… we (Team Navy) are in deep bat guano where public perceptions are concerned:


See especially slides 17-21 for recruiter’s challenge:

  • ” If you were just turning 18 and had to spend two years in the Service, which branch would you prefer to join?” AF: 37 Navy: 20 Army: 15 CG: 14 Marines: 14.

Slides 3-7 aren’t exactly a bed of rose either. Mayhaps the Navy might want to work its message a little harder outside the cloistered “Conversations With America” while spending less time/effort/manpower on contrived “ethos” statements?

Of course leadership could just shut its eyes, click its heels and say “it’s only a poll – it’s only a poll…” Just don’t think these results aren’t going to have some bearing in the coming budgetary knife fights on the Hill and in the 5-sided wind tunnel…

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  • At least the trends over time don’t look too horrible, but a bit longer time horizon would be useful for this kind of analysis. What was the breakdown in similar polls while we were building toward a 600-ship navy in the ’80s? How about during the Clinton draw down when we were paying people big bucks to leave instead of stay?

  • Rubber Ducky

    Wonder how the poll would change if we had a draft?

  • VADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN OPNAV DNS

    Just for the record, Navy Recruiting met all goals in FY-08, both quality and quantity in every category (Active and Reserve), and is ahead of plan for meeting all our goals again in FY-09.
    Certainly current public perceptions are an issue that we are dealing with and clearly we need to improve in our outreach capability, but our Navy Recruiting team is doing extremely well (and was also doing well BEFORE the economic downturn) and every indication is that they will continue to deliver for the Navy.
    How we reach quality recruits (and their families), deal with the perceptions you highlight in your post and help lead these young men and women to a “Go Navy” decision is a fascinating and complex process that I learned a great deal about when I became CNP.
    I’d love to get more of the Navy’s recruiting story to you and welcome good ideas on how best to accomplish that task.
    Bottom line – our eyes aren’t shut and we’re not clicking our heels and hoping for the best. Navy recruiting is delivering and will continue to do so. Without a draft. All the best, JCHjr

  • Maybe the faddishly cool digital cammies will help us turn the corner in the popularity contest. After all, we’re the only service not to have gone diggie….until now!

    I suspect the poll actually measures the presence of each service in the realm of public conciousness. As a Navy, we have not been the centerpiece of the GWOT (despite many sailors, including myself, with the complete GWOT collector’s set of GWOT campaign ribbons) for good or for bad. That said, it still hurts to lose a popularity contest to the Air Force.

  • Byron

    Well, VADM Harvey, I can tell you sponsorship of NASCAR teams and cars like Dale Earnhart, Jr. and flybys are as good as it gets in the advertising world. Prime target audience. Been there myself a few times, spend near on 40 weekends a year watching it on the big screen. And yes, thank you, I are a redneck 😉

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Flashman at the Blog,

    You may be on to something there. The digi cammies are just the thing! The khaki shirts and navy blue trousers sure aren’t gonna help with the image thing.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    VADM Harvey,

    First, thank you for your very valuable insight on USN recruiting. A damned difficult task, no matter the economic times.

    Question: Debated here some time ago was the perceived (by us) lack of connection felt among your junior sailors with the sailors of famous battles and wars past. Lots of good ideas, but one observation was the lack of enlisted heroes as role models for these young sailors. The USMC has Dan Daly and John Basilone, Carlos Hathcock and a host of others. How do we fix this situation? Your thoughts?


  • VADM Harvey:

    Thanks for stopping by sir — occasionally need to send out a hard ping and see who is up on the net…

