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Join us on Sunday for Episode 142 – IA, E-2, FEF, EDU and the 21C Career Path 09/23 by Midrats
What does an officer do with the opportunistic “white space” the Navy can provide you in your career path?
What does a curious intellect and an operational mindset need to look at doing to meet both?
What are some of the demands and opportunities out there who want something a bit different in their career path?
To discuss this for the full hour as well as a bit about the last props on the carrier deck, will be Captain Herb Carmen, USN.
CAPT Carmen is Naval Aviator with over 4,000 flight hours in the E-2C Hawkeye and C-2A Greyhound, previously commanding the VAW-116 “Sun Kings.” He is an Executive MBA student at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, and he was previously a senior military fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
His views are his own and do not represent the Department of Defense or the United States Navy.
Simply put, I am confused and disappointed.
I firmly believe that any conversation – direct conversation – mano a mano – from a military officer in the execution of his military duties to a citizen that directly asks for a curtailment of free speech is outside any swim lane. There is no private citizen or “I’m only a reservist” clause for this.
In the same week I find that I am as bothered that the Chairman hasn’t spoken against Admiral Nathman and the others who stood on the stage at the DNC. He may be parsing a subtlety as “I have issue with those who are “against” something, but am OK with those who a are “for” something” as some sort of positive pressure indicator. But since there has been no clarifying language I am forced to recognize that words, and the lack thereof, have meaning.
I still want to believe that the Chairman is not a partisan man…but it is increasingly difficult to do so. He speaks all around the world to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Surely someone will ask him about this at some point. I hope so. I’d like to hear his answer.
Eleven years have passed since the morning when everything changed for an entire nation at once. Sometimes it feels like yesterday; sometimes it feels like decades ago. As with Pearl Harbor and the assassination of President Kennedy, 11 September 2001 is the defining moment of generations. My children are growing up in a country that has been at war since long before they were born, and their America will always be post-September 11. But for those of us serving then and now, that morning carries a particularly cruel weight of sadness and marks a turning point where the America we knew ceased to exist.
On September 11, 2001, I was a 1stLt at the Cobra Fleet Replacement Squadron on Camp Pendleton and was scheduled that morning for my final checkride—the flight that would send me on my way down the road to the fleet. Needless to say, the flight didn’t happen that day (or that week), but I eventually made my way to the fleet. Deployment cycles immediately started accelerating and changing, and training back at Camp Pendleton took on a whole new meaning. The peacetime military many had joined no longer existed. One of our classmates from school, Darin Pontell, was killed that morning in the Pentagon, many of us knew others who had been killed on that clear blue day, and abruptly we were gearing up for war. Suddenly everything we had learned and the commitments we’d made became very, very real and sobering. Ten-feet-tall-and-bulletproof ceased to exist, and that made us mad…and ready.
As we remember where we were and what we saw, felt, and thought eleven years ago, when what we believed we knew about the world changed drastically on one strikingly beautiful morning, one thought becomes clear. As a nation, and within the services, there is much more to unite us than to divide us. America is worth the struggle, faults and all, and I am incredibly lucky to be able to serve in our military alongside of many of the most phenomenal people I’ve had the fortune to meet.
Through the years following that morning, and the resulting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have kept and still keep alive the memory of those we have lost. Organizations like the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund, the USNA Run to Honor, smaller nonprofits like Team Beav and the Travis Manion Foundation, and innumerable scholarships and events all keep their memories alive, and remind us of what we must fight for.
To those who have served before, and to those still serving today, thank you. I feel honored to follow in your footsteps, and to serve among you. To those who have lost their lives or have been wounded hunting down people and organizations who would hurt America, thank you. We remember. Year after year, we still remember; we will always remember. We will never forget.
“A grateful nation offers praise and salutes a humble servant who answered the call and dared to dream,” Kennedy Space Center director and former astronaut Robert Cabana
(Reuters) – As family and friends of Neil Armstrong gathered in Ohio on Friday for a private memorial service, NASA paid tribute to the Apollo astronaut, calling him a great American and a space hero.
“He never dwelled on his remarkable accomplishments or sought the limelight,” Kennedy Space Center director and former astronaut Robert Cabana said during a short tribute to Armstrong at the Visitor Complex’s Apollo-Saturn 5 Center.
“He just wanted to be part of this remarkable team and to continue to move us forward,” Cabana said.
More than 400 people, including NASA employees, community leaders and tourists gathered to remember Armstrong, who died on August 25 following complications from heart surgery. He was 82. More
U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, will be buried at sea, family spokesman Rick Miller said on Thursday.
