’s Mom. And, well, Mom got the CO to respond, at length. It’s a helluva situation, and I have to stop short of saying that a Sailor’s Mom was wrong for what she did. Things like this with Sailor’s families is not altogether rare, either. Being a Yeoman, you open much of the mail that comes to the Ship. Some of that mail is from the United States Congress asking about a letter or phone call they received from a Sailor or their family. Then, your Chain of Command scrambles to get the gist of a letter back to Congress down on paper, and YN2 goes ahead and Yeoman-izes it, with the hopes of returning Congressional correspondence in the mandated time.

There’s good reason why service members and their families can write their congressmen about things they think are wrong. There’s a story where Nimitz was riding back to his home one evening during the war. As they were driving, he had the driver pick up a Sailor who looked like he had one-too-many. That Sailor, too drunk to realize who he was talking to, went on-and-on about how lousy his command was. The next morning, Nimitz made a surprise visit to the command and got confirmation on everything the drunk Sailor had said and Nimitz had the the situation taken care of. But, in all honesty, those situations are the exception rather than the rule (which is why that story from Nimitz is even remembered).

Like I said, I’m not going to call-out Mom for devoting a Blog to the VCHT system aboard the BUSH. But, I will say that the burden is on the service member to ensure they don’t say something to their families that can then in turn, be taken out of context and cause needless headaches during a deployment.

I am well trained and versed in not violating OPSEC. But, the training for those things I could say, which may not directly cause harm to ship and crew, but could cause tumult or anguish back home, is not touched upon nearly enough during training. Our service members are going to be in a good amount of communication with home. Hell, they may even end up like me and get a gig blogging while they’re deployed. So, where is the training for that Sailor in terms of how to communicate with home while deployed?

Lastly, Ray, over at his place asks the following

Is the Navy simply “flattening the chain of command?” Are we simply observing the dynamics that comes with competing the hierarchical structure of the chain of command against the flattening of communications that has resulted from tools that allow greater accessibility? Is the Navy effectively balancing the flattening of and hierarchy of the chain of command?

Sailors posting across social media, writing blogs, and exhorting to the world all they feel is wrong with their command is not creating a flat command structure. A flat organization is created by more than just communication. It is created by actions. Communication as it has been done in this instance isn’t a sign that the Navy is flattening anything. In this humble deckplate-Sailor’s opinion, all the Navy has done here is respond to a blog which garnished media attention. In reading the post by the BUSH’s CO, they seemed to be tracking on the solution to the VCHT issues all along (has there ever been a ship without VCHT issues?). Going outside of your chain of command is the surest way to defeat ANY initiative to create a flat organization. Because, the sine qua non of a flat organization is harmony.



I first read of John Boyd in 2007, and quickly became enamored with the man’s ideas, his bigger-than-life persona, and the tales of his exploits in the Pentagon. Though, in mentioning his name to just about anyone would only result in blank stares and uneasy, one-sided conversations; most only knew of him as ‘the OODA-loop guy’. Because of this, I started to feel a certain sense of being alone in my ideas and interests.

Slowly, I’ve became aware of others who had as much a passion for the ideas of Boyd as I do. To make a long story short, finding these kindred souls has culminated in attending the Boyd and Beyond conference last weekend at Quantico.

One such soul, Scott Shipman (Retired FTBC) has written two good accounts of the conference here and here. So, I’ll forego recanting the actual events and presentations of the conference and offer instead my thoughts arising from the conference.

The conference spent a lot of time on the first half of the OODA-Loop, Observing and Orienting. At some point I became convinced that the type of Sailor we need is one that is a “situational autodidact”. Major Marcus Mainz, USMC, during his presentation made the brilliant comment that “training is for the known, education is for the unknown” in this sense, the spirit in which we must educate our Sailors must be towards making them capable of educating their self as needed when the unknown presents itself to them.

I’ve never been actively educated by the Navy in the sense of what the Major is talking about; I’ve always had to do that on my own. In doing so, I know that I am the exception rather than the rule on the deckplates. The Navy does not prepare their enlisted Sailors for the unknown directly, rather it trusts experience during the natural course of a Sailor’s career to do that. This makes sense, and indeed it is the best teacher there is. However, I believe the Navy could prepare its enlisted Sailors to take greater advantage of their experience.