    Re. the recruiting numbers – good news on that front, but the survey reveals a deeper problem I think with the Navy’s message in general. With the release of the new maritime strategy almost a year and a half ago (and where is the supporting NOC?) it was evident that the role of soft power and the Navy’s capabilities to provide such would get played up in public venues. All well and good, but sometimes I wonder if it is being overplayed (“Is it now the ‘Salvation Navy’ vice the US Navy?” as one colleague recently asked me), especially as more questions are raised in the public press here and overseas about the *perceived* lack of US leadership in taking on the piracy issue. Addressing those perceptions (or misperceptions) in word and action in rapid, forthright manner is a constant battle and it seems that Navy is not pulling a lead pursuit on the bogey.
    One venue to address that shortcoming that is apparently overlooked is this very one – the legion of currently or former serving sailors who are up on the ‘net. Look around and you will find a number that cover the spectrum of experience and insight – Neptunus Lex, Chaoticsynaptic Activity, Yankee Sailor/The Destroyermen, Southern Air Pirate, Eagle1, Bubblehead, Instapinch and CDR Salamander, to name but a small handful who would, I believe, be open to dialogue – I know I would and am. Yet as a member of the DoD blogger roundtable I can count on one hand the number of Navy sessions in the past 1.5 years and yet I receive almost daily requests to join roudtable discussions with Army or Marine principals who are in theater. On those rare occasions where Navy was the host – VADM Morgan’s discussion shortly after release of the maritime strategy and the GW BG commander’s discussion while transiting the Magellan Straits, the talk was illuminating, very benefial and well expounded (and expanded)upon in subsequent posts. Ditto for those who rode the Bataan. But those are few and far between and in the meantime, a generally friendly community is left relatively unengaged. How about sending someone to address the next milblogger’s conference coming up this April 24-25? It’s in DC so it should be relatively convenient and the discussion/outreach, either in one of the regular sessions or a sidebar with the Navy-oriented bloggers (or both) would be a good start – and no TAD funds need be expended…
    There is certainly more – but let me leave you with this thought about perceptions. I still vividly recall a discussion with an OSD(Policy) rep who was pretty high in the food chain. It was post-9/11 and the redux of QDR ’01 was well underway as was OEF. The gist of the conversation turned on a question he posed mid-way through the visit – “what has the navy really done since WWII?” Dumbstruck, at first we thought it was just a rhetorical question – but it wasn’t. Here was a senior official whose decisions and actions would have influence in policy affecting Navy in the coming years who had little understanding of the Navy’s central role in the hot and cold peace that followed WWII. And while he may have been a statistical outlier, one wonders how much of that view is reflected in the public’s current perception of the Navy, its value and worth, in an era of incresingly constrained resources and no lack of near- and mid-term threats.
    That is the message, and the concern, I believe the poll numbers are pointing to.
    Steeljaw Scribe

  • RickWilmes

    This is an interesting topic and I have two comments I would like to make.

    1. ” If you were just turning 18 and had to spend two years in the Service, which branch would you prefer to join?”

    The key word here is “had” which implys either a draft or mandatory “service to one’s country.” If you “had” to do two years, why wouldn’t you choose the Air Force? The chances of getting killed, injured or sent to a third world cess pool in those two years is dramatically reduced if you serve two years in the Air Force as opposed to the other services. I would actually be concerned if the Air Force did not come out ahead.

    2. “If Perceptions Are Reality…”

    When are perceptions not a part of reality? I realize this is a philosophical question but how this question is answered is of utmost importance. If perceptions aren’t real, than does that mean that our senses aren’t real? The reality is that, for the most part, the majority of Americans don’t want to see their lives wasted in self-sacrifice and they don’t want to see their service men and women’s lives wasted either. The results of the last two elections support this view.

  • Rubber Ducky

    Two quick comments:

    Recruiting is an incredibly tough game. We put our best into it, best people, best effort. There simply is no magic. Those seeking panacea should remember Mencken’s comment: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

    Second – not the answer to recruiting but raised above – we should quit screwing with the uniform. I’ve watched the Army and the Air Force make pajamas their daily dress … and now the Navy joins them. Is there a place for cammies? Sure. But it’s not shipboard or shore station unless small-arms attack is imminent. This is genuine silliness.

  • I find myself with VADM Harvey on this one …. additionally, the poll may tell us something, but not what it looks like on the surface.

    Through the ups and downs of this war, the Marines always make their mission – yet they are lowest in the poll. Having talked to Marines who have done a recruiting tour – they get there because of their unique branding and knowing their market – but also because of their mission focus. They discuss and make their recruiting goals missions. Their CO’s are Maj. who have already selected for Operational Command. And being Marines, they work harder than anyone else out there. Try to out hustle a Marine Recruiter, it ain’t easy. Heck, you should have seen them go after Mrs. Salamander back in the day …..

    That being said, SJS is 100% on the mark with his statement, “…the Navy might want to work its message a little harder outside the cloistered “Conversations With America” while spending less time/effort/manpower on contrived “ethos” statements?”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    CDR Salamander makes an excellent point. The Marine recruiters have a very distinct product to sell. And they do it marvelously. I would ask every recruit I inspected (several thousand) “why did you join the Corps?” The universal answer was “Because I wanted to be a Marine/wanted to be one of the best!” One time only did I ever hear “to get money for college”, and that lad never made it to graduation.

    The prestige and traditions of the Corps are very large selling points. Perhaps more valuable than a laundry list of incentives and guarantees. Those selling points might be available to the USN if they can be built the same pride in tradition and in the term “sailor”.