When does a leader need to backoff – and when does a leader need to get in to fine-granularity leadership? The more senior a leader gets – what is a constructive level of detail?
This time around this habit gained steam with “Intrusive Leadership” and the belief in that if we have a long enough shafted screwdriver with a finely engineered head, then by-golly we can get things right!
Is it people or process? A bit of both? Perhaps. Is it required, or is it simply one leader’s reaction to D&G higher up?
After awhile, even the best “Intrusive Leadership”/micromanaging/helicopter-leadership/etc reaches a point of diminishing returns by either excessive detail or context. Those at the receiving end feel frozen from action and look for a point of pivot where they can get some relief, while those at the giving end believe that the more they do of the same, the further away from what is needed they find themselves. Everyone is frustrated, and results suffer.
This week over at my homeblog, we’ve had a little fun with CNSL’s SHIPS ROUTINE message, but in all seriousness shouldn’t one ask; is this an efficient and effective way of doing business at that level?
It brings up two broad questions; are we excessively micro-managing our leaders from the highest levels, and are we making prudent use of Record Message Traffic?
As I understand it, the message we highlighted is just one of a series that’s been getting rolled out this summer (the first being about small arms), and the messages are just the *highlights* from the upcoming re-publication of SURFLANT Regulations. It is a good thing to update and clarify how things should be done … but do we really need CNSL to put out a messages (as opposed to regulations promulgated via different means) that prescribes details so minor they wouldn’t even make it in to the POD? Is that a good habit for others to copy?
ALL COMMODES, URINALS, SINKS, SHOWERS, AND DRAINS MUST BE CLEAN AND OPERABLE. SHOWER CURTAINS, MATS, BULKHEADS, AND DECKS MUST BE CLEANED AND SANITIZED TO PREVENT MILDEW.
We call it “Record Message Traffic” or “Messages,” but I always preferred the Royal Navy “Signals” – mostly because it frames the medium better. There should be very few “signals” – and those that exist should be short, direct, and of such importance that other delivery methods are inadequate – otherwise the important things get drowned out in the signal-to-noise ratio.
When, as leaders, do we get too far in to the weeds to the point that we can’t do our jobs because we are too busy doing others’ job? When is too much – just too much?
Well, as one of my commenters pointed out – when in doubt, benchmark the best. At the beginning of the year that would end with our nation in a World War, Admiral Ernest J. King, USN, then CINCLANT, put it well;
Subject: Exercise of Command — Excess of Detail in Orders and Instructions.
1. I have been concerned for many years over the increasing tendency — now grown almost to “standard practice” — of flag officers and other group commanders to issue orders and instructions in which their subordinates are told “how” as well as “what” to do to such an extent and in such detail that the “Custom of the service” has virtually become the antithesis of that essential element of command — “initiative of the subordinate.”
2. We are preparing for — and are now close to — those active operations (commonly called war) which require the exercise and the utilization of the full powers and capabilities of every officer in command status. There will be neither time nor opportunity to do more than prescribe the several tasks of the several subordinates (to say “what”, perhaps “when” and “where”, and usually, for their intelligent cooperation, “why”), leaving to them — expecting and requiring of them — the capacity to perform the assigned tasks (to do the “how”).
3. If subordinates are deprived — as they now are — of that training and experience which will enable them to act “on their own” — if they do not know, by constant practice, how to exercise “initiative of the subordinate” — if they are reluctant (afraid) to act because they are accustomed to detailed orders and instructions — if they are not habituated to think, to judge, to decide and to act for themselves in their several echelons of command — we shall be in sorry case when the time of “active operations” arrives.
4. The reasons for the current state of affairs — how did we get this way? — are many but among them are four which need mention: first, the “anxiety” of seniors that everything in their commands shall be conducted so correctly and go so smoothly, that none may comment unfavorably; second, those energetic activities of staffs which lead to infringement of (not to say interference with) the functions for which the lower echelons exist; third, the consequent “anxiety” of subordinates lest their exercise of initiative, even in their legitimate spheres, should result in their doing something which may prejudice their selection for promotion; fourth, the habit on the one hand and the expectation on the other of “nursing” and “being nursed” which lead respectively to the violation of command principles known as “orders to obey orders” and to that admission of incapacity or confusion evidenced by “request instructions.”
