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

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

Some highlights:

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

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

And, an additional observation:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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  • jon spencer

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Say no to breathalyzers. Say no to Liberty declarations. Say no to the Diversity Zampolits at Millington. Let’s get back to honing our warfighting skills and not working on rainbow merit badges.


    AW1 Tim

  • I read that post and I agree with just about all of it. The policy that Mabus set forth is assinine, and an insult to ouor Sailors.

    There is not a moral problem with the Navy. There is a Flag Officer leadership problem-however.

  • Byron

    It’s also the leadership that’s causign command pins to explode in alarming numbers. It’s the leadership that’s letting the IG run amok and striking down good leaders. It’s a lack of guts to stand up to the civilian leaders and tell them, “If you keep whittling away at that which makes our sailors, chiefs and officers true fighting men of the US Navy, you’ll have no one left to fight the next war”.

  • Paul P

    Ah, the liability lizards have struck fear into the military as well. Every one of these insulting, degrading and infantile things is to protect mother Navy from being sued successfully “in case” an accident occurs. This way if some tragedy does happen, the highly paid, civilian defense attorney can claim that the Navy tried to keep Seaman Jones from doing a 60 second keg stand before running down Ms. Jones’ cat because he signed a chit, right?

    Let’s take this further– before any ship commander can signal “cast off,” he or she has to blow into a breathalyzer– no blow, no go. Any flag officer must walk a straight line and recite the alphabet backwards before they can do a press conference and the civilian leadership must– well, submit to a test that involves rubber gloves, and turn your head and cough…

    Great slogan for recruiting “100% on watch, watching you…”

    Geezeum crow, we can do better, can’t we?

  • m965466

    So I guess cocktails at the Army-Navy club next time i’m at the Pentagon is off the table? Reminds me of when the CMC banned mariage for his young Marines. The intent is probably right, but this seems like one of those good ideas that should have never seen the light of day.

  • A telling end to an excellent piece:

    “even if the Generals and Admirals haven’t the courage to do so.”

    I wondering where the so-called leaders in uniform are, and why they are sitting on their hands?

  • Diogenes of NJ

    In a Navy with more flag officers than ships; that is run by a bloated civilian bureaucracy and political appointees who’s ambitions are not for the good of the American people – how else could it play out?

    Our Navy is a very large ship at a flank bell heading for shoal waters.

    Disdain the cynicism as much as you like. The cynics are not the problem – the traitors are.

    – Kyon

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    The Germans denigrated the Brits as “Lions, led by Asses.”

    I think “Lions, mismanaged by Asses” is more the modern case. Nothing resembling leadership seems to apply.

    It would help if the elephants had a clue about what makes John Gob tick.

  • Don Mitchell

    In our ships, the CO’s cabin, Wardroom, Chiefs and Petty Officers Mess and the Main Cafeteria (Master Seaman and below) all have beer and alcohol available. We are are very strict on the bar hours but all sailors can have wet as long as it is at least 6 hrs before they go on watch. I have never understood the reasons for dry USN ships because it usually leads to more problems when your sailors go ashore. When will political leadership admit that if you treat your people like adults and have clear arcs of fire that more often then not they will act like adults.

    Ready aye ready.

  • eastriver

    Milo Minderbinder and loyalty oaths in the chow line next?

  • PK

    whoever sent this out has no idea what wearing our contries’ uniform is all about.

    besides a lot of them guys shoot better when they’re half in the bag (thier hands don’t shake so much).


  • Carl Z

    Retired US Navy Admiral Slavonick wrote a book on leadership that could be well utilized by those in leadership positions across the Navy fleet. I suggest it as a good read.

    In my opinion, lead by example, treat people like adults and adhere to a strict discipline policy and those in your command will respect you and follow your orders without question.

    One may not like SECNAV’s policy but wearing the uniform one should understand that we must follow directions from those in superior positions.