  • Sal, URR:

    Agreed – and such a COA would be aided if we in the ranks were as steeped in the knowledge of our Service’s history as the Marines, any one of whom can cite chapter and verse ad infinitum (just ask one sometime about the Navy deserting them on Guadacanal…). I dare say ask the average sailor about the lessons learned from Savo Island and how they might be applicable to his or her watch station today and you’d get a vacant stare. To its credit, the organization formerly known as the Navy History Center is trying mightily to turn the ship around, but the tonnage is great, the rudder small (and single screw to boot) and the opposing current strong. This would be *another* area where the blogging community could help (*cough*fullborefridays/flightdeckfridays*cough*)
    – SJS

  • VADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN OPNAV DNS

    In for a penny, in for a pound so here goes with one caveat – as long as there is real interest (per my evaluation) and I’m responding to serious queries or concerns (again per my evaluation), I’m happy to try to participate in the blogosphere in a meaningful way.
    Two limitations – my time and my typing ability. I’m not implying your time is somehow less valuable or that I’m so important, just that I have not yet mastered the art of doing it all and doing it all well in the working day. So I can play in bits and pieces and give at least part of the response when able.
    I’m a two-fingered typist which adds significantly to the problem of staying connected in the blogosphere – I don’t like doing anything half-way, but a good answer/response takes me more time than others. My problem, obviously, not yours, but it does bear on how much I can get to at any one time.

    A couple of points:
    For Ultima Ratio Reg – the Navy and the Marines do not compete for the same recruit; our marketing works very well for us and their marketing works very well for them, but alcon need to understand we’re in very different markets.
    By acknowledging this I’m simply acknowledging the very different service cultures that exist and how those cultures drive the recruiting strategies both services employ.
    Certainly there are elements common to both cultures, but key differences as well. I believe we have a very good handle on what young men and women are looking for when they consider joining the Navy and we have been able to respond very successfully to those goals and desires to bring in the quality Sailors we need for today’s Navy and the one we want to build as well.

    For Steeljaw Scribe and CDR Salamander – reaching the population of eligible, rpt eligible, 16-22 year olds (about 30% of the total population in that cohort) and convincing them to join the Navy is a vastly different value proposition than developing a “messaging” strateg to reach the population as a whole.
    As I’ve stated, we’ve got the former challenge pretty well figured out; not so the latter.
    I agree with you both that Navy must find the ways and the means to reach the greater population with our message – a message, backed by our actions, that convincingly and credibly states what we do is of enduring value to the nation and supports our vital interests and is, therefore, worthy of the resources required to “provide and maintain a Navy” (US Constitution, Article I, Section 8).
    I take as gospel the ideas of Samuel Huntington in his seminal Proceedings article of May, 1954, National Policy and the Transoceanic Navy. In this article, Huntington highlighted the absolute necessity of the service to develop the national support for securing the resources, human and material, required to carry out the service’s missions.
    Our present PA/Strategic Comms structure is far more reactive than proactive and is not up the task we have before us. But this effort is a very different, and far more difficult, task than our recruiting effort – we must be careful not to confuse the two.
    That’s it for now – more later. All the best, JCHjr DNS

  • If there is interest in a blog that discusses military personnel policies-I’ll start one.

  • Byron

    (shudder) 😉

  • UltimaRatioReg

    VADM Harvey,

    Very happy to have you aboard with fellow “search and destroy” typists. We can be Jackie Fisher, Bill Halsey, and Chesty Puller rolled into one on this here blog, but a LOT of smart folks with interesting viewpoints and experiences, for sure.

    Your comments regarding the USN recruiting efforts were enlightening. A string of comments on a recent blog dealt with the instilling of a “warrior culture” in the senior and junior sailors of the Fleet. It would be interesting to hear whether future USN recruits and Officer candidates think of themselves as joining a warrior culture when they select the US Navy as their service. Is that a message that would be effective in the population the USN targets for its recruiting efforts?


  • Byron

    URR: can you give me the classic definition of a warrior?

  • UltimaRatioReg


    No, I can’t. Not sure one exists. It is like positing a classic definition of an artist. But warriors share certain characteristics and traits.

    They understand that they may be called to endure hardship and danger, and come to close quarters with an enemy. They know that violence is a part of every potential course of decision/action, and don’t shrink from it for its own sake. They are aware that killing and dying are integral to their profession, and work very hard to master their craft. They know there is no shortcut to good leadership, and share the dangers and hardships with their comrades willingly. They are aggressive and self-assured, and proud to be part of the profession of arms.

    There are myriad other aspects to what makes a warrior, far too numerous for my primitive and smallish brain to think of at the moment.

    I also suspect that a warrior does NOT say; “I didn’t sign up for this! I just wanted money for college!”. URR

  • WTH

    Byron/URR regarding the warrior and history dilemmas,
    I can’t define a warrior, but I can say that if we continue to say and stress that we are, we aren’t.
    There is much debate everyday about what it means to be a Sailor or Naval Officer, but there is no one answer. The Navy is a diverse place, there can be no one definition.
    What I can say is that my impression of the current generation we’re looking at for recruiting is that they’re a skeptical bunch. As but one example tripe like the sailors creed and an overt press of “warrior” falls into the “saying it not living it” trap and will backfire based on skepticism in today’s generation.
    Some of the best sailors I’ve had work for me were of the “went to college, ran out of money, this job is paying me to use skills I already had and can improve upon” bent. Some of those folks were temporary, some we hooked. Most were not warriors, that does not mean they were not fantastic sailors.