5. Let us consider certain facts: first, submarines operating submerged are constantly confronted with situations requiring the correct exercise of judgment, decision and action; second, planes, whether operating singly or in company, are even more often called upon to act correctly; third, surface ships entering or leaving port, making a landfall, steaming in thick weather, etc., can and do meet such situations while “acting singly” and, as well, the problems involved in maneuvering in formations and dispositions. Yet these same people — proven competent to do these things without benefit of “advice” from higher up — are, when grown in years and experience to be echelon commanders, all too often are not made full use of in conducting the affairs (administrative and operative) of the several echelons — echelons which exist for the purpose of facilitating command.
6. It is essential to extend the knowledge and the practice of “initiative of the subordinate” in principle and in application until they are universal in the exercise of command throughout all the echelons of command. Henceforth, we must all see to it that full use is made of the echelons of command — whether administrative (type) or operative (task) — by habitually framing orders and instructions to echelon commanders so as to tell them ‘what to do’ but not ‘how to do it’ unless the particular circumstances demand.
7. The corollaries of paragraph 6 are:
(a) adopt the premise that the echelon commanders are competent in their several command echelons unless and until they themselves prove otherwise;
(b) teach them that they are not only expected to be competent for their several command echelons but that it is required of them that they be competent;
(c) train them — by guidance and supervision — to exercise foresight, to think, to judge, to decide and to act for themselves;
(d) stop ‘nursing’ them;
(e) finally, train ourselves to be satisfied with ‘acceptable solutions’ even though they are not “staff solutions or other particular solutions that we ourselves prefer.”
One does wonder how Admiral King would react to the goings-on in our Navy. A man whose own daughter stated,
… her father was “the most even-tempered man in the Navy. He is always in a rage.”
Odds are, he wouldn’t take kindly to retired CDRs commenting on his messages. Good odds, methinks.
I’ve sat through hundreds of navigation briefs as various control stations explain to the Captain and crew their role in safely taking a ship sea. Likewise I’ve sat through almost as many replenishment at sea briefs. Both have a significant component of risk management, so much so that operational risk management “ORM” is so embedded in our culture that its become commonplace and we have become complacent.
In those navigation or replenishment briefs there is an approved and lauded solution, typically provided by the local Afloat Training Group. And it’s fine. It just doesn’t do anything more than meet the criteria that ORM has been addressed.
But if all that’s being done is a “check in the block” is ORM really being addressed?
A new paper from SRA brings forward 5 areas that lead to complacency. 5 “Neglects” in risk management.
1. Probability neglect – people sometimes don’t consider the probability of the occurrence of an outcome, but focus on the consequences only.
2. Consequence neglect – just like probability neglect, sometimes individuals neglect the magnitude of outcomes.
3. Statistical neglect – instead of subjectively assessing small probabilities and continuously updating them, people choose to use rules-of-thumb (if any heuristics), which can introduce systematic biases in their decisions.
4. Solution neglect – choosing an optimal solution is not possible when one fails to consider all of the solutions.
5. External risk neglect – in making decisions, individuals or groups often consider the cost/benefits of decisions only for themselves, without including externalities, sometimes leading to significant negative outcomes for others.
Where do these fit within the subject of navigation or replenishment briefs?
Probability neglect: Every brief speaks of grounding or collision and they do so because of the consequence, not the probability. That means that precious time is spent talking about things that are very unlikely to occur. There is an opportunity cost there.
Consequence neglect: Honestly, this is something Navy writ large does well. To the point that we overemphasize the consequence and oversimplify the solution path.
Statistical neglect: The Surface’s Navy’s slavish devotion to Cold War stand off ranges is probably the single best ORM example for statistical neglect, even if it is outside the normal navigation or replenishment detail. Ships can, and do, pass safely within 500 yards of each other. Why then do so many Commanding Officers insist on being contacted about every ship that will pass within 10,000 or in some cases 20,000 yards?
Solution neglect: This one is simple. All to often we take solutions off the table before we even get a chance to start framing the problem. This is most often found on ships that are mono-decisional – those that only say “yes” or only say “no”. Not every person needs to be onboard for every underway period. Not every person needs to be on the lines for every replenishment. But sometimes someone does need to get underway and miss something at home. Simple examples, but what other ways do we rig the ORM game by ignoring a potential solution? Or, does Ops, who had CDO and had to deal with some messy issue, really need to stand Officer of the Deck? Changing the watchbill might be the right thing to do – even if it is at the last minute. Routinely changing the watchbill at the last minute? That’s something else.