For Sailors to take greater advantage of their experiences, they need to actively question their actions. By this, I mean that a person analyses a question more than they do a statement. But, it has been my experience that when someone recants an experience they had, it is a rare thing to hear someone say anything in terms of ‘why’ they did something. Much more often someone only tells the ‘what’ of their actions. Think of the Socratic Method, where Socrates would answer his students questions with another question. A Sailor who has internalized such a ‘Socratic process’ would be in a position to provide more cogent feedback as well as learn from their mistakes more often than we do today.

What I am saying is not that the training we offer Sailors falls short of its objectives as they stand today. But, that the spirit of the training is not where it needs to be—we focus our objectives too much on acting rather than orienting. The training our Sailors receive are based on concrete and testable objectives that can be measured, quantified and turned into metrics, that fit well into powerpoint. We do no help Sailors to become autodidactic—we are not training them to become students of their environment, but rather students of their school house.

We start to approach training Sailors to be autodidacts of their environment in the Operational Risk Management training we receive (One thing about ORM: It is Boyd’s OODA-Loop operationalized. The Navy has totally ripped off Boyd, and yet we never mention his name outside of the Warfare Universities—shame on us). We need more and deeper training on ORM and how this method applies to everything we do, whether we consciously realize it or not. In giving this deeper level or ORM, we should also find Sailors able to be more articulate of the process they’ve gone through. Thereby becoming able to better train others of their experiences.

In this, it is my hope that with an improvement in how articulate our Sailors are we also will improve the Navy’s ability to self-synchronize. This improvement in self-synchronization will then lessen our dependence on a hierarchical organization structure—flattening decision-making and decreasing the time it takes to move from orienting to acting, and culminating in giving us a decided advantage over any opponent.

Forgive me for not delving into this further. But, I have 15 minutes of battery life left and no outlet at the coffee shop here on Q street in DC to charge my computer. In talking about Boyd and Beyond and my thoughts, I wouldn’t be topical if I posted tomorrow, or later. Please, as I bleieve that such ideas are fleshed out via discourse, comment on this post, and as I have time I will respond and delve deeper regarding my thoughts here.

Lastly, I hope to see you all at the USNI Honors night on the 19th!



Did you happen to catch the @ISAFmedia twitter feed in the last week? Or, ever? That feed is getting some considerable accolades from some of the more active members of the Twitterverse. Why? Because of the discourse that ISAF is having with individuals. Think about it for a minute. Rather than a citizen having to get their information by proxy during a press conference or statement, the citizen is now able to engage with ISAF (or any organization) directly. The nuance of message that such an ability allows serves to make the information availed by ISAF all the more cogent.

Read through the links recanting the conversations the @ISAFmedia account has had. It’s no easy feat, twitter moves fast with many people able to come at you at once–and never mind the time difference between those in the conversation. So, what does it take to be able to be the person at the helm of an organization’s social media? As usual, the Marines have exceptional guidance for where to begin. It’s no wonder too, the social media chief listed in their guidance is an E-5 (natch).

Listen to active audiences to determine how to best engage. The paradigm of telling everyone what they
need to know no longer carries significant weight when communicating via social media channels —
social media requires, and begins with, listening. If you don’t know and understand the audiences you are
communicating with, then the interaction will be of limited value. Listening to the online community and
complying with Department of Defense policies is paramount to communication success.
One thing I would add to their guidance for organizations is that after listening comes engagement, with enough engagement comes familiarity and with familiarity comes a rapport. The Marines have laid out what I’d consider the basic school for social media engagement (by anyone, it’s worth reading even if you only check facebook once a week). Their guidance will get you up to the familiarity point of social media engagement. After which, it is the individual at the helm which actually builds rapport.
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The abilities of @ISAFmedia and their social media team are where the rest of the military’s engagement in social media needs to be. However, it is worth mentioning that one social media ‘personality’ does not and cannot work for all commands. By this, I mean that the topics relevant to a COCOM are significantly different from a rifle platoon, where topics are what drive personality. We don’t need dozens of @ISAF clones out there. What we do need are Service Members as informed and plain spoken as @ISAFmedia; able to hold their own in social media while imbued with the sensibilities outlined in the Marine’s social media guidance–IMHO.


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2014 Information Domination Essay Contest