    There is a palatable historical disconnect between today’s Navy and the WWII Navy because, to my eye, they are two different forces. The recent Navy has been primarily a deterrent force vice an action force. It’s hard to make heroes out of folks who make a life out of making sure nothing happens as opposed to those who are involved in direct actions based on what does happen. Today’s tech-centric sailor has a tough time finding a role model in heroic sailors of the past because there is little commonality in how they perceive their jobs. I challenge you to find me a sailor publicly praised for their heroism as an ASTAC. This disconnect is not a problem for infantry, either Marine or Army. The Air Force as a younger separate service does not suffer the same disconnect.

    As ADM Harvey said, we are emphatically not having problems recruiting young men and women. A lot of that is based on smarter marketing, we’re getting there. I’m watching the X games “sponsored by the US Navy” right now. Things like that and NASCAR sponsorships create an awareness. That awareness is not present, due to the nature of our current engagements, in media reporting. That awareness is what we need. Prospective sailors get an idea and go check it out on the internet, we are getting better in the internet domain. Top three google results for “navy” are navy.mil, navy.com and navy.com/careers, that’s not bad. Our leaders and policymakers are not necessarily comfortable as our recruits in that domain, but it will come. Getting people is not our current problem, nor do I anticipate it being a problem in the immediate future.

  • RickWilmes

    “What is the classic definition of a warrior?”

    I’ll jump in on this one. Let’s start with the term “classic.” In this particular context, “classic” can mean “traditional” or “of recognized value: serving as a standard of excellence.” A “traditional” definition does not necessarily equate with being “of recognized value”, so for the sake of discussion I’m throwing out the “traditional” meaning of the term classic. That leaves us with

    “What is the “standard of excellence” definition of a warrior?”

    What is interesting about the comments so far is that the same thing happened in Fixing Naval History for the 21st Century .

    Individuals looked at the different branches of service and what did they see as a standard of excellence? The Marines. The conclusion has been drawn that the Navy should be doing what the Marines are doing right. However, in the question under consideration, only 14 would choose the Marines for a 2 year service. There is a contradiction here. If the Navy wants to replace the Air Force as the number one career choice than doing what the Marines do does not mean that Navy’s status as a career choice would improve.

    Now let’s consider what is the definition of a “warrior?” My dictionary defines “warrior” as “a man engaged or experienced in warfare: broadly : a person engaged in some struggle or conflict”. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines are what I consider species of the genus “armed services.” I actually prefer, “armed defenders” Defenders of what? The Constitution, freedom and liberty. With “armed services”, the question is “service to what or whom”? Service to country, the state, etc. which is not necessarily a good thing. All members of the armed services are “warriors”. Other species of warriors also exist. Ex. intellectual warriors, which are individuals engaged in debates over particular ideas and solutions to problems. Bloggers, Op-ed writers, etc. are all species of the genus “intellectual warrior.”

    As has already been discussed, depending on the branch of service there are different aspects and requirements for a potential candidate to meet in order to fit into the particular branch or “species” of the warrior class. Focussing on what the essentials are for each branch of the service is important but that can’t be done without resolving the question I have raised previously. Because the Navy came in second behind the Air Force does not necessarily mean there is something wrong with America’s perception of the Navy. This is the first premise that needs to be checked and resolved before one can decide if there is actually a problem. When Americans are polled about their choice of service should each service come out on equal standing? What is the desirable order, sure the Navy thinks it should be the top choice, but why shouldn’t the Coast Guard come out a head?

    As I considered these questions, it occurred to me that maybe each service should not be primarily focussed on its own particular standing but the armed services in general. That way when a potential recruit comes along, said recruit could be sent to the branch that best fits that individual’s goals and aspirations. Maybe this is already being done, but if not, I see several benefits from this approach. A potential recruit will not be turned away but put in an appropriate area. If the fit matches, the recruit will be happier with his choice and may consider staying in the service longer which means, over the long term, recruiters will not have to continually look for replacements. Recruiters can pool their resources and fill slots faster. For example, the Navy reaches their recruiting goals in a given year first, instead of turning away potential recruits or deferring them to next year, the Navy could help recruit for similiar slots in the other branches. As I said, maybe this is already being done.

    One final, comment. I find it interesting that the discussion, for the moment, is on what is the “definition” of a warrior? How definitions are formed is an epistemological issue which also happens to coincide with the other point I raised earlier. If our perceptions aren’t real and our senses aren’t real, how can any meaningful definition be formed?