External risk neglect: Again, not an easy fit to the “check in the block” navigational or replenishment detail but a Navy issue all the same. Moving a person or part from one ship to another for an underway period or an inspection. Forgetting to notify local officials that you are getting underway from a liberty port – or forgetting to ask the pilot what ships are coming in or out that day.
By sticking with the canned ORM we are hurting future generations or surface warfare officers by subjugating their original and creative thinking to a “just get it done” mentality. Navigators, when you plan your next brief think about these things for ORM:
When was the last time the ship got underway? What did we do right? What did we do wrong? Have we done that wrong thing before? Why?
What’s the weather predicted and how will that change the ORM slides? Low visibility increases the risk of grounding or collision – if a ship has difficulty with electronic navigation. Bad weather can certainly slow the transit speed down. How does that impact your knowledge of traffic in the channel?
Who’s new to the ship? What distractions are there that can get in the way of a safe and focused detail? These things are mentioned in the brief…but never seem to make it into the ORM section.
What other realistic and likley problems are there that ships will encounter every day that can and all to often do lead to accidents? And why aren’t those being addressed during ORM discussions?
If ORM remains a check in the block for an inspection, we will see more, not less, mishaps in coming years.
Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon, Naval Aviator, and Korean War Veteran.
“I have made certain achievements in my life and been recognized many times, but, there is no achievement I value more highly then when I received the wings of gold…”
Fair winds and following sea to a man who even before his death belonged to the ages.
Sunday, 5pm (Eastern US), join us for Episode 138: “Your Mother Wears Combat Boots” by Midrats on Blog Talk Radio
For the career minded Naval professional, to have a chance for the greatest advancement and promotion, you have to push and push hard. The reputation you build in your first 10 years sets the tone for the rest.Except for very rare exceptions, there are no second chances. There are no pauses – one iffy set of orders – one poorly timed FITREP, and you are on an off-ramp. You must work harder, you must sacrifice, and if you are to have a family young, you need a very strong support structure.For men – there is always the “put it off” option; wait until post O6, then start. For women though, there are some hard biological facts.
The average American woman gets married at age 26. For college-educated women the average age at first birth was 30. If you want to have more than 2 kids, you need to start earlier. You need to time it right – and Mother Nature has her own schedule that doesn’t often match yours.With women making up more of the military than ever, what are the challenges out there biological, cultural, psycological, and relationship wise to “making it happen?”You can’t have it all – but how do you get the best mix you can?We will have two guests on to discuss. For the first half hour we will have Major Jeannette Haynie, USMCR, a 1998 graduate from the US Naval Academy, AH-1W Cobra pilot, and currently a Reservist flying a desk at the Pentagon and working through graduate school – and fellow blogger at USNIBlog.The second half of the hour, our guest will be Robyn Roche-Paull, US Navy Veteran, wife of a Chief, ICBLC, and author of the book Breastfeeding in Combat Boots.
I’m still really on the fence when it comes to reenlisting or not. It’s not from want of advice, I’ve had tons of really good advice coming from a lot of really good people. But, yeah, I still am not 100% sure if I want to stay in or not.
I mean, the Navy has been amazing to me, absolutely amazing. In four years I did what I expected to take 20. But, that’s the kicker, I did in four what I expected to take a career. So, now what?
Yesterday I was talking with a Sergeant that works with me, the conversation included the first talk of how what I do now can be transitioned over to someone else, it included the statement ‘it will take some of the pressure off you,’ and that one short comment actually did just that. Along with knowing the transition is slowly beginning, I also have sort of started feeling like a regular Sailor again–almost to the point where I expect people to call me YN2 again. So, this sense I’ve started to have has taken me to the point of wanting to stay in, of wanting to see what is next.
But, staying in means I cannot have as much of a voice in talking about what I think is wrong in the Navy, and I think there is a lot of things wrong in the Navy, a lot. It also means college is going to take a lot longer, and my education not as good as it could be. It means I will not be credentialed as quickly, as many have advised me to become.
But, I do have a plan.
Get through ‘A’ School, and through a duty station, probably in/around DC. Then apply for the sabbatical program in the Navy, and finish whatever schooling I have left.
But, even with this plan, I don’t want to leave SHAPE. I doubt that anyone who reads this blog dislikes my Boss, ADM Stavridis. But, I also doubt many people who read this blog have worked for him. Trust me, he’s even better to work for than his reputation lets on. I know that anywhere else I go in the Navy, the ideas will not be as good, the drive to bring good ideas forward will not be as earnest, and I will miss all of this so terribly much–Please, all of you out there, prove me wrong in that, let me know who next to go work for as a CTR, I beg you.