  • In re. the warrior discussion of today’s force vs. WWII, I would simply note that the “making sure nothing happens force” to full on combat force can quickly become an all hands evolution in the blink of an eye – as events from 7 December 1941 to 12 Oct 2000 attest to…
    – SJS

  • VADN J. C. Harvey, Jr USN OPNAV DNS

    Completing my entry from yesterday.

    For Steeljaw Scribe – wrt your perceptions discussion, I certainly share your concerns and believe we have to remain cognizant of the implications, but I also believe that what we see is the natural result of an overwhelming focus on the two land fights in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 7 years. So I’m not surprised at what we see/hear/read from a wide variety of sources, both in government and outside it and I don’t think we should overreact to the current situation.
    I stated yesterday that public support for the Navy is extremely important and we have to significantly improve our ability to reach the public in a meaningful, and compelling, way, but I don’t think we ‘re in a crisis.
    Our support is strong in Congress and in the new Administration. The shipbuilding issues we have are certainly tough, as are the politics associated with them, but we’ll work through them over the next 6-12 months or so and come out the other side in good shape.
    We continue to be routinely forward, inherently expeditionary and global in reach all the while supporting the land battles in very important ways.
    We just need to remain steady in our approach and steadfast in our resolve and I think we’ll come through the next few years of ongoing conflict and economic crisis in fine fashion. There’s lots of opportunities in every crisis and we’re poised to take advantage of them.
    With respect to your comment concerning participation in the blogosphere and the upcoming milbloggers conference, let me speak pretty plainly – most of the blogs I’ve dropped in on and read on a regular basis leave me pretty cold. Too many seem to be interested in scoring cheap, and anonymous, hits vice engaging in meaningful and professional exchanges. There is also a general lack of reverence for facts and an excess of emotion that, for me, really reduces the value of the blog. Incorrect/inaccurate data and lots of hype may be entertaining for some, but just doesn’t work for me.
    My best example of a truly worthwhile blog, worthy of our time and intellectual engagement, is the Small Wars Journal. The tone is always professional, the subject matter is compelling and the benefit from participating is significant.
    All that said, here I am – I recognize the reality of the blogosphere and the potential that exists for worthwhile exchanges that enhance our professional knowledge and overall awareness. My intent is to continue to participate when I can and where I see I can make a contribution to a professional exchange, but my view today is that the bloggers generally see their activity as far more meaningful than I do right now. I do, however, remain hopeful. All the best, JCHjr DNS

  • Byron

    VADM, with all due respect, I believe you are missing some good stuff. All of the guest bloggers on the USNI blog are excellent reads, and the authors themselves not only deeply care about the Navy but also have their own suggestions. I know that people like Salamander, Steel Jaw Scribe, Eagle 1 and others are extremely good information and commentary. Granted some of it is social or humor. But there is a lot of good stuff to read. I think where you see things de-rail is in the comments. The down side to blogging is that unless you have restricted comments to those you want to hear from, you will always find those who have their own agenda to promote and mostly cause a loss in the signal to noise ratio. I stronly recommend giving them a try…the worst you have to lose is some time, and you just might find a few things to think about.

    It’s my feeling that this will be one helluva place to start, as USNI has collected a terrific set of bloggers to submit content and while the discussion is heated, there is always food for thought here.

  • VADM Harvey:

    Roger all sir – I would note in passing that the lifestory of most forms of media exhibit a period of sharp elbows early on. The press we call “yellow” today was the same press that heralded the journey of the Great White Fleet…

    Recognizing that the provence of “new media,” of which blogging is but a part, is in PA’s lane, I would still encourage engagement where it does the most good – and it need not necessarily be at the FO/GO level. An excellent example is found in the days and weeks after the release of the Maritime Strategy where there was some very thoughtful analysis and discussion on several sites – including one where the host turned the reins over to Navy’s lead writer to provide a forum for perspective and directly address misperceptions and criticisms of the new MS. Same follows post-ex for VADM Morgan’s excellent discussion enabled by the DoD roundtable – established by DoD’s New Media office specifically to reach bloggers. Even the Air Force, after actively discouraging AF personnel from participating, including just reading blogs, has come about and now is encouraging engagement.
    In closing, I would cite from that same Huntington article as it relates to gaining public support and resources:
    “…the resources which a service is able to obtain in a democratic society are a function of the public support of that service. The service has the responsibility to develop this necessary support, and it can only do this if it possesses a strategic concept which clearly formulates its relationship to the national security. Hence this second element of public support is, in the long run, dependent upon the strategic concept of the service.”

    With the right engagement – we can aid in that endeavor…

    Steeljaw Scribe


    VADM Harvey
    Cc: SJS, CDR Salamander, et al

    VADM Harvey said yesterday:
    “I stated yesterday that public support for the Navy is extremely important and we have to significantly improve our ability to reach the public in a meaningful, and compelling, way, but I don’t think we‘re in a crisis.”

    Active duty type here with a possible solution to the marketing/message conundrum IRT to USN actual.
    Naturally, my active duty status gives me pause on how to present such a proposal. It would require “eyes on” at the DNS/OPNAV level, up past CNO and SECNAV and possibly on up to USD(Policy). Ultimately, OSD actual would have to sign off on it.

    As a Sailor in the age range mentioned, and recently returned from a GWOT deployment, I feel I have discovered the silver bullet to this.

    The program I have in mind already exists. It is supported by the Navy League and endorsed by the Navy right now, as we speak. It would require a 10-fold increase in admin/logistical support by CNO/SECNAV/OSD, but it is doable. At the moment it’s treated somewhat as a bastard step-child of the Navy League and the Navy. However – working hand-in-hand with USN leadership, it could and should be a strategic communications outlet that doubles as a recruiting tool.

    Executed properly, it would be infinitely useful in tailoring the message (whatever that ended up being) from on-high to the 16 – 22 year old set.

    At present, none of the services do this effectively, sans USMC. USMC does it, and does it well, because Marines seek out the USMC. Not vice versa. Those drawn to it (admittedly, I am not one) seek them out. Granted, USN does something similar. But with the baby-boomers all retiring soon, this issue is not going to go away. The Navy is going to have manning shortfalls in intel, SWO’s, NSW/DEVGRU types and outfits like NECC, the P-3 / P-8A and EW communities.

    The Corps simply has to wait until they are of age. No “recruiting” required for them. That’s why they do so well compared to USA. With USA, there’s no driving motivator to join and a lack of a coherent message. One that targets the age bracket in question, I might add. That is the important part.

    Vis a vis the program I spoke of and would like to propose to receptive ears/eyes: There would be a continuous stream of recruits for big Navy. Not just for “the college money” or because of economic woes, economy-wise or self-inflicted. They would join up, and go Navy, because they wanted to. The more I observe and learn about the program in question, the more I feel I need to present it to those who can ponder/examine/act upon it.

    Its curriculum could expand or be merged with existing infrastructure and draw in college-age as well as HS-grad and post-High School grad youth. The entire proposal is centered around providing the amount of qualified applicants a draft would afford the Navy to pick and choose from, without the “bad” (read: logistical/political) shortfalls of actually having a draft. All the good stuff, without the side effects.

    It’s an untapped resource USN has under their very noses and, if capitalized upon properly, would drastically improve the caliber of both junior enlisted and JO’s for the foreseeable future.

    If I’ve intrigued anyone, just respond in the comments. I’ve given the USNI bloggers my unclass email so those who want, for whatever reason, can reach me.

    longtime reader of SJS, Instapinch, CDR S and Blackfive

  • Adm. Harvey commented above on defense blogs, and it has been reprinted by Small Wars Journal, which is where I saw it.

    Vice Admiral Harvey is correct on some points, and many blog authors are frustrated by inaccurate content. These missteps negatively reflect on defense blogs as a whole.

    That said, there are accurate blogs designed to inform and entertain. They are often provocative and irreverant. They target different audiences. They pique interest and can be a call to action. Their authors look at things a little differently. Our blogs are a 250-300 word snapshot of a topic.

    At “Inside the Headquarters” we’re accurate and often irreverant. Yeah, we’ve received calls from senior leaders (including the CNO), though no one has questioned our accuracy.

    Vice Admiral Harvey is correct: Small Wars Journal is superb. But tastes vary, and there is a professional place for the less conventional. (We know not eveyone cares for our approach.)

    (We do expect men dressed black driving a black SUV to haul us away any day.)


  • Byron

    Damn, I’ve been waiting on that for the past 30 years! I’m a slippery fella though, hidin’ behind a real ID and all, I got those black helos foxxed good 😉

    I’ll have to take the time to stop by Gina, thanks.

  • VADM J. C. Harvey,

    I for one appreciate your honest assessment of the blogosphere. It is pulling teeth to get feedback from the services that is useful, but in this case it has been offered freely and honestly, and I for one appreciate it.

    The necessity to raise the standard gives advice that can be worked towards.

  • VADM Harvey,

    Two limitations – my time and my typing ability. I’m not implying your time is somehow less valuable or that I’m so important, just that I have not yet mastered the art of doing it all and doing it all well in the working day. So I can play in bits and pieces and give at least part of the response when able.
    I’m a two-fingered typist which adds significantly to the problem of staying connected in the blogosphere – I don’t like doing anything half-way, but a good answer/response takes me more time than others. My problem, obviously, not yours, but it does bear on how much I can get to at any one time.

    Awww, heck … you have a fewer problems than the rest of us. Keep swimming, the water warms up the longer you’re in it!

    What blogs have filled is a gap that exists in our professional conversation. For the sake of discussion, let’s put SmallWarsJournal and LongWarJjournal on one side of the equation (almost exclusively policy/programs/strategy/reportage in a quasi-traditional format) and – just because he has his hand up (with fingers crossed) to start would would be a very funny and biting Personnel Policy Blog – Skippy-san on the other end (PPSR/social/political/humor/commentary/Agent Provocateur – nontraditional/conversational). In between you would have moving from one side to the other MichaelYon, InformationDissemination, MudvilleGazette, EagleSpeak, TheStupidWillBePunished, NeptunusLex, TheCastleArgghhh!!!!, SteelJawScribe, CDRSalamander and many others somewhere on the Journal-to-RantFest line.

    In that gaggle, each of us individually have on average from just over a 1,000 unique readers to thousands a day and have been doing it day in and day out for years. (Just to use myself as a ref; I am not one of the largest eihter, a Technorati rating of 86 with ~1,250 unique readers each day while my buddy at Argghhh!!!! has a Technorati rating of 300, you can guess his unique readers).

    Though our medium is humble, our writing editor free and dyslexic at times (usually pounded out over breakfast or after the kids go to sleep) – via our hobby we have been given the opportunity to be introduced either through our blog or because of it, to not just 3-Star GOFOs, but Congressional Staffers, authors of books and researchers, trial lawyers of national scope, MSM types of various stripes, proud fathers, grieving family members, old Shipmates, and young men and women who want to serve their nation.

    It is a clunky and imperfect medium to work in. Now and then mistakes are made. The good blogs correct those mistakes and apologize when required; the bad ones fail in the Darwinian marketplace of ideas that blogging is.

    The learning curve can be steep, but the rewards great. All it takes is to hear a father thank you for bringing his son’s case to a higher level so that it gets the attention it deserves, a daughter who thanks you for bringing to light her father’s sacrifice 60 years ago that is lost to all but those who drive by the neighborhood memorial each day – and yep, you realize that a blog has its place.

    When you see an IP address from the Senate repeatedly hit a single post one day – then multiple Senate IP addresses hit the same post in the weeks that follow – then read about a program getting additional funding … then you realize that some issues just need a little more light than they are getting, and you can make a difference.

    There are other reasons why blogs exist. In my case, though I have been published under my actual name, back in’04 a change in leadership meant that I could no longer due to many of the reasons CAPT Toti brought out in his excellent DEC08 Proceedings article. The old phrase “Kill one and you terrorize them all” applied. That and I needed some cheap therapy.

    Blogs can get quite emotional because, well, they are blogs. Some are more like the SWJ/LWJ e-zine/blog while others are more like the ‘ole BBS/forums. Some are like the smoking sponson at 2230 on a Sunday. Most all have comments – and that is where a lot of the trouble starts – but that is just part of having a blog. It is a conversation. Creative friction is good. Like all things raw, there are good and bad things in the unrefined – you just have to pick through them.

    Part of the problem we have in our Navy is too often opinion is too refined. The higher you go, the harder it is to get unrefined opinion. We become an echo chamber. To the outside, we sound like an echo chamber. We refine all the edges out of data that works its way up the chain. We demand and reward loyalty to people and programs – not an institution. We like hearing opinions that echo our own. We select opinions like we select our leaders – in our own image.

    Did the problems of DD-(X)/DD-21/DDG-1000, LCS, ACS, LPD-17 happen by accident or by habit? Did they occur because of too many hard questions, or too much group-think? Did properly edited thought by the right people have the Navy ready for RIVERINE warfare when the nation needed it? Where did the discussion about the need for RIVERINE start, in blogs or in “official publications?”

    Traditional methods for professional discussion are important and critical – and in the end the most important; no question there. That being said, blogs of all stripes are an important addition to the development of the institution we all love. From Admiral Stavridis to Skippy-san; I think we all love our Navy with the same passion and want her to succeed. None of us has the correct or final answer, but together we can help make her better.

    Having you in the mix, edging in when you can – only makes the medium better and more informed – and makes sure we at least use the spell checker now and then – the blogg’n version of checking the gig line, if you will.

  • VADN J. C. Harvey, Jr USN OPNAV DNS

    CDR Salamander, happy to be in the mix – like I said earlier, I recognize the reality of the blogosphere and am aware that there are certainly upsides to widespread participation in the blogging experience. And, given the subject matter, the good intentions (?) of the bloggers and the reach of most blogs, I do feel a certain “duty” to participate and to try to shed light where possible.
    One point of departure with you – you state that “part of the problem we have in our Navy is too often opinion is too refined. The higher you go, the harder it is to get unrefined opinion. We become an echo chamber. To the outside, we sound like an echo chamber. We refine all the edges out of data that works its way up the chain. We demand and reward loyalty to people and programs – not an institution. We like hearing opinions that echo our own. We select opinions like we select our leaders – in our own image.”
    Over the past three years as CNP/DNS I’ve had the benefit of some pretty full and frank discussions with SecNav, two CNOs and our four star Fleet Commanders – not all of these discussions reached outcomes I wanted, but all, repeat all, of them were fundamentally about the institution we call the Navy and what was right for the Navy.
    From my vantage point, I just don’t see a slavish devotion to the party-line define positions as issues work their way up the chain as you imply.
    Now, I’m well aware of just how far “inside” I am so it may be pretty tough for me to understand how we come across to those on the outside, or at least on the periphery, but I can tell you that I don’t think simply espousing group-think is the sure path to success or that by the time an issue reaches CNO’s desk all the controversy and contrarian views are squeezed out of it. That’s simply not our reality.
    Just because the answer Navy comes up with for a particular question at the end of the day is vastly different than the answer you would have preferred doesn’t necessarily mean we had the debate in an echo chamber and selected the answer most closely aligned with our own image. 🙂 All the best, JCHjr

  • FORAC, I’m intrigued. Send me the information, I’d be glad to look it over.

  • sid

    I really have to wonder where some of the most important contributors to this Institute ever, who effected significant positive changes in the USN, would get today…

    Second stage: It is never pleasant for any man’s best work to be left unnoticed by superiors, and it was an unpleasantness that Sims suffered extremely ill. In his later reports, beside the accumulating data he used to clinch his argument, he changed his tone. He used deliberately shocking language because, as he said, “They were furious at my first papers and stowed them away. I therefore made up my mind I would give these later papers such a form that they would be dangerous documents to leave neglected in the files.” To another friend he added, “I want scalps or nothing and if I can’t have ’em I won’t play.”

  • Byron

    VADM, in my 57 years I’ve learned one or two things. One of the most useful is that it’s very easy to get married to an idea. You do this by seeing a problem and developing a solution. In your mind, you have asked and answered all the questions and answers. You have de-bugged the progam. In reality, you’ve only looked at one side, the side you first looked at. Many problems have different solutions, some brute force, some elegant. You always want the elegant solution, of course, but there can be a vast gulf between one answer and another. I’ve learned that when I get a particular problem, that I turn it over to someone else with as little info as possible; sometimes, “Look at this and see what you think”. Most times, the answer is very similar to mine. Sometimes? Something I didn’t see, because of my pre-conceived notion. I was married to it, and didn’t want a divorce.

    In much the same way, blogs have presented to me different ways of looking at things. I’ve learned from them and truthfully, was entertained by them for the thought provoking concepts I had to digest. I think what Salamander is trying to say is that blogs are a good way to hear what the people who have nothing to lose, no boss to write you a deadly OER, no axe to grind for your program manager, and thus, you get many truths to sort through. In the midst of all those truths, some good, some fair, some suspect, you will find gems. In closing, it would do you no harm to listen in every now and then. Who knows, you might find a gem. When you find one, you’ll know for certain that no one was trying to grease his boss when it landed in your lap. It will be freely given to you from the rough and tumble world of blogs.

  • VADN J. C. Harvey, Jr USN OPNAV DNS

    Byron, I agree – it would do no harm to listen now and then. That’s what I’m doing. And I’m looking forward to finding the gems. All the best, JCHjr

  • Byron

    Thanks for your time, sir. I’m sure your valuable time won’t be wasted.

  • A little off topic, but as promised, my blog on Military Personnel Policy is up. Go to http://thepersonnelroster.com

  • Over the past three years as CNP/DNS I’ve had the benefit of some pretty full and frank discussions with SecNav, two CNOs and our four star Fleet Commanders – not all of these discussions reached outcomes I wanted, but all, repeat all, of them were fundamentally about the institution we call the Navy and what was right for the Navy.

    Knowing the personalities involved it’s hard to accept that statement at face value-but anyway…….

    The problem is that the communication is not coming downward. In particular Admiral Harvey, your two digit P-codes were in general uncommunicative with their customers about the outcomes of these discussions. The issue is not that you made decisions-it is a lack of transparency and a willingness to explain them once made.

    I was in the Navy long enough to have seen the change-we’ve come a long way and in the wrong direction from the days when Dick Dunleavy would offer “free shots at a three star” to the situation that existed last year when the head aviation detailer would not communicate with his O-6 constituents,even when they were close to PRD or had legitimate questions. A free flowing discussion does no good if the results are not communicated downward.

  • Robert Smith

    Interesting content here, well composed and something to think about. I was in a discussion with my spouse over this matter earlier.