I don’t care that I will become just another CTR2 out there in the Fleet–in fact I miss the Fleet. But, I do care about not being around ideas. And that is why I want to get out, because in a very real sense, I know that in four years I’ve worked in that once-in-a-generation Command.
Anyway, we’ll see. Next week, I’ll have my mind made up. I’ve been on the fence regarding this for far too long. The Navy isn’t a bad gig, and I know you’ve just read 500 words worth of first-world problems. But, hey, problems are problems, right?
Disappointment. That is a very good word to use. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey applied it recently. It seems the General, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the senior Officer in our Armed Forces, is “disappointed” that former service members have strongly expressed opinions regarding the conduct of Administration officials, including the President.
“If someone uses the uniform, whatever uniform, for partisan politics, I am disappointed because I think it does erode that bond of trust we have with the American people,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said in an interview with Fox News while flying back from a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq. “Is it useful? No, it’s not useful. It’s not useful to me.”
He further commented:
“People don’t want us to be another special interest group.”
Those are curious words coming from General Dempsey. For several reasons. The events of the last three-plus years, including the words and actions of senior Officers in the Armed Forces, have put paid to the idea of a non-political military. The incessant pushing of “diversity” and identity politics, the immediate and unconditional collapsing to the desires of special interest groups, public proclamations of personally-held beliefs as directive moral standards, all have eroded the concept of detached and apolitical military leadership.
- The massacre at Fort Hood, perpetrated by a known radical Muslim jihadist whom the US Army managed to promote to field grade (for fear of not doing so?) who shouted “Allahu Akbar!” time and again as he murdered 13 and wounded 45, was followed immediately by the statement from Army Chief of Staff Casey that it would be tragic if “diversity was a casualty” of the murders.
- Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen offering his unsolicited personal views, and then declaring anyone in disagreement to lack “integrity”. Followed by his severe criticism for LtGen Mixon for encouraging Soldiers to express their own opinions, albeit privately, to their elected officials, which is their right to do. Further assertion was that anyone who disagreed with the policy should “vote with their feet” and leave the service.
- General Stanley McChrystal’s revelation as to which political candidate he voted for in 2008, among comments that led to his relief, went largely uncriticized, though the impropriety of such a remark was serious enough to elicit comment, and likely would have, had his political choice been otherwise.
- The recent active push for women in the infantry, as Marine Captain Kate Petronio so accurately observed, not because of any remote belief that such a policy will increase war fighting capability, but is instead “being pushed by several groups, one of which is a small committee of civilians appointed by the Secretary of Defense called the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS)”. Political special interests, nothing more, to which the senior leadership has largely answered “three bags full”.
- The recent appearance of uniformed military personnel at Gay Pride parades was authorized and encouraged by the Office of Secretary of Defense, with the preposterous (that is to say, knowingly untrue) assertions that the Gay Pride parade was not a political event, and the exception would somehow be “one time only”. DASD Bardorf’s statements are an out-and-out fabrication and in direct violation of the DoD Directive on the wearing of the uniform (1334.1).
Now, we have General Martin Dempsey expressing his “disappointment” with a group of Veterans who have served their country honorably and with distinction, exercising their First Amendment rights through expressing views of political opposition.
Perhaps General Dempsey can show us the legal precedent which limits the First Amendment rights of Veterans once they have left the Armed Forces to expressing only those views and opinions and those occasions that General Dempsey finds “useful”.
While he is at it, he can provide the citation in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or ANY Federal statute in US Code, that prohibits Veterans from entering and participating in the political process.
The exercising of the rights safeguarded by our Constitution should NEVER, EVER be a cause for criticism from an active duty service member, let alone the senior Officer in our Armed Forces, who has done so in his official capacity, in that very uniform he calls so strongly to be “apolitical”.
That Constitution is the very document and safeguard which Veterans have all sworn their lives to support and defend. General Dempsey’s “disappointment” is nothing compared with the disappointment and disgust of many thousands who read his egregiously misguided comments. He is also sworn to support and defend that Constitution, not to help load it into the shredder, starting with the Bill of Rights.
No, the Armed Forces should not be a special interest group. But neither should they be willing toys of those special interest groups. There is little chance that they will be the former, but abundant evidence that they have become the latter. Senior Officers have been quite complicit in that. You want to look somewhere to end the “politics in uniform”, General Dempsey? Put your own house in order, and keep your mouth shut regarding Veterans exercising their First Amendment rights.
It is your job. Get it done. Or get